Monday, April 20, 2009

TOA Race Report

Well, the Triangle Orthopaedic Sprint Triathlon is in the books. I finished with respectable times, but did not meet my goals. Total run time was 1:40:46, a 22 minute improvement over my last sprint tri. but I almost want to put an asterisk because the course was shorter. We're staying in Raleigh for a few more days, I'll have to wait until we get back to Greenville before I can pull the pics off of the camera.

Goal times: 18 min swim, 40 min bike, 30 min run, 5 min transition = 1:33 total
Actual times: 18:55 swim, 41:49 bike, 30:53 run, 9:11 transition = 1:40:46 total
Finish 22nd place out of 22 people in 30-34 age group.

Swim - 750 meters - 18:55 - 2:31 100m pace
I actually kicked ass in the swim, which was totally unexpected. I haven't been in the pool in 6 weeks, it was my first open water swim, first time in a wetsuit. The wetsuit felt like I was cheating. It puts you so high up in the water I was just floating along. It was a circle swim course with 4 bouys to go around. We started from a dock with a timing mat on it, one person started every 5 seconds. I was chip 123 out of about 230 racers. I hit the mat, and dove off of the dock and started hitting it hard. I typically freestyle until I need to catch my breath, then breaststroke until the lungs are better and freestyle some more. This time I also had to roll onto my back and backstroke it for a while. My hands really started hurting after the 3rd bouy.

Now in the pool (from what I remember in my old age) I can barely make it 100 meters before stopping to rest up. In a lake there is no lane lines to sight with, and I kept pulling left. And since my feet couldn't touch the bottom, there was no stopping to rest. After the last buoy I noticed that going from backstroke to freestyle left me a little dizzy. That's when I changed the goal from 1:30 to "finish without puke".

In the age group, my swim time was 17th out of 22 people. it's the only part where I really beat some other folks. I did beat one other guy on the run, but every other category I was in last place. So the swim kicked ass! and kicked my ass.

T1 - 6:18
This production company is called Finish Strong. I was coming to the end of the swim while the last people were just entering the water. There was a guy on the dock with a bullhorn, and the people standing around the lake cheering us on. The bullhorn guy was yelling that there was 3 people coming in at the same time, who was going to finish first? come on guys, finish strong.... and that really motivated me to keep swimming as fast as I could to beat these other people to the boat ramp we used to exit the water. But going from horizontal movement to vertical movement really screwed me up. I came out of the water completely disoriented, out of balance, and had no idea where I was or where I was going or what I was trying to do and suddenly very nauseated. I did beat the other 2 people to the boat ramp, though (score!). But I was so dizzy upon standing I ended up running sideways and slammed into another guy. Spectators from the side of the transition lane pushed me back into the course and I stumbled onto the mat to start my T1 time. We had to run up a huge hill barefoot and into the grassy transition area. When I hit the grass, the goggles and swim cap were off, wetsuit was unzipped, and I already had one arm out.

I did follow all of the advice you guys left me in the race preview, and I really appreciated that. I had everything laid out in TA for a quick transition. But since I couldn't stand up it got a little more challenging. I was dressed for the bike under the wetsuit, the bike had one bottle of Heed, and that was all I was going to need. It was colder than I expected, so I threw a shirt on for the bike anyway. I decided not to use the padded bike gloves or padded bike shorts to save t2 time. and no camelbak on the bike, just the one bottle of Heed. But I just had to sit there until I was able to stand up without falling down. I did get on the bike before the nausea went away, though.

That was one of the strangest and most disgusting things I have ever had happen to me in a race. Everyone says it's pretty common to be disoriented and nauseated coming out of the swim, but the first time it happens to you it's completely unexpected. weird. 22nd place T1 time.

Bike - 10.5 miles - 41:49 - 15 mph
I can totally see why the production company is called "Finish Strong". The whole course was designed to be challenging at first, the let you finish much easier than you started, hence the feeling is that you were very challenged at first, but finished strong. The bike course was tougher than I expected. It started out slowly, with some inclines but still nothing like the hills around Greenville. I WAS able to leave Jenny in the big chainring the whole time. I came out of the saddle and pushed up some of the hills while in Big/8, and really took some of the descents hard in Big/1 aka the Flynn gear.

The legs felt pretty fresh overall, but as soon as the nausea went away I realized just how many calories I had burned off in the swim and I was hungry. I thought I had fueled up plenty before the start, but I was wrong. The first half of the bike course was a long slow uphill followed by a short downhill, but really the hills weren't enough to really be "climbing" hills, just kind of challenging. So every downhill I would chug Heed until I finally got enough electrolytes in me to feel good again. So about halfway through the bike course the nausea was gone, the fuel was back intact, and I was finally ready to finish strong.

There was one very steep, long, and fast decline. I got very aero and took that sucker fast. Then I tried to keep that speed up for the rest of the bike route. I think it worked. I was suprised how quickly the bike part seemed to go by. The last time I didn't think I was ever going to get off of the bike (it took 1 hour 10 mins), but this time it went really quickly. I think if my swim/t1 disorientedness (yes, I think that is a word) would have been easier I could have made the 40 minute goal. Still, I am pleased with the 41:53. 22nd place in the AG.

T2 - 2:53
Rerack the bike, bike shoes off, running shoes on, took a gel and some water and off for the run. Threw the camelbak on without having to refill it (thanks Nick!) and I'm off to run a fast 5k. Time to PR the run baby! 22nd place in ag t2 time.

