Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fun with Standard Deviation

The graph above shows how many standard deviations from the field average my event times were for each of my triathlons (z-score). Negative is slower and positive is faster than the average. As you can see, my first race in Chaska was a turd. Since then my sprints have been above average, my olympics below average (but respectable) and this graph makes my 70.3 look like a fail.

Look at the graph a bit closer and you'll see that my total time for my last two sprints we almost the same with respect to the field average.
Hopkins:     0.368 standard deviations = 64th percentile and
New Bri Tri: 0.330 standard deviations = 63rd percentile

Similarly, the rankings on my two Olympic length races are nearly the same.
Bemidji:        -0.341 = 37th percentile and
Lake Marion: -0.374 = 35th percentile

Each of those races had their own quirks (length, wind, humidity, hills, give-up factor (Marion), holding back factor (New Bri)), but the numbers are too close to resist.  So, I had an average drop off of 0.706 standard deviations from my sprint times to my my Olympic times.  If I had the same drop off going from the Olympic to the 70.3 length, that would have put me at -1.064 = 14th percentile. As it happens, my time came in at -1.309 = 19th percentile when compared to the average.  It's more so the back of the pack instead of the middle of the pack, but I'll take it.

Also, my Liberty long course bike didn't drop off at all when compared to my Olympic effort.
Bemidji (20 miles):  -0.562 = 29th percentile
Marion (26 miles):   -0.515 = 30th percentile
Liberty (55 miles):   -0.562 = 29th percentile

I kinda laid an egg on the Liberty swim, but we'll try to get'em next time. Anyhoo, even without the numbers I'm happy with my first 70.3 effort; the numbers just make it a little more fun.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Liberty Triathlon 70.3 Recap

Liberty Triathlon
Rockford, MN
Saturday, June 11, 2016
1.2 mile/ 56 mile/ 13.1 mile

Ooff, where do I start?  It was a long day of racing, and it was a long span of training to get to this race.  Now that it's all done, I suppose I'll call it a success.  It didn't go quite as well as I  hoped, but it was a good first effort at the half-ironman distance.


In the five weeks leading up to this race I was averaging about 7.5 hours a week for training. I didn't use a training plan, I just kind of go with what feels right on a given day. My long bike in training was a 40 mile/ 10 mile brick.  My long run was a half marathon, which I did a couple times.  I often swim the 1.2 miles or longer in the lap pool.

I did this race with my sister.  She's done many sprint and olympic triathlons and a couple marathons. Her strength is the run, and she kicked my butt on that leg of the race (more later).  I met up with her on the morning of the race in the transition area, and prepped our stuff for the day ahead. The race site was only about 50 minutes from my house, so I just drove up race day morning.  

The weather predictions for race day were the same all week: hot, sunny, humid, no wind and no rain. The predictions were right on.  The temp started around  72° and it was over 90° when I finished.  It was pretty uncomfortable, but it still was better than rain and wind.

Swim 1.2 miles
Goal: Under a 1:50 min/100 yds average, hopefully under 38 minutes
Actual:  Not really even close. 

I'm not really sure what happened on the swim. It was a beautiful morning for a swim.  It was in the low 70's and no wind.  The lake looked like glass it was so calm.  The water temp was in the 70's as well, and with a wet suit on it couldn't have been a better morning for a swim.  

I went off in the second wave with age groupers 39 years old and under. It was a pretty big group; we probably had 50 people or more.  This was the roughest start that I seen thus far. I gave and received kicks and hits. After a hundred yards or two, things started to thin out.  I had a swim in the pool a week ago where my left arm and hand fell asleep, and it kinda freaked my out.  Since then, I stopped a lot of my upper body strength training and dialed it back a bit on the swimming.  I'm not sure what was up with my arm in the pool, but everything felt fine on race day.  

After the first couple hundred yards, I got into what I thought was a good rhythm.  I felt like I was working similar to the previous week in New Brighton (1:44 min/ 100 yds).  I had set my watch to alarm when I hit 17:30 into the swim; I figured this would be a good gauge for my pace.  When the watch went off, I was a bit short of the halfway point.  However, I must have covered the first half of the swim in 18 to 19 minutes.  I slowed way down on the swim back to shore.  It didn't feel like I slowed my pace, and I had plenty left in the take.  I guess I just underestimated my speed.  It wasn't a big blow to the time, but my ego took a hit.  Usually I can hang my hat on my swim time, but this time around I didn't even beat the male average.

