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Monday, September 24, 2012

Santa Cruz Triathlon 2012 Race Report

This was my last triathlon of the 2012 season and an "A" race.  Consequently, I tapered for a few days and created a pretty detailed race plan in my mind.  In summary, it was basically go hard on the swim, rush through transition, go at 210 watts on the bike and negative split the run with a cadence over 85.  I thought that would get me a 28 minute swim, 5:30 T1 (there's a 1/4 mile run in that), 20-21 mph on the bike, around 1:30 on T2, and around 55:00 on the run.  The plan didn't happen.

The swim was delayed over an hour waiting for the fog to clear.  That wasn't a big deal really though it kind of threw me off mentally.  When I finally got in the water for the swim, it just never clicked.  I couldn't get my kick to feel comfortable and my catch was just ragged.  Then I had problems sighting once I got around the pier.  There were a couple of times I caught myself going directly at the pier and another time directly south.  I went six weeks without any open water swims and I have to conclude that was a mistake.  My time ended up being 33 and change.  This is pretty close to my floor of 1500m times -- I can easily go 10-20% faster.

T1 was basically smooth.  I think I'll cut an inch off my wetsuit limbs as I'm still having issues getting the suit off.  I mounted the bike smoothly, but didn't have my GPS set right.  I had to fiddle with it for a couple of minutes to switch it to bike which is absolutely necessary because I manage my effort by the power numbers.  Once I got that taken care of, I got into a decent rhythm and started passing people.  But I was having saddle comfort issues from the start.  I forgot to aquaphor the appropriate areas.  This bike course has more difficulty than I remembered.  The little rollers will really screw up your power pacing as it's easy to spike to 350-400 watts very quickly.  As the ride progressed I got more and more uncomfortable in the saddle.  Shortly after the Davenport turnaround, I basically gave up on the aero bars and stayed in the drops.  This was unfortunate as we were riding back into a headwind.  But I just couldn't handle the chafing.  With about five miles to go, some bladder discomfort set in.  Yeah, I had to pee, but it would have to wait for T2.  On the part I got measurements for, I ended up averaging 19 mph with normalized power of 227 watts.  My last functional threshold power measurement was 221 watts.  That measurement was on a flatter course, though and I did no coasting.  My expectation is that how I pushed up the ascents and coasted on the descents brought up the normalized power.  30 seconds of 375 watts will really make a difference on normalized power.  Still I pushed up above FTP for 80 minutes.  I went slower than expected, but I think that was really because of the headwinds.  Maybe next year, I'll have a fitted triathlon bike and 220 watts will get me a couple more mph.

T2 was smooth even with the porta-potty trip.  My time ended up being about 2:30 of which probably 75 seconds was the porta-potty.  I went out on the run with the express goal of taking it easy at the start.  I really just wanted to keep my cadence up.  I was slightly disappointed with my run on the same course 6 weeks earlier because I had a very slow cadence.  Anyway, on the first half of the run, I just focused on cadence and the data shows I did okay there.  I kept it 85 for pretty much the first 5 km.  After that, I focused more on pace.  This worked out well.  I averaged about 10 seconds a mile faster on the second half than the first.  There was one little thing at the end.  The finish line came faster than I expected and I heard Mrs. Kain (can't remember her first name) say that it was almost there.  So I looked up and it was maybe 150-200m away.  And I saw a couple of guys dragging to the end.  So I sprinted.  And I caught them.  And that felt good.  My run time ended up being 55:39 -- ~35 seconds faster than SC International after throwing down a lot more power on the bike (22 watts to be exact.)  I'm still a slow runner, but I've managed to improve from awfully slow.

On the race overall, I'll give myself a B.  My swim execution was bad.  T1 was good.  Bike execution was quite good though I paid for forgetting the aquaphor.  T2 was fine -- the urination need was just kind of random.  I did pretty much exactly what I wanted on the run.  My final time was 2:57 which is 16 minutes better than 2011.  A good swim and being able to stay aero might have given my 6-7 minutes.  I was 35th out of 54 finishers in my age group.  Last year I was next to last.  This race is more competitive than most.  There seem to be fewer novices and it's a destination race for several clubs.

I plan on doing Big Kahuna next year so I don't know if I'll race this one again.  If I do, it certainly won't be an A race.  I saw someone did the Big Kahuna bike at 20 mph with 200 watts.  That's got me pretty excited.

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