Sunday, July 15, 2012

Race Review : Minneapolis Tri

Another sprint triathlon. I was drawn to this race due to it's size and because it's part of a national series and pros from all over the world come to race it. The pros don't do the sprint, but its not like I race on their level anyway.

The Training
I'm wrapping up a five week bike focused session. I think I may have messed it up a little as it seems like it was pretty light training the last two weeks. Although some of that was missed workouts due to various vacation activities.

Packet Pickup
There was one option for packet pickup, go to the expo the day before from noon to eight p.m.. So that's what we did. The expo was decent, there were options to see pro triathletes, get signatures, listen to Q&A sessions, listen to detailed course descriptions. All we really did was wander around and get free stuff for the kids and pick up our packets. We signed up to win some bikes, apparently though you have to be present to win; we didn't wait around for the drawing. The line to pick up packets was pretty long, I'm not too sure why, but it was long and didn't move terribly fast. It's actually sort of confusing, because when I think about it, the process seemed pretty fast once we were up there, so who knows.

Race Morning
The race started at 7, transition opened at 4:30, so we figured getting there around 5:30 was going to be good.

It's almost like I don't know how to sleep in anymore

Breakfast of champions

Rise and shine sleepy head :)
The plan was to pick up my sister at her local residence for the week at 4:40, and as far as I can tell I hit that right on the button. We made our way toward the race site and found a parking spot in a nearby neighborhood. We got our bikes ready, she teased me about my bike pump, and then we rode our bikes to the race site. I got numbered, finish putting the stickers on my bike and then we headed into transition.

The transition area was pretty large, it probably was larger than it seemed which I'd say is a good thing. The racks were set up by number, which I love, because it makes it easy to find a place for you bike. We were there early enough to get pick of the racks basically.

My friend Eric found me, he was doing his second triathlon while he was visiting his family. So that was cool, because we're in the same age group and they numbered people by age group (and wave) we were racked very close to each other. So he and I and my sister hung out the rest of the morning.

The transition area was pretty easy to follow, it was a large rectangle. Swim entrance in the top left, run out in the top right, bike out in the lower right, bike in on the lower left. My rack was in the lower right near the bike out. They didn't have artificial landmarks like at Liberty, but Eric found a sort of incidental one in that his bike was racked in a row that was also the same row as the last bike rack in the next column down. Once he shared that with me I used that to find my bike too.

So the deal is that this race is large, something like 3,000 people between two races. So the transition area closed at 6:45, but we weren't scheduled to enter the water till 9:30. That's a pretty long time, but it wasn't that bad, or at least I had a good time talking to Eric and my sister. Some time later we figured out they were off schedule by about 15 minutes, who knows what happened there. For me it wasn't that big a deal, but I'm sure it was frustrating for my wife who usually times out when and where she needs to be places to see people.

The Swim

The swim was a time-trial start, except for elite, they went off in a wave. The deal was you line up by number and then the guy sends you off every 3 seconds. My number was 3921, so that means I was going to wait for a truckload of people to go before me (basically everyone.) Since the water was 81 degrees I did not have my wetsuit on, which was really great due to the previously mentioned two hour delay between when I could have my stuff and when I would use it.

The swim went pretty well, I had no trouble staying in a straight line this time which is good. One nice feature of this swim was that at no point did I have to stare into the sun. That was pretty sweet. My plan for this swim since it was so short (shortest of the season so far) was to take it pretty fast, sometime near the end I noticed I was working pretty hard, and since we were about to stand up (some people were already standing) I backed off for a few seconds to catch my breath before I stood up. That seemed pretty effective.

I trotted the long trot to my bike, got my socks on no problems, told a guy he was putting his helmut on backwards and then headed out.

The Bike
The bike course was surprisingly fast, I had a small amount of trouble getting my feet in my pedals correctly. My left shoe folded in under my left foot, but a small amount of correction with my finger and all was good. After that I started the watch, saw my family on the side lines and then got to work. I looked down ... 26mph. Nice!

Because there were roughly 2500 people in front of me I spent most of the bike passing people. I think I only got passed three times.

In the preview I wondered why it seemed that my potential placing was so high (percentage wise.) And now I know why. There were a TON of people who were either doing their first one or only one or just didn't ride bike often. They were ALL OVER THE PLACE. I didn't worry too much about the pass on the left rule or drafting. People were cruising on the left, in the middle, on the right, swerving, rapidly changing speed, you name it. So I spent a bunch of time weaving around people, it was fun. I'm not trying to be mean, but it is fun to blow by people on the bike.

According to the splits on the watch I basically slowed down the entire bike course, it's possible I took it out a little fast :) I got to the transition area, had my feet out of my shoes, went to dismount and .... wait for it ... my shoe came flying off my pedal. Thankfully I have arms like an ape so I just leaned over and grabbed the one stray shoe and jogged to the bike rack.

