Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lake Marion Sprint Triathlon Recap

Lake Marion Triathlon
Antlers Park August 17, 2014
0.25 mile/ 17.3 mile/ 5K 

I had been looking forward to the Lake Marion Triathlon since February.  I signed up exactly six months before the August 17 race date.  I thought it would be fitting end to a year of exercise; my first run (in seven years) had been on August 19, 2013. 

Leading up to the race, I was averaging the following during training.
9:00 pace on runs that averaged about 3.4 miles
16.7mph on bike rides that averaged 13.4 miles
1100yd training swims split two or three ways 

My time breakdown and predicted reactions were as follows:
Over 2:00             Failure
1:55-2:00             At least I did it
1:50-1:55             Good enough
1:45-1:50             Happy
1:40-1:45             Awesome
Under 1:40          Able to retire as champion of the world 

It’s probably obvious by my listing of the training averages above that I purchased a new watch.  I got the Garmin Forerunner 10 and quickly became obsessed with time, pace, speed, distance, elevation and the splits thereof.  I teach in the math department at a local community college so it’s easy for me to get obsessive over the numbers.  For example, if my transition times don’t change and I swim, bike and run at the same rates as in the Chaska Triathlon, then I would end this race with a time of 1:47:20.   Similarly, if I maintain transition times and hit my training averages with a cut equivalent to three minutes off my embarrassing Chaska swim, then my total race time would be 1:42:40.  I was feeling good going into the race; I had no aches or pains holding me back. 

I picked up my registration packed on Saturday afternoon (Sunday race).  The t-shirt for this race was awesome.  The other ones I’ve received throughout the year are a little too “Look at me!” for my taste.  This t-shirt is a darker green and is going to get worn a lot.  Also in the packet was a tri race belt for your bib number.  I was thinking about buying one of these, so that was a nice surprise.  I didn’t use the belt for the race; I went with the same two shirt combo as in the Chaska race. 

The race takes place only about 20 minutes from my house.  I ran the 5K loop for practice a couple days before the race, and I drove the bike course after I picked up my registration packet.  Flat, flat, flat!  This was so much different than the hills on the Chaska course.  The bike only has about three short climbs, and the run similarly only has three short uphill sections.  On my practice run, I even broke twenty seven minutes (just barely) on the 5K.   

After the swimming debacle in Chaska, I did get in one open water practice before the Lake Marion Tri. On the practice swim (in the same lake as race day) the first go was a mess, but the attempts after I warmed up went smooth. I decided that the key to race day was going to be getting in a little practice swim before the start of my wave.   

On race day I got up early and got to the park just after transition opened up.  When I was topping of my tire pressure, I heard a sudden hiss sound and my heart skipped a beat before I heard the accompanying cussing from the fellow whose tire had sprung a leak.  Poor guy, I’d say a flat tire is my biggest worry going into race day.  Maybe it was lucky that he had it happen to him in the parking lot and not on the ride?  Nope.  I unpacked my stuff and headed to transition.  After I was set up, I took off for a short warmup jog.  When I got back to transition the same guy was changing another flat tire.  That’s some rotten luck; it couldn’t possibly happen again. Could it?  Yup; I saw him walking his bike back when I got on the bike course later.  I felt bad for the guy.

Anyhoo, going down to lake for the pre-race meeting I saw the buoys for the Olympic swim.  Wow, that is a long swim.  I had actually sent an email in the spring with a request to be change my registration to the Olympic race.  Luckily, no one got back to my until race week, and by that time I was only training and ready for the short course.  I thought about dumbing it up and trying for the long course, but I was able to work myself out of that stupid decision.  After seeing the length of that swim, I was very happy with my decision.  The sprint swim, on the other hand, looked short and quick.   

It was humid, warm but not hot and there wasn’t much wind.  It was race time.

Swim: ¼ mile
Goal:     Don’t embarrass yourself.
Actual: Awesome.
After the pre-race meeting I got in the water and did a little swim.  The water was chilly, but not cold enough to be uncomfortable.  It was probably similar to the temp of the lap pool at the Y.  When the waves started to go off everyone got out of their way, but there was still a little area off to the side where you could get in the water.  I waded in and took a few strokes here and there right up until my wave was about to start. 

