Thursday, July 23, 2015

Paul Bunyan Triathlon Recap

Paul Bunyan Triathlon
Bemidji, MN
1 mile/ 20 mile/ 5 mile
July 18, 2015

It took a lot of effort to get to this race. Originally, I had registered (and paid) for the Annandale Heart of the Lakes triathlon but a family get-together and a Monday meeting up north made this race a better fit.  Also, I almost backed out in the last week. The weather looked like it was going to be stormy, and I had no interest in running another converted duathlon. But, the weather predictions cleared up, so the family and I piled in the car and made the trip up north. In order to make the trip, we also had a hitch installed on the car ($200) and purchased a bike rack ($60). We stayed with my folks, and my brother's family came up for the weekend as well.  Since the house was crowded, I stayed in a hotel the night before the race ($190).

Going into the race, I was hoping to break 2.5 hours and not finish dead last. Twenty nine people ran the long course; so dead last was a distinct possibility.  The times needed for a 2.5 hour race seemed possible based on my training times. However, this was going to be my first 2+ hour race, so I had no idea how my body would react to the time and length.

Pre-Race Pic
Swim (1 mile)
Goal:  Under 2:00 per 100 yards
Actual: Crazy fast; maybe too fast.
I wore my wet suit again, and my swim times in the suit are fast. All the long course racers went off in one wave. It was a little thick in the water at first, but it thinned out after a few hundred yards.  I sight terribly while breathing to the right, and I veer right due to the terrible sighting. All is well on the left side, but I have to switch sides once and a while due to shoulder fatigue. In the lap pool, I breath the same side for an entire lap, and then switch sides on consecutive laps. Works great in the pool, rubbish in the open water. Something to work on before Marion (4 weeks).  Anyhoo, it was two laps around the markers and I zipped around pretty good.  I saw some ass clown cut a corner on the first lap. That made me kinda mad, but it's not like I was going to be fighting for a podium spot.  My time was fast; it was probably too fast. Either I went out too strong and hurt myself for the rest of the race, or the distance markers were off.  I think the latter.
Swim Time:   25:48 with a 1:28 per 100 yards pace
Swim Ranks:  14th out of 28 overall
                          11th out of 24 males
                          4th out of 5 age groupers

Swim Course

Goal: Under 3 minutes
Actual: Who knows?
The timing system for the "swim in" failed. So, there was no official T1 time.  That, by itself, is not a big problem. However, this race's organization left something to be desired. The T2 timing was also wrong, though the race claims it is accurate.  The sprint awards started before I finished (I get it, I'm slow). Also, when I did cross the line and finally found a volunteer, I was told the finisher medals were in a box by the bananas. Anyhoo, I think I timed out T1 pretty well with my Garmin.
T1:  2:04

Bike (20 miles)
Goal:     18.5 mph
Actual:  Slowy, slow, slow
Comming  out of T1, I knew that I was about 10 minutes ahead of a 2 min per 100 yards swim. Also, I knew I had won about a minute  in T1.  I had driven the bike course the night before, so I knew it was a relatively flat course with only a couple climbs around miles 6 and 14.  It was mostly an out and back course, and just like in Clearwater it was tail wind at the start and then head wind on the second half.  I thought if I held back a bit on the front 10, then I'd have something extra left for the back 10. Nope. When I made the turn, I had nothing in the tank.  It wasn't a strong wind, so maybe my training just sucks.  Either way, at the turn around I could see that I had about 20 minutes on last place, so that was one goal achieved.  I think there were 8 racers behind me.  So, I struggled into T2 with a 17.3 mph average on the back 10 miles (19.4 mph on the front 10).  I didn't hit the lap button on my watch when I hit the T2 mat, so I have to believe the official bike time. It sounds about right.
Bike Time: 1:07:22 with a 17.8 mph average
Bike Ranks: 21st out of 28 overall,
                      18th out of 24 males,
                       5th out of 5 age groupers

Elevation for the entire race; the last five peaks are the run.

