St. Patrick's Day Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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Keller, Texas
United States
Dallas Athletes
47F / 8C
Total Time = 1h 23m 49s
Overall Rank = 225/750
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 35/63
Pre-race routine:

Arrived very early as this was my first triathlon event. Local shop's program offered a very good prep for both the physical and logistical process, and I'm grateful for it. Researched weather and selected clothing (with small options for changes) ahead of time, and packed a minimal transition bag. Only logistical issues were bike number -- they required it to be attached ahead of time, which I didn't know and therefore had to cobble it onto the bike while people walked around me in line, doh -- and body marking, which wasn't clearly labeled. Took me three runs to get through and into transition, but volunteers were friendly and it wasn't rough.

Ate a normal breakfast at 4am and left for the event at 5:15. Arrived at 6a for a 6:15 transition open. Set up transition quickly, then found the pool and obtained my chip. Located the swim exit and walked the route from exit to my bike, counting trees and racks. Walked from my bike to bike exit and inquired as to the exit direction and location of the mount line. Walked from bike to run exit.

At 7:00a drank 280 calories of heavily-diluted gainer mix in water.
Event warmup:

Did 200m in the pool -- my first 50m pool experience. No other warmup.
  • 07m 51s
  • 328 yards
  • 02m 23s / 100 yards

First 50M was fine -- comfortable, actually and kinda fun. Right after the first turn I caught a group of three previous starters who had clumped up, and I decided to pass them. I was tired at the end of the second 50M and intended to back off and swim at my own pace, but didn't. In my excited state I made poor decisions regarding whether to back off, draft, or pass, choosing mostly to draft for a bit, then pass. By the 150M point, I was worn out and had to stop for 5-20 seconds at lap end to rest. Form suffered tremendously from this point onward, adding to the problem. I'd predicted a 7:30 swim based on similar trials in training pools (commonly ~6:30 for 300Y), and looking at my time of 7:51 -- including all the resting -- it was clear that I exerted WAY too hard, surging and resting.
What would you do differently?:

I will definitely work on swimming my own pace. Had I done so here, backing off and drafting those who were similar in speed (or passing at the end when they paused to rest), I would likely have turned in a moderately shorter swim time with significantly less exertion and stress.
Transition 1
  • 02m 28s

As this is my first event, my pre-race transition strategy was to keep things simple and conservative. As such, I chose to put my shoes on and run in them rather than try to attach them and enter shoes afterward. I kept gear to a minimum as well, opting to ride in the tri suit alone. I did put on socks, however, in T1 and decided to wear full-fingered gloves as I was afraid my hands would go numb and I wouldn't be able to tie my shoes in T2.

When I arrived at T1, the person next to me (who'd arrived very late, as he wasn't there at 15 minutes to starting time when I re-checked my transition area) had set up both on the wrong side of the rack, jamming him between me and another, and brought essentially a travel-trunk-sized plastic box and a pile of stuff. He was almost completely blocking my bike and had stuff scattered all over. I pushed his stuff out of the way, pushed him over a bit to make room for me to put on my shoes, and lifted my bike off the rack over him.

Socks were easy to get on, just like in practice. Shoes were easy and quick, too, as was helmet, glasses, and gloves. I was very pleased with my layout, gear selection, and process.

I had not practiced running with the bike in cycling shoes, so I was careful but a bit slow.
What would you do differently?:

Since I had no idea of my swim time at registration -- I was still learning to swim! -- I entered a very slow time (>10 min) in order to assure that others held me up instead of the other way around. Next time I definitely won't do that. I'm not afraid of being passed and am aware enough in the water to move over and make it easy. My high start number brought a couple of drawbacks, one of which was racking with a bunch of people who didn't know how anything worked. Hey, I wouldn't have either if it wasn't for the great program I went through. But while most people showed up early and asked questions, clearly another group rolled in at the last minute and dumped their Winnibegos and life's belongings all over the racks. Next time I'll put a swim time in that will get me starting mid-field, and hopefully will resolve that issue.

I'm also going to take some time at home to practice mounting and banding my shoes and learning to mount on the fly. I could have significantly reduced transition time if I'd been prepared to run with the bike and didn't have to put shoes on in T1.

It's a minor thing, but I forgot to remove the half-full second water bottle from the bike before the race, too. I'll make a pre-race checklist next time.
  • 44m 52s
  • 12 miles
  • 16.05 mile/hr

I was so blown away by the experience of hauling ass wet out of the pool and being on the bike two minutes later -- plus was so focused on finding the course entry, which wasn't clearly marked and many volunteers had already left because of my high-number swim start -- that I didn't really go hard until about a quarter way into the first loop. HR, however, shows that I must have been very excited, because HR is very high per performance output.