I lined up in the back of the pack for my wave, and walked into the water when we got the starting signal.  This swim went great!  This was everything the Chaska swim was not.  Once I dropped in and started to swim I had no problems.  I got kicked and accidently kicked others a couple times, but nothing that threw me off too much.  It was easy strokes and easy breathing.  It was a triangle course, and I stayed out wide most of the swim.  That probably added a little extra time, but that’s where I ended up being comfortable.  Rounding the last buoy, I picked up the pace a bit and even passed a couple guys from the heat that took off before us.  Getting to shore I looked at my watch and it said 8:15!  What a change from Chaska.  After the swim in Chaska I wanted to quit, and after this swim I felt like the king of the world.  My official swim time was a little slower due to when I started my watch and checking the time before crossing the mat to T1.
Swim Time: 8:33 with an average of 1:57 per 100 yards
Chaska Comparison:   an average of 2:31 per 100 yards
Goal:     Less than three tries to put on my shirt.
Actual:  Three tries.
The run up to transition was a little further than I would have liked to jog without my shoes.  I suppose that’s probably always the case.  My idiot thing about T1 was that I messed up the timing on my watch.  First, I reset the timing, so I wasn’t going to get an accurate total time for the race.  Second, I noticed that I had the watch set to “auto pause”, so my stationary time in transition was not going to be recorded on my watch either.  Nuts.  Otherhows, T1 went off without too many problems.  It is tough getting my shirt on when wet.  I’ll have to figure out a better plan for T1 next year. 
T1 Time:              3:35
Chaska Time:     3:07

Bike: 17.3 miles
Goal:     Less than one hour on the bike.
Actual:  Less than one hour on the bike.
The bike went well.  The course starts off riding through Lakeville, then you head into the country and finally you loop back around to the lake.  The course is mostly flat and fast.  I’ve never had an average speed as fast as I did on this course.  The flats had to be the key.  By my watch, this bike course had about 300 ft of elevation change, and my typical 16 mile training loop has about 450 ft of elevation change.    

At least I thought I was fast.  I must have been passed by 20-30 people on the bike.  Every time a group passed me I would check my watch to confirm my speed, and it kept saying I was ahead of my goal.  It didn’t look like I had any reason to try to speed it up (it’s not like I was holding back anyway).  So, I figured bully for those fast folks, and I stuck to my pre-race goal of getting off the bike within an hour.   

I had a water bottle on my bike and I brought a gu packet of the type that I had been using on my longer training sessions.  I took the gu about 45 minutes into the bike.  I was sipping water throughout the bike, but I didn’t end up taking down much of my bottle.  Coming back to the lake, I saw my family waiting at the last corner before the turn into transition.  My oldest boy (Cooper, 3 yrs) was pretty jazzed to see me, as I was to see them.
Bike Time:  57:21 average speed 18.1mph
Chaska Time:        average speed 16.5mph

Goal:     Quick
Actual:  Quick
T2 has been quick for both races.  I suppose my T1 is too slow and my T2 is fast, so it balances out.  I had pinned my bib to my run shirt again, so with the rack of my bike and a quick change I was off.
T2 Time:             0:44
Chaska Time:     0:42

Run: 5K
Goal:     A minute faster than Chaska
Actual: Missed it by that much.
As I left T2 I saw the family again and the cheered me on my way.  My wife is a trooper.  It’s not easy trying to corral two little boys in a big park with lots of people while dad runs around and has fun.  She did it both races this year without any complains, and it wouldn’t have been the same if they weren’t there.  She’s an amazing woman, and I love hear dearly.   

I had run the 5K course as practice a few days before the race.  I knew it hit the same hill twice on the out and back and that there was an incline on the turn around.  I decided that I was going to take the first half mile a little easier that balls out; I didn’t want to have to stop or walk.  My splits ended up being 8:50, 9:30 and 9:10.   

The run was mostly uneventful, and for the most part it felt like I was running alone. I know there were racers around me, but I just wasn’t noticing them.  I did see one fella ditch into the trees to relieve himself (vomit or potty, I don’t know).  And, there was another guy who I traded leads with about four times.  In the end, he pulled away toward the finish.   

In the last few hundred yards, the course winds through a wooded trail.  I’m sure I was alone in there.  It was darker, cool and quiet before you run back into the sun and the finish line.  It was a great end to the race where I had lots of fun. 
Run time:            28:39 with a 9:15 pace
Chaska Time:     29:36 with a 9:32 pace

The clock at the finish line read around 1:49:00.  I had reset my watch after the swim so, again, I wasn’t sure of my total time.  I went off in the 5th wave so I figured that I was around 12 minutes behind the clock.  It looked like it was going to be a really good time, but I was going to have to wait until I could find a results board (never did) or some internet access.  Great race!  Good weather, good event times, great to see my family at the finish line.  Without a doubt, I’ll be a Marion again next year; maybe I’ll try the Olympic length.
Total Time:  1:38:51

Time Comparison

Packing up after the race.
Pic from the race's facebook page.