FIRM Racing and the Woodruff Family YMCA held their fourth annual Y-Tri over the weekend, and I raced it as my first full triathlon of the season. The race is a short sprint, consisting of a 300 yard pool swim, followed by an 11-mile bike course, followed by a 2.35-mile run. That makes it the triathlon equivalent of a 10K--a good race for beginners and/or folks looking to try triathlon for the first time, and also a tune-up race for more serious triathletes early in the season.
I did well in this race, and that was important to me because I coach the Woodruff Y’s triathlon club, and while the club itself is neither large nor particularly formal, I still wanted to put my best foot forward with people that I like and respect looking on.
The week prior to the race was a regularly scheduled Rest Week. Other than that, there was nothing particularly interesting about it, save that we also chose that week to re-do the floors on our stairs, in our hallways, and in our kids’ room, which meant that Sally and the girls spent the week at her mother’s house while I slept on the coach in our basement. Beyond that, I rode my regular commute twice, got rained out twice, and then intentionally bagged the commute ride on Friday before the race just to rest my legs another day. I also swam an easy 1500 on Wednesday at practice, but there was nothing particularly special about it.
I’ve been training harder and more consistently this year than I ever have before, and that’s great, but it also means that the Rest Weeks are more important than ever this season. I would’ve taken the time off even without this race, but it was nice to cap a Rest Week with a Race--and indeed, I do that kind of thing a lot during the season.
The Y-Tri was on Saturday, and the weather report leading up to the race put the chance of rain at 60% with the potential for thunderstorms for race day morning. Moreover, we had quite a bit of rain the night before, and I frankly did not know what to expect. I don’t mind racing in light rain or drizzle, but I’ll be honest--the idea of racing a short sprint in driving rain did not appeal. As it happens, I don’t think I was the only person thinking that.
I got up at 5:00 am Saturday morning, made some coffee, and sat down to read the Times on my tablet. That sucked, but I’ve learned as I get older that if I don’t give my body a chance to wake up before I try to work out or race, fact is I’m not going to race well. At 6:00 I started getting ready, and by 6:30, I had awakened Sally and left for the race.
Thankfully, the rain stopped about the time I got to the Y. I checked in, said hello to the folks that I knew--which was pretty much everyone at this particular race--dropped some stuff in my locker, set up my bike, set up transition, etc. Unfortunately, the rain had really dappened turnout for the race, but what can you do? I pulled out my mat and did about 20-minutes of yoga on the pool deck before putting on my tri-suit to get in the pool. Actual warm-ups consisted of 5 x 100 free easy on no particular interval. I interspersed a couple of pick-ups in there, but really, I just wanted to loosen up. My plan was to swim easy and then accelerate into the bike.
If you’ve never done a triathlon with a pool swim before, what happens is that they seed you in order of swim times, which are self-entered, and then you go at intervals of something like :15 in order from fastest to slowest. In theory that ought to prevent any traffic jams in the pool. In practice, most folks don’t have the first clue what their swim time is going to be, and on top of that, guys at the front of the race see competitive advantage in going early, so that they don’t get stuck behind a slower swimmer. So folks tend to exagerate their swim times, and traffic jams in the pool are common. It is what it is.
The first year I did this race, I put down a swim time of 3:30 for 300-yards, and I wound up stuck behind some slower swimmers, and it sucked. I also went well under 3:30. So the next year, I put down 3:15, and I led off the race, but then there was this twelve year old kid leading off a relay right behind me, and with his dad talking smack right there at the starting line, I had to race like Hell to stay ahead of him. I did that, and I swam well, but that was much, much more effort than I’d intended to use on that particular part of the race, and I didn’t think it’d helped my performance overall. So this year I put down 3:20, and I was seeded 4th. I was at peace with that, and I promised myself that if I caught the person in front of me, I was just going to draft and be happy for the opportunity.
As it happens, whoever it was that was seeded first didn’t even show. So two folks went ahead of me, and then I pushed off, determined to swim fast but loose and keep my heart rate under control. I did that, but I still managed to catch one of the people in front of me, though I was lucky because I was able to get around her without causing any chaos. So no harm, no foul.
I hit the wall feeling good, confident that I’d gone something in the neighborhood of 3:30 for 300 yards. Then up, out of the pool, out the door, over the mat, and on into transition.
Swim: 300 yds - 3:27 (~1:05/100); 1/6 Age Group, 1/67 Overall
That’s 3:27 to the mat, so my actual time to the wall was probably closer to 3:15 or 3:20--which is blazing fast for 300-yards. Considerably faster than I thought I’d gone. I mean, I could’ve done that easily in college, but for a forty year old guy who swims twice per week, that’s not bad at all. And I felt good doing it, which is the part that amazes me.
