Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Silicon Valley International Triathlon Race Report

This was my first triathlon of the year and I did it mostly on latent fitness. My training has been inconsistent and lacking in volume. I've also had a nagging injury from the KP San Francisco Half Marathon. My left hamstring tightens/cramps terribly when I push it on a run. I've rested it a lot, but I think I probably need to more aggressively stretch it out. Anyway, onto the race itself.

The race this year was moved from Almaden Lake to Half Moon Bay because of the drought. My very first triathlon was the Silicon Valley Sprint at Almaden Lake and I have to say Half Moon Bay is a much better venue. But there are complications. There are two separate transition areas and they're six miles apart. T1 gets broken down so you have to pack all of your stuff up before leaving on your bike. You can pack a bag for T2 and USA Productions has a numbered rack system so you can find your bag easily. Overall it worked okay. Vineman has a similar system and yes, I prefer one transition zone, but life just does not fulfill all my preferences.

The swim got off to a late start because the last shuttle from T2 to T1 was late. These types of things are normal. Of course the extra ten minutes allowed some fog to roll in. The swim course was in a sheltered harbor so chop was minimal. But the fog really shut down visibility. Though they had large buoys set up, I generally could not see from one to the next. So you navigate by feel, following other people and eventually finding the buoy. The swim went pretty smoothly for me. I ran into some traffic and got slapped once. I think I dished out a bit, too. I'm sure none of it was purposeful. The water temperature was probably around 58. My extra early season weight was not a problem in this area. Looking at my time, I finished at 36:05. This is about 6-8 minutes slower than normal, but considering I've swam four times this year, I'll take it.

T1 was mostly uneventful. I thought about putting on arm warmers and instead threw them in the bag. I did the same with my gloves. I got the bag packed and elected not to try a flying start on the bike. It was a slow transition, but not as slow as I feared. My official time for T1 was 4:44.

The bike started out really fast. Going south on Hwy 1, there's a nice tailwind and it's flat to slightly downhill. There were some problems with people drafting and not properly allowing passes. At about 7.5 miles a long climb starts. I looked up the route and this a Cat 3 climb. Unfortunately, I have my Quarq being worked on and I was riding my tri-bike with a 56/44 on front. On back, I have my new FLO 30mm wheels with a 12/25. So I had about the worst climbing setup you can imagine -- a tri-bike with 44/25 as the smallest gear. Without having a power meter, I can't tell you definitively, but I probably had to push at least 260 watts just to maintain 45 rpm. At my fittest, my functional threshold power was 230 watts. After a winter of sloth, I expect it's probably around 200 watts. It was sheer willpower that kept me from getting off the bike and walking. I lost at least ten minutes on the climb I think. Once the climb ended, things were pretty much back to normal. Oh, but the course had some sharp turns in store. On one descent, I was probably going 40 mph in full aero position when I saw the volunteer signalling a sharp left turn. I managed to come out of aero with only my left hand and break enough to make the turn with not too much space to spare. I passed an ambulance coming up a couple of minutes later so I presume someone else was not quite as lucky. Anyway, the climb shredded my legs and I knew my run was going to be terrible no matter what I did. So I pushed it a bit at the end of the ride on Hwy 1, at least as much my jelly legs allowed. I ended up with a 1:28:25 on the bike. This is a slower pace than I held for both Vineman and Big Kahuna last year. On the flats, I was pretty fast, holding over 20 mph on a couple of the five mile splits. But that climb was just awful.

T2 was almost completely uneventful. I changed my socks to Injinji socks with toes. I did some hiking in Yosemite last week and had a couple of hotspots between my toes. So I wanted some extra protection. My T2 was 3:02. This is slow, but I've been slower before. It's the first race of the year and I wasn't in a big hurry.

I came into the race expecting the run to go badly. I've run maybe 100 miles in 2014 so I had little hope for a strong run. I lived up to those expectations. I ran out of T2 looking for a porta potty and a volunteer told me it was well off the course. So about a kilometer in, I found a spot that was partially obscured and returned some nitrogen to the soil. I settled into very slow pace. I've done no bricks in training this year. I tried to pick it up a little each mile and I also tried to ingest some gel I had in a little squeeze bottle. I managed to only smear some of the gel on my arm and face. It was that kind of race. After mile three, I tried picking up the pace to about 9:30 and my left hamstring quickly let me know it was not going to allow that to happen. The KP Half Marathon taught me how uncooperatively mean my hamstring could be. I walked/limped/gimpily skipped the last three miles of that race with intense pain. I didn't want a repeat of that. So I slowed down. I found a pace with tolerable pain which at least for a little while was around 10:15 a mile. I pointedly stopped looking at my time. At that point, it was just a matter of willpower.

The race had a pretty tough finish on a fully sun-exposed incline. But there were people taking pictures there so I tried to put on a less pathetic face. I completed the run and immediately sat down. My hamstring was not happy I had mostly paid no heed to its petulant whining. So it threw a full-on tantrum. My run time ended up being 1:05:13. I was kind of expecting to run around 1:00 and have gone under 56:00 on an Oly course. If I can get this hamstring to heal, I should be under 55:00 this year.

So my total was 3:17:29. At the beginning of the race, I thought 3:15 would be about right. I was hoping for 3:00, but that climb on the bike and hamstring issues precluded that possibility. It's not a bad start for the year -- it clearly lays out what I need in training. Mostly it's volume, but I need to find a way to heal my hamstring, too. On a final note, I had to clumsily bike back to T1 carrying two bags. There was a lot of traffic on Hwy 1 and a triathlon bike is really not suited to carrying things. Still, it was a good race and I hope it's in Half Moon Bay again next year.

Here are some pictures my fellow SVTC members took (Thank you!):

 Can you tell I really need to pee?

 Here's me attempting to put on a not pathetic face.
 Looking for a semi-secluded spot.
I'm actually running here. It's just in slow-motion. And I'm not bloated like I usually am at the end of races. That's just fat.

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