Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What I've been doing lately.

Dang it's been a long time since I've posted here! Well, I've been very busy. I just finished another race on Sunday, so I'm taking things easy for a couple days...maybe I'll post a few other blogs in the works.

The st. paul tri was at Lake Phalen, I competed in the international distance. Setting up in the transition, there was little organization--bikes were placed just wherever, and there was little room between some of the racks. I made the mistake of clipping my bike shoes onto my bike--I'll get to that in a minute.

There was a rectangle of buoys in the lake, and our we started in-water at about waist deep. I started the race in wave 3 as a clydesdale: behind all the international competitors. There was lots of lakeweed in the beginning, but I think it was chopped up fairly well by the previous waves. I had to do 2 laps around the buoys.

I eased into an easy pace, and felt good. I was wearing my Gear West singlet for the first time, and it felt pretty decent. I was happy to know that I wouldn't have to put it on at T1. About 1/4 into the race, my heart rate monitor strap slid down my chest and onto my waist. After a few failed attempts with one arm to pull it back up(with the other arm still stroking), I pulled it up and tightened it while doing breaststroke kicks on my back. Back to swimming, and onto the second lap. I was able to hold my pace, and even speed up. I had been recently working on my sighting abilities, and it was paying off. I was doing much less zigzagging, more straight swimming. I pushed hard after rounding the last buoy, kicking to get blood in my legs as I started to see the bottom of the lake, and swam until it was too shallow to swim.

I had a nice run into T1, and even passed some people on the way to my bike. Unfortunately, my feet were covered in sand. There was no water to step in after the sand on the beach, or even grass to run on for that matter--just straight to pavement. I spent an easy 30 seconds trying to de-sand my feet. Oh yeah--and the rocks. The parking lot wasn't swept, so my bare feet got even dirtier running in the parking lot. I didn't want to run out of transistion barefoot and try slipping dirty feet into my bikeshoes, so I unclipped my bike shoes, put on the shoes, and ran with my bike out of transition.

I hopped on my bike, clipped in, and took two pedal revolutions to find out my back tire was dead flat. I'd pumped it up really good that morning, but I was a bit suspect of the valvestem & I was right. I pulled my bike off the road and was getting ready to take my aerobar waterbottle off so I could lay my bike to change the tire. A guy ran over and told me he was a bike mechanic and said he could change it. I ran over to the county cycle tent and snagged a new tube, and ran back. He already had the tube off the bike and quickly slapped the new one on. He had everything ready to go really fast--It took about 4-6 min to get it all ready to go, and then I had my C02 cartridge inflater, which I used. It worked great, and I rode off.

I got going, and my legs had tightened up while I was changing my tire. I also noticied that in the change, my speedometer was not working. I still had my cadence readout, but I wanted to have a more accurate feel as to how hard I should be exerting. That in addition to the flat & my sore legs brought me down mentally, but I did not give up--I started to hydrate, the pain in my legs eased, and I pushed hard.

In the end, paying more attention to my bodily exertion and pedal cadence might've helped out more than not having a speed readout -- during the entire bike leg, nobody passed me. (except, of course, when I was fixing my tire) I also raced well from a technical standpoint. The one big hill on the course--a switchbacked half mile at 5.0% grade was of little challenge to me as it has been in the past on the way up, and I smoked on the way down--all the way without touching my brakes--something I've never been able to get myself to do in the past on that hill. I felt pretty satisfied with my bike overall. My average speed was 20.2mph including stopping for the flat.

My T2 was ok. Except for having to dodge the sprint distance finishers who were just hanging out, walking around in the already narrow paths between the bike racks. You know who you are; next time I'm going to give you a stiff arm.

The run felt good--better than usual at the beginning considering the transition--and I was able to feel comfortable at a decent pace. I ended up with a decent time --49 min 11 sec -- about par with my liberty tri run(which has become my gold standard for a "good race"), but not nearly as hilly. Not bad considering I was running on a gimp knee that I smashed on a tree earlier in the week while mountain biking.

I was looking at my watch frequently to determine how fast I needed to run to beat my PR, and to gage my running pace. As I rounded the south end of the lake for the second time, I started to increase my pace with the finish line in view. I don't remember the last few yards & crossing. I just remember them taking the band off my ankle, and telling me that I had to walk from the finish line to the shed 100 yards away to get water.

Why I liked the race:
+The challenging switchback hill on the bike course.
+The nice run around Phalen
+Cheerful, encouraging volunteers! (I think that's because most of them were triathletes)

Why I didn't like the race:
-bumpy bike course
-unswept transition area
-chaotic transition area
-unmowed weeds in the lake
-my registration was screwed up. I was placed in Age group Sprint instead of Clydesdale International despite me emailing the race director earlier in the week AND requesting the change at packet pickup. Therefore, I officially had the slowest sprint distance finish time. (but not the slowest sprint swim & bike splits. ha ha!)
-no water at the finish line. WTF?

The Numbers:
Overall 19/57
Men 17/37
Age Group 5/7
Clydesdale 1/1
10th fastest swim split overall.