Swim Time: 40:10 with a 1:55 min/100 yds average
Swim Rank: 115 out of 225 swim finishers
                       83 out of 144 males
                       17 out of 22 age groupers                       

My time is noted in green.

Goal: On the Bike by the 40 minute mark
Actual: Never had a chance
I knew that if I was on the bike by 40 minutes, then a 17 mph bike and a 11:30 run would break 6:30 for the race. As it was, I figured 4 minutes in T1 would put me around 44 minutes at the start the bike.  By my race day memory, that would mean I needed 17.3-17.4 mph to start the run by the 4 hour mark.  I had forgotten to take the wrapper off my gatorade before the race, so I had to frantically work on that in T1. That probably cost me about half a minute; not a big loss for a long race.  I threw on my shoes (and socks), walked my bike out and mounted after the line.
T1 Time:   3:52
Positions:  115 out of the water, 
                   129 out of T1

Bike 56 about 55 miles
Goal: At least 17mph, Hopefully closer to 18mph
Actual: Pretty good

My plan was to eat a couple cliff bars in the first couple hours, and then switch to Gu for the rest of the day. I think the temp got to me, because my gut didn't want the cliff bars. After about 10 miles and half a bar, I knew is was going to be just a Gu day. My lost carbs probably hurt me a little bit, but the water was a bigger problem.

I knew I was going to spend more than 3 hours on the bike.  I figured I was going to need at least three bottles of water/gatorade.  My bike carries two.  My plan was to drink my two and then pick up a bottle at the mile 42 bottle exchange.  The guy ahead of got the last bottle, I got nothing. They temporary ran out of water at the bottle exchange (My sister got some water when she passed by later).  Let's go ahead and repeat that: THEY RAN OUT OF WATER ON THE 55 MILE BIKE COURSE ON A DAY WITH A HEAT ADVISORY!  I'm sure it was just a miscalculation, or some sort of lag in communication, but that is straight up bullshit.  This meant I was stuck for about the last 12 miles (40 minutes), during the hottest part of the ride, without any fluids.  This one definitely cost me a little bit of time.

Otherhows, the bike course was pretty nice.  The nine miles from the lake to the loop was pretty flat. The first corner of the loop has the most hills and the rest of the loop is rollers.  My watch clocked it a 1400 ft of up hill; that's very similar to my long bike ride route at home. Most of the course is on pretty nice roads, but there was one stretch where the shoulder was loose gravel.  I just stayed on the road for that part, and it was fine.  

I had the course at 54.6 miles.  I may believe a story that it was 55 miles long, but there is no chance it was 56 miles.  The official results used 56 miles to calculate average speed, so all the speeds are inflated.  My speed on the official results is listed at 17.9 mph, my watch had me at 17.5, and I recalculated everyone's speed for my table based on a 55 mile course.  Eight people didn't finish the bike, and an additional nine people finished the bike but did not log a T2 split.  I don't know what's normal for a 70.3 race, but we had 24 out of 225 people (more than a 10%) dropout after finishing the swim.

Bike Time:  3:07:30 with a 17.6 mph average.
Bike Rank: 159 out of 217 bike finishers
                     121 out of 140 males
                     19 out of 21 age groupers

Goal: Start the run by the 4 hour mark
Actual: Time to spare.
Having the bike course be a mile short made the 4 hour mark easy to hit.  I started the run at 3:54:57. Even with the full 56 miles I would have been pretty close to the 4:00 goal. I hosed myself down with sunscreen in T2.  It turned out that I got a pretty good sunburn from the bike. That might have hurt me on the run course as well. Otherhows, T2 wasn't too interesting. I walked in, changed shoes, grabbed my visor and water belt and I was on my way.  I had a phone in my water belt so that Tina could track me from home and come see me at the finish line. 
T2 Time:  3:26
Positions: 153 off the bike out of 217 bike finishers
                  146 out of T2 out of 208 racers with a T2 split

Run 13.1 miles
Goal: 2.5 hours
Actual: Not close, but still proud

I didn't have a whole lot left in the tank by the time I came to the run start.  It was probably a combination of the heat, failed water stop on the bike, failing to eat much on the bike and minimalist training.  

I have decided to only run twice a week.  I was getting in three (maybe four) runs a week in before I hurt my foot in March, but after that I cut back.  In place of additional running, I now do strength training twice a week (about 40 minutes each time).  I do a lot of hip and thigh stuff with resistance bands and some upper body stuff with some hand weights.  It seems to do the trick; my knees have felt much better since I started this routine in March.  Two runs a week really isn't enough to build any speed, but I'll take slow runs and minimal pain over the alternative.  

