Thursday, August 18, 2011

SF Triathlon at Treasure Island Race Report

Just as a reminder, these were my time goals:

  • Total: 3:16:40 (oops Math mistake, these add up to 3:06:40)
  • Swim: 36:00
  • T1: 3:00
  • Bike: 1:25:40 (17.5 mph)
  • T2: 2:00
  • Run: 60:00
Here  are my actuals:
  • Total: 3:18:51
  • Swim: 43:00
  • T1: 4:31
  • Bike: 1:28:19 (16.8 mph)
  • T2: 2:17
  • Run: 60:44
A couple of notes first.  The run was actually 10.5 km.  So that's worth about 2:55 to add to my goal.  Also, I had a couple of racing mistakes.  First, on the bike I really had to use the bathroom.  There was a porta-potty on the course.  I stopped.  It was occupied.  A funny scene ensued where I asked if the occupant would be long who gave a response consistent with him either puking, shooting up or having just shot up.  San Francisco, you gotta love it.  So I held it and went to the bathroom after T2.  I don't know how much time I wasted, but I couldn't hold my bike pace much after that stop.  I hear in longer distances people just let go while still riding.  I'm just not that hard core.  The other racing mistake was I dismounted too early at the end of the bike course and had to get back on the bike.  No biggie, but it definitely cost me 30 seconds or so.

Anyway, I was really pleased with my performance.  I thought my goal was 3:16:40 and I'm pretty close to that.  In fact, with the extra half km of running, I beat it.  Of course, if I had added correctly, I would see that I missed my overall goal and basically the goals in each leg.  But, if I had added correctly, I would have adjusted the splits to give me a goal around 3:15.  3:06 was not a reasonable goal.

So how did the race itself go?  The swim went badly, but I did freestyle the whole way.  That was a first for me.  It was a two lap swim and the second lap went much better.  I just stopped kicking with a couple hundred meters left and sped up considerably.  Collin Mui and I came out of the water exactly together.  The first ever triathlon for both of us was SVST and he passed me right at the end there.  So Collin is a little bit of a barometer for me.  Maybe I am for him, too.  But anyway, we came out together, but it was obvious my legs were in better shape.  I ran off and left him.

I was really focused on transition and I think I did much better in T1.  4:31 is much better than 6 and 7 minutes I've done at other events.  Anyway, there's still some time to wring out, but until I switch to tri shoes and alter my wetsuit, I think there's not much more than a minute I can take off.

So I got out on the bike and things were going pretty well.  A woman was about the same speed as me and we passed each other a couple of times.  But my heart rate was a bit higher than I liked so I slowed down.  Then I had the bladder issues and a strong headwind developed on part of the course.  I think we had to do six laps and there was one little baby climb.  I always passed a lot of people on the climb.  I've decided I don't care much for courses where you have to do multiple laps.  So anyway, I finished the last lap and was heading to transition.  There was a volunteer waving a flag and I thought that was the dismount point.  So I hopped off and she yelled that I was too early.  So I hopped back on and rode for another 100 m or so.

T2 went well.  I have laced shoes so I had to tie them.  And my bladder was very near bursting.  I found relief in a porta potty.

Then I got out and started running.  I had to do three laps.  I got my heart rate where I wanted and really enjoyed myself here.  I lost focus a couple of times and found myself drifting off my pacing.  But I'm such a number hound that I glance at my Garmin habitually and correct myself pretty quickly.  On the last lap I tried to push it and just couldn't find the gear.  So while I was hoping to push my heart rate into the high 170s, I could only peak it out to 175.  I think part of it was mental -- there wasn't anyone for me to chase.  I guess I need to get more imaginative there.

I did see Collin again.  I think he was two laps behind me.  I ended up finishing fifteen minutes ahead of him.  I saw a coworker, Lito, on the run, but he was in a later wave.  Our final times were within a couple of minutes of each other.

So my swim time was really the only part I was unhappy with.  I did have something of a breakthrough mentally on the second lap.  I'm writing this report late, so I can tell you I have gotten much faster in the water since then.  I think if I were to swim that same course tomorrow, I'd finish at least ten minutes faster.

I'll probably do this race most years.  It's an easy course and it was well organized.  It really was a good race for my first Olympic distance tri.  Now if they could just measure the run distance correctly....

