Monday, June 19, 2006

VT SUN Sprint Tri - RACE REPORT 2006

It's always so hard to start a race report... I'm just never sure if anyone cares what time I got going or what I had for breakfast... anyway... here it is!!!

Sunday I raced my first sprint of the season and it was a blast!! The Vermont Sun Triathlon Series sprints are a great way to start off your season. The field is usually limited to 200 participants and last year was the first year they actually used timing chips - in previous years you had to yell out your number as you ran thru transition and hope someone recorded it for you!! So it's pretty low key...and being only about 1.5 hrs. from the Upper Valley, there are usually a lot of folks from my swim team racing. It's a great time, the venue is beautiful, the bike course is gorgeous and pretty tame and the run is a flat out and back. A great way to work all the winter cobwebs out and get ready for any upcoming bigger races.

I wasn't organized enough to plan a carpool with anyone so I headed out around 5:50 after a quick whole wheat bagel with pb & j. The ride was uneventful, I listened to the 22nd episode of GYGO and giggled for most of the way... and had just enough time to play some really loud, really fun music before arriving at the state park. 1 hour, 15 minutes 'til race time. Perfect.

I spotted Emily, one of my swim teammates, who I had convinced to sign up for this race. She was fired up and ready to go... her friend Steve had come along to scope things out and had wisely decided to bring all of his gear - you know, just in case... well, 5 minutes of chat later he was convinced he could manage the swim and he saw enough mountain bikes in transition to decide that his 1980 univega 10 speed would suffice... he was off to the race-day-sign-up line and Em and I were left waiting to pick up our packets in the pre-registration line. Chip, bib, safety pins, swag bag, body marked, good to go... time to get set up. Steve got his number and was sort of looking like a deer in the headlights crossed with a kindergartener on the first day of school... terrified and excited out of his mind. It was so much fun to watch and remember having been there!!!

So then we found Jen and Britta and we all got our stuff from the cars and headed for transition. I had a pretty good spot near both entry/exit points and managed to get on the end of the rack... set all my stuff out and was ready to go. This is the point when I get antsy... there're usually 45 minutes left to stand around and that's when I start to get nervous...when I have a chance to think. One of the things that WB and I will be working out in the next three weeks is what exactly I should do for my warmup. I don't have a set routine yet... the only thing I always make sure to do is get wet so that first plunge isn't a shock. For my last several races I've also spent several minutes elevating my heart rate in some way - a short jog or a few swim sprints... it makes a huge difference at the swim start if my HR has already been high because then it doesn't spike. I have a feeling we'll be building on this concept...

So I got wet (brrrr - I'd say about 68˚F) and then headed back to transition for the pre-race announcements. Then we were off... 4 waves... men 39 and under, men 40 and over, women 34 and under (my wave) and then women 35 and over... I had warmed up in the water wearing my swim suit and my Tri Geek Dreams Tri shorts (these totally ROCK by the way), thinking I would swim in them and have one less thing to do in transition (I have yet to purchase a wetsuit...I just really want to drop this weight before investing...) Well, just as everyone started walking over to the swim start, I realized that my tri shorts were all stretched out from being wet (and one size too big) and they were seriously dragging and filling with water when I did any kind of dolphining or anything. They needed to come off. But did I have enough time? I figured at least 4 minutes before the third I jogged fast back to my bike, ditched the shorts and jogged to the start. Wave 2 was just leaving so it was all good - plus I got that opportunity to elevate my HR so I was set. I had butterflies but I was determined to not let the negative thoughts creep in. I deserved to be there. I was strong. I took an inside line on the front edge and we were off!

