Monday, May 7, 2012

Race Review : Chain Of Lakes Triathlon

This was my first time at this race, and the first race of the season. The overall goal was to try to push myself out of my comfort zone and see how fast I could go.

The Training
The entire year has been leading up to do this. My primary training focus is on a half iron distance in June.

Packet Pickup
Packet pickup was the morning of, at the race site. I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand it worked out just fine, on the other hand I didn't even look at the stuff they gave us till the next day, and usually I like to look at the pamphlets and gear the day before just for fun. Not a big deal, though I still prefer picking up my stuff early.

The process was painless, walk in the school, tell them your name, get marked and go.

Race Morning
The race started at 9, so there wasn't a terrible amount of getting up too early. I think my daughter was out of bed before me. I got my new tri-suit on, some sweats, racked the bikes, had some breakfast and off we went. I wasn't too concerned about when we got there, but we did get there a little later (by comparison to when others got there) than I usually do.

The transition area, as I expected, was a free-for-all. I found a spot, racked my bike and then went in to get my numbers and get marked.

My sister-in-law (Bethany). who was also racing. mentioned that transition area had changed a little, since I didn't have any idea what it looked like before I had trouble visualizing what she was trying to convey to me. Overall I thought the transition layout was good though.

After I played around with my setup for a while and got comfortable that it was fairly efficient I walked over to where Bethany was, she was chatting with some people and I realized I had forgotten to bring flip flops to wear. Parking lot transition areas always seem terrible before the race, and I don't even notice them during the race. Still though - note to myself, remember flip flops, the tiny rocks hurt so much! We headed in, did a very light warmup in the pool and then sort of sat around making small talk.

Eight lanes - 25 yards.

Talking to Uncle Stu before we got started- he's a great story teller. A lot of fun. He also was volunteering in transition, he did a great job

Note about the pre-race meeting: First it was very well done, but the guy called us "Traithloners." Nice. I did notice though he had corrected that by the time the awards ceremony came along.

The Swim
There were five waves before me. They had it setup so the all the women went (slowest to fastest) and then the relays, and then the men. I was in the second wave of men. The way they did it, and honestly I can't think of a better way, was to have the entire wave wait until 7 of 8 lanes were done before the next wave started. Inside a wave they ordered you by speed, so fast people in lane 8, slower in 7, etc. The, perhaps not so obvious, side effect of this? People in the first wave of swimmers are completely done with the race before the people in the 6th heat even start swimming - you can read that as: I sat there for 75 minutes watching people swim before I got to swim.

I had signed up for the 8 - 10 minute wave in January when I was swimming about 1:45 hundreds, as the even drew closer I figured I would be below 8, so I started to wonder if I'd get stuck with people who were shooting for 10 minute times. But they ask you for your seed time, I said 8 and I got put in lane 8 with another guy who was shooting for 7:28, so no worries there.

That guy took off fast, my first 100 split was somewhere around 1:11 and he was already about 10 yards up, but he never got much more than that ahead. I didn't see him after I said good luck in transition, till he finished, I apparently beat him through transition. He said, "you took off like a shot on your bike."
Leaving on the bike, I had a little trouble getting my bike off the rack, my seat doesn't fit under the bar anymore

About to "assume the position" You can also see my blue water bottle in my new favorite place for water bottles
The Bike

I had grabbed my watch during transition, but decided I didn't want to futz with it. So I glanced at the the time, figured I about what time I'd be finishing up the bike leg and just settled in. This played with my head a little, because I never ride without a speedometer, but now I was. I just focused on smooth consistent pressure on the pedals and "let the training take over."

The bike course was pretty lonely. Another side effect to putting the waves the way they did is that you are at best 7 minutes behind the heat in front of you, that's a lot of time to make up on someone in 13ish miles. I got passed once, and passed a few, but those are the only people I saw.

About two miles from the end it started to rain, or possibly sleet. It felt like ice, but that may have just been the feeling of cold rain pelting against you at 20 or so mph. I turned on my watch around this point because I had a second on a longer incline.

Overall the course is fine, I think it's funny that it crosses train tracks and the chance that a train comes by is high enough that they address what you should do if you get stuck when a train crosses in the pre-race meeting (there are people there who will time how long you waited.) I did not get stuck at a train crossing, although free rest probably would have positive impact on your time. It's fairly flat with some rollers, and a longer gradual downhill followed by a slightly and less gradual, but not steep, uphill.

