May 23, 2016

Race report -- Early Bird Long Triathlon

May 21, 2016
500m swim, 33km bike, 5km run

Breakfast: oatmeal w/brown sugar, tall skim chai
Other nutrition/hydration: 1/4 of a Honey Stinger waffle on the bike, Nuun Boost

Finish time: 1:43:11.7 (13/44 OA, 3/11 AG 40-44, 63/115 men and women)

We had a great day for the first tri of the season, nice and warm with no wind. This event, like all my racing between now and July 24th, is geared toward preparing for my biggest race of 2016, the national Sprint Championships. I try to do something new every year, and this event is going to require a number of new skills. It's the first draft-legal race for age-groupers in Canada, which means there'll be a whole lot of us racing in a pack for the first time. No way that'll end badly... right? Well, since luck favours the prepared, so far this year I've taken a drafting clinic, spent all my riding time on my road bike (as tri bikes aren't allowed in draft-legal racing), and finally forced myself to learn a flying mount and dismount. On that latter point, don't wait till 3 days before a race to practice... or you could be sporting scrapes and bruises with the rest of your race kit. I know that of which I speak.

Decked out with OTC tat on left shoulder, road rash on right shoulder

Swim - 13:48.7
Frack. What a gong show. This event features a pool swim -- which I don't love (I prefer open water). Racers start around 10 seconds apart, and seed themselves in order of expected swim time. Having swum an 11:27 time trial the week before, I seeded myself as usual, figuring I'd get passed by a couple of folks and maybe pass one or two who were overambitious with their estimate (which is how it has played out the past two years). This time, the first 150m were unencumbered. Then a guy who was a little confused came swimming down the wrong side of the lane at me. No problem, keep going. I felt a tap on my foot, and I dutifully made plenty of room to let a woman come past me. Unfortunately, once she was out of my draft and having to work harder, she suddenly started side-stroking and then stood up in the lane. OK, it happens. Except then she did it another two or three times. Sprint past, run out of gas, stop. I let myself get caught up in the stopping and starting, and trying to keep a steady rhythm was hopeless. At this point, there's a bottleneck of people behind, who are getting pretty miffed. Mercifully, the swim only lasted 500m. Regardless of what everyone else was doing, I should have been focused and confident enough to do my own thing and push through. Lesson learned. I took 13 seconds off my previous best T1 time for this race -- it's a long run up to the T zone from the pool -- but it wasn't enough to offset my crappy swim split. Oh well... onward to the bike.

Shoes ready for a flying mount. Cue Jaws theme.

Bike - 1:01:04.7 (average 32.4 km/h) PB
This is a personal best average bike speed for me, over any race distance. My past average speed (which I use rather than total split time, since the course was 2k shorter this year) for the Long Tri was 28.1 km/h -- on my tri bike. To practice riding the same setup I'll need in July, I used my road bike today, without aerobars. Disregarding my flying mount wipeout a few days prior, I decided to stick to my plan of leaving my shoes on the bike. I had never done this in a race, but figured the way to learn is to just do it. My goal was to mount and dismount with this setup, and not fall off my bike. Mission accomplished! One shoe did pop off the pedal after my flying dismount, but a volunteer grabbed it and handed it to me right away so I lost minimal time.

Concentration... next step, take feet out and place on top of shoes while pedaling. Omg...

Run - 24:07
This was a personal best 5k run time, which I was extra happy with since it was off a longer bike course. At this race, the run split also includes T2 -- looks like the flying dismount saved me some precious seconds. As expected on this course, my legs felt heavy... I felt slow, and like I might run out of steam. Also as usual, I didn't wear a watch and just tried to run as fast as I could. At the finish line, people asked me how it went. I honestly didn't know.

Definitely ready for a chocolate milk

In total, I took 16 minutes off my previous Long Tri time -- the bike was 2k shorter, but still a good improvement with that considered. Didn't fall off my bike during the mount/dismount. Had personal best run and bike splits. I ended up 3rd in my age group, so managed a podium finish. Now it's time to swim -- a lot -- before my next race.

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