Sunday, April 28, 2013

OmegaWave Sprint Triathlon

Omegawave ITU Sprint Tri Race Report

I always enjoy writing about my races.  There are lots of reasons.  My dad likes to read my race reports, sometimes fellow triathletes like to read them, and it's just a good way to try to learn something from the race.  This past weekend's race was no exception.  Of note, I hadn't done a sprint tri in over a year and a half.  Last season was Ironman St. George (in May), then fighting and recovering from plantar fasciitis (June through September).  I've been gradually coming back, starting to feel like I'm getting close to the fitness I had a year ago.  While my focus is ironman, sprint races are fun for a multitude of reasons.  First, it's just fun to race!  Second, I can't really beat myself up too much with a sprint.  Third, sprints are an opportunity to do some major suffering for a short period of time.  As my coach told me going into this, the run should hurt as much as the last 3 miles of an ironman.  That was my goal, and I achieved it.  

I actually just decided to sign up for this race a couple of weeks ago, after finishing the California 70.3 and reminding myself how much I enjoy the race venue.  Also, I'd always wanted to do a tri in San Diego, and especially to ride my bike around Fiesta Island, a 4.2 mile loop in Mission Bay.  So, with that in mind, I drove down on Friday, parked my car and put my bike in the shuttle van, and got on the shuttle bus.  By the way, this was all as directed by the racing website.  The bus took us to the Hyatt, which was about a 2/3 mile walk to registration and transition.  When I got off the bus, I asked the bus driver where the van with my bike was, and he pointed to the registration area, 2/3 of a mile away.  That seemed fine, so I made the walk to registration, went to the information booth and asked them where the van was.  They pointed to transition, about 1/3 mile away.  I was starting to get concerned, but I got my bib number and went to transition.  No van, no bike.  The volunteers at transition didn't know where the van was, and couldn't reach anyone by cell phone.  After about a half an hour, they still didn't know, but suggested I return to where I started at the Hyatt.  I was really trying to stay calm.  My bike is not inexpensive, and I was really hoping to rest up for tomorrow's race.  They did give me a banana and some water.  They even offered me a sandwich, but I try to stay gluten free prior to a race.  I walked the 2/3 mile back to the Hyatt and the volunteer there didn't know where my bike was.  I sat down and pondered all of the times that my wife teased me about my expensive wheels that saved me several seconds in a race.  Over the years, I will admit, my expensive aerodynamic bike accoutrements have rarely made a difference in where I place (13th versus 14th in my age group doesn't really matter), however, one of my extremely rare age group victories was achieved by mere seconds, so I suppose that moment (for a geeky non-athletic former kid) was worth it.  At least it gives my wife and I something to talk about when it comes to triathlon!  After sitting for about 15 minutes I saw a van pull up across the street.  Hey, maybe?  So, I walked over, and there was my bike!  Now, I got to make the 2/3 mile walk to transition again, and than back once more for the shuttle.  Also, I hadn't put on sunscreen, thinking the whole thing would take a half an hour, not 2 1/2 hours.  Still, I took it all in stride, got back to my hotel and chilled the rest of the evening.

I don't worry too much about carboloading before a sprint tri, in fact, I'm more concerned about keeping my GI tract fairly empty, knowing that I'm planning to red-line it the next day.  I recently read that applesauce is a good food, so I did have some of that, along with some soup and a salad and some rice cakes and almond butter.  I used my NormaTec compression device on my legs and got to sleep at a good hour.

Woke up before the alarm (that always seems to happen to me on race day), ate some applesauce and drank some water and got dressed.  All of my equipment was put in my backpack the night before, so I was ready to go.  Drove to the parking lot, got on the shuttle and had a nice conversation with a local 67 year old woman who was hoping to win her age group, but mostly hoping to have fun.

Got set up in transition, met a guy from Castle Rock, who is in my age group.  He's a coach and personal trainer and former competitive sprint swimmer.  We hung out, warmed up in the water, and planned swim strategy.  The first group went way right of the first buoy and had to come back to go around it.  The second group went too far left, so we ended up nailing the proper line.  Oh, during my warm up someone swam straight at me, I tried to get out of the way, but their fist hit me in the jaw.  No harm, no foul, I laughed it off like I usually do during a race.

The start was a beach start, which meant running into the water.  I took a line to the right, and started out front.  Got a good running start and swam well to the first turn buoy, where, remarkably, there were a bunch of people from the previous wave (started 5 minutes earlier).  Overall, I kept a pretty good line the entire swim, didn't really draft much at all, and had a very acceptable swim, only a couple of minutes off the top people in my AG.  Best of all, it was easy, which was my goal.  I really see no reason to swim hard anymore.  I can swim reasonably fast, but not hard.  If I gained one minute, I'd lose much more on the bike and run.  Got out of the water and got my wetsuit off, made my way to my bike, where I struggled with my helmet, getting my chin strap stuck inside my helmet, so I had to take it off.  Probably lost 20 seconds, but still had a fairly decent transition.  Ran with my bike, mounted, and the rubber band came off, so I struggled for a short time to get my foot in my shoe, another 20-30 seconds lost.  

Fortunately, I got going on the bike and quickly got up to speed, or rather, up to wattage.  It was my goal to keep my wattage between 200-230 watts for the whole bike.  One of the challenges of this bike course was that there were a few "no pass" zones that didn't have signs to tell us that the "no pass" zones were over.  Clearly, these areas slowed me down a bit, and had to back off the wattage during them.  Got to Fiesta Island, where they were timing the loop around the island and did a good job maintaining 200-230 watts, kept speed between 22-25 mph around the island.  Continued to hold wattage where I wanted it for the remainder of the ride.  In fact, my ave wattage for the entire bike ride was around 200 watts;  Normalized Power was ~210 watts.  This was far and away my best average wattage for a sprint race and, in fact, best 30 minute wattage ever.  Took my feet out of my shoes as I approached Transition and jumped off my bike, entering transition and making a quick change to my running shoes.  My average bike speed was about 21.5 mph, not too bad considering the "no pass" zones.

Came out of transition and started running.  I got my breathing up quickly from every 4th/5th step to every 3rd step and just started pushing as hard as I could.  Looking down at my garmin, I saw paces of around 7:00-7:30 per mile and was quite pleased.  This wasn't easy, but it felt perfect from the effort perspective.  My breathing was hard, breathing every 3rd step, which is typically my tempo effort.  When I really push, I tend to grunt, and it must sound like I'm really laboring (perhaps I was).  In fact, I asked a couple of people if they knew CPR as I passed them.  I kept this pace for about 2 1/2 miles and then felt a side stitch, which meant I'd pushed myself as hard as I could, so I briefly backed off and prepared to push for the last 1/2 mile, except the last 1/2 mile became a whole mile, as the course wasn't 3.1 miles, but was, in fact, 3.5 miles.  I went as hard as I could until the end.  As I turned the corner towards the finish, I ran as hard as I could, finishing the run with an average pace of 7:42/mile, still the fastest sprint pace I've had in five years.  Not bad for 53 years old.  

Ended up 14th out of 37 in my age group.  

Got back to my hotel, went to pick up my daughter and her friends at the train station, then went for lunch with them.  When I got back to the hotel, I felt like going for a run, and I did!  Ran another 3 1/2 miles and swam a bit, a perfect end to a really great day.

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