Goal:  Fast
Actual: Who knows?
My official T2 Time is posted as 1:24. What a pile. Even more silly, my time is listed as the fifth fastest in T2.  This transition area was tiny. There is no way it took me a minute and a half to rack my bike and run out.  No chance.  The T2 times are all wrong. By my watch, I think the run and bike times are correct, but both transitions are goofed up. I'm not sure how that happens.
T2 Guess:  30-45 seconds

Run (5 miles)
Goal: 9:18 min per mile average
Actual: Not even close.
Again, I had driven the run course the night before, so I knew there were a couple hills. I didn't have much in the tank for the run.  You start the run on a wooded hill climb, and then we did an out and back of 2.5 miles on the road. I fought a stomach cramp for the first couple miles, then decided to walk it off.  At that point, I was only at a 10 minute mile pace anyway, so a little walking wasn't killing a personal best.  At the turn around, there was a street cone and writing on the ground  in chalk that said "Turn Around".  Seems like that would have been a good place for a volunteer.  After I walked off my cramp, I ran a couple more miles then walked through the water stop and up a hill.  I ran the last mile and change.  A lady passed me with about half a mile to go. She had a great pace, no chance to catch her.  Driving back after the race, I saw her again running down the road for some extra miles; crazy. Anyhoo, the family was at the finish line and it felt good to get cheered to the line.
Run Time:   51:14 with a 10:15 pace
Run Ranks: 22nd out of 28 overall,
                      19th out of 24 males,
                      5th out of 5 age groupers

Total Time:  2:26:46
Position:       22th out of 28 finishers
                      19th out of 24 males
                      5th out of 5 age groupers

Time Comparison
Below is a comparison of accumulated times. This has to be taken with a grain of salt because the transition times are all screwed up.  It still gives a good idea of a comparison to the field and male averages.  In both cases, my faster swim almost evened out my slower bike to make my time about average going into the run. Leaving T2, I was 39 seconds behind the field average and 3:22 behind the male average.  After that, I blew up my time on the run.

My watch time and the official time were exactly the same. The transition times were messed up, but tech will fail once and a while. There were plenty of volunteers, and they did their assigned tasks very well.  However, the organization of this race left something to be desired.  I probably won't be back.
Lake Marion is 4 weeks out and I will be running the olympic course. I don't think there is any way the swim course at Bemidji was actually a mile, so I'll have to keep up some training to see if I can swim a good time at Marion. I got a new watch (an impulse buy from my wife, $300), the Garmin 910xt.  Lots of bells and whistles.  It can be set up specifically for a tri, with planned timing for transitions.  Sounds fun. We'll see if I can figure it out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Graniteman Clearwater Recap

Graniteman Triathlon
Clearwater MN
0.44 mile/ 14.34 mile/ 5K (Relay)
July 11, 2015

This weekend, I ran the Clearwater sprint triathlon as a relay with a buddy from college.  I did the swim/bike and he did the run.  As a result, it wasn't so much a race day as it was a workout day.  It was good to get in a swim/bike workout before my longer race (Bemidji, 1 mile/ 20 mile/ 5 mile) next weekend.  Also, this was the first time I got to use my wetsuit, and it was my first open water swim of the year.

Going into the weekend I had been getting in some longer workouts.  My runs were around six miles, I had done a 23 mile bike and I had done a mile or more in the lap pool a few times. Early in the week there was a prediction of rain on race day, but it stayed away until the evening and we ended up with a nice sunny day for the race. 

I didn't have much in the way of expectations for this race.  Looking at the relay times from last year, I knew we were going to be slow.  My only hope for an overall time was that we wouldn't finish dead last in the team standings.  Outside of that unpleasant likelihood, I felt like it was going to be a fun day irrespective of our performances.

