Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ITU World Triathlon–Age Group race report

It has been over 3 weeks since I finished the race, since then I have had a lot of business travel, soccer and other family commitments and of course trying to ramp up my ironman training.  I think I am just finishing up my 5th week out of the last 6 on the road, I am starting to get caught up.

I had a wonderful time in San Diego, and ended up having a great race. 

Time:                 2:25:22

Place AG:         13/155

Place Overall:  91/1120

Getting there - Bike Transport

One of the reasons I made the trip to San Diego, was the offer from USAT to ship out bikes for free (from Washington D.C and Denver), this was to encourage clubs to participate in the world club challenge.  The bike transport went very well – just take the pedals off and leave our bikes at the truck on the Sunday before the event.  The truck was on-site at the race venue by Thursday afternoon.  This was a really great service, one that made this trip possible for me.

Race Expectations

This was my first triathlon for the 2012 season.  As I am building up for 70.3 and my first full distance ironman race in July, I was not training specifically for this race, but I wanted to go out hard to see what I could do.  The bike course looked to be tough, and after driving around the course on thursday, I could see what people were talking about.  The roads were pretty rough, with a lot of cracks, grooves and pot-holes.  There was a significant hill, heading into LaJolla – a little over 2 miles of climbing at a reported 10% grade.    The downhill portion after the climb looked to be very fast, and perhaps a little dangerous, especially if there were a lot of other competitors there at the same time.  Starting in wave #8 meant that it was highly likely that there would be traffic up ahead.  My strategy was to go quite hard up the hill and be cautious on the descent.

At this race I wanted to put together a solid run, hopefully somewhere around the low 40 minute mark (sub 42 would be great).

Expo and Packet Pickup

I got to the expo and packet pickup area mid-afternoon on thursday.  packet pickup was very efficient.  The expo area was also quiet, giving me some time to check out what the vendors were showing and getting into the swing of the event.

The race packet was well done, a T-shirt that I actually wear, raceday tattoo's  instead of body marking, a water bottle, swim goggles and a few other things.

IMG_4038

I am happy that I was able to get this done on Thursday.  By the time I got there on Friday there was a large line for packet pickup that seemed to be moving very slowly.  I had plenty of time to get my bike checked in and wander around before the women’s pro race that started at 2:00pm.

The organizers even included a bike valet service at the expo area.    this was a nice addition.  After arriving at the site, I had about an hour before the transition area opened.  I took advantage of the bike valet, so I could walk around and not have to wheel my bike with me.

IMG_4047

the Transition area for the age-grouper race was huge.  The racks were also very tall, I could see many bikes sitting at least a foot off the ground.  One nice thing was that there were stickers indicating what position your bike should be in, so it did not matter when you arrived.

IMG_4254

After dinner with the DC Tri club team, I headed back to the hotel to attempt to get a good sleep.

Race Day

Woke up early and packed my things.  Had a short drive to the race site.  Parking was limited, I got there early enough to get a spot over the bridge from the transition area – this was much better than getting the shuttle bus and not having a way to get back to my car until later in the day.

setup in the transition area was simple, just get the wetsuit out, clip shoes onto the bike and use rubber bands to hold them horizontal, add water to my speedfil and attach my bottle of EFS to the BTA bottle cage (between the aero-bars). 

Swim – 28:15

The swim was a beach start.  The competitors from each wave had to pass through a gate at the start and then run down the beach for about 50 meters before entering the water.  this was the first start like this I have seen.  I was starting in wave 8, the 2nd of the M40-44 age group.  I got to see the other waves start and used that to form a strategy.  I quickly figured out it was better to be on the left, so I could dolphin dive a little longer, which is faster than swimming.

I got in the water for a 10 minute warm-up to get a feel for the water, and loosen up my shoulders.  It was nice to be swimming in salt water again, reminding me of home in Australia.

Soon enough 7:05 came around and we were off.  A few people sprinted for the water – I ran at a decent pace but tried not to get too carried away.  the course was straight out for about 250 meters then turn left.  I felt pretty comfortable, and was happy with my progress.  I tried to draft, but it was a little chaotic and many were not swimming in a straight line. 

