Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First Triathlon of the Season: Boulder Sprint Triathlon

Sunday marked the first tri of the season.  A tri I've done numerous times before.  It marked my first time tri-ing with the new bike, and would hopefully show the hard work I've put in thus far.

Earlier in the week, we received our new kits from MaccaX, our triathlon group.  We ordered these kits much earlier in the year through MX12, and while Champion Systems jerked around the group quite a bit, they finally arrived.  We tried them on, and we were both pretty impressed with the fit.  I'm not going to lie, it's pretty cool to have a triathlon kit and be part of a team.  We both were looking forward to representing our new team properly up in Boulder.

The day before the race, we checked in and did packet pick-up.  Due to construction, they would have to shorten the race by 2 miles on the bike.  This meant we wouldn't be able to actually get our proper numbers and compare them to the previous two years.  While we were doing the same race, we weren't doing the same distance.  Total bummer.  Also, the swim start was changing due to USAT attempting to make swimming safer for everyone and to make it more appealing to newbies.  Instead of just going in waves decided by your age group, they now seed you based on your best 100 yard swim time.  So in other words, you put yourself where you feel you should be.  Both T and I had no idea where we should put ourselves...we don't swim in a yard pool, we swim in a meter pool.  We haven't done any open water this year, so how do we know?  We decided to see what the waves would be the following morning and go from there.

Later that day, we tested out the kits by doing a very short spin and a very short run.  Capped off the night by eating our usual pre-race meal of breakfast food.  We came back home, packed up all our stuff, and then grabbed a bit of sleep.

Race Morning
I swear every race we do the same thing.  Wake up and wonder why we're doing this.  We did our usual breakfast ritual and got out of the house about 4:10 am, with the goal to get up to Boulder right when transition opened.  With traffic light and good weather, we hit it no problem.

Pumped up the bike tires, grabbed our trans bags, and headed up to transition.  It was just opened and due to that, we both secured GREAT spots on the bike rack.  My new Adamo bike saddle allows it to be hung by the back of the seat, which is just cool!  Yes, I'm a nerd.

I got my trans area set up and did my usual pre-race ritual of killing time.  I also took my bike out for a very short spin, as I wanted to make 1 million percent sure that my cadence was actually going to work.  T and I both wanted to get in the water a bit earlier to get a bigger open water warm up than we usually do, so we hopped in our wetsuits earlier than normal.

We walked down to the water and waited a few more minutes before hopping in, so we wouldn't risk getting too could before the race.  Hopping in the water with a few others, we got in a loop.  I could tell T was struggling with her breathing, but being that we have VERY little open-water experience this year, it was to be expected.  As for me, I was feeling pretty good.  We got in two more loops and called it a solid warm-up.  T said she was feeling a lot better and the longer warm-up did her some good.  Then came time to figure out where we were going to swim.

See, I swim in a metered pool.  And to ask someone to line themselves up in their fastest open-water 100 yard time...well that's just tricky.  I mean, I never am sprinting 100 yards in the open water.  I use open-water swims to test my endurance.  Not my speed.  So, being that it was the first race of the season, and a whole new format, we opted to do the conservative thing and go a bit slower.  T hopped in the 1:50-2 minute corral and I went for the 1:40-1:50 corral.

The National Anthem played and then the corrals started filtering into the water.  Soon my corral went, and after stepping on the timing mat, I went under the arch, hit the water, and my race began.

The Swim
I haven't done a start like this, from the beach, in a long time.  I'm so used to the shallow water/deep water start, it took me for a bit of a surprise.  Instead of doing the standard dolphin dive, I more or less waded until the water was chest deep and then took off in a crawl.

Right away, I could tell that I was faster than a lot of people in my wave.  I spent the first 100-200 of the swim just finding some open space, which was nearly impossible.  The swimmers were too clustered together.  Although I never got hit or punched, I definitely was on top of some people.  Strangely enough, my swim got disrupted by this.  I'd come right on top of someone backstroking or resting, have to nearly come to a stop, and pick it back up.  Not a fun way to swim.

When I made the turn back to shore, I thought I'd finally get a free space.  I was wrong.  There was still no open water space, and I was still swimming over people.  I realized that they had released the waves too close together and unless you were in one of the first two waves, there was just no chance for that open space.  I didn't care at this point; the shoreline was in sight and I was nearly done.  I knew I had held back quite a bit in the water, but I didn't stress over it.

I climbed out of the water, ran under the arch, and made my way back to transition.  Looked down at my watch, was not surprised at the time, but not thrilled with it either.  I'd say over a minute of it can be blamed purely on the swim start.

