Monday, July 28, 2014

Pt. Grey Triathlon Race Report 2014

Pt. Grey Triathlon, sprint course (at UBC in Vancouver)
July 27, 2014

700m swim (7 laps of the 50m indoor pool)
20K bike
5K run, about half on the UBC trails

My results: 
Total:  1:40:15  - one second(!) faster than last year, but parts of the course were actually longer
Placement:  103/166 overall; 5/7 in F45-49 AG (actually 9 started but two were DQ’ed presumably for skipping a bike loop)
Swim:  23:25 (which included most of T1 plus 19:25 for the actual swim, 2:49/100m)
Bike:  47:29 (for 20.5K bike plus parts of T1 and T2, bike speed was 27.2 km/hr)
Run:  29:22 for 5K, 5:52/km

I was assigned the second swim heat, which meant I had to check in at the pool by 7:00 am for my timing chip and body marking.   I planned to get to UBC by about 6:30 am to have enough time to park, check my bike into transition, and change for the swim.  Triathlon is way more complicated than a running race; aside from the obvious need to transport the bike (which means it is harder to get to races by public transit), there is also a lot of gear to lug around-- goggles, swim cap, helmet, bike shoes, running shoes, visor… Even for a sprint, I need about twice as much stuff for a triathlon as a running race.  This was my first triathlon this year, but I remembered the logistics from last year and was pretty relaxed about it.  One change I made this year was to wear a tri top and tri shorts for the whole event which greatly simplified my first transition.  

At the pool deck we received our timing chips and body marking (left calf and right upper arm).  They started the first heat late so we got to watch most of the early swimmers. When it was our turn we lined up according to expected swim time, and I made sure I was near the end.  The range of swim times for this group was supposed to be 17-22 minutes, and I expected to finish the swim in close to 21 minutes.  They sent us off every 10 seconds, and we had to swim up and down the lanes across the pool (under the rope in the deep end).  I was able to quickly get into a smooth swimming groove, and overall it felt really good.  I did not pay much attention to my time, but I did notice after five laps I was at just over 14 minutes.  Wow, only two laps to go and I was swimming faster than I expected.  It helped that I did not get held up by anyone slower ahead of me, and did not have to stop to wait for people behind me to pass.  After the first lap, the guy in front of me did let me pass, and he and I stayed pretty much at the same pace until the last length.  At that point there was some congestion of about three or four people ahead of us, and I had to slow way down.  Because people were swimming up and back in both directions, we were only supposed to pass at the end of a lane.  But in the last length there was a wide area where in theory we could go around.  The guy behind me did try to pass the group, but I figured that would take way too much mental and physical energy; therefore, I just relaxed and conserved energy for the bike.  I figure this probably cost me about 10-15 sec max.    When I finished the swim I hit the lap button on my watch, and saw that I had finished in 19:45 (2:49/100m).  I was pretty happy with this time.

We exited the pool and had to walk all the way around to the opposite side of the pool to the exit.  The volunteers specified walking here for safety, but later I did notice people running—no penalties were issued, though.  Outside the volunteers handed us our wetbags; there were change tents for people that wanted to change out of swim suits, but I learned last year that this just takes way too much time.   In my wetbag I had my socks and bike shoes, a towel for drying off my feet, and my race number on a race belt.  I put on my socks and shoes, left my swim cap and goggles in the bag, put the bag back in the bin, and was off toward the bike transition zone (about a 300m).   Because we were in the indoor pool this year, the distance to transition was longer.  Transitions were not measured separately in this race; there were only two transition timing mats- one when entering the transition zone before the bike leg, and one when exiting before the run.  But I wanted to measure them separately so I would know my actual time for the swim and bike.  I measured T1 to be 4:39- almost the same as what I had last year, so the longer distance this year was offset by my longer clothing change last year.  My official swim split which included most of T1 was 23:25 – almost a minute faster than last year.

The bike course was similar to last year—two laps of roughly 8.5K each plus an out and back section of 1.5K.  A few changes this year made the bike significantly longer—20.5K on my watch this year vs. 19.2K last year.  I actually missed one of the turns that they changed so I had to backtrack; annoying but it was only about a 100 metre detour that cost me about 20 seconds.   I really enjoyed the bike leg- cycling is so nice on streets where there is no traffic.   There were not that many people on the course when I started, but I did pass a couple people who were ahead of me (and got passed in my second loop by some faster guys who must have been in the next swim heat).  I did have to slow way down on the hairpin turns (or “dead turns” as they say in Glasgow), and there were five of them.  But overall my bike was faster than last year- 27.2 km/hr vs 26.2 km/hr.  I am not sure how to explain that because I have done very little bike training this year, but I have been using my bike more for commuting/riding in the city.  So I assume I am just getting more confident on my bike.  My bike time on my watch was 45:01 for the 20.5K.

Coming back into transition I dismounted too early (I got off at the warning sign and not at the dismount line), but was able to easily run into transition with my bike.  My bike was racked pretty close to the exit, which meant less running with the bike, more running in run shoes.  This bike rack placement probably saved me time over last year’s race in both T1 and T2.  T2 was uneventful other than some difficulty in changing my shoes—I must work on this.  I measured T2 to be 1:26; my official bike split time was 47:29 (which included my actual bike time, my measured T2, and part of my measured T1).

I have not been able to do any fast running lately, so I knew the legs were rusty.  I also have not done any brick runs.  So my goal was simply to run as hard as possible without losing steam.  My legs felt heavy coming off the bike, but not too bad.  Within about a kilometre they felt pretty normal. I remembered this 5K course well and really enjoyed the part that goes through the forest trails.  One nice thing about an early swim start is that it had not gotten very hot by 9:00 when I started the run.  I was keeping a pretty steady pace of just under 6:00/km, which is as expected given the circumstances although I thought I could have been faster.  Interestingly, my speed seemed most limited by my leg muscles and not my aerobic capacity.  (Translation—need more bike training!) My time on the run was 29:22, which is the only part of the race where I was slower than last year (28:15 last year).  Finish time:  1:40:15, just one second faster overall than last year but parts of the course were longer.

I am very happy with my race; it went much better than I expected given my limited training and recent health challenges.  I surprised myself on the swim and the bike when I was sure I would be slower than last year.  I worried that in the run I would feel that same kind of crash I have felt at the end of some races like my half-marathon in February.  But I did not get that at all.  I know I have a lot of room for improvement in this sport when I put in more training.  I am already seeing improvements in swimming, I can do a lot more bike training, and my running will eventually come back.  But mostly I was pleased with how much I enjoyed the race; there is definitely more triathlon in my future.