Bike to run. This is by far the fastest transition I've ever done (49 seconds). I'm pretty sure I didn't sit down. The other person in that shot is on her way home I think

Sprinting out, snapping my belt and hat in my teeth.
The Run
A single loop run. I took the advice I got a month or so ago and ran out fast. I looked down at my watch and it said 10mph...still in bike mode. That's 6 minute miles, which is blazing for me. I backed off a little as I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. But the pro was right, I set the faster pace early and when I backed off I backed off to ... the fastest pace I've held in any race. I ran past a couple of people, then I could hear someone coming up from behind...and it took forever. When he finally passed me I thought, he's not going that fast, I can keep up. So I picked up the pace and we ran the rest of the way together.

The run is pretty flat, on bike trail and through neighborhoods. There is one little climb to get off the trail (40 feet total distance) and a longer relatively steep seeming climb right at the end.

Overall the run felt good, it wasn't till the very last little bit when there was that hill that I really was feeling out of steam. I didn't remember then, but I do now, hills feel terrible when they're going on, but almost as soon as you get to the top that feeling subsides.

I did eventually pull away from that guy who passed me, so I can now say that I wasn't passed by anyone on the run. Similar to the bike though, that doesn't mean a ton because we were spread so far out.

The Finish
Like I said the last part of the run is up a small hill and around a corner, then about 100 yards to the finish. Since I had just passed two people I was sure there was going to be a sprint to the end, and I was not sure I would have anything left. But I there was no sprint, or maybe there was and I just don't remember it :)

The finish itself is pretty uneventful, they call your name and ... nothing. It was cold and raining, many people had already left, and those that hadn't may have been done racing for an hour or more.

There was very loud cheering from the family, and my daughter jumped out to run "with" me, which really means beat me to the finish line, turn around and say "I WON!" My son was standing there staring at me, not running :) Apparently he thought it was too cold, and he was right :)
I think she's checking her finish time
Wider shot - the guy in blue (Matt) is the guy I ran with. The guy in the orange I had just passed at the bottom of the hill. He's 15 and won his age group.
Just finished. There's Matt again, we pushed each other pretty hard on the run
The Results

Goal Actual
Swim 8:00 7:31
Bike 37:00 36:25
Run 23:00 20:55
Total 1:11:00 1:07:31

The swim – That's about 5 seconds per hundred faster that goal pace. That's also good enough for 3rd overall for the swim. That time was fast enough to be able to beat Matt, we started in the same heat and he beat me in every other portion of the race except the swim.

The bike - Just a little faster, that pace is 21.4 miles per hour. Now, I'm pretty sure the course is actually shorter than 13 miles, I'm going to go out and say it's more like 12.3. That's what says, and I'm pretty sure that's what Bethany's watch says too. If that's the case that's only 20.3 miles per hour which is slower than my goal pace.

The run – The run went great, it was very helpful to have Matt come by and use that to push myself faster. That pace is 7:28, which is faster than the 5k PR I have.

Overall I feel good about this race, my first race of the year is faster than any race previous. I had a goal of push myself out of my comfort zone, and while I did accomplish speeds I haven't before, I'm not sure I can't push faster. We'll see. I finished 31/170 people, 12/33 in my age group (which was 30-40.)

Closing Comments
I feel good about the performance I turned in here, and the race in general is fine. I really don't know what they could do to make this event much better. I was frustrated to not see many people on such a short course, I was disappointed that I didn't get to see Bethany out there. But they have a pool swim in May which seems like a requirement, and I can't, off the top of my head, think of a way to move that along faster. So I besides maybe switching the heats up a little, and adding some perks like finishers medals the race will be the same. Perhaps I'll do it again, perhaps not. It's not like there are a ton of races in MN this time of year.

The entire Paradee family came out and cheered and that was awesome! They cheered at the top of their lungs and I heard them both times I went through transition. A race is much better when you know people racing, and way better when you have a cheering section!
Even our baby came out. This is probably during the early part of the bike. Bethany is done and it's not raining yet.
We brought our own cow-bells and the kids did great. They are super troopers and I think it's super cute that Ivy jumps out at the end of every race and wins for the family :)

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