Alcatraz Race Plan

Date: August 21, 2011
Type: Slightly longer than Olympic Distance Triathlon
Goals (Time):

  • Total: 3:35:30
  • Swim: 40:00
  • T1: 7:00 (includes half mile run)
  • Bike: 1:23:30 (18 mph)
  • T2: 2:00
  • Run: 63:00 (9:00 pace)
Goals (Qualitative):
  • Enjoy yourself -- this is a beautiful course and you're doing the best thing possible to appreciate the beauty
  • Maintain a racing edge all the way through.  Stay mentally focused and in controlled collaboration with your body.
  • Use the terrain challenges to build confidence.  You've been training with difficult terrain and others have not.
  • Finish strong, but with nothing left.
  • Watch the heart rate and manage around lactate thresholds.  Remember around 162 on the bike and around 172 on the run.  Only exceed the thresholds when there will be a chance for recovery afterwards.
  • High cadence on the bike.  90-92 is the goal.  Don't be afraid to shift so you can maintain that.
  • If a woman passes you on the bike, do not try to keep up with her (you Neanderthal!)  If she can keep up with you on the bike, she probably runs at least a minute a mile faster than you on the run.  She is not that drill sergeant at Fort Bragg you had no respect for.
Actual race plan:
Leave at 3:10 AM to arrive around 4:00 AM.  Drink canned coffee and eat some carbs during the car ride.  Be quick about setting up transition and get on the first shuttle to the boat.  USE THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU PUT ON YOUR WETSUIT!  Pack everything the day before and try to sleep by 8:30.  At wakeup put on sunscreen liberally.

After the shuttle ride, take it easy and try to find a spot where you can catch a few Z's.  Until the briefing you won't know how the swim start will work, but you're starting in the middle of the Bay.  You don't need to worry about positioning too much.

So you've jumped off the boat.  Just swim smoothly with a minimum of effort.  Once you've warmed up a bit, pick up the pace a little bit, but keep your form good.  The chop may keep you from breathing bilaterally.  If so, pay extra attention to sighting.  Kick as little as you can.  Your legs are for the other parts of the race.

When you come out of the water, your legs should be in great shape.  Get the suit off quickly, get it in the bag and get those shoes on.  Now you have a half mile run to your bike.  Don't hold back.  You want do that half mile in under four minutes.  When you get to the bike switch into the bike shoes and get going.

Now you're on the bike and it's time to get your heart rate down.  So take it easy.  Drink and eat.  The gummies will give you some caffeine so you should be eating some of those every 10 minutes or so.  Eat bars at 30 minutes and one hour depending on how you're stomach handles it.   If things go well, you'll get 5-600 calories and 30-40 mg caffeine on the bike.

Attack the hills.  Outbound, stand for up to one minute on ascents.  Inbound, limit it to thirty seconds.  Your descending skills are pretty good so you should be able to pass people both during climbs and descents.  But watch the heart rate.  Pedal to maintain a heart rate below 162.  You can go higher on climbs, but you want to bring it back down as quickly as possible.  On Great Highway, maintain a cadence of 90-92 rpm.  There will probably be some crosswinds.  Some people are going to gun it and burn themselves out on Great Highway.  Let them.  Some will just be faster than you.  That's okay; you'll get faster.  There are some hills right before you get back to transition.  Preserve energy here.

Handle T2 quickly.  When you get out on the run, first focus on getting your heart rate in the low 160s.  You want to keep your heart rate there except for climbs until the Sand Ladder.  Run the bottom third of the Sand Ladder.  Walk the middle third and run the last third.  Your heart rate will likely be in the high 170s at this point.  We want to bring that down to about 172.  Keep it there until you get to the Golden Gate Bridge (except for climbs.)  If you've fueled correctly, 172 is going to set your pace around 8:30 or even lower.  Now it's time to burn everything left in the tank.  Don't freak out if your heart rate climbs above 180.  Keep pushing it.  No one is going to pass you because you didn't realize you're almost done.  Just push it.  Don't worry about your slobber.  Don't worry about other people's slobber.  Push it.  Your body should feel miserable when you cross the finish line, but that's very temporary.  You will be all smiles after you complete this race.