The Pacific Crest Triathlon Olympic Distance would be my 2nd triathlon this season and 6th in my short triathlon career. I looked at the 2013 results/splits and judging by my current fitness, I felt a top 10 overall result would be a great result and my overall goal.
Swim- 1500 meters
Air Temperature- low 50s
Water conditions- 64 degrees (a little chilly IMO, but not over the top)
Gear – Xterra Vortex full sleeve wetsuit.
Goal- 26 minutes
I was in the second wave (1 minute behind the elite first wave) with the rest of the 29 and under triathletes, which included fellow CTCer David Watkins. There were about 120 people in the wave, which is the largest wave I’ve ever swam in. I was in a predicament in that I didn’t want to start too hard (i.e. getting out in the front of the pack, avoiding chaos), but I also didn’t want to get swamped. Since the race was at 4,500ft, I opted for a more conservative start. Unfortunately my 2nd fear came to fruition and I spent the first 200 meters or so maneuvering around a lot of traffic. I eventually got into a good rhythm and tried to eliminate as much as possible “dead space”. Dead space is defined as intermittent loss of momentum due to sticking my head up, thus lowering my lower body and reducing drag. The most common cause of dead space for me is running into the back of slower swimmers and improper sighting. I really liked the swim course because it was marked with giant red buoys and intermediary yellow buoys for extra sighting support. The course consisted of two diamond shaped laps. The first lap consisted of more dead space then I would have liked, but I was really aggressive the second lap. I exited the water and crossed the first timing mat, looking at my watch, I was very happy to see 25 minutes 47 seconds. My swim split was good for 50th best overall.
My T1 transition time was 1:51. Looking back at the top 10 finishers, the average T1 time was 1:30; therefore, I need to do better.
Bike- 28 miles
Air Temperature- high 50s to low 60s
Gear – 2004 Trek 2300 road bike, aero bars, and Giro Advanced 2 aero helmet.
Goal- Average close to 23 mph
Bike Course- rolling hills the first half (3-5% grades) and downhill/flat the second half. Total elevation gain just under 1,000 ft.
The bike course was tough; it was either up or down almost the entire way, so it was hard to change positions, as the climbs were not steep enough to really stand up. The bike was incredibly scenic and made the pain and suffering a little more enjoyable. Since, I was in the 2nd wave, and the 1st and 3rd wave were only separated by two minutes, there were some really good cyclists around me at the beginning of the ride. I had fun passing the big boys on the uphill and smiled at myself when they came zooming by me on the downhill. Since, the last 14 miles were downhill and flat, I didn’t see those big boys again until the run. There was a slight headwind the last 10 or so miles, so I was bummed not to take full advantage of the downhill/flat sections. My TT set up needs a whole lot of work. Besides the fact I don’t have an aero bike, I know my position can improve. Shawn Hughes said I need a “real bike.” Just before I crossed the dismount line I looked at my computer which showed an average speed of 22.5mph. The entrance into T2 wasn’t for another 100 meters and it included a flight of steps. Therefore, technically my official bike speed was closer to 21.5. My bike split was 20th overall.
My transition time was 2:03 and the average transition times for the top 10 were 1:30. I need to be faster. Maybe I’ll go without socks next time, and maybe not take 5 steps in the wrong direction exiting T2.
Air Temperature- mid to high 60s (perfect!)
Gear – Nike Air Zoom Streaks w/ socks
Goal- 38 minutes (average 6:07 miles)
Course- Rolling hills, not too difficult
With my background in running, the run is my ace in the hole. One aspect of triathlons I really enjoy is how much mental strength/focus it takes to finish a triathlon. In cross country and track, you can clearly see your competition, and you have a good idea if they are going to come back to you or away from you. In triathlon, I can be down 2 minutes (unbeknownst to me), but can still make up a lot of time.
My first mile was 6 minutes on the nose, but it was net downhill. The second mile had a short steep hill and going up it my quads started to cramp. I had a feeling I would cramp on the run given that I cramped really bad during the Olympic Big Bear Triathlon (very hilly bike at altitude) last year. I hated that experience and didn’t want a repeat, so I backed off the next couple of miles, telling myself I would be more aggressive the second half of the run. Mile two and three were 6:21 miles. I was catching a lot of people, including a lot of the big guys who crushed me on the bike. Mile 4 and 5 were the hilliest miles and my splits showed 6:30 and 6:45. I saw a lot of people stopping and stretching, so I didn’t feel too bad that I was cramping. With one mile to go, I told myself I needed to stop fooling around with this “I’m afraid to cramp attitude”. My last mile was 6:10 for a total time of 39:26 (6:21 avg mile). My run split was good for 9th overall. I was roughly a minute and a half slower than my goal run time. I feel like I underperformed in the run which can be attributed to my mental approach during the run. I was afraid of cramping, so I backed off too much. In order to reach my full potential, I need to not be afraid to test my limits. Lesson learned.
Finishing time- 2:26:55
Finishing place- 9th overall and 3rd in my age group.
Hindsight is 20/20, but my takeaways from my race can be summed up with the following:
Swim- Reduce “dead space”, get out harder and try to draft a slightly faster swimmer, keep my head down to reduce drag
Bike- Don’t go out too hard, improve bike position (i.e. raise seat, lower bars, sell everything but my first born and by a Cervelo P2 ; )
Run- Be more aggressive, since this is my strongest area.