Tuesday, September 7, 2010

5 Days to the Nations Triathlon - 2010

The nations triathlon is fast approaching – 5 days until race day.  Since this is my first Olympic distance race, i am not 100% sure how my body will react to the longer distance compared to the sprints i have done previously.

In preparation for the race, I put together some notes about how i think i might finish.  This is just my best estimate.  One of the big unknowns for me is how the bike leg will go.  All of the races I have done until now have been sprints, with a max of 700 athletes.  Each swim wave has been relatively small, and there is usually always a fair amount of traffic on the bike course.  The nations tri has something like 4,500 people – sure there are still wave starts (33 of them), with many age groups have multiple waves, but there is still going to be a lot of people out on the course at the same time.

So here’s my preview of how i think/hope the race will go

  Fast Average Slow Actual
Swim – 1,500m





Bike – 40k/25mi





Run – 10k/6.2mi





Transitions (1&2)










Given that i have not had the best year in terms of injury – i would be happy finishing anything less than 3 hrs.

The table above helps me to gauge what my fastest and slowest time should be, of course depending on a lot of factors, it helps me to work out a range of what is reasonable to expect.    What is interesting about this, is that 3:00 was the original goal i set for myself when i registered for the race in December 2009.  Today, even with the injuries, 3hrs seems easy enough.  After the race I’ll add a column for the actual race times to see how it compares.

Swim  (M40-44 - Wave 13 - 7:48am)

When I first started considering Triathlon – the limiting factor for me was 100% swimming.  Actually i had always wanted to complete a triathlon, but thought the swimming would be too hard.  I’ve worked hard on swimming this year, and i am now pretty comfortable with swimming the distance in the pool.  Note that i didn’t say fast.  Now that i found out that my local pool is yards and not meters, i had to manage my expectations a little too.  So what i though was 1,500 meters, was short (1,500m is around 1,640 yards).  The last time i did that distance (30min TT) i finished in 28:55 (details here).  Open water is going to be slower, especially with no walls to push off.  I am not doing flip turns yet so the advantage in the pool may not be huge, but at least in the pool i know that i am going straight.  I’d really like to break 30 mins, i think that might be possible if we could wear wetsuits.  Realistically, i will be happy with anything less than 32 minutes.  Since this is my first race longer than 750m, it will be interesting to see what i can do.

I’d really like to start the swim at a steady pace and not get caught up with trying to mix it up with the faster swimmers.  I did this on my last race and while i had a good time, i really pushed my HR limits (180+ hr).  Doing the same thing would be a problem with a race of double the distance.  I’d like to focus on technique and slow things down a little, if i can do that then i think i can still have a good time and have plenty of energy left for the bike/run.

It looks pretty likely that this will not be a wetsuit race.  I was really hoping for colder water so i could get a boost from my wetsuit.  Last week the water temperature was 85, today 80-81.  It is getting close to the 78 wetsuit cut-off.

Final note:  My age group is split across 3 swim waves.  I am in the first wave.  I wonder if they will mark us with the a/b/c wave too.  I am really competing for a time, not against anyone else, but i like to see what others in my group can do.  If i see someone ahead of me towards the end of the run, then I'll be trying to run them down – especially if i knew that they were in the same swim wave.


I’ve worked really hard over the last month – with very little prep on the bike for the entire year before that.  My recent rides have be averaging just over 19mph on for around 25miles mostly on rolling terrain with a few hills.  I used these training rides to come up with the time estimates above. 19.0mph would be 1:18.57.   The Nation’s course is supposed to be quite fast, but with all of the people, maintaining a good average might be a challenge.  I have never managed to top 20mph in any ride yet – that is one of my goals. I think it might be possible with a few more months of training under my belt.  Given how i have been training, i think something in the 1:17-1:20 time window is doable.  Anything less than 1:20 would be a great result.


Running has been tough for me this year.  The only thing of note that I have done is complete a half marathon (1:53:55) in May.  Since then i have had another knee surgery and not completed much running at all.  2 weeks ago i did manage to complete a 10k training run – this felt really great!  I set a new PR by breaking 50minutes for the first time.  However a few days after that i was out on a slow jog and had some calf pain – a week later it is still there.  I am trying to massage every day and it is getting better, but i don’t think i am going to attempt to run until race day.

Ideally i would love to finish in around 55:00 or less – if i have a good day i could get closer to 50, but if the calf hurts it might take a lot longer.  My conservative goal is anything less than 1hr.  I’ve completed 3 sprint races, each in the high 26 minute range (26:41, 26:51, 26:34).  Doubling that time gets me to around 55, but i don’t know how my legs are going to feel.  At least this run is mostly flat.


This race is on a much larger scale than anything i have ever done before.  Looking at last year’s results – the transition times vary wildly.  the front of the pack (M40-44) were between 3-4 minutes combined for T1 & T2, whereas the average for a 2:50 finish were up to 6 minutes.  I am hoping to make up some time in transition – so i figured leaving 4 minutes combined should be enough.    I may update this after i see where my bike will be racked, and how large the transition area is.

I do plan on clipping my shoes in to the bike and doing a flying mount, and won’t be wearing any socks, so that should hopefully lay the foundation for a fast T1 and T2.  Last race my helmet and glasses were knocked off before i got to transition, so i may put them on the ground to be safe.  I have aero bars on the bike now, so that might make them more secure up high.

So that’s it for my pre-race thoughts.  I am hoping that by posting this goal, it will provide a little more motivation to go and make it happen!

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