The thing that sucks about this race is that they don’t break out transition times seperately. So I ran from the mat into T-1, threw on helmet, race belt, full-fingered gloves (because it was 60-degrees out), shoes, and yellow-colored glasses, and I know all of that took about 2-minutes. What I don’t know is what that means for my ride time or how to evaluate my overall speed on the bike. ‘Cause my cycling computer broke last season, and I haven’t replaced it yet.
Anyway, the bike course here is two loops, just over 5-miles each with one small climb about ⅔ of the way through. I set out at about 85% pace and pushed without getting out of control on the first loop, and then let myself accelerate into the second loop. I let myself creep up to about 90% on the second loop, and as I was coming into the finish, I pushed hard. The course was wet, so I couldn’t take the turns are hard as I wanted, but other than that, I rode almost as fast as I possibly could for 11-miles.
The thing is, most triathlons are basically endurance events, but this one is a sprint. And I mean, it’s a real sprint because you actually have to sprint it if you want to do well. But as with a 10K race, you can’t just blast the whole thing, you have to have some care about how you’re gonna do it, or you can put yourself into a hole that it’s tough to climb out of. Anyway, I was satisfied with my effort level and performance here, but I was still stiff coming off the bike.
Still, this is my second multi-sport race of the season, so coming off the bike wasn’t a shock. It’s just one of the challenging parts of the sport
Bike: 11.1 miles - 35:07 (~19 mph); 2/6 Age Group, 11/67 Overall
As I said, ~19 mph is a very rough guess for my speed. I was probably just a little faster than that once you factor in the time for T-1, but I’ve no easy way to do that.
So. I’m a good swimmer, and I’m probably a little above average on the bike. If I only did aqua-bike races, I’d be great. But. There’s a third part to this sport, and it is by far my weakest discipline. I like to run--I enjoy it, seriously--but I’m not good at it, and I really dont know what, if anything, there is that I can do about it.
I get off the bike, rack it, change shoes, grab my hat, drop my glasses, and I’m outta there. Call it :45. The stupid run course snakes around behind transition and then out the front and onto the course, where it’s down-and-back with a little lollipop loop at the turnaround. I headed out and loosened up quickly, but as I started getting into the run, I could feel my chest tightening up.
I have mild athletic enduced asthma, but it usually takes quite a bit to make it start bothering me. On Saturday, though, with it as humid as it was, I hit that threshold, and it hurt. It was aggravating, too, because my legs felt good, and my heart rate was under control, but I couldn’t breathe well enough to accelerate the way I wanted to. I don’t know if that means that I need more conditioning, or if that’s just part of being a crappy runner, but anyway, I wound up suffering through what should have been a pretty easy run. I was able to hold a decent working pace, but I couldn’t reach my running race pace--for better or worse.
Eh. It was a two-mile run. I finished it quickly enough, and I was happy with my overall performance.
Run: 2.35 miles - 19:48 (~8:25/mile); 2/6 Age Group, 11/67 Overall.
Y-Tri 2013 - 58:22; 1/6 Age Group; 6/67 Overall.
I was more than happy with that, as I’m sure you can tell.
This was my last short race for a while, and frankly, I’m ready to switch gears and start going longer. My next “race” isn’t a race at all. It’s a charity bike ride--the New York City Tour de Cure metric century. I’m riding with my company’s team, and as long as I’ve got your attention, I’d like for you to know that the ride itself is for a good cause, and that I’d really appreciate your support.
The 2013 Tour de Cure is coming fast, and I need your help!
The Tour is a bike ride sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. It's an opportunity to change the future and make a positive impact in the lives of those who are affected by diabetes and to remind folks of the importance of living healthy lifestyles.
In today's sedentary society, diabetes is becoming an increasingly prevalent and dangerous disease, and that fact is that you almost certainly know someone who has been affected by it. That means that you already know how important it is to stop this disease. By making a donation on my behalf or by joining my Tour de Cure team, you will be helping the Association provide community-based education programs, protect the rights of people with diabetes and fund critical research for a cure.
I am committed to ride and raise money in this inspirational event not just because 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, but because I personally know some of them, and I want to do something about it.
I am asking for your help.
With your help, we will fight for a future where a parent does not have to hear that their child has diabetes. A future where an adult does not have to face the uncertain times ahead after receiving a diabetes diagnosis. A future where you and I will know that we had a part in making this possible.
I truly appreciate your support. Together we can Stop Diabetes!
If you’d like to donate to the cause--or even if you’re only willing to grudgingly--please visit my Tour de Cure page: http://main.diabetes.org/goto/DanHead.