August 18, 2008

Steelman 2008 Olympic Triathlon race report

Few days ago I posted a short report from the Steelman 2008 Olympic distance triathlon. This post is a little longer version of the report for you who want to learn more about the race prep, race execution and how well I did in my second A-race of this season.

As opposed to my training last year this training cycle was a full 24 weeks training plan based on combination of Olympic distance training plan from Training Plans for Multisport Athletes and I took the running plan for 10k from the Runner's World Run Less, Run Faster. I then balanced the plan not to exceed 10 hours of training per week to allow also some time for other stuff than just training. So that is as far as I'll in description of the preparation.

Saturday pre-race

On Saturday I did very short transition simulation around my house which involved number of T1 and T2 simulations including pretty good hill climb that I know is a killer after the swim on the Steelman course. I bet my neighbors had good time watching me do this silly run to my garage, get the helmet, grab my bike and run from the driveway to the street where I mounted it and sped towards the hill. Fun, fun, fun. After the transition practice I planned on very easy rest day. After lunch I took Ian and Iva to go with me pick-up the race packet. We got to the Nockamixon park my packet and went to check-out the swim course. As we were walking by the water Ian stepped into a yellow jackets nest and got stung multiple times before I had chance to grab him and run away. We checked his body and found large sting on his leg and multiple stings in his ear. Poor thing held the bee on his ear and got stung few times. I was hoping it would not be serious, but could not risk it since he has history of allergies. So we got some ice, got him in the car and went to Quakertown to the emergency room. We were seen by triage pretty quickly and when they saw that the stings are not health threatening they seated us in the waiting room. Ian was very tired and fell asleep in my hands and crawled up on my chest. He remained in this position for about 2 hours (yeah it was a long wait) before they got a free bed for him so we can be seen by a doctor. That took another couple of hours since that Saturday seemed to be a high-rate injury day. We have seen people that had accidents in a car, fell from tree, broke their hands or legs. Wow I could not believe it. Anyways the supposedly relaxing afternoon turned into pretty unnerving afternoon at the emergency room. Everything turned out well and Ian was feeling much better at the end of the day, especially since he got a new train to his collection. It was a big relieve for both me and Dasa. I was happy to go sleep at 9 p.m. with Ian and got very good sleep until the 4 a.m. buzzer.

Race day morning

The race is about 15 minutes from my house so I got to the parking lot at around 5:15 and had plenty of time to setup my transition. Actually the transition practice helped to figure out some fine tuning of the transition setup - like position of the pedals, exact way to setup the shoes on the bike to make T1 even faster. I grabbed pretty sweet spot on the rack - 4th from the aisle which is almost perfect. After I setup I went to walk the swim exit to transition, then to bike exit, then back to my rack and to the run exit. I did this race before, but I did not want to have any confusion and troubles during the race. Then I ran into Fred who was just getting into the transition as he and his wife got stuck on the way to the park. I guess the ace got quite big and people had to park on satellite parking lots. Then I went back to the rack, put on my running shoes and went for a short warm-up on the race course. Not much to report there. After the warm-up I double-checked my transition spot again, took off my shoes, got my racing stuff and went to the water for the practice swim. Water was very warm and it would be silly to try to swim in wetsuit - asking for overheating already during the swim. After the practice swim I was chatting with Fred and his wife and waiting for our swim wave. Then we got to the water and went for it.

Swim 1500m (30:31)

I held back at the beginning of the swim as I did in my last race in Jim Thorpe. I did not want to blow-up by the first turn buoy, plus I knew that this course is deceptive - the first turn buoy is about 450 meters from the start, but most people make a mistake and think it is half of the course. Then they blow-up in the last 300-400 meters of the swim. So I held back for the first 100 meters, watched for the arms and legs around me. When the pack separated a bit after about 100 meters I settled into a good pace and kept it through out the whole swim. I felt pretty good and did a lot of sighting not to stray too far off course. In the second half of the swim I increased my swim rate and kicking to get more blood into my legs for the run to T1. I exited the water at about the same time as last year only this year I did not wear wetsuit. So I guess I can claim a slight improvement of the swim time. But it is nothing significant since I did not really do much swim training this year. This certainly remains an area for future improvement. I ran up to the transition, put on my helmet grabbed my bike and flew out to the bike mount line.


