2005 White Lake Sprint triathlon

Last year, I did this race as my first race ever. My goal for this year was to do better than last year at each of the three disciplines. I didn't set specific time goals this year, but I did have a stretch goal of getting into the top 50% of my age group.

Prerace: My early season training went well. I was running and biking more than last year, and I felt quite a bit stronger. I even managed to drop my weight faster than I had planned. Unfortunately, I got sick a few weeks before the race, right when I was planning to be at my peak training. I had to put my training in "maintenance mode" for the weeks leading up to the race. I also developed some kind of hip/glute/hamstring injury, and as a result I did very little running in the month before the race. Still, I felt like I was in good shape going into the race. I knew that on a good day I could beat my times from last year.

The day before the race I had a MAJOR dietary and mental breakdown. A friend invited me to a local horse race, where I managed to drink a few beers, get sunburned, and make myself feel really depressed. In the 24 hours before the race, I ate a Subway sub, chips, five beers, handful of veggies, ice cream with chocolate freeze shell, and two hamburgers. Ughh!

Race morning:I woke up at 5:00am to drive from my hotel to the race site. I'm really glad I got up so early, because I had time to talk myself out of the funk I had been in the day before. My race morning diet consisted of a Little Debbie's Oatmeal pie, and some Diet Coke. I was hoping to eat more, but I didn't want to risk stomach problems. I got to the race early (I was probably one of the first 20 people there), and I was able to set up my bike, get my timing chip, get body marked, then walk around a bit and get myself in a good mood.

Swim: Last year I went out way too slow, and ended up getting dropped by the lead pack of swimmers. This year I was determined to stay with the lead pack, even if I had to go hard to do it.  I didn't get a chance to do much of a warm-up, because the water was COLD! The instant I got in the water, I got a tight chest from the shock. I decided to stay in one place and just bounce up and down.  I probably looked silly, but I managed to warm up a bit. When the horn went off, I found a great set of feet and followed them all the way to the first turn. I picked up another pair of feet after the turnaround, and followed my new set of feet all the way home. I got out of the water at 15:00, which was slightly slower than last year. But nobody from the wave behind me passed me, and I hadn't seen too many people coming out when I was sighting on the last leg.  Last year, a few guys from the wave behind had passed me before I got out of the water. So I felt that my swim ranking in my age group was probably good even though my time was slower. Swim stats:  15:56, 16/46 AG (Age Group), 117/340 OA (Overall). Top half both AG and OA! Woohoo!

T1: T1 was fairly smooth. My bike rack was near the bike start/end, so I didn't have to do much running with my bike.  I also switched to riding without socks, and starting with my shoes already on my bike.  It took me a few extra seconds to get my wetsuit off, and I wasn't running very fast in the transition area, but I still managed the 8th best T1 time in my age group. No complaints here. The only problem was that it took me too long to get into my shoes once I was on the bike.  T1 stats:  1:46, 8/46 AG, 51/340 OA. Go me!

Bike: My training suggested to me that I was in good shape on the bike.  I was holding a faster speed on my trainer than last year, and Debra was feeling very, very comfortable. The night before the race, I noticed that the bike course was slightly longer than last year. This was fine with me, because the bike leg is definitely my favorite.  When I got on my bike, I hammered like mad.  The expression people often use is "ride it like you just stole it."  Well, I did. Two guys passed me immediately out of T1 (as I was getting in my shoes), but I managed to catch them again by the end of the first lap.  Other than these two guys, only four guys passed me on the bike.  Three of the guys were from the wave behind me, and they had disc wheels. One guy was from my wave, but he had a tricked out Cannondale.  So for the second year in a row, nobody passed me unless they were on a fancier bike :-).  I felt really, really good on Debra.  None of the age group females caught me on the bike this year. Last year, they were catching me by the middle of the second bike lap.  On the one hand, I was happy that I was riding so fast.  But on the other hand... riding behind the lead age group females is fun. [Use your dirty little imagination to figure out why]  Bike stats: 39:00, 13/46 AG, 84/340 OA. Top 1/3 both AG and OA!

T2: This one was a little bit slower than it should have been. After the problems I had coming out of T1, I didn't want to risk problems in T2. I decided to keep my shoes on my feet instead of trying to take them off while I was still on the bike. This probably cost me at least 10-15 seconds, but it was much less error-prone. I had planned on doing my runs sockless for the last month or so before the race, but as I mentioned earlier, my training schedule was interrupted with illness and injury. So I had to take extra time to put on socks in T2. T2 stats: 1:28, 24/46 AG, 207/340 OA. With better prep, I can surely knock some time off my T2.

Run: I felt fairly good coming off the bike. My first 1/2 mile on the run was great. My legs were turning over nicely, and I felt strong. After the first 1/2 mile, I started to feel sluggish, and I couldn't pick up my effort until I hit the turnaround. I was feeling great about the fact that I had still not been passed by a single female. Last year, there was a steady stream of female age groupers going past me by the middle of the run.  I knew the bike was a bit longer than last year, and I knew that I had done well on the bike, but I was still surprised that none of the women had passed me.  My time at the run turnaround suggested that I was within seconds of my time from last year. Hrmmm....  As I started back to the finish line, I saw that there was a huge pack of people about three minutes behind me.  I turned up the effort a bit to try and hold them off. I also noticed a masters elite female ahead of me, looking like she was having a rough day. I thought it was be much fun to catch someone from the wave before mine. The wave before mine is the elite wave, so I never get a chance to pass people. By the run finish, I was within 5 yards of the elite female, but didn't catch her. Oh well. Final run stats: 24:20 (45 seconds faster than last year), 32/46 AG (lower than last year!), 191/340 OA.  I felt good about being 45 seconds faster, but can't explain how my rankings declined. Must... run... more...

Final thoughts:  My final time of 1:22:28 was good enough to hold 13/46 in my AG, 102/340 OA. Top 1/3rd in both!  I'm very happy about this result.  Top half would have made me happy, top 1/3rd makes me wonder if top 25% is possible?  With better race prep, more weight loss, and (most importantly) better run training, I think I can make it. My swim and bike ranks were up sharply from last year.  My run rank, while lower than last year, came after a 45 second improvement.

Lessons learned:

  1. With a good base, even a few weeks of low-intensity "maintenance" training can keep me in good shape.
  2. I need to work on my bike mount/dismount. I practiced them a bit, but still managed to mess up in the heat of the race.
  3. I got lucky on my pre-race diet. I wonder how much time I would have gained with proper fueling?
  4. My swim has room for improvement, perhaps two full minutes.
  5. My bike was solid. Perhaps there is room for some more improvement with better equipment (race wheels?). Better training will probably allow me to come off the bike with less fatigue, but I don't expect huge gains in speed beyond my current level.
  6. Although my run is improving, it is still far and away my weakest leg. I can probably get three minutes of improvement simply by losing weight and consistently logging miles. Injury prevention and building a solid base are needed on my run.