Anyhoo, coming out of T2 I walked for the first few minutes. I ate a banana and hit the first water stop pretty good (plenty of water there, what a shocking plan).  I wore my water belt, but the gatorade I carried was quite warm from sitting in the sun for four hours.  I'll have to put some ice in the bottles next time.  The run course has a fair amount of hills.  A couple of the climbs are tough, but it's no worse than my 13 mile run at home.  I gave it a shot for about three miles, and then I had to pull back. I genuinely contemplated walking off the course at that three mile mark. There was no way I was going to be able to keep any sort of reasonable pace for the entire run.  Having a DNF would have killed me, so I pressed on.  I started walking all of the up hill parts. This put me at about only a 13.5 min/mile clip, but it was all I had in the tank. There was a good amount of shade on the run, but the heat was killing me. The water stops were well stocked and no one minded if you took a cool cup shower at each stop.  After about 9 miles I had to stop the splashing because my shoes were getting water logged.  

I saw Nic at the turn around and noted that she was only about 10 minutes behind me. That meant she was going to beat me.  Her swim wave went off 12 minutes after me. I tried to use that to get my legs to fire again, but they were shot.  There were points where I really didn't think I could even make it up some modest uphills at a walking pace, but I managed to keep going. The only stopping I did on the run portion was at the water stations.  After seeing Nic and noting how fresh she looked, I figured that she was going to pass me at any minute.  That would have bothered me a bit, because that would mean she bested me by over 12 minutes.  As it worked out, she never physically caught me.  She beat me on the run be 26 minutes, and overall she beat my time by 5 minutes.  I'll take it.  She's a monster, I didn't expect to beat her.

At the end of my run the temp was into the 90's and the heat index was pushing toward triple digits. At least I got through the entire course; 16 people finished the bike but did not finish the run.  Out of those 16, there were 11 people ahead of me before the run.  I'm sure some of those folks had already completed some 70.3 races and it just wasn't worth it to finish in these conditions, or maybe this was just a warm-up race and not worth getting injured.  Either way, it was tough conditions and I was happy to move up a couple spots by completing the race.

Run Time:   2:55:36 with a 13:25 average
Run Ranks: 169 out of 201 finishers
                      115 out of 129 male finishers
                      17 out of 19 age group finishers

Which way to the gun show?

Total 6:50:32
Positions:  163 out of 201 finishers
                   115 out of 129 males
                   17 out of 19 age groupers

Stacked Time Comparison
Here's a look at my times compared to the male and field averages.  It's not too impressive, but I hung in there pretty well until the run. I have Toughman 70.3 in July, maybe I can knock off a couple minutes on the swim and 10 or 15 minutes on the run.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

New Bri Tri Recap 2016

Thank god, race season is finally here!

I did the New Bri Tri (0.5 miles/ 14 miles/ 3 miles) as a warm-up race for Liberty 70.3.  The two races are a week apart.  I had never actually tried doing a race where I cared more about staying healthy that posting a good time, but this went pretty well.

The weather was predicted to be thunderstorms for much of the week. If the swim had gotten canceled, I would have skipped the race.  I had no interest in doing a wet bike/run like in Minnetonka last year.  As it worked out, race morning was a little chilly, but there was no rain in the morning forecast.  The sun poked out while I was in the lake, and the bike and the run were quite pleasant for temperature.  There wind never kicked up throughout the race.

Swim 0.5 miles
Goal: Don't get hurt, and less than 1:50 per 100 yds average
Actual: Nailed it.

The lake was cold, but my wet suit kept my body plenty warm.  My head was a different story.  I had some issues adjusting to the cold on my face and head. I was in the water before the race started, but that didn't help the shock once I got to my wave start.  In the first two hundred yards, I almost went to my back because my freak-out was making me breath like a maniac. After a while, I decided I just had to slow down. After I paced myself a bit, things fell into place.  I got into a nice rhythm and started to breath easy.  By the half way point I passed some folks from the heat that went off before us. I set my watch for a ten minute reminder before the race, and when that went off I could see that I was on pace for a pretty reasonable time. It seemed like this swim was mapped out pretty well.  My watch had it at 0.52 miles, which is closer than most races.

Swim Time:  14:54, a 1:42 per 100 yards pace
Swim Rank:  52 out of 164 finishers
                       40 out of 105 males
                       5 out of 17 age groupers

My time is noted in green.