Bike 40km (1:08:32)

The bike starts with a nasty climb and I needed to get my shoes on while on the bike before I get to the hill. I made it just in time and went for it. For this race I decide not to hold anything back on the bike and on the run and hoped that my training got me ready for this approach. So I flew-up the hill pretty fast passing about 10 people that struggled up the hill. I put on my sunglasses on the short flat section before hitting the main part of the course. And then I just flew. I kept the aero position as much as I could the whole two loops on the course and just kept passing people. The first lap I did not have anyone even get close to me and on the second loop one of the sprint athletes passed me and another one kept passing me up the hill, but was too slow on the flats and downhill. So we played cat and mouse for about half of the bike loop. That definitely made it more interesting.


I eased-up the gears before heading back to the park and got out of the shoes for the dismount. Knowing the area I did not want to wipe-out on the bike in the last stretch that has a lot of huge bumps and water bottle launchers as many people can attest (right Leah :-). I dismounted the bike and ran around two slower athletes into the transition. The relay teams were hanging around their rack, but some were dangerously close to my rack. So I warned them and then threw my bike on the rack. Took off my helmet, slipped into the shoes, grabbed the race belt and visor and went for the run. I was extremely happy with the bike.


Run 10km (48:07)

Well the run was not as good - my legs felt like lead. Especially my hamstrings were locked-up from the bike. Mental note - go hard on the bike in the next brick and test it out. It got worse before it could get better. I walked the first little hills in hope the legs would improve. They did a bit so I could resume running, but I was nowhere near the 7:30 pace I was planning. More like 8:00 and slower especially on the first lap. On the second lap I was working had to increase the pace a bit and made a plan to go for it at about 0.5 mi to finish marker. As it turned-out just about 200 meters before that sign another athlete from my age group passed me. And as I described in earlier post I did not want to be passed this close to the finish. I stuck with him for the next 400 or 500 meters and then decided to make my move. I sped-up and kept pretty aggressive pace until I could no longer hear his steps. Then I eased off a bit


When I turned to the gravel road that goes to finish line I just gave it all I had. If you look close enough you can see that I'm close to finish line here. Just about 25 meters away. And here is how I looked when I finished - the picture is speaking volumes about how much more energy I had left after this.


How did I do?

It has been few days since the results were posted so I had time to look at my splits and compare them to last year, best person in my division. Here is where I stand - this year I did very well and hit the goal pace for this race even given the workload in the office and flu I had few weeks ago. So here is the breakdown:

Swim: 30:31
T1: 0:39
Bike: 1:08:32
Total: 2:28:29

Compared to last year I had overall time better by 8:18 and I gained most of the time in transition and on the bike. My swim time was comparable to last year, but last year I was swimming with wetsuit which definitely helped a bit. I gained 1:21 in T1 and 0:26 in T2. My bike split was 5:17 faster than last year and I improved the run split by 1:26. I finished 55th overall from 330 finishers and 14th in the age group (out of 47 finishers). Not quite AG spots, but very good considering this race is very popular in this area and has very good awards for the overall and AG winners. I'm very happy with breaking the 2:30 in Olympic race and look forward to the last two triathlon races in this season. They are mostly B and C races that I do for fun. The next and last A-race of this season is my first marathon. I'll see you in Philly on November 23rd. It will be fun. I hope there are no yellow jackets near the marathon expo in Philly...


Leah said...

Congrats on a great race! Yeah, those bottle launchers. Sigh. Rookie mistake on my part! I should have known! :)

kxux said...

Thanks Leah.

For the bottle launchers - tape that yellow thing to the bottle. I did it few months ago after a training ride in the park and it stays in place just fine.

Their new bottle actually has a lid...

SLB said...

Another notch on the ole Fuel Belt!

Congrats on bettering last year, always a bonus.

kxux said...

Thanks Stuart. The fun will begin in September when I do two HIM races - so technically it is not a full Ironman, but if you add it up... Just kidding. I'm really looking forward to the races as a build-up for marathon.

Deniel Hopkins said...

excellent post and love the photos!! especially that last one!!