HUMILITY & TAMPON FOUNTAINS..... :-)
Yesterday (Saturday October 2nd) was another early start (4:30 am) as I got up to prepare myself for the FS Series Lake Royale Sprint Triathlon. It was a bit of a struggle to pull my sorry rear end out of bed as on Friday evening we hosted my eldest daughter’s birthday party and we had twelve 8/9 year old girls sleeping over. Needless to say, it wasn’t an early night! She Who Must Be Obeyed was particularly galled as the party was arranged for the Friday evening because I had mistakenly thought that the Lake Royale event was on Sunday. Compared to dealing with twelve grumpy girls my Saturday morning swimming in a lake and slogging up and down hills was going to be a breeze! No brownie points for me, but a big shout out to my lovely wife for allowing me spend time training and racing.
Because of the birthday party and not wanting to wake the assembled masses, I loaded my bike and packed my bags the afternoon before and left the car outside in the driveway and ready to go. I slammed down two Ensure’s, retrieved my Accelerade from the fridge and headed out into the chilly morning air. I’m actually pretty relieved that some nice Fall temperatures have finally arrived here in central North Carolina – I love the warmth and have even learned to enjoy the humidity somewhat, but nothing beats a crisp autumnal day. The forecast was for sunshine and mid 70s for the high temperature, but it was in the low 50s when I left.
The 45 min drive to the Lake Royale community (which is east of Wake Forest, just outside Bunn, NC) was uneventful and I was soon pulling up at the gate and being given my parking pass. Lake Royale is a large gated community surrounding…. you guessed it…. Lake Royale. Lake Royale is a man made lake created in the 1970’s:- 3.25 miles long with about 13 miles of shoreline and comprising 345 acres. There’s a large housing community surrounding it. The race start and transition was located at the pavilion next to the beach area, but this is several miles from the gatehouse and let’s just say that street lights aren’t too abundant – it was pitch dark and I felt as if I was driving into the middle of nowhere as I followed the directions. Once I was completely sure that I was lost and going in the wrong direction I did finally see a sign that indicated that I was moving in the right direction and I had soon dropped my bike off and driven two miles back to the designated parking area. From the parking area there was a shuttle service to deliver you back to the starting area. I boarded the open air shuttle with other hardy “early arrivers” and was soon enjoying (?) the very chilly ride down to the lake. Both my drive from the gate house and the shuttle ride told me that the course wasn’t going to be easy – the only flat spot around appeared to be the surface of the lake….
Setting-up my transition area was much more straightforward than at the OBX event a couple of weeks back. This was partly because I now had some experience, but also because the transition area here was much better lit. By chance my appointed rack was right next to the bike exit, which is good as there’s only a short distance to run in cleated bike shoes while pushing your machine. Especially good here as the transition was in a hard surface parking lot rather than a grassy area as it had been at the Outer Banks event.
I was soon registered, body-marked (number 146 this time) and chatting to my fellow competitors. The primary topic of conversation appeared to be the chilly temperatures. One of the people racking her bike on the same rack as me was a lady called Annie Lux who was also wearing Delta Triathlon gear and looked like a serious athlete with her tri bike and aero helmet. It turns out that Annie, who was extremely pleasant, is a serious athlete – she went on to smoke the ladies field to finish first by about three minutes in the ladies event in a time that would have put her about 8th in the men’s race – very impressive! There were several other people there wearing Delta Tri gear, so I introduced myself to as many as I could. Unfortunately I can’t remember many names, but I do remember chatting to a guy called John in the transition area after the race. I also ran into Christian Zyburg who lives locally and trains at the same Wood Valley pool as me. Christian is also a serious triathlete and went on to finish 6th overall. I’m hoping that over time some of the experience and expertise of people like Annie and Christian will rub off of on this old fat guy. Unfortunately I can’t turn back the clock and magically become 30 again, but I certainly do have a lot to learn and I’m generally a pretty good study!
Soon it was time to clear the transition area, so I grabbed my wetsuit (water temp. was around 70, so the event was “wetsuit legal”), goggles and swim cap (bright orange again) and headed down to the beach for the pre-race briefing. I always find it somehow counter intuitive when it’s chilly out but the ocean or lake water is warmer than the air temperature, but thankfully this was the case and it was pleasant to wade out into the lake for a quick warm-up
|The swim start area (taken later)|
Once the briefing was complete men 39 and under were first to be counted (for safety reasons) as they entered the water and prepared for their start. My group was next and soon after the younger men were underway we “40s and older” found ourselves lined-up and ready to go. The swim course was shorter than for the Outer Banks event (500 m vs. 750 m) and I was determined to swim more freestyle this time. I lined-up inside and to the right and was soon underway. No real problems. I got kicked once as we got started, but that’s normal! I swam a pretty good leg to the first buoy – all freestyle and I kept to a nice smooth rhythm. Once around the buoy I switched to breast stroke for a while to make sure that I was properly “sighted” on the second buoy. I then alternated freestyle and breast stroke along the long second leg. I definitely felt better than I had during the last race and was confident that I was at least “middle of the pack” (if not slightly better) within the 40 plus age group. It also felt good to pass some of the green caps of the 39 and under age group which had started four minutes before us and, as far as I know, I wasn’t passed by any pink capped 39 and under ladies who started four minutes behind us! Soon enough I was running out of the lake, pulling off my cap and goggles and peeling down the top of my wetsuit.