4 dolphins and 10 strokes in I knew I had started off too fast. I couldn't catch my breath and every time I went to breathe I got splashed and swallowed water so then I had even less air!! The first buoy was pretty close to the shore - maybe 100 yards - so I held it together until then and then took 3 breast strokes around it for the first left turn. Then fell into a much steadier rhythm of freestyle, sighting every 3 cycles and swimming pretty straight. Straighter than my last open water swim anyway... I think all the work we did this winter in the pool on not crossing over the midline on the catch helped me a TON... I didn't feel like I had to make any corrections for the whole swim...and I started gradually passing people...even wet-suited ones!! A few of the fishes from the last wave flew by me (I'm talking swordfish fast, guys...they were there and two strokes later I was eating their bubbles...) but I didn't get overtaken by the whole wave behind me this time - only by the that felt good. There were two more buoys on the left (we swam parallel to the shore) and then one more left turn and a right turn around the last buoy. I passed about 4 more people by dolphining in the waist deep water (they were wading) and was off to T1. Here's what the course looked like:

Swim time, approx. 600 yards: 11:45, 70/162 out of the water. We all agreed that the swim felt short compared to last year... my time was 15:34 last year which seems like a HUGE improvement... a look at the overall swim times showed a lot of 8 minute finishes and the fastest swim last year was 9 minutes... so I'm willing to bet I improved some and that the course was also a little short. Whatever, I'll take it!!

T1 - shorts on (ewww...wet tri shorts... won't do that again) shirt on, glasses on? - no glasses off - helmet on, socks, shoes, we're off!! 3:05. Need some work here. I feel strongly about the socks on the run so feel like I might as well wear them on the bike since it's gonna take time to get em on in either transition... the shorts are great - a little padding for the bike, protection from chub rub on the run. Might consider no shirt and just having my swim suit but how long does it take to pull the shirt over your head? My shoes take forever...two velcro straps and a ratchet buckle like a ski boot. But they're so comfy. Whatever. I think I just need to practice and make it all go smoother.

I was excited to get going on the bike as I've spent the last week working on my cadence and spinning. I passed a few mountain bikers right away (that's the beauty of this race - there are all kinds) and dropped into a steady spin in my aerobars. Slowed at the first turn and then powered up two smallish hills. Once out onto Route 7, Amelia took over. She's a Cervélo ONE for those of you who haven't been following...which means she is the bottom of the line entry level tri bike. Cervélo doesn't make the ONE anymore because it was too good a bike for the price point (just under $1000) and I think that the Dual now has the same frame. Anyhow, as a tri bike she LOOOOVVES the flats and the easy rollers and once we got out on the open road, she took off and held a 24-26 mph pace for a solid 10-15 minutes. I felt really strong and passed a whole bunch of people, picking them off like I had in the half marathon. HOWEVER, once we took the last turn, the course climbs for about 0.7 mi. - it's not a super steep climb but it's enough of a climb that I had to shift onto my smaller chain ring and all the way down to the granny gear. Now I like to think I'm tough because my granny gear is no where near as easy to climb in as bikes with 3 chain rings... but I'm about ready to throw that excuse out the door because it's just lame. I will build the strength and power I need to stay ahead of all the people I passed on the flats. I'd say at least 6 of em passed me back on that hill...and then I passed them back on the last part of the course...but still...those negative thoughts and fears about being last have no place in my racing plan... and they creep in when people I've already worked to leave in the dust pass me by again on the climbs. I WILL get stronger. Overall, I kept a high cadence (+80) for most of the course, the hills being the only exception. I drank most of my one water bottle - just plain water - and no food. It felt solid and I was determined to push as hard as I could to see how much i had left on the run.

One fun thing, as I was zooming into T2, the lead runners were just finishing and I could see the #1 guy and #2 I cruised past #2 I said in a low voice, "Dig deep, you can catch him." He had about 10 yards to make up and he didn't pull it off but he came close. It was fun to see.

Almost crashed into this chick in front of me on the dismount...she stopped right in the middle so I pulled off toward the left but as she got off she leaned way left to dismount and was right in front of me. I had slowed down enough that I was in control but a quick, "On Your LEFT!" caught her attention and she moved. Rookies!!! (Heh... )

Bike time, approx. 14 mi. bike: 50:08, 128/162 overall, avg. speed 17.7 mph (that's FAST for me!!) 6:18 faster than last year's ride. I'll take it.