Run - 30:53 - 3.1 miles - 9:57/mile pace
My previous PR on 5k was 32 minutes even from the last triathlon. I haven't run a standalone 5k since then. And I really wanted to break 30 minutes this time just for a goal. I really really wanted to beat out the Godess Gazzelle's recent 28 minute PR in a standalone 5k just because I thought I could. But this is a Finish Strong event, which means you start out really tough.

Now I do run/bike bricks every week. When you're bent over in aero position on the bike, the hip flexors tend to tighten up. So starting the run typically feels like you have tree trunks for legs. MOST run courses will start out with a fairly flat soft surface so you can just put in some strides and let the hip flexors open up some. THIS course started out with sidewalks and wooden decking paths winding between buildings on the college campus with some inclines built in. Tons of zigzag turns, even a few stairs to climb. I've never seen anything like that on a 5k course period, much less a tri course.

Again, I had to load up the Heed pretty hard to make it through the first mile. I could only make it maybe 300 meters before walking to catch my breath. Then finally we made it off campus and the course leveled out. This is when I was able to really make up some speed, keep a good pace, and nice even strides to let the legs fill out again. Then it was coasting. The end of the run course had a decent hill, but once I pushed through it the finish line was in sight. I really stepped up the speed then and sprinted through the line. The finish chute had tons of spectators cheering me on and it felt really good to Finish Strong.

I finished the run with a PR, 20th place in AG. I beat one guy by a few seconds, and one other guy by about 2 minutes. Sprint tri #2 is now in the books.

Final - 1:40:46
Overall, this was an awesome race. I love this part of the state, and would love to move the family up here. I missed all of my goal times, but not by very much. And I still got a run PR and overall PR out of the race. So I am very positive about this race, and the production company. But I also have to mention that a 12 year old girl beat me by 20 minutes. That still makes me smile.

I also came to like starting out with a more challenging part of the leg, then letting it get easier so you feel like you have really overcome something difficult. that's a strange mental twist, but pretty cool once you know it's coming. If you live near the greater Raleigh NC area give the nod to some FS Series events. As a production company, they put together a really clean, well organized race. The courses were incredibly well marked. The volunteers for this one were all from one sorority at NC State, so there were hawt college girls at every turn cheering me on. That was really nice. The only thing I was dissapointed in was that my results didn't make it onto the printout at the race site. I had to wait until about 6 pm that night to get them online. even then, the printout onsite only had overall time, not the splits. But in my book that's a very minor thing. I don't normally race with the garmin for some reason. So I had no idea how I did for most of the day sunday. All I could tell people was that I felt good for the second half. This was a great race, and I'm glad I ran it.

Now the debate becomes, what is more difficult, a sprint tri or a half marathon? Yes, with the sprint tri you have to train for multiple sports, but that just adds variety. Training for running alone pounds the knees and ankles and gives you no balance. Overall endurance goes to the runner. The sprint tri's I've done took 2:02:30 and 1:40:46. The lone half marathon I've done too 2:21:28, longer than either of the tri's. So I will contend that it is more difficult to run a half marathon than it is to complete a sprint tri, but you are more likely to vomit in the tri. If you have done a half marathon and are scared or timid about doing a tri, don't be. Find a tri and do it.


Amber said...

Good work! Sounds like you did well, especially considering it was an open water swim!

I think I'm going to train for a sprint tri next or maybe some trail running. This is only my first half-marathon that I'm training for and I'm already getting a bit bored with the road running...

tfh said...

Great job and race report! To me it looks like your goal times and actual times really aren't so far off except in the transition time. Even as a recreational swimmer I usually feel disoriented when I step out of the pool and just have to stand there for a minute or two because I am dizzy. I can't imagine pushing through that! This looks like it was a competitive event and I cannot believe a half marathon is more challenging!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I agree entirely w/ tfh. Great report. and way to keep within sight of every single one of your goals!

And a PR!

That can't be bad.

This sounds harder than a half, because there are times when I actually think I could probably do a half, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't've done this tri.

Great job! Congrats!

Jess said...

Congrats on a great race and on a PR! Finish Strong does sound like a cool concept. Glad you had fun!

Wes said...

Congrats on finishing your second tri! And you PRed your 5K? That's really cool... Just shows you are riding your bike in a good way. The more you run off your bike, the less it will feel like tree trunks. I hardly even notice now...

Congrats again!! Awesome!!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

you've almost got me convinced to try a tri! Great report, congrats on your finish. That nauseous feeling must be awful during a race! Awesome PR!

Missy said...

Nice work, way to go! Way to stick with those goals and time targets. It's always hard and CAN be an ego buster if you're not careful.

Swim to bike is NOOOOO joke. People don't spend enough time on it. Bike to run is just getting accustomed to the feeling, swim to bike is fing with your equilibrium!

Shannon (The Daily Balance) said...

nice work!! congrats! ;)

Havs said...

Awesome John! I'm looking forward to starting my "Tri" training after finishing my long ride down your way. I sent you an email on the bike route too.

Sounds like me and the pool, haven't been swimming in months. Can't wait to see how bad I'll be in the water again...

Alisa said...

Goddess Gazelle smoked ya! =)

Good job on the event though, I'm still deciding what tri to do.

Anne said...

Congratulations! Great job!

hebba said...

totally respectable times in everything (it was only that first transition that threw you off!) tri-season off to a good start!

healthy ashley said...

Sorry you didn't meet your goals in everything- but you still did an amazing job!

It sounds so exciting- especially when you beat the other two people in the water. Good job!

(And that 12-year-old girl is just crazy!)

RBR said...


Triathlon number 2 is on the books and a PR to boot!

Great report and great pictures! I was out of town, so I read them out of order.

For the record, your wife is right about that guy's ass and you are right about you in your wetsuit ;o)