Saturday, September 17, 2011

Race Report: Lake Geneva Sprint Triathlon

I am no longer an aspiring triathlete, this past Saturday 10 Sep 2011 I became the real deal after completing my first tri.  This was the most fun I have had in an event all year.  Maybe it was the first time novelty of it all, but I suspect it is simply because triathlon rocks.  I will be penciling in some tris for next year following this great experience.
I am considering turning this into a sculpture.
The weather was perfect for the event.    My prerace jitters leading into the event were unfounded and come race day I had found my normal resting heart rate again.  Truth is there was nothing to worry about once I got to the start because I had trained for this.  I think a lot of my nervous energy was caused by race day logistics and the foreign concept of transition area setup.  To finally be able to enter the water and begin the race was a relief.
261 men and 188 women participated making it a male dominated event.  This is in contrast the the female dominated running events I have also looked at here and here
Some organizational problems surfaced during the swim.  The first swimmers entered the water about 15 minutes behind schedule and the start for the sprint course crossed the finish of the longer Olympic and half extreme courses.  By about the tenth wave of sprint swimmers the leaders of the longer distance swims were colliding with the sprint swimmers.  It was like watching small schools of red fish swim against a massive school of blue fish.  Event staff eventually moved the start of the sprint swim down the beach 50 yards or so and moved the finish of the longer courses in.  This is important because the first waves of swimmers from the sprint course swam a longer distance than the last waves.  The first waves were also all women so the younger female swim and total race times are at a minute or two disadvantage to the rest of the field.  Event timing was otherwise very well executed.
A 6:49 swim time makes me average
None of these issues impacted my swim.  My concerns leading into the race were unfounded.  I started in the back of the wave but now realize I could have saved some time and been mid pack or up front without issue.  The swim was not 500 yards; it was 350 yards at best.  Last year’s swim must have been short too, leading me to falsely conclude my swim was weak in comparison to the field.  Turns out six weeks are all it takes to become an average swimmer.  It was hard to find a rhythm, I had to keep sighting and avoiding people, but I managed to swim strong.  All the contact and chaos kept me focused.  Having a destination helped too, something none of my previous open water swims featured.  It was surreal being in that sea of churning arms and legs, I look forward to the challenge of doing it again.
A total transition time of 8:51 makes me average.
Once out of the water it was a barefoot run back to the transition area to begin the bike portion of the course.  The transition area was massive, on the order of 300m to 400m.  swim in and bike out were on one end and bike in and run out were on the other far end.  It was the perfect design, no spot of the transition area was better than another.  I was on the swim in bike out area and did not have far to travel for the first transition.  The second transition featured a lengthy run after dismounting the bike and a lengthy run back to the start of the run, total distance was 600 – 800 meters.  I saw a lot of clever time saving tricks in the transition and can definitely improve here.  The most humor was a young woman who asked me if she had to run with her bike helmet.
A bike time of 39:04 makes me a touch above average 
Elevation for the bike.  A large hill greets riders the first mile.
The bike was congested.  Multiple events of different distances and different start times were taking place that used the same course.  No effort was made to arrange the sprint start waves from fastest to slowest; in fact the opposite happened with the entire field of women starting first.  Many parts of the cycling course featured riders 3 to 4 wide and faster cyclists passing using the oncoming traffic lane.  I passed a lot of people at 25mph but as I did this others passed me like I was standing still.  The first half mile and last mile were single file.  I had the fortune of being passed by a guy going into the last mile who proceeded to not to peddle the remainder of the course in true jerk fashion.  The bike was enjoyable even with its negatives.  I had never raced bikes before and made up some time from the swim here.  I was very impressed by some of the horribly aged, poorly maintained, offensive sounding bikes on the course.  I admire these people for doing a tri with anything available.
My 22:27 run time was second only to the winner.
The out and back run course featured an uphill first half and downhill second half.
I felt stronger as the run progressed and turned out beautiful negative splits
Everything up until this point was a warm-up for the 5k run, which really turned out to be 3.5 miles preceded by an additional 600 meter warm-up in and out of the transition area.  The out and back run was naturally my favorite part of the tri.  There is no sensation like getting off a bike and stretching out the legs.   There were a few steep climbs in the first half of the course and I trusted my heart and legs to slow me to the right pace, 6 to 8 mph upon review.  By not being overly aggressive on the hills I was able to go for the land speed record on the flats and subsequent downhills.  I had worked hard to get up those hills and I was going to get all the free speed out of them I could coming back, 10 to 14 mph upon review.  I ran by feel, pace varied a lot but averaged out to 9.2 mph or 6:29 min/mile.   I passed countless male competitors and it was motivating to run them down and move on to the next.  Pushing beyond the pain I found pleasure and finished big with a sprint to the finish.
My overall effort of 1:17:09 was competitive
When the results came back I was very pleased.  There plenty of room for improvement but this race was a good start and came a year before I had expected to do my first tri.  Thanks everyone for words of encouragement and wisdom leading into the race.

Tran 1
13 Mile Bike
Tran 2
3.5 Mile Run

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to the completion of your first triathlon! I concur with your assessment that tri's rock! I look forward to competing in one with you in the future.