Sunday, June 28, 2015

Race Review : Waconia Sprint Triathlon

Back at Waconia, I was there in 2012, 2013, I skipped in 2014. This year it was run by a finalstretch. I've done a couple of their races in the past. I like they stepped in and kept this triathlon when the previous group decided to be done.

Originally I wasn't going to do this race, I was going to really cut back on races, the older kids are busy most nights with activities, and that eats up a lot of time. But, good buddy Jeff sent me the link, and my wife encouraged me to go despite this information:

Since August 15, 2014 to when I signed up for this race I had run and biked zero times. I had been doing a lot of swimming, but obviously that's not quite enough.

So I signed up at the beginning of June, and started running and biking. I managed to squeeze in seven runs and three rides. For a grand total of 7 hours - in a month. From swimming I knew I was in pretty decent shape cardio wise, but no strength was going to be an issue. I'm actually pretty happy with how things were shaping up. Goals for the race, do the best I could.

Packet Pickup

The race was on Sunday, packet pickup options were Saturday at Gear West or race morning. I elected to not drive all the way to Orono on Saturday, and just get there early on race morning. In the end that all worked at fine.

Race Morning

It stormed all night, tons of rain. It was still raining VERY hard when I woke up at 5:00. According to the forecast it was supposed to stop raining in Waconia at roughly 6:30, so I had some breakfast, and got ready. It has almost stopped raining at our house, and I was off.

I arrived at the park around 6:30, that's when packet pickup and everything was supposed to get started. One of the two little parking lots was already mostly full. I pulled in, went over got my packet and headed back to my car to set my stuff up. I assembled my bike, put the bike number on. I went to fasten my running number to my running belt. Couldn't find it, I knew I had grabbed it in the morning, but couldn't find it. I tried calling my wife, no luck, thank you Android, or maybe Samsung, who knows. I restarted my phone, and while doing that I remembered where I had stashed my belt. I struggled for a good long while with the helmet sticker. I ripped all the corners off the sticker, in the end I used a safety pin to get it done. Thankfully when I was in transition I noticed every other person also having the same problem. Eventually the race director got on a bullhorn and said they had tape if people were struggling.

After that I found Jeff, and later my wife. We hung out and got ready for the race.

The Swim

Unlike previously years the swim was a mass wave start. Off the top of my head I can't even remember the last time I did a mass start. I was in the second wave, the first wave was elites, Athena, Clydesdale, and relays. Three minutes later we started, 40 and younger. I kinda like the mass start, I ran off, did some dives and started in. I was breathing to my right and I saw some guys hanging on so I kept the pace up. About the time I got to the first turn I had passed a couple of people from the previous wave, and also realized that nobody from my wave was anywhere to be found.

It took me a second to get my bearings, we were now swimming into the sunlight. Not a big deal, but it did take a second. The middle section is much shorter than the other two. Imagine an isosceles trapezoid (or just look it up.) When I turned the second corner I was totally disoriented, I looked up and saw some markers, but it didn't make any sense, so I took a second or so and finally found the right set of markers.

I had been basically swimming alone this whole time, not really passing anyone, not getting passed, or so I thought. As I was coming in toward the beach I saw someone coming in from the middle (probably had swum off course) they had the same color cap as me! I picked up the pace a bit. I really like coming out of the water first, as our paths converged I realized they didn't have the same cap as me, actually just a guy from the previous wave. I hit the beach, stood up and thought 'well, that was tough.'

I kinda walked for a second to gather my thoughts and then jogged into transition. As I ran in I realized there were several people standing around waiting for the swimming relay partners, so maybe I had passed more people than I thought. I kinda took my time getting the wet suit off, and getting my stuff together.

The Bike

At this point I think I have some hammer gels in my pocket. Look how happy I am. It wasn't true, they had fallen out when I took my wetsuit off (yay...)

I trotted my bike out right behind a relay biker. A quick glance and I though, I got this guy. Long story short, I didn't have him. We started off down the road. Personal goal for this year, drink more water. So I took a sip or two right out of the gate.

The first little bit is a small downhill, followed by a meandering uphill, followed by another downhill, and that about covers the first mile. I had sort of settled into a pace that was comfortably challenging, and that guy was just out of reach.

For the next 15 minutes I felt like I was riding alone. Not passing anyone, and nobody passing me. Then a guy came by, in my wave, but not in my age group. A couple more young bucks came by, then surprise surprise, a guy from the NEXT wave. He was cruising. There was a short detour on the ride, it went right by a church, on Sunday morning, and service was being let out. It was not good, lots of people slowly driving and parking and pulling out.

After navigating the church gauntlet, I had run out of time. The first guy from my age group caught me, and then another, it was like a train had caught up. Overall though I was feeling well, and then... into the wind. The wind wasn't stiff or anything, but noticeable.

Only the littlest made it to the race - she's a movie star

Like most movie stars she likes to relax on the beach

For the next 30 minutes or so we continued on like that. Up until now the course is actually pretty flat, not totally flat, but not really hilly either. And then ... the hills started. It's a series of hills that alone aren't killer, but they do make you take some extra gulps of air.

Around this time I started to see that guy from transition again, I really wanted to catch him, and I almost did, but ran out of road. I ran past him on the way into transition. I'll take it.

The Run

I took a little time to get my stuff in order, and then trotted out. I was actually pretty good, I figured six or seven people in my age group were ahead of me, along with 20 or so others. One of the things that tends to get to me when I'm in an early wave is that I basically only get passed. And that was holding true so far.

The start of the run is the same as the start of the bike, except it's much harder because you're not rolling and can't downshift. As much as I didn't want to I did end up walking twice in the first mile. Though I was diligent to make sure I restricted it to 10 seconds each. One of the neat things about being close to the front (though not close enough to win) is that you get to watch the fast people coming back. In the first mile I saw all the top 10 finishers, it's pretty neat.

The rest of the run, after that first mile wasn't nearly as hard as I remembered it from previous years. I did walk through water stops and drink Gatorade. I glanced down at my watch a couple of times, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was holding roughly nine minute miles. For me, that's pretty dang good :)

The Finish

The finish was uneventful, I was feeling really good about the race. I mean I had basically set no expectations, but had been able to string together a decent race for myself. I cruised in, and found some shade and hung out with my wife and youngest kid. It was fun.

The Results


The Swim
I figured this would be faster, but I'm happy with it. Good for fourth over all.

The Bike
Not unexpected

The Run
Big surprise - super stoked

That's good for 88th overall and 6th in my age group.

Closing Comments

I was surprised how small the transition area was, in 2013 the race seemed much larger, but it was a a good race. The volunteers were great, and minus the church traffic the course was also good. Also no finisher medal, but there were pancakes and fruit, and door prizes and stuff and the area is good.

My wife had a good time and she was beaming every time I saw her which is always a great boost. It was also fun hanging out with Jeff, unlike me he'd dropping tons of time over the years, it's super impressive.