Loop was 1/2 tailwind downhill (very fast) and 1/2 headwind uphill. Rode in drops during all headwind sections and worked to keep a slow, steady pull throughout. Seemed to pass people the whole time, which suggests again that I blew my start time, though it seemed like many people weren't pulling hard on the tailwind half.

After first loop, I realized that I was breathing hard and felt the exertion in my chest, so I backed off a little going into the second loop.

Also: It was COLD. The headwind was strong, and it was still around 50 degrees. It had stopped raining, however, by the time I got on course, so though there were still some standing water puddles, they were almost completely dry by the time I finished the bike. Despite feeling FREEZING, I was super happy with my decision to ride in just the tri suit and gloves. While it was cold, it wasn't dangerous, and it felt great otherwise. My feet were completely numb by the second lap, so gloves seem to have been prudent. If my hands were as numb as my feet, I'd never have gotten my shoes on.

It was very difficult to find the course exit. I almost missed it (had to slow, look, loop back around about 20' to get in) and definitely went too slow out the exit road.
What would you do differently?:

Again, an earlier start time would have assured more volunteers on the course and made finding the loop/exit point easier. I'll study the map more carefully next time, and will even go look at the entry/exit if possible before the race. My focus next time will be to pull hard and steady from mount line to mount line.
Transition 2
  • 02m 17s

This time my area was more clear and I only had to push the plastic box out of the way. Transition went smoothly, but my running shoes are still in the extreme support lacing I got used to when I first started running, which makes putting them on and tying them very time-consuming. So while I had no problems with equipment, my transition was still slow. Remembered to put race belt on after leaving for run exit.
What would you do differently?:

I'm going to go shoe shopping as soon as I can and will train in a more tri-appropriate shoe with elastic laces. This would have cut at least 30 seconds off my transition.
  • 26m 19s
  • 3 miles
  • 08m 46s  min/mile

At the start, I felt great and had to pay attention not to charge off at too fast a pace. Per training and plan, I targeted 8:45 to 9:00 for the first mile. By mile two, I began to feel dry-mouthed, but with so little time left it didn't seem worth stopping for water. My right shoe came untied around the mid-point, which was frustrating and stupid -- and points out again that I should use elastic laces.

I targeted 8:00/m beginning around mile two, and began using whatever was left around the 2.5-2.7 mark. Starting at the 2 mile point, my quads began to twitch in pre-cramp. This happened lots in early brick workouts, so I tried to ride the line where I wasn't making them worse but didn't back off more than necessary.

Breathing was labored throughout, but I expected to push further than in training.

Awesome: This race was .1 short of a 5K, but projecting my final .25 mile pace for the remaining .1 would have brought me in at 27 minutes flat, which is a PR for me by about 30 seconds. :)

What would you do differently?:

Race photos show me running a little more heel-strike than normal, and more than I'd like. I don't remember doing it at the time, but photos don't lie.

This is probably TMI, but I was blowing snot like mad during the whole run. I've never really learned the snot-rocket thing, but probably should. I ended up blowing a snot bubble so big it covered part of my glasses. This was a) annoying, since I couldn't see well, and b) maybe a little gross. It's kinda funny now.
Post race
Warm down:

After the event I walked over to the transition area for warm clothes and a water bottle, which I filled from a volunteer station.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I made a conscious decision to err on the side of caution in my first event to avoid DQable mistakes. On a couple of occasions, this slowed me down. Next time, I'll work on going hard from line to line. Also, I wasn't sure how hard I should go on the bike. I'll experiment to find out before the next event.

Event comments:

Crossing the finish line on my first triathlon was really cool, and hearing them call out my name (which I didn't expect) was surprisingly satisfying. One of the coaches for my program was right nearby at the finish, and the volunteers were incredibly friendly and helpful. They helped me turn in my chip and find post-race stuff. Definitely wish there had been volunteers at the bike entry/exit to point it out, as all that was left by the time I got there were some cones. (I had to ask a cop.)

All in all, this was a great race for me! I had more fun than I've had in a long time, even though the full swim/bike/run cycle was harder than I expected (and I expected it to be hard). Like anyone, I wonder if I could have gone faster, but I feel like I made good decisions and drew a good performance from myself for the day. VERY much looking forward to my next event. I'm addicted.

Last updated: 2013-03-11 12:00 AM
00:07:51 | 328 yards | 02m 23s / 100yards
Age Group: 51/63
Overall: 0/750
Performance: Below average
Course: 6x50M Snake w/ladder exit
Start type: Inside Pool Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Below average Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 02:28
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
00:44:52 | 12 miles | 16.05 mile/hr
Age Group: 36/63
Overall: 0/750
Performance: Average
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Two-lap loop
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 83
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:17
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Bad
00:26:19 | 03 miles | 08m 46s  min/mile
Age Group: 35/63
Overall: 0/750
Performance: Good
Course: Out and back through a really nice paved wooded nature trail
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? No
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4