Monday, July 11, 2011

Triangle Triathlon - Race Report

Well, I'm a bit sore today, so that's a sure sign that I raced yesterday!  The Triangle Triathlon (sprint distance) is in the books - my fourth one completed - and I'm pleased to be able to report that it went significantly better than White Lake II, despite a harder course and some significant heat and humidity!

The event is held at Lake Harris Country Park, just southwest of Raleigh.   Parking is at a premium, so I was determined to get there early and set my alarm for 4:10 am.

I packed my bags and loaded my bike on the car the previous evening, so after a breakfast of English muffins (no bagels in the house!); fruit; coffee and one bottle of Ensure, I headed out for the 45 min drive to the race site and was there in plenty of time to get a good parking spot.   After checking my tire pressure and giving my bike a quick check over I enjoyed the walk down to the transition area in the early light with other "early arrivers".   Even then I could tell that it was going to be a hot one!  I could probably have awarded myself a little longer in bed, but I have "a thing" about arriving early, giving myself plenty of time to set-up my transition area, get my bearings, survey the landscape and do some warm-ups.

I'm getting pretty proficient at setting-up my transition area now, and didn't forget anything, so it didn't take long to get organised...

....and pretty soon the transition area started to fill-up.

I was pleased to have a low number (116) which meant that I was close to the bike exit and, therefore, only had a short distance to run with the bike when exiting "T1".  It wasn't long before I ran into The Puppeteer setting-up her transition area in the pro ranks...

Isn't it amazing what a humid day will do for your hair!   (I'm sure I'll pay for that!) and what's with the lady in the  blue top in the background who looks as if she's about to jump over the rack and kick my ass?  :-)

After picking-up my timing chip and going to "body marking I walked down to the lake to take a look at the swim start and finish.  The water was pretty murky and very warm (I'm guessing 85 F) so it was going to be a bit like swimming in soup!    Quite a few people were amused by the "no swimming" sign located right at the point where six hunded plus lyca-clad triathletes were shortly going to be emerging after the 750 M swim!

Now it was time to warm-up.  I started with a 20 minute ride on the bike including a few "spin-ups" and sprints.  After re-racking my bike and making sure that it was left in the right gear and that the shoes were properly held-up off the ground using rubber bands I went back down to the swim exit and did a few practice starts and swam for a few minutes.   Finally I put on my running shoes to go for a short run on some of the park trails.  The Puppeteer suggested not using socks for this event (even though I usually wear them) so I went without and it felt fine.

Finally 7:30 am rolled around and the pros and other racers in the open category were first to go, followed by everyone else in waves according to age group category at about 4 minute intervals.  Based on the fact that I'm getting pretty geriatric, I was in the second to last wave and so had plenty of time to think about my swim while watching younger and fitter people disappear in a maelstrom of foaming water!


After the debacle at White Lake (nose bleed; goggles kicked-off; minor panic - see earlier post) I was determined to put in a better effort.   Having watched the previous waves go off I decided to start at the back and on the inside of my wave.  The start was from waste deep water and after the horn went off I fairly quickly found some (relatively) open water and a reasonable rhythm for my freestyle - a few bumps and thumps, but nothing out of the ordinary.   The swim was point-to-point, following roughly three sides of a rectangle.   I managed what I thought was reasonable freestyle to around the first buoy but, as usual, started to feel a bit tired and my stroke starting to fall apart a little.   As planned I switched to breaststroke for a while - this is very "uncool" for a triathlete, but it sure beats drowning!  Unlike White Lake I at least started doing a "decent" breaststroke and was keeping-up with many around me doing freestyle.  I then switched back and forth between breast and free for the rest of the swim and, while not super fast, I at least finished feeling strong and ready to get on the bike.

Time:   17:14   Age group rank:  19th out of 30.
[Age group best:  11:42] 

Could have been a lot worse and I know that I can get stronger and have that freestyle nailed soon!   After the race I was chatting to The Puppeteer and Bri Gaal from One Step Beyond Coaching and I'm going to take one of their open water swim clinics soon and really looking forward to it.


As usual the transitions are the one area that I do pretty well at!   T1 was pretty uneventful.  No wetsuit to deal with this time.  I did have slightly more trouble than usual getting my first foot into my bike shoes, but nothing very serious - probably lost 5 seconds or so.

Time:  02:25  (11th of 30)
[Age group best:  01:44]


Having shown some performance improvements on the bike recently and having driven the relatively hilly course the day before, I was looking forward to the 17.5 mile bike loop.   I felt that I rode pretty hard and used the gears well and, while I wasn't dissatisfied in the effort I put in, I was again disappointed that so many guys in my age group are so much faster and how much time I lost on the bike.   The good news is that it's an "opportunity rich environment" for improvement!

Time:   55:38 (25th of 30).  Avg. speed:  ~18.1 mph
(Age group best:  45:19 - A whole 10 mins faster - gulp!


Again uneventful.

Time:  01:28  (12th of 30)
(Age group best:  01:09)


A difficult 5K course and it was getting pretty damned hot by the time we "late starters" got there!  The course started on the road but soon turned through a gravel parking lot and then became essentially a trail run (primarily grass and gravel) for all but the last 200 M or so.  It also featured a longish gradient and some small rollers, so it was by no means easy.

I focused on keeping my turnover high and seemed to be passing more people than were passing me.   The Puppeteer instructed all of her athletes to give it everything when we hit the paved section at the end.  I certainly tried, but if you were to look at this picture you might not think so!

Time:  26:37  (18th of 30)
(Age group best:  20:56)


Time:  01:43:22  (20th of 30)
(Age group winner:  01:24:11)

Much happier with this than White Lake!   Not particularly impressive with respect to ranking, but I feel that I gave it pretty much everything and I need to remember that some of these guys have been doing this for years.   I also feel (see previous post) that I raced, for at least much of the race.   I certainly chased some people down on the run but, in particular, I raced a guy from my age group down on the bike...  he first passed me on the climb coming out of the country park and I could see via the number on his calf that he was in my age group.   I stayed in touch and then passed him on the downhill section of Friendship Road, only for him to pass me again on the climb up the other side.  This pissed me off, so I gritted my teeth and passed him again about a mile later - thankfully not to be seen again - felt good!  :-)

Pleased to be finished!  When did I get so bloody old?

It took me a while to cool off, but there was a great selection of drinks; pizza and fruit to help revive me and I was soon chatting to The Puppeteer and The Snitch (and family).

With Heather (who completed her first tri) and The Snitch. 
Why do they look so cool and composed when I'm such a mess?  
I need to note that The Puppeteer rocked the women's open division and won in a time of 01:19 - awesome!  And The Snitch put in another great performance to finish 5th in her age group.   It's good to be associated with talent!

Is she really giving the finger to her competition on the podium?

Finally, if you're interested..... Raleigh News & observer photographer Ray Black took some  great candid shots of the event and you can see them here:

1 comment:

  1. The Puppeteer called me a "dork" for posting age group stats.... ouch! :-)