Sunday, June 26, 2011

Loveland Lake to Lake Race Report

Last Sunday I raced in my first triathlon of the 2011 season - the 5430 Sprint. Today (Saturday) I raced in my 2nd. Loveland Lake to Lake is a beautiful, locally run race. It's well organized, the volunteers are great, the bike course is challenging but gorgeous, and the venue is fantastic. A lot of Colorado triathletes were in Loveland to race today!

Shannon, Chris, John, Nicole, Bridget, Kisti
Pre-race: I left yesterday afternoon with one a friend and client to make the 2ish hour trek to Loveland. It was about a 2.5 hour journey - Denver traffic was SLOW. It was moving, but slow. We caught the tail end of the pre-race meeting and met up with the Team In Training group. After scouting out the venue with the team, we headed to Mimi's Cafe for our TNT Inspiration Dinner. Mimi's rocks - a lot of options for pre-race foods, and a lot of us opted for the sweet & sour chicken. And what an amazing group of people raising money  After dinner we all went our separate ways to get as much rest as possible! Transition opened at 5am with the first wave at 6:30am!

Shannon and I stayed at an inexpensive place in Ft. Collins, which was surprisingly nice. Clean, comfy, and a fridge for our water bottles. And thank goodness no rowdy neighbors! We got our bikes and race bags ready, worked on a race plan, and went to bed.

Race Day!
Alarms started going off at 3:50am. I got up at 4:00am and felt pretty good. It took me a while to get to sleep, and I woke up a few times, but for the most part a good night's sleep, although short. At 4:30 we were out the door towards Loveland High School. I downed a packet of chocolate Generation UCAN and a packet of Justin's Maple Almond Butter as my main meal. (Last weekend I just had the chocolate, but felt like my stomach was still a little empty, so tried the nut butter. It seemed to work!)

We arrived at the race site a little before 5am. Perfect. I found a sweet spot on the end of a row for easy access and got everything set up. Even though my rubber bands were a little dry, I went ahead and put the shoes on the pedals. All was good in transition, so I went down to where the TNT tent was getting set up and had my 2nd pre-race UCAN - the new Cran-Raz. This time I only used about 8oz of water and was able to consume the whole thing, unlike last weekend. Then I did my quick run warm-up, got my shoes back into transition and found one of my rubber bands had broke. So I did a quick tie-up job and went on my way back to the Team tent. Time to put on my wetsuit (an XTERRA Vector Pro X2). The swim start is about a quarter mile from transition, so the team and I hoofed down to the water so we could at least get in a little warm-up before the gun went off. I just wanted to have a fun solid day at this race. I had vague time goals and really wanted to enjoy the race!

At 6:30 sharp, the gun went off and I was off along with the elites and all men and women 35-39...

Swim: 36:45.  I was predicting a swim of around 35 minutes in the water, and sure enough, when I reached the shore, my watch had 35:00. The entire swim felt really steady and comfortable (hopefully not too comfortable). I swam fairly straight and didn't have to sight as much as I had to in other races. As I mentioned, transition is about a quarter mile from the water, so the rest of the time is my run. I felt good and had a quick run up the grass, passing a couple people along the way.

T1: 1:38
My wetsuit came off easily, and I put on my sunglasses and helmet. Then I saw that the rubber band had broken so I opted to just grab the shoes off the pedals an put them on in transition. Probably lost about 15-20 seconds with that glitch.

Bike: 1:35:38
This ride was not as smooth as I would have liked. I never seemed to get my legs for very long and I was struggling to find the right effort level. It didn't help that the course profile looks like this (the green):

The bike leg is usually my favorite, but today I really couldn't wait for it to be over. Maybe that's because once we came down the hill and hit the rollers, there was a pretty decent headwind. That and I'm figuring out my fueling needs - so on the bike I had my aerodrink with water, a 18oz bottle with Nuun for electrolytes. I taped a honey stinger gel to my top tub in case I would need it, and at about 1:49 total race time, I realized I probably needed some calories. About 10 minutes after consuming the gel I was feeling better. My neck and shoulders were stiff from the steep descents, and my nose was running quite a bit. My calves were also starting to get a little tight. Lesson learned - that I probably need to make sure I'm fueling about 90 minutes into a race lasting 3 or more hours. Finally the rollers ended and we made our way back to the high school. I pulled my feet out of my shoes and had a pretty smooth dismount. Glad that was over!

T2: 1:18  (I wear socks for the run).
I grabbed my hat, another gel, my bottle of endurolytes, and of course my race belt. And I was hoping my legs would feel better on the run.

