Monday, June 25, 2007

Race Report, Part I

(This is taking longer to write than expected; here's the first part.)

First, the nitty-gritty: 2:45 overall.

Second, that was really freaking hard. It's twice as long as a sprint but four times as hard. The hilly course was tough, tougher than I'd expected it would be, even having gone over the course in a few training rides already. Racing it was much more difficult.

I was pretty nervous going in, given that this was my first non-sprint tri, but felt mostly confident in my training. What I didn't account for was how much my general fatigue and stress level affected my race, even with a good taper last week. Speedy, on the other hand, rocked the course and did very well, especially considering this was also his first race at this distance.

Preface: I have been having lots of problems with my wetsuit. The legs are slightly too short and end right at the belly of my calf, and each time I've worn it in training swims this year my calves have cramped up. I also spend too much time trying to get it off, which I think cuts into any time savings gained from wearing it. I explained all this to Speedy the night before the race, and put the suit on around my legs so he could see what I was talking about. In his infinite wetsuit wisdom garnered from years of surfing, he suggested I cut the legs just a little so they weren't so tight. After notching about one inch into each leg, the suit felt must better. Okay, onto the good stuff:

The Swim:
The water temperature was 76, making a wetsuit allowable, but really probably not necessary. I decided to wear it and give it a shot with the new cuts in the leg and hope for the best. Most people in my wave were grouped around one bouy to start, and I started near the other bouy to try to get some clean water and avoid the crowds. My plan worked pretty well for about 500 meters, until I convinced myself that they probably knew something I didn't and I should really get my butt over there. Yeah - lesson learned. I knew where I was going, I was on course and had clean water, and I should have just stayed my course instead of voluntarily entering the washing machine.

For the first 1100 meters or so, the target was a bridge, which made sighting pretty easy. I looked up every 3-6 strokes, which looking back was probably too often. I could have eaasily gotten by sighting half as much, especially on a course that I know as well as I know this one. After the bridge, and leading into T1, there was a lot of congestion as the course narrowed, and I was bumping into people and getting hit pretty often. I'm happy to say I was able to handle it all pretty well, and not get freaked out by the amount of contact with others.

Overall, I think I could have gone faster, had I stuck with my original line and stayed out of my head, instead of joining the crowd and getting distracted a few times and then finding myself not going as hard as I should be. I have a tendency to zone out when swimming, which works really well for getting through long training sets but clearly doesn't work so well for racing.

T1: Pretty smooth, the wetsuit came off with relatively few problems. I spilled some Nuun out of my bottle trying to make thre turn around the rack, but overall it was fine. A minor gripe: the transition area was really long, and the bike in and out were at the same end, which meant that those closer had to do less running with their bikes and those further had to do lots. Although the racks were numbered by age, this still created some inherent unfairness for those in later waves, racked towards the back, who may have been going for overall ranking.

The Bike: As soon as I got on my bike, I realized my computer had somehow come off in transistion. Shit! It was literally hanging from my handlebar by the wire. While I wasn't planning to use it for speed, I was planning to track the distance and monitor my cadence. Instead, it hung limply. About the course: Whew. I've seen these hills in training, and they were still freaking hard. Those who didn't scout the course, or who just assumed that the course would be flat because it's in the city, were in for a surprise. The first hill on the two-loop course is also the steepest, and I wasn't quite ready for it after my swim, especially considering on training rides it's usually the second hill we do, not the first.

After the crest, I realized my bike was making a funny noise, and since my bike computer was already off, I was expecting the worst, and I slowed down to check for a flat. I pulled over to the side of the road, and unclipped my right foot. Unfortunately, the road at the point canted steeply, and I started to tip over to my left. With an 'OH FUCK' so loud I'm lucky there were no marshals around, I started to fall over. Fortunately, I have pretty good reflexes, and was able to get my arms out and catch myself on the (rusty, metal) barrier protecting the side of the road from the hill we had just come up not too long ago. I am certainly lucky, since if I hadn't caught myself I'm pretty sure my head would have made contact with that same barrier, probably ending my race. I righted myself, and checked my tires, which were (of course) still properly and fully inflated, making my stop, lost time, and near-fall wholly unnecessary. But after restarting, my bike was still making a funny noise, and in looking it over I saw something that looked like paper stuck in the front brake. I have no idea what it actually was, because I reached down to remove it and it went flying. But the problem was solved; no more funny noises from my bike, and on my way I went.


IM Able said...

Oh, my goodness!! Loving the race report so far and so glad that your problem with the wetsuit has been resolved -- those nasty marks i saw on thursday looked so uncomfortable!

Looking forward to hearing more of the ride and run...

speedy said...

I also convinced myself that swimming in nice flat water was a bad idea, and proceeded to join the washing machine about half way through the swim. What were we thinking?!? Lesson definitely learned...