I was pretty happy with my sighting, I knew there would be a current, so tried my best to stay on course.  By the time I got to the 3rd marker I glanced at my watch – 16 minutes and change.  This marker was less than half way – either I was swimming really slowly, or the current was stronger than thought.  I was trying to exit the swim in under 28 minutes.  The time didn’t really bother me, was good to get a check to see where I was.  I knew I was ahead of many other swimmers in orange caps.

My official swim time was 28:15 – including the dash up/down the beach at the start and of the swim.  I am happy with this time, but think I could have pushed a little harder.

This is the first race I have used my Garmin 910xt.  After uploading the race to garmin connect, I the GPS track during the swim looked surprisingly accurate.  It looks like I wasn’t swimming that straight.  it recorded the total distance of 1.06 miles (1,865 yards) which is longer than the 1,500m/1,640 yards.

swim-gps 

T1

The transition area was long.  I quickly got the wetsuit off glasses & helmet on and ran out of transition.  My time was decent, however after looking at the results I was 30seconds off some of the faster transition splits!  they must have run really fast through T1.  I always find myself running at a slow pace in transitions, perhaps I need to try to push it a little next time to see how that goes.

Bike 1:12:59

My bike training has progress really well over the off season, so I was hoping that this would result in a good bike split.  I planned to ride hard for the 25 miles, but not all out.   Based on my FTP testing, I was hoping to average around 270 which would be hard, but should still leave a little for the run.

Out on the bike course the road surfaces were rough.  Many times on the there were cracks, rough patches and pot holes.bike1  This meant that we all had to stay more alert than normal. 

The 2 mile climb was tough, I saw people walking their bikes.  I settled into a good tempo up the hills and wasn’t passed by anyone.  I am happy with my efforts there.

the downhill section after the climb was fun.  I didn’t see many other competitors in front of me, so I went pretty hard.  My max speed was 47.1mph. 

The 2nd loop of the climb/descend was similar to the first – looking at my times I was a few seconds faster on the 2nd loop.  this showed that I paced well and was not fading at all.

Numbers for the bike leg:

  • average power 268w
  • normalized power 282w – VI 1.05
  • average cadence 93rpm
  • speed  avg/max  20.4mph / 47.1 mph

here is the power recorded from the ride, from garmin connectbikepower

Run – 40:15

After having a great bike leg, I was looking forward to seeing what I could do out on the run course.  My goal was to keep a steady pace and build towards the end of the 10k/6.2 mile run.  As I started out, I felt strong.  I did have some leg fatigue, however it was bearable. 

The run course was awesome.  It was completely flat and followed a path around the mission bay/beach area.  It was really nice to be running along the beach, with a sea breeze to cool things off a bit.

runcourse

I managed to pace the run quite well, with mile splits of 6:52, 6:38, 6:40, 6:35, 6:30, 6:31 and finished up with a 5:37 pace for the final .2.run1

With about 2 miles to go, I could feel my quads starting to cramp up.  There was nothing much I could do but go hard, knowing that I had just over 10 minutes left.  I think this was a result of riding hard up the hills (that was my plan).  My pace was still good, but with my quads screaming at me, I didn’t get to the next gear that I wanted to finish with.

Overall I finished in 13th place in my age group.  I was actually in 12th until a week after the race when it switched to 13th, not sure what happened there.  I couldn’t be happier with the way I executed the race.  I was strong in all 3 legs.  This was some great validation that the training I have been doing is really working.

Post Race Analysis

After having such a great race and still finishing out of the top 10 in my age group, I couldn’t help but think what would I have to do to get into the top 5.  Here’s what I found out.

Leg

Top 5 average time

My time

Time Diff

% Diff

Swim

24:06

28:15

4:09

17%

T1

01:40

02:00

0:20

20%

Bike

1:11:00

1:12:59

1:59

2.8%

T2

01:33

01:56

0:23

25%

Run

37:36

40:15

2:39

7%

What I learned from this is that my Bike leg is very close.  Once I start racing with aero racing wheels (next race with my Flo 90’s) I should be right up there.  I really need to swim faster, execute better transitions and and run a little faster too.  If I could have cut 4 minutes off the swim, that would have meant 6th place.

A real highlight of the weekend was watching the Mens and Womens pro races. Both were amazing.  I was able to get very close to the action for both the bike and swim legs – those athletes are amazing.

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