Swim: 11 mins 18.7 secs.
Pace: 2:16 per 100m (vs.2:30 at OBX)
Men: 65th (of 163)
Age Group: 5th (of 10)
This time there was only a short run from the beach to the transition area. T1 went pretty well. I fought the wetsuit for a short while, but nothing too bad. No problem with helmet, gloves, sunglasses, socks and bike shoes and off to the bike exit. Mounting was uneventful and I was pleased that I left my bike in a low gear as it was straight into the first hill!
Transition One: 1 min 57 seconds
Men: 70th (of 163)
Age Group: 4th (of 10)
The bike course was very different to that at the Outer Banks event. The 15 mile “out and back” course featured two very different sections. The first three miles or so out of transition (and conversely the last three on the way back) featured a lot of “technical riding” through the Lake Royale community. Lots of hills and sharp turns. Once out of Lake Royale the remainder of the ride was through open farm land. I heard several people talking about the head winds on the way out, but compared to those at the previous race these weren’t too much of an issue!
I was determined not to “save my legs” on the bike this time and felt that I pushed pretty well. Like the last race, I overtook quite a few people, but also had quite a few people absolutely fly by me! By looking at the marking on their calves, I could tell that at least two of these speedsters were in my age group. I had obviously beaten them on the swim/T1 but they caught me about two thirds through the outward bike leg. I felt pretty good about my bike leg when I had finished the race, but very disappointed when I saw the final results (see post mortem below).
Bike: 54 mins 12.1 secs
Speed: 16.6 mph average
Men: 109th (of 163)
Age Group: 10th (of 10)
As I approached the second transition I pretty smoothly got my feet out of my shoes and pedaled in with my feet on top of the shoes. Dismount and run to the T2 transition went smoothly, as did helmet off and getting into my running shoes. No issues in T2.
Transition Two: 59 secs.
Men: 70th (of 163)
Age Group: 3rd (of 10)
My legs felt very heavy as I headed straight into the first hill on the run. Basically there were very few flat spots on the out and back 5k run course. I tried to keep a good cadence, but knew that I was slow – just couldn’t get my legs to keep turning over very quickly. I passed a few people but got passed by a whole lot more, again including a couple of guys in my age group, which I found somewhat demotivating! In chatting to some more experienced folks afterwards it seems as if this is an unusually hilly and challenging run course.
Run: 31 mins 50.4 secs.
Pace: 10 min 17 secs per mile (DOUBLE YUCK!!)
Men: 144th (of 163)
Age Group: 10th (of 10)
Full Race: 1 hour 40 mins 16.2 secs
Men: 119th (of 163)
Age Group: 9th (of 10) - OUCH! This really stings!
Overall (Men and Women – I’m not proud!): 152nd (of 251)
The post-race activities were fun (but what? No beer?) and by this time the sun was up and pleasantly warm.
One embarrassing story to relate. I have a new transition bag on the way (basically a fancy rucksack) but in the mean time I have been using one of She Who Must Be Obeyed's bags to lug all my gear to the transition area (you can see it in one of the transition area pictures above). As I was packing-up after this race I was chatting to the aforementioned Annie Lux as I was pulling stuff out of the bag when, much to my embarrassment, I pulled at a shirt that was “down deep” in the bag and as it came out it was accompanied by…. wait for it…. A giant shower of tampons! I have no idea if Annie noticed as I quickly scooped them up and hastily returned them to the bag, but if she did she was much too polite to say anything! Note to self: check bag for female sanitary items before packing! Hopefully my shiny new bag will be here soon!
|Not the most flattering shot!|
Wow! I have to say that I’m disappointed! When I finished I felt that, with the obvious exception of the run, I had put in a reasonably good effort. I certainly felt that I had pushed and “raced” better than I had in my first event. I wasn’t surprised that I was last in my age group (50-54) in the run, but I was a little stunned to see that I was last in the bike!
Here’s how I compared in the 50 to 54 men’s age group:
Delta vs. Best
OK, so let’s break it down so that I know where I need to focus in my off-season training.
1. Swim: I started this adventure assuming that this would be my weak point, but it seems that I’m reasonably competitive in my age group even without doing much training so far. This comes as a bit of a surprise. This said, I know that there’s a lot of room for improvement. I’m going to go to coach Marty Gaal’s Powerstroke clinic later this month and start swimming with his Master’s group to improve endurance in the New Year. Again notice that the age group winner was only 6th (behind me!) in the swim.
2. Transitions: No real issues. It seems that I’m reasonably proficient and I would hope that I can shave time once I get used to riding without socks and so on.
The bad news about being “reasonable” in the swim and transitions, of course, is that overall these disciplines contribute least to overall time!
3. Bike: This is obviously where I need to focus if I want to improve my overall race time. I have only been riding seriously for a few months, but I’m a bit stunned at how much faster some of the serious riders are. The good news is that I love the bike and relish putting in the hours over the winter. Notice that the fastest four on the bike also took the first four age group placings.
4. Run: No news here – I’m slow! Repeat after me: More miles; more miles; more miles! The good news is that, in my training runs at least, I’m definitely getting faster. It’s all relative I guess!
Time to start planning my winter program!