T2 - I had to shove two bikes down to make room for mine, helmet off, shoes off, shoes on, hat on (I REALLY need a new hat...anyone have a favorite they'd recommend?), race belt on, out the BACK of transition this time. I realized immediately that I had forgotten to take my HRM off my bike and put it on my wrist - bummer - I use HR a lot to pace myself. Have to deal... Grabbed a quick cup of Heed and was off on the run. T2: 1:29. Not too bad...

By this time it was getting really hot and the sun was brutal. Luckily most of the run was shady... I started off with really short strides and felt like CRAP for the first 10 minutes. No cramping or particular pains, just TIRED. I think I do need to have some kind of fuel either on the bike or in T2. I'm thinking perhaps Cliff Blocks would be good to try. A sprint is just a little too long for me to have nothing. Or maybe just gatorade instead of water. I'll have to play with things over the next few weeks.

The run is out and back so I was able to see everyone I knew at some point... everyone looked great and we all shouted encouragement to each other. I started feeling better by the end of the first mile and tried to pick it up a bit. Short strides definitely help with running economy but I was feeling like there wasn't much in the tank... Only 3 miles, I kept saying...only 2 miles...only 1.5 miles...less than a mile...this is ran 13 miles!!! I didn't want to have any energy left - I would not look back and say I could've pushed harder. That's a bitter pill to swallow.... but it just took forever to get to the end. A few people passed me but that's par for the course so far. I'm working towards not letting that happen will be a great day when I don't get passed on the run. 5Ks are so much harder than half marathons because you just feel BAD the whole time. More speedwork will help that's for sure. I had Phil and Sara's cowbell mantra in my head for most of the run ("I've got a fever...") and that seemed to help! I kicked it in for the last 100 yards and finished feeling strong.

Run time, 5K: 32:55, 150/162 overall. Last year I ran 33:38. Sub 11 min. miles is a first for me in a tri... I'll take it!!!

Approximately 4 minutes later I was back in the cool lake. WOW was it hot.

Final time: 1:39:20... last year's time was 1:45:38. I think it's safe to say that I improved in all three sports but that my biking has improved the most. That's good because from now until the end of August, it's all about the bike.

I confess, my post race food was not the best - a bagel, yogurt covered pretzels, cheddar chex mix, a few oreos, gatorade and a sprite. But it'll suffice for now. We hung out and chatted in the water for a bit and then enjoyed the shade by the beach and more food for a little longer before heading home. I hadn't realized it but just before the start, Steve had gone to shift his bike into a low gear to start off and he broke the gear cable (actually it just rotted off when he touched it) he had to ride the entire 14 mile course with only ONE gear option. Crazy boy. AND he didn't have any goggles. His bike split was faster than mine too... I.NEED.MORE.POWER!!! We had a good laugh about it. Oh, and poor Jen got a flat but was able to change it pretty quickly...I'm just waiting for my turn and the curse of the Flatman. I hope it comes during a training ride and not a race...

Headed home for a Father's Day celebration with my honey's Dad, brother and nephews. Sat in the lake, stayed wet and cool for most of the afternoon and savored the last of the garbage-barge food I'd be eating for another three weeks. Time to get serious about Fairlee and my redemption.

Stay cool and TRAIN HARD!!!


Blogger Barb said...

24-26mph? OMG! That's downhill speeds for me! Smokin'!

I take in 100 calories every 45 minutes. (I know you hate gel, but it's so easy!) The last quarter of the bike is perfect timing to take in some fuel, so you are ready for the run. I also use a sports drink in my water bottle for some extra calories. (Gu2o or Heed)

Pizza and beer was my post race feast! I'm SO weak! :)


12:32 PM GMT-5

Blogger Joe said...

Nice report. Thanks for sharing.

> I'm just never sure if anyone cares
> what time I got going or what I had
> for breakfast... anyway... here it is!!!

I care! It helps set the context for the rest of the race report.

> before arriving at the state park - 1 hour,
> 15 minutes 'til race time. Perfect.

Wow and I thought I arrived early for my races!

> Steve got his number and was sort of
> looking like a deer in the headlights
> crossed with a kindergartener on the
> first day of school... terrified and
> excited out of his mind.

