Monday, July 23, 2012

Updates on This Season's Triathlons

Photo: DeGust, Flickr Creative Commons

I last left you on a very positive note concerning this year's triathlon schedule. My first race of the year was a very difficult course and my first race longer than a sprint and I was generally very happy with my performance. Since then, I've done #1 and #2 in the Jax Tri series. I was largely happy with the first one. I survived rough seas by the standards of the Southeast. Waves broke over my head repeatedly and the beach and water was full of seaweed ripped up by a storm that had recently passed by offshore. The quarter-mile swim was really more of a survival thing than a race for me. It wasn't dangerous (I could always just put my feet down and touch the bottom), it just wasn't an easy swim. The bike was the fastest I've ever done a ride anywhere near 16 miles in length. I averaged 21 mph on the nose (33.8 kph for you non-Americans). My run felt miserable. My legs were tired from the bike and it had been over 80 and nearly 90 percent humidity at sunrise and I didn't get to the run until around 9 a.m. However, my time was not that slow and actually well above average for the course. It just felt really bad. My transitions, on the other hand, were miserable. I spent 3:28 transitioning from the swim to the bike and 2:08 going from the bike to the run. That was horrible. The people who finished with similar times to me often had transition times half the length of mine.

I spent the time between Tri #1 and Tri #2 in Atlanta riding my bike with Free Flite Bicycles in Marietta and training for the Peachtree Road Race. I was completely happy with Peachtree, by the way. I managed a sub-50-minute time, which is a major success given the hills and the fact that Peachtree is actually a tenth of a mile or two longer than a true 10k. I only went swimming once in two weeks. Bad idea.

My good ideas mostly came in the area of transitions. I dropped the cycling gloves. These are normally pretty useful. They keep my grip from slipping on the handlebars when things get sweaty and it also prevents sore spots and blisters on my hand. However, they take time to put on and while nice, aren't actually essential. I also attached my shoes to the pedals and practiced putting my feet into the shoes while in motion. Also, for the first time ever, I remembered to untie my running shoes while setting up my transition area. When time came for the second Jacksonville race, the weather was a little better. It wasn't much cooler, but it was significantly less humid, although this really only mattered on the run. The seas were also much calmer. After having worked on my transitions and seeing how great the Atlantic looked that morning I was pumped. I was going to drop 5 minutes off my time, probably.

The swim didn't go great, but it didn't go poorly. I did notice at one point that the water was MUCH deeper this time than it was last month and it seemed like it took a lot longer to get to the first turn buoy and from the second turn buoy back to the shore, but it felt like I was swimming stronger this time. I don't have a waterproof watch, so I have no way to check on my swim times. I just assumed it was similar to the 8:50 I swam last time. Transition 1 went well. I was happy with it. My bike was slightly slower than I would have liked, but we're talking 4-tenths of a mph slower than last time. I was less than a minute slower this time. I was still doing great. My second transition felt great as well and I blew the run out of the water. It was my best run in a triathlon ever. I dropped 15 seconds per mile off my run pace from last month. I gained much more time on my run than the seconds I lost on the bike. I was expecting great things.

Then the results were posted. I was two places higher overall than last time, and four spots higher in the Clydesdale category. The problem was that I was about a minute slower than last time. How was that even possible? DRC Sports is a little slow getting the full results posted, especially compared to Setup Events, which had splits posted almost instantaneously last month in North Carolina. It wasn't until late Sunday afternoon that I found out that my swim, which was 8:50 in June was 11:04 this time. Judging from the fact that even the strongest swimmers had gained more than a minute on the swim compared to last month either the swim was longer like it felt, or the northerly current was a little weaker this time. Because I'm a much slower swimmer than the top swimmers, it'd make sense that I'd lose more time than they would, especially if the course was actually longer due to it being high tide instead of low tide. On the positive side, my transitions were much faster. I still need to work on T2, which was only a few seconds faster, but I dropped 1:25 off of T1. That, along with my combined bike/run times made this race a success, even if I felt like a failure for more than 24 hours while waiting to see what caused my seemingly poor time. In less than two weeks I head back to Jacksonville for the third and final sprint triathlon. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring everything together then to actually have a faster time.

Also, I'll probably be extending my triathlon season this year. I found two events close enough to where I live that I could stay at home the night before and just drive to the event site the morning of instead of having to get a hotel room. The last one is the first weekend of October. After that I shift entirely to marathon training for my first 26.2-mile race in December.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Well I was all ready to suggest you start a swimming group since that seems to be your weak point but now that you're about to switch gears, it probably isn't worth it. Also, it's slightly (lots) harder to be all social while in the water. At least I'm assuming. I'd have to actually try it to know for sure.