I’m tired. As I tried to plan out my race calendar back in January, I knew of a few races that I wanted to do this year…but the dates had not been set. I built my season around two races that I knew I was going to do, Rev3 Knoxville in May and the Age Group National Championships in August. The rest of the season was going to be filled in with local Sprint and Olympic distance races. As race dates began to be released, I saw that several were bunched up in a short period between May 10th and June 1st. I would be racing four triathlons and a 5K road race all within a three week period – with a six-day vacation with the family thrown in the middle! I knew that it would be hard to manage, and it was!
We got back from our vacation on Wednesday night and my only workouts while we were gone were two runs on the beach and a two short sessions on an old stationary bike. Rev3 Knoxville was just a few days before we left and TriFest was the weekend prior to that. Needless to say, there were a lot of “rest” days in this three week period. All the racing, combined with the days off and the eating/drinking indulgences that occurred on vacation left me feeling pretty lethargic on race morning this past weekend.
I knew that parking was going to be an issue, so I arrived about two hours prior to the race start. I parked my truck, put on my backpack full of gear and rode my bike the quarter mile to the transition area. It was still dark when I started to get things set up, but I was in no hurry and enjoyed having the extra time to walk around and chat with other athletes as they set things up. This race was really the “who’s-who” of the local triathlon community. I saw several guys and girls that I hadn’t seen at a race in a long time.
The 1500 meter swim in the Ohio River was supposed to be two loops of a 750 meter course, going upstream 375 meters, turning around to go downstream 375…and then doing it again. Apparently some tugboat drivers didn’t get the memo because they parked their barges right in the middle of the swim course. The race director was forced to change the course to just a single out and back…going downstream (with the current) for 750 meters, before turning around and swimming back upstream 750 meters to the swim exit. The water temp was 68 degrees, so just about everyone had on wetsuits. The water wasn’t cold enough to need a suit, but I wore mine for the bouncy benefits (I need all the help I can get these days).
The Olympic Distance Men’s field consisted of four swim waves. There was no rhyme or reason for how the waves were divided up. It’s typically done by age or estimated swim time, but this was completely random. I happened to be in the first wave, so I slugged through the 100 feet or so of mud in order to get out to where the water was deep enough to actually swim. Our wave was standing in waist-deep water when the horn sounded. I could immediately feel the current and knew that I would reach the turn-around quickly. I also knew that fighting the current going back up-stream was going to be a tough task. As I made the turn and took a few strokes, I realized that I wasn’t making much progress. So I decided to increase my stroke rate and push it a little harder than I would normally do for an Olympic Distance race. I felt like it was taking me forever to get anywhere. I tried to draft off of faster swimmers and even tried to swim a little closer to the shore in order to minimize the current. I was disappointed when I came out of the water and saw 31 minutes and some change on my watch. I immediately went to “negative town” and had thoughts of how this crappy swim split surely ruined any changes I had of having a solid race and making the podium in my age group. It wasn’t until a saw the results after the race and looked at everyone else’s swim times that I felt much better about mine! For the record, I made it to the turn-around in 10 minutes and 3 seconds…the second half of the swim took me over 21 minutes! I also swam a total of 1725 meters. My Garmin map doesn’t show me zig-zagging much, so I’m thinking the course was a little long.
1500 meter Swim
32:14.5 (2:09/100m pace)
4th out of 22 in my Age Group
25th out of 154 Overall
My T1 was pretty fast. I had a little trouble getting my wetsuit off of my feet, but overall there were no problems transitioning to the bike.
2nd out of 22 in my Age Group
2nd out of 154 Overall
I was particularly concerned about the bike course. The 40K (24.8 mile) course consisted of four loops and was shared by both the athletes doing the Sprint Distance and those in the Olympic Distance. I knew that it was going to get congested quickly! I settled in on my first loop and as I periodically checked my average speed, I was surprised that I wasn’t faster based on my perceived level of exertion and my breathing. It took me until the second lap before I felt comfortable. I think the extra effort I used in the swim made it harder for me to get going on the bike. There is only one decent climb on the course and it comes about 2.5 miles into each loop. I decided to hang out in my large chain ring and push it up this hill on each loop…which may have been a mistake. Looking at my power graphs post-race, I can see that I really spiked my watts each loop on this climb. These burned matches came back to bite me on the run! The fact that this was four loops did allow me to compare the my splits for each one.