Swim Exit

Goal:  Don't break my bike cleats
Actual:  Good enough
I'm still not really sure how I want to run transition with my new bike.  I'm not wild about the idea of running with my cleats on, but I'm also not confident in a start where I hop on my bike with my shoes already on the pedals. I'll have to get in a little practice before next week at Liberty.  As it was, I walked out of transition with my shoes on and started my bike time slowly. A lot of folks passed me in T1. There were 13 people who I beat out of the water that then passed me in T1, and I never got close to them again.

T1 Time:  2:33
Positions:  52 out of the water
                   66 out of T1 (164 finishers)

Bike (14 miles  about 12.5 miles)
Goal:  Don't get hurt, 18 or 19 mph
Actual:  Nailed it.

I screwed up my watch at the start of the swim. I wanted to use the setting that times the race as a multisport event, but I started it as just a swim. I figured this out once I got on the bike.  So, I coasted the first minute of the bike while I jacked around with my watch trying to get things right. After that, I was off like a shot.
It was a pretty flat course; I got a fair amount of practice on the aero bars. I slowed down quite a bit to cross the railroad tracks 3 or 4 times, but the volunteers and cops did a great job at the intersections to keep my speed up the rest of the way. There wasn't much wind, and only a couple drops of rain. I had a drafting pair/team pass me at about 10 miles which seemed pretty silly. If you don't care or know about the sport's rules, I guess that's your problem.
The race is billed as a 14 mile bike, but there is no way that is true.  Using the gps on my watch, I estimate the bike course at about 12.5 miles.  There's no chance that I cut a mile and a half on tight corners. The results sheet had the averages based on 14 miles, so the speeds are all inflated.  I only captured about 12.4 miles on my watch after all my troubles.  For those 12.4 miles I clocked in at 18.9 mph.  With the added length and the time from the race sheet I dropped about half a mph.  I also recalculated the speed numbers for everyone using a 12.5 mile bike. One lady was still at 32mph after the adjustment; the second fastest bike time was 25.5 mph.  I assume the 32 mph is a tech error or a cheat. Either way, I threw her out of my results.

Bike Time:  41:22 with an 18.3 mph average
Bike Rank:  79 out of 164 finishers
                      64 out of 105 males
                      11 out of 17 age groupers

Don't fall of the bike or break my cleats.
Actual:  Nailed it.
The "it" that I nailed was a tent set up over the "bike in" mat at T2.  I guess it's made for short people because I nailed my head on the canopy.  Luckily, I was still wearing my helmet. Anyhoo, T2 was otherwise uneventful. I dismounted at the line, walked into T2, changed shoes and was on my way.  I only drank a little Gatorade on the bike, so I had one more hit before the run.  My total transition was about 30 seconds slower than the average total.  I'll take that.  I can try to speed it up a little next week, but I'll take a 30 second deficit all day.

T2 Time:  1:21
Positions:  71 off the bike
                   73 out of T2 (164 finishers)

Run (3 miles)
Goal:  Don't get hurt, under a 10:00 mile average.
Actual:  Nailed it.
I guess I started off a little over cooked on the run. About four minutes in I realized I was huffing like a water buffalo and my heart was racing. The last thing I wanted to do at this race was overcook it and hurt my knees. I pulled back on the reins and found an easy pace.  After that, it was easy going.  I suppose it was too easy.  I was passed by 12 people on the run, and I passed no one. However, I was going at a pretty good pace for me, so I just tried to breath easy and enjoyed the run. It was great to see my family at the finish line, and I very much enjoyed this race.

Run Time:  27:27 with a 9:09 per mile average.
Run Rank:  100 out of 164 finishers
                      72 out of 105 males
                      11 out of 17 age groupers

Total Time:  1:27:35
Overall Ranks:  85 out of 164 finishers
                            68 out of 105 males
                            11 out of 17 age groupers

Time Comparison
Looking at my times, I had the average male racer beat before the run.  Of course, that blew up on the run, but we're going to call it a win.  Even if I did try to over-cook the run, I don't think I could have dropped 30 seconds per mile. For a "B race" this was all pretty good.  I didn't get hurt, I had fun and I went at a pretty good clip. I always wish I could run faster, but right now I'm just happy I can run without too much knee pain.

Next Up

LIBERTY 70.3!  My long race of the year is this week and I think I'm ready. If not, I believe I couldn't be more ready.  My foot is completely better from the injury I had in March. Besides a small amount of knee pain and some shoulder trouble recently, I really couldn't feel better going into Liberty. It looks like it's going to be hot; it might get into the 90's.  I haven't done any training in heat yet this year, but that's only because we haven't had any heat. We'll see how it goes.