Run: 50:31 (8:08 pace)
The first part of the course is slightly uphill, but overall it's a flat run. It goes through a neighborhood and then meets up with the path around the lake. My focus at the beginning was quick steps and a tall posture. I saw a couple Pikes Peak Tri Club folks up ahead and slowly reeled them in. I made sure to walk each aid station to get in some fluid. Mile 2 I took my 2 endurolytes. At the turn around I took in my hammer gel (espresso flavor! probably about 2/3 of it) to make sure I had enough juice to finish. I was holding a nice steady pace, and felt strong so the last couple miles I gave it the rest of what I had and finished strong. It also didn't hurt to see Sonja and her friends and family at the corner with about a half mile to go cheering really loudly!
guess i was feeling better at this point!
Total: 3:05:51, 12/63 age group

The weather held out today - the high was to be in the upper 80s, but the morning was overcast and kept the temps down during the race. After I finished, I found all my Team In Training athletes as well as my NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness clients and cheered as they crossed the finish line. Everyone had a great day!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

5430 Sprint Race Report

It's only about a week late...but here's the race report from my first tri of the 2011 season.

5430 Sprint Triathlon - 750m swim, 17.2mi bike, 5k run

Part 1 - The Wheel Nightmare
My new wheels (which are nice Gray 50mm carbon clinchers) have been a "nightmare" from the get-go. They are nice wheels, but the process of changing the cassette from my other wheel, as well as the tires, brake pads took a lot longer than I had planned. I wasn't able to get the bike ready to ride with the new wheels until Thursday night, and my first ride on them was Saturday morning. I had a 60 minute ride, mostly easy, with a few pick-ups to prep the legs for race day. I was starting my last 30s burst, was just a few miles from home and pssssht....front flat! In the craziness I forgot to grab my CO2! So I rode home really slowly with my weight as far back as I could! I got the tire changed (took a while as the tires I have fit really tight on these wheels...part of the reason getting the bike set-up took so long!). But while changing the tire I apparently pinched the tube, so it wouldn't hold air. I needed to get up to Boulder, so I figured I'd find a bike person at the expo and they could help me out. The ironman wheel rental guy was really helpful, and one of the vendors had tubes with 80mm valve stems so I didn't need to use the valve extender...we got it changed and inflated and it held air!

Part 2 - The Fun Part
After that adventure (as well as getting my race packet) I met some Tri Club folks for dinner on the Pearl Street Mall. We had a nice dinner at Gondolino's and then went our separate ways for the evening. I headed to my Girls Heart Rockets teammate, Jordan's place. Nice place to crash about 10 minutes from the Res. I had a room to myself and my air mattress (which had a slow leak...better the bed than my tire!) But considering that, I actually slept pretty well for the night before my first race of the season!

Race morning - nothing out of the ordinary here, except that I was trying Generation UCAN as my fuel source. No peanut butter-banana-honey sandwich for me this year. I took a chocolate UCAN (one with protein) a little after 6am, and then about half a packet of the new Cran-Raz (which is a great new flavor sweetened with stevia). I would have liked to have had the whole thing, but I mixed it with too much water, and my stomach wasn't ready for that much fluid yet. Shortly thereafter I headed to the water to get my swim warm-up in. I got in several hundred yards and felt ready for race number 1!

750m Swim: 17:58
Started swimming in the pack (Ironman practice!) Eventually I had my own space as usual, but ran into a few people here and there. There was quite a bit of chop and the first half is always straight into the sun. I hit the beach at 17:00...glad it was over. But my fastest 5430 swim yet!

T1: 2:54 Super slow today - first race kinks.

17.2mi Bike: 50:26
I really was hoping to have a faster bike split today, and I felt like I was able to produce a nice steady effort. Matched my time from last year within a couple seconds. The first half is a gradual uphill on Jay Rd and Hwy 36, then Neva Rd...FAST! I had my coach compare my power files from this year and last year.

Similar power, slightly lower cadence this year (last year rode compact gearing) and lower HR. Which set me up for a nice run.

T2: 1:18 - pretty straightforward here - no issues.

5k Run: 23:42 (7:38 pace) Last year my run was an 8:07 pace...
I hadn't looked at my watch at all for total time until it buzzed with my first mile split. I was running sub-8 minute pace so I was happy and just kept going. My legs felt strong so I just ran and tried to ignore my lungs. I always look forward to the turn-around, as the first half is slightly uphill on the out-and-back course. It's nice to have gravity, even just a little bit, on my side.

Total: 1:36:12 (19/90 Age Group)
Note: I didn't consume any calories during the race - just water.

Some of the Pikes Peak Tri Club gang were there with the tent to cheer on our folks. We didn't have the club banner, but I had my NEO banner, so I had a tent for the race!

I also ran into Michelle and Sonja. I think the last time I saw them was Ironman Arizona! One of my clients did the race as well, and I always enjoy giving that extra cheer out on the race course!

Some more photos of the weekend here on