No problems finding my place this time. I'm going to give Eric credit for the great landmark he came up with.

The Run

As I was about to run out of transition I realized I didn't have my watch on ... again *sigh* I can't bring myself to care enough about this continued problem to want to try to address it when not racing.

Almost immediately one of my calves started to cramp, I didn't want to walk unless it was unbearable, so I just tried to adjust my form a little to hopefully just run through it. That worked, a short while later I started to figure out where the 7:30 pace was in my mental stop watch. Over the entire course only a few people passed me, some blew by, others did not. I tried to latch on to people who didn't but just couldn't muster the steam. I had convinced myself I was at least close to 7:30s so I just tried to keep the pace up and not worry about others.

The run was otherwise pretty uneventful, having it be only a 5k I knew I could whip out that distance without too much effort so I didn't stress about water or picking up a gel or anything. I did take in small amounts of water at every water stop, I did notice the water was warm, but it didn't matter much I usually take water only to avoid thirst.

A neat feature on this run course was cold wet towels, they were out of towels by the time I passed the two places, since I was only running the short course I didn't care, but the thought was nice.

About half way through a guy with a 39 passed me, and not very quickly. Now I'm not sure if he was running the same race as me, but I did want to try to keep up with him and hopefully pass him before the end of the race (you know, so I can secure at least one more spot in the rankings :) Unfortunately he had the same race strategy I did, and when I would speed up so would he. I'm pretty sure I did not end up passing him, but I have to admit the last half mile is kind of a blur.

The Finish
Per usual on sprints I started picking up the pace with about a mile to go. My thinking is that if I hit the finish line and am not huffing and puffing I didn't really push it hard enough :) Due to the large number of racers there were also a large number of spectators, so running into the there was a long chute of people cheering. That was a lot of fun, and really makes you want to run fast. I heard someone yell my name but didn't know where they were. The clock read 3:10 or something like that which means basically nothing to me, but I raised my hands in triumph anyway. I had run a pretty good race.

Post race drink, I was pretty thirsty and possibly a little dehydrated. I developed a pretty wicked headache later in the day

Waiting for my sister to cross the line

Post race photo with big sister

The Results

Goal Actual
Swim 6:30 5:53
Bike 45:00 42:40
Run 22:30 23:54
Total 1:18:00 1:15:48

The swim – 37 seconds over 400 meters is pretty significant, that swim actually is the fastest overall in the sprint distance by a margin of about six seconds. That felt awesome.

The bike - 2:20 is also pretty significant, like I mentioned above I took the bike out pretty strong, in the first five miles I averaged well over 22 mph, but also like I mentioned above it started to fall off. That puts my average right around 21.1

The run – That is just under 8 minute miles, and honestly I'm pretty happy with that. It's off my goal pace by almost 30 seconds, but I turned in a pretty fast race so I'm happy that I could muster that speed with no external guide. I will still try to push myself faster on the runs, because out of the 5 timed segments of this race the run is my worst ranking.

I gave myself four minutes in the goals for transition. The first one took 1:57 which seemed pretty fast. I actually got to my bike after some guy I saw, got my stuff and had time to tell him to adjust his helmut before I left before him. The second one only took 1:22 which was 4th fastest in my age group, so I'm feeling pretty good about those too.

I felt like I was really firing an all cylinders for this race. I placed 5th of 62 in my age group and 21st of 830 overall.

Closing Comments
It's fun to have ranked so high, I still feel like I have so much work to do, but it's fun to have done so well. At the end of last year I mentioned that I wanted to break into the top five in my age group, and then I refined that goal to an age group win at Prior Lake, if I can execute at that race the same way I did here that goal is a reality. In three short weeks I could get my first award for a podium finish. And if you're wondering, I missed a podium finish here by 2:40

From a racer's perspective this race is great. The setup is clear and organized, there were bathrooms everywhere, there are neat little perks like an expo and an "energy zone", there is the chance to see pro athletes pushing their hardest, a cool finisher's medal, good food, a play area for kids, a kids dj, face paining, a beer tent, and I'm sure there's more. I would definitely do this race again. The only draw back is the road surface pretty much sucks major donkey, I'd suggest the race director try to get in touch with the cities and recommend resurfacing the bike course, there's no way this race doesn't generate tons of revenue for the local economy. Apparently the race isn't as spectator friendly, having a course so clearly marked out for racers that you practically can't get lost means there are barricades up everywhere blocking access for pedestrians who might want to be moving from area to area quickly.

The crew - missing from this shot is my wife. She's great!
Next up, a half iron next weekend.

1 comment:

Eric Dronen said...

Definitely an awesome job, Jeremy!! Your race reviews are always so fun to read... and it was great being able to hang out before the race!