I hate looking at extended weather forecasts. I usually don’t count on them being accurate until you get within a 12 hour window. I’ll often wait until the night before to decide if I’m going to run outside or do an indoor trainer ride – depending on the chance for rain at 5am the next morning.
The extended weather forecast for the week leading up to TriFest called for rain on Saturday. This prompted several people (according to Facebook) to decide not to do the race. I for one, do not plan my schedule around weather this is “predicted” 4-5 days in advance. I’ve seen these forecasts change too frequently to trust them. Plus, I can’t control the weather. There are lots of things about a race that I can control (my training, my nutrition, my attitude, my tire pressure, etc.), but the weather is not one of them.
So when I woke up Saturday morning and saw that it was likely going to rain during at least the Sprint race, I packed my gear accordingly. I took a couple extra pair of socks, I brought a couple of large garbage bags to cover my bike and put wet clothes in. I brought some towels to dry off between races. I took the shield off of my bike helmet so that I could wear sunglasses instead (once the shield gets wet – it’s impossible to see through it). I also changed the lenses in my sunglasses from dark tint to amber for a brighter view on a cloudy/rainy bike course. These are easy changes that can really make for a safer and more enjoyable race on a rainy day.
The rain was on and off as I set up my transition area in the parking lot at Taylorsville Lake State Park, but it really didn’t play much of factor in my pre-race preparation. It has been about eight months since I had my wetsuit on…and getting it back on was every bit as difficult as I imagined. It is honestly about a 10 minute process. Once I had it on and got down into the water, I was thinking that it wasn’t cold enough to make a wetsuit absolutely necessary. But I had it on, and I wasn’t going to take it off at that point! Race Director Todd Heady went over the race course instructions and then we were underway.
My swim is not what it needs to be this season. Due to changes in my schedule, I currently don’t have time to train with coach-led swim group or a Masters group like I have in the past. In a typical week, I’m only getting in one workout in the pool and it’s usually only about 1500 meters. So I knew going in that my swim times were going to be below where they had been in the past. The swim for the Sprint was a simple 750 meter out-and-back. So there’s no time for a start slow. I went out quickly and struggled to find a good rhythm. Every stroke felt forced and I was having trouble breathing. I tried to slide in behind a couple of faster swimmers, but couldn’t keep up. It was only when I had about 150-200 meters left that I finally felt good. As I exited the water and struggled to walk up the boat ramp, I looked down at my watch to see my time…oops. Looks like I didn’t hit my start button hard enough as my time was still on 00:00:00. I pulled my arms out of my wetsuit as I ran up to transition and quickly cycled through a few pushes of the button to get me back on track so that my times for the bike and run would be correct.
750 Meter Swim
15:00 (2:00 / 100 meters) – includes run from water to T1
2nd out of 3 in Age Group / 14th out of 40 Overall
I had a pretty fast transition and was able to get my wetsuit the rest of the way off and get my helmet and sunglasses on fairly quickly. I took an extra second or two to make sure that my sunglasses were under my helmet straps and that my helmet was on tight. The wet roads always make me a little more cautious than normal.
1st in Age Group / 5th Overall
The bike portion of a Sprint race is basically just a time trial. You go as hard as you can and try not to think about how painful the run is going to be. The 20K (12.4 mile) course is an out and back that takes you out of the park onto the main road before turning around and heading back. I like this style course because I can see what place I’m in as the riders go past me after the turn-around. I had already passed a few people and was in 11th place at the turn-around. I was feeling strong as I attacked the hills and the descents. I never ran out of gear and kept pedaling hard for the whole 20K. I took in about half of a gel just after the turn-around and chased it with most of my bottle of water. I would normally not take in any nutrition or water during a Sprint distance race, but I knew that I had the Olympic Race coming up so I didn’t want to completely deplete my stored fuel during the first race. It rained pretty much the whole time I was on the bike, but with my sunglasses sitting down on my nose a little bit, I was able to see over top of them for a clear view of the road while still protecting my eyes from rain and bugs. As I came back into T2, I counted how many guys were already running. I counted five. So I was currently sitting in 6th place. For those that care, my NP was 236 Watts and my VI was 1.08.
20K (12.4 mile) Bike
36:10.4 (20.6 mph)
1st in Age Group / 6th Overall
My transition time was a little slower than normal because I took time to put on socks before the run. I typically don’t wear socks on the run of a Sprint race, but I didn’t want to take a chance on getting a blister with another race coming up immediately after this one and Rev3 Knoxville a week away. I threw on my visor and headed out on the 5K out-and-back run.
3rd in Age Group / 15th Overall
The run starts off with a massive climb that really gets the legs burning. I’ve had quad cramps on this climb in the past, but they managed to stay calm this time. Thanks to the big hill, my first mile split was only 8:10. Once I got past that hill, I got in a zone and felt good. I knew that I had at least two guys behind me that were faster runners, and after seeing them on my heels at the turn-around, I put the pedal to the metal! My second and third miles were 7:12 and 6:35. I was never passed on the run, but didn’t managed to catch 5th place either. I could see him, but just couldn’t reel him in.