Swim: 0.44 miles
Goal:      Under a 2 minute per 100 yards pace
Actual:   That wetsuit is fast.
The race started about ten minutes late; the MC just kept going on at the pre-race meeting.  The weather was nice, so at least there wasn't any rush to beat the rain.  There were three Olympic waves and then I was in the first sprint wave with the rest of the relay participants.  The Olympic course looked long, but not as scary as last year at Lake Marion.  I think I can make that length, and we'll see if I'm right next week in Bemidji!  Anyhoo, on my wave start, I walked in and started at the back of the pack.  I wasn't sure what to expect with the new wet suit and with no previous open water swims yet this year.  Turns out, I should work toward the front of the pack next time.  Wetsuit swimming is so much easier!  It felt like cheating.  My suit is buoyant enough for me float without effort.  swimming is just paddling, I don't have to worry much about balance or keeping my body up at all. 

During the swim, there was this person next to me who was going at about the same pace.  However, every time they looked up to spot, they would take off on a line across my path.  I got her feet a couple times, she got mine a couple times and there was at least a couple body checks.  Weird.  I suppose it could have been me that was wildly changing my lines, but I don't think so.  In any event, my watch at the end of the swim said 13 minutes, but I hit the lap button before the run to transition.
Swim Time:  13:31 with a 1:45 per 100 yards pace
Times based on individual sprint racers.

Goal:     Under 3 minutes.
Actual:  Made it.
The mat for T1 must have been pretty close to the transition area.  It was 30 seconds from when I got out of the lake to when I crossed the mat.  It made my swim time look a little longer, but it also made my T1 time look a little quicker.  I guess that's probably always true.  Anyhoo, my wetsuit came off easy.  My shoes went on easy, and then I was on my way. 
T1 Time:  2:53

Bike: 14.34 miles
Goal:     19 mph average
Actual:  So close.
I started the bike course like a shot out of a cannon.  My average speed over the first 7 miles was 20.4 mph.  The entire course is reasonably flat, my garmin only counted 208ft of uphill (same for downhill).  But after the first seven miles we turned back into the wind.  The wind was not strong; it was about 8 mph.  But, by the second half of the course my legs were burning and the wind was hurting me.  I kept up as well as I could, but the second half of the course I averaged 17.4 mph.  It was a let down.  I knew my spits going out, and I checked the first few coming in.  I knew it was going to be ugly.  At least the race photog got a pic of me on the bike.  Again, I shouldn't be disappointed, my average mph was a personal best.  I had some crazy numbers running through my head for the first half of that ride; it sucks coming back to the realization that you're slow.
Bike:  45:41 with and 18.8 mph average
Times based on individual spring racers.

Run: 5K
Goal:  Get some food and rest.
Bull took the run portion of the relay.  He did pretty well too.  He cut a 9:30 pace with a 29:25 time.  His goal was to break half an hour, so congrats to him.  Well done.  The post race food was lack luster.  I like a banana or two after a workout, but I would also like something a little more filling.  There was a burger truck for pay, but I cheaped out.   A sandwich or something would have been nice.

Total Relay Time:  1:32:19

Time Comparisons
Below is a comparison of my times against the field (same as the distributions above) and male averages of the sprint race.  It may not seem like a fair comparison, but it's not like I ever hold anything back on the swim or bike to save for the run. You can see that I was a little ahead of the field average on the bike and the swim.  Compared to the male average, my fast swim just about evened out with my slower bike to put me pretty near the average total before the run. Who knows how the run would have gone, maybe I'l tri this one solo next year.

Post-Race and Up Next
Based on last year's times, I was just hoping we wouldn't finish dead last in the relay.  Well, you can only race those who show up, and I guess the rabbits didn't show up.  We took 1st place (out of 7 teams) in the all male relay category.  Our time would have only been good enough for 3rd in the all female category and 11th in the coed relay teams, but a win is a win.  We'll take it.  We had a great time.

Up next is the Paul Bunyan Triathlon in Bemidji next weekend.  This will be my first long race.  It is a mile swim, 20 mile bike and a 5 mile run.  I think fueling is going to be the hard part.  I haven't tried a two and a half hour workout yet.  We'll see if I can get it right on the first try.


Race Comparison