Loop 1: 21.52 mph / NP = 226W / VI = 1.03
Loop 2: 21.38 mph / NP = 238W / VI = 1.06
Loop 3: 21.41 mph / NP = 238W / VI = 1.03
Loop 4: 21.97 mph / NP = 246W / VI = 1.04
So looking back at these splits, I was able to get stronger as the bike progressed – despite having to slow down several times on the last two loops to wait for a chance to pass slower riders. I was hoping to have a NP (Normalized Power) close to 245-250 watts, but this 235-240 range seems to be where I am for these Olympic Distance Triathlons this year. It’s also worth noting that the bike course was about a mile long.
10K (24.8 mile) Bike
1:12:24 (20.6 mph)
NP = 235W
3rd out of 22 in my Age Group
17th out of 154 Overall
I got my feet out of my bike shoes as I coasted into T2. I was able to get my socks and shoes on pretty fast and grabbed my visor and race number belt as I ran out. Pretty happy with my T2 time, the only thing slowing me down is the time it takes to put socks on – but I’m still not ready to run a 10K without them!
1st out of 22 in my Age Group
19th out of 154 Overall
The 10K run course was a pretty flat out and back with lots of turns. I knew early on that it was going to be a tough one. My legs just haven’t been there on the run during my last few triathlons and my run splits are continuing to slip further in the wrong direction. Based on the effort I was extending just to run a 7:37 first mile, I knew that I was in for a struggle. The course was mainly on concrete sidewalks that run along the riverbank. The scenery was nice, but I found it difficult at times to determine exactly where I was supposed to go. At one turn, there were three volunteers telling me where to go, but then there was no one at the next one. Looking back at my Garmin file, it’s clear that I ran off course at one point, probably adding a couple tenth’s of a mile to my run. My mile splits hovered right around the 8:00-8:15 range for the entire run and I knew that any ground I had made up on the bike was slipping away. The sun was moving up in the sky and it was starting to get hot. I took in water at every aid station and even tried some HEED at one point as I searched for something to light a spark. I dug as deep as I could, but the legs just weren’t there. I focused this off-season on increasing my “normal” cadence to 90 foot-strikes per minute (per foot). For most races, I’ve been able to hold that – but once fatigue sets in, I notice a drop in my cadence. This run was no different. My average cadence for miles one and two was 87…mile five was 85 and mile six was 84!
10K (6.2 mile) Run
49:24.6 (7:57 min/mile)
6th out of 22 in my Age Group
37th out of 154 Overall
I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed in my race, but I also can’t say that I’m surprised. I’ve just tried to squeeze too much into the last 3+ weeks and my body just wasn’t ready to perform because of it. I’m actually excited to take the next 8 weeks and get back to logging some good, hard training days. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss my bike trainer!
The race results were immediately available after the race and I saw that I had finished 4th in my Age Group (just 39 seconds behind 3rd). So I didn’t stick around for the awards. Turns out that who the results were showing as 3rd place in my Age Group was actually some 40 year old geezer (just kidding Mike) that belongs in another age group. So when all the dust settled, I officially finished 3rd. I missed out on getting a plaque, but that’s not a big deal to me – especially since all of my race awards are currently stacked up on a bookshelf collecting dust. I really need to find a spot to mount those things!
3rd out of 22 in my Age Group
19th out of 154 Overall
2XU C:2 wetsuit
Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles
Pearl Izumi Select Tri Suit
Argon 18 E-112 Triathlon bike with Zipp wheel set (404 front, 808 back)
Bike Javelin aero helmet
Adidas adiZero adios running shoes
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