Hehe. I remember that feeling too.

> I had a pretty good spot near both
> entry/exit points and managed to
> get on the end of the rack... set all
> my stuff out and was ready to go.

I'm just curious. Who watches your stuff to make sure it doesn't get stolen during the race?

> it makes a huge difference at the
> swim start if my HR has already
> been high because then it
> doesn't spike.

That's interesting. I'll have to try that in my next race.

> So I got wet (brrrr - I'd say about 68˚F)

That's cold!

>Swim time, approx. 600 yards: 11:45.
> my time was 15:34 last year

Excellent improvement!

> Bike time, approx. 14 mi. bike: 50:08,
> 6:18 faster than last year's ride.


> Run time, 5K: 32:55, 150/162 overall.
> Last year I ran 33:38.

Great job again!

> Final time: 1:39:20... last year's time was 1:45:38.

Congrats, Spence!

1:34 PM GMT-5

Blogger 'Zilla said...

You are so AWESOME!!! 24-26 mph is freaking insane. As is 17.7 mph. I guess our little slow (?) ride was okay after all!

Great improvements, Spence! I'm so glad you had a GREAT race.

See ya for the next one! :-)

1:43 PM GMT-5

Blogger Flatman said...

Nice race...improvements all around!!!

You know my curse is gonna get won't be long.... ;)

3:22 PM GMT-5

Blogger Phil said...

More Cowbell! Good job with the improvements. I totally enjoy a geeked out race report - the more details the better! Besides, you can look back on it later, and either laugh at yourself, or say, "wow, was I ever wise to have thought of that!"

3:32 PM GMT-5

Blogger TriSaraTops said...

NICE JOB! That's some SERIOUS improvement!! :) Way to go! Great report, too.

And you can always use some more cowbell!

3:44 PM GMT-5

Blogger Scott said...

Congrats Spence on the huge improvement over last year. I am so stoked after reading this report. I have tennis on the schedule this morning and just know that I am going to hit big with all this inspiration flowing through my veins.

Great job!

4:47 AM GMT-5

Blogger Bolder said...

clearly, this was not a fluke, but an improvement in all 3 disciplines.

well done.

my rule of thumb is that if i'm going to be under load for more than 45 minutes then i'm taking on calories. gatorade endurance on the bike did the trick for me.

is your HRM waterproof? i wore mine through the swim, turned the face on the same side as my wrist for the ride to check HR in the bars, and then switched 'er around for the run. one less thing to forget.

oh, and definitely sunglasses for the ride, at 17+mph you are risking losing an eye speed demon!

PR all around!

10:46 AM GMT-5

Blogger Cliff said...

Good stuff Spence. An improvement compare to last year is always good.

I notice in transition, I try to slim it down as much as possible. i started to ride my bike with no socks. My feet could handle it. I learnt that from last year when i try to put on socks in T1. It ain't easy to put on shoes when my feet is wet.

As for warm up, I need to work on that as well. I try to keep myself busy and not think too much before things start. There is too much nervousness in the air already and i like to stay away from that.

11:48 AM GMT-5

Blogger tarheeltri said...

Definitely keep posting race reports! Not that the rest of your blog isn't interesting, but I could read only race reports all day long... don't stop!

Great race too. That's a VERY solid time not to mention overall improvement!

Also definitely more cowbell!

Congrats on a great race!

For T1: When setting up transition, I put my socks on, then roll them off my feet into little donuts... then in T1 I just roll them back on. I put the socks in each shoe, my helmet on the shoes, food/gel in the helmet, then my glasses. Reverse order of how I put them on... glasses on, food/gel into pocket, helmet on, socks on, shoes on, head out of T1.

I put my race number (attached to a race belt) under my shoes and put that on in T2. If I wear a wetsuit: upon exiting the water, I immediately find a place out of the way, sit down and take off my wetsuit then carry it into T1. With or without a wetsuit, I always wear my tri shorts and shirt. It's too hard putting dry clothes on a wet body. I don't towel off... air dry on the bike!

12:25 PM GMT-5


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