5K (3.1 mile) Run
22:18.5 (7:11 / mile)
3rd in Age Group / 8th Overall
The rain (which never let up during the race) kept a lot of people at home, but it was still a very competitive race and was a lot of fun. My parents brought my oldest two children out to see me finish, so it was pretty cool to get to see them at the finish line – thus explains the smile on my face in the picture below.
1st in Age Group / 6th Overall
I took a few minutes to settle down after the race before starting to take inventory to prepare for race #2. The rain was still coming down, but between taking the kids to the bathroom and finding ways to keep them occupied, the 90 or so minutes between the time I finished the first race and the start of the second went by quickly. They particularly enjoyed seeing me try to put on my wetsuit. Putting it on when it’s dry is hard enough, but it was still wet from the first race, so it was quite comical. I had everything set up in transition (again), and was ready to go when everyone started heading to the water. I noticed a lot of people leaving after the Sprint race and a lot of people just coming for the Olympic. Looking at the results, it looks like there were only 5 of us that did both races.
Based on how I felt at the start of the Sprint race, I decided to get in the water early and try to warm-up a little. I think it helped because I felt good right from the start…and I made sure my watch started! The swim course was the same as the Sprint, except it was just two loops. I could tell that there were more people in this race because there was a lot of kicking and punching going on during the first 300 meters or so. I once again was unsuccessful in my attempts to find some feet to draft behind. I found some open water during the second loop and had to keep telling myself to swim harder than I felt like. My lack of swim fitness was showing itself in a big way!
1500 Meter Swim
29:54.1 (2:00 / 100 meters) – includes run from water to T1
4th out of 10 in Age Group / 21st out of 50 Overall
The rain had stopped by this point, so I was excited to get on the bike and play catch-up to the faster swimmers. I could tell by the number of bikes missing from T1 that I had a lot of work to do!
1st in Age Group / 9th Overall
The 40K bike was basically the same course and the Sprint bike, except that we went out 12.4 miles instead of 6.2 miles before turning around. Once I hit the first big hill after exiting the park, I knew that it was going to be tough ride. The Sprint race had obviously taken some of the power from my legs as I ran out of gear and resorted to standing on several of the climbs. I was passing people, but it was definitely taking me longer to catch riders that I thought it should. I took in the rest of the gel that I still had in my race jersey pocket and washed it down with some water. At the turn-around, I counted 16 riders ahead of me and I only manged to catch one more before getting to transition. I knew that my legs were toast and that this 10K run was going to be brutal! My Normalized Power for this bike split was only 209 and my VI was 1.03.
40K (24.8 mile) Bike
1:18:46.9 (18.9 mph)
1st in Age Group / 16th Overall
I once again went with socks for the run. My shoes were still soaked from the first race and I knew a dry pair of socks would make a huge difference. I slipped my shoes on, grabbed my race number belt and visor and was off and running.
2nd in Age Group / 15th Overall
As I started up the giant (I’m running out of adjectives) hill out of transition I realized that my run was so slow that I might as well walk. So in an attempt to save my legs for the upcoming 10K run, I walked briskly up the hill. Once at the top, I started to run. I was passed in the first mile by a guy that I new I had no chance of catching. As my watch beeped at mile one, I saw a split of 9:24. Of course, this included walking up the hill at the start. Miles 2 and 3 were tough. The sun was out and it was HOT! I ran them in 8:37 and 8:36. I felt my back getting sun-burnt and I was barely holding on. At this point, I was waiting for one of two things to happen. Either I was going to completely bonk and slow even more, or I would find a second wind and pick up the pace heading back to the finish. Fortunately, I found some energy as I started mile 5 and managed to pass two guys and finished my last two miles with splits of 8:15 and 6:59. I wasn’t happy with my overall run split, but the strong finish was encouraginf and it was clear that the Sprint race definitely took the spring out of my step.
10K (6.2 mile) Run
50:48.0 (8:11 / mile)
3rd in Age Group / 21st Overall
At first I was a little disappointed in my overall finish, but when I realized that hardly anyone else in the race was coming off of the Sprint distance race, I felt a little better. It was a fun and exhausting day that consisted of rain, cold, wind, heat, humidity and burning sun. I managed to race in almost all weather conditions in a period of six hours. It was a great day of racing that will pay off with some fitness gains that won’t be realized until later this season. As always, it was a well organized race by Headfirst Performance and head sponsor VO2 Multisport did a great job with awards and support.
2nd in Age Group / 15th Overall
My next race is coming up quickly. Rev3 Knoxville is this Sunday! So this week is going to consist of some easy workouts before heading down to the Volunteer state next weekend.
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