Swim time - 16:54 (2:06 per 100)

I felt like I was moving really slow in T1.  Methodical, I guess would be the better way to put it.  But I didn't forget anything, had my breath under me, and was ready to head out on the bike.

T1 time - 2:48

The Bike
This was my first race with the new bike, and let's just say it did not disappoint.  Of course, you can ask the question "did the bike do it or did you?"  I'd honestly say it was a bit of both.  Having the new bike has made me want to work harder on bike training...but the new bike is obviously faster...chicken meet egg?

Anyway, coming out of the res, you deal with some rollers for the first mile and a half.  If you aren't anticipating them, you'll get out of breath real quick and have to deal with that for the next 5 miles.  So instead of attacking these rollers, it's best to spin in a high cadence, get some hydration in, and not worry about speed yet.  That's the theory, anyway.

And I stuck to it.  And guess what?  It worked!  I passed a lot of people leaving the res, made the turn onto J road, and continued to climb.  Like I think I've mentioned before, the first 4 miles of this ride are all solid elevation gain, about 300 total feet.  You have to keep your cadence high to deal with it.  I was maintaining a cadence in the high 80's-low 90's, and while I was no longer passing a lot of riders, I was feeling good.  

When I started the descent, I threw it into one of my lowest gears and got ready to settle in for some consistent speed.  My legs were responding, my lungs were responding, and I wasn't even thinking about anything.  I just rode.  I just pedaled.  Maintaining a speed of 27-28 mph for at least 4 miles, I threw down the gauntlet and just flew down the road.  It was awesome.  Just awesome.  I knew I was having a good bike; I didn't know HOW good yet but was quite frankly excited to see the results.

Turning back onto the diagonal road, just short of the res, I saw the turn where the course was shortened.  Carpet/rubber mats were thrown down over the gravel, for about 800 feet.  It was, more or less, not fun to ride on.  Furthermore, it made drafting/safe riding nearly impossible.  I was clustered with about 5 other dudes, and had we not coordinated, we might have had an accident.  Boo.

I spun my legs out for the last 1/2 mile, just feeling awesome.  Ran back into transition and got ready to run.

Bike time - 45:02 (20.0 mph)

T2 was simple, and again, methodical.  It took me awhile to put on my socks; I have no idea why.

T2 time - 2:01

The Run
I ran out of transition and felt okay, but not great.  I sure didn't feel spry like I was hoping.  But I kept putting one foot in front of the other.

This run at Boulder is a grind.  You run out from transition for about 1/2 mile, then out on this dirt dusty road next to the res.  You see the entire line of runners in front of you nearly all the way to the turn around point.  And being that it's a straight up out and back, you keep looking for the turn around point, but it never quite seems to get there.  So it's a grind on you mentally.  There's also 0 shade on the run, which 2 years ago resulted in me getting 2nd degree sunburn in the 1/2 Ironman...

Anyway, I kept moving steadily.  I knew I wasn't moving all that fast, but it was steady.  I hit the mile point and started to feel pretty good, yet hesitated to pick it up.  There was still quite a bit to go, and my legs just weren't really responding to speedier work in the run.  

I hit the turn around point and felt happy, knowing that every step I took was a step towards the finish.  Again, I attempted to pick it up, but my legs just were not responding.  I wondered if I went too hard on the bike, but I didn't think so.  Instead, I chalked it up to lack of brick training this year, which is not really THAT big of deal, yet.  Something to think about for my next race.  

Coming back in, I saw T running out.  The kit definitely makes us stand out.  I shouted some encouragement to her and realized she wasn't too far behind me, so I knew she was having a good race too.  A girl and I were chatting briefly coming back in, and then I left her behind and was finally able to pick it up.

I hit the finish line, breathed a big sigh of relief, and got my medal, towel, and some water.  First race in the books. :-)

Run time - 30:02 (9:40 per mile)

We grabbed some oranges and pretzels and waited to see our results.  I knew I beat last year's time, but it's not quite accurate due to the bike being shorter.  Regardless, my time was pretty good (1:36:47).  Aside from the swim, I improved in all the other disciplines in terms of speed from last year.  

There are a lot of things to work on, and there's a long way to go until Ironman.  But there's a lot of positivity to take away from this race.  I'm very optimistic about the rest of the season. :-)

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure I would have the same question if I had to get up at 4:00 AM to punish myself too :-)

    Honestly, every race I have done, and I've done plenty, never required the travel and prep you guys bravely go through!

    You have my admiration!