Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lawrence Triathlon Race Report

It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I decided to compete in this race.  I had registered back in June since it was a free race offered by to those who were signed up for the KC Tri, which was cancelled due to thunderstorms. Once Brian and Dane registered, I decided to make it official and add another race shirt to my collection.

As mentioned in my race preview, the plan was to go easy on the swim, hammer the bike, and see what happened on the run.  Let's see...

We got to the race site around 6:30 or so.  Brian pulled in right behind us in the parking lot. Surprisingly, the transition area was right next to the parking lot. It seems there is normally a half mile to mile walk to the transition area.  Some races even have buses for participants/spectators to ride to the race site.

Working on my transition.

They had 3 rows of racks that were pre-marked by bib #.  After getting setup, Dane had shown up and we chatted about how there were quite a few people putting on wetsuits.  Really?  The water was 80 degrees (probably more).  Then again...  are they really enforcing it?  How are they checking numbers when your wetsuit is covering your number?

Swim - 1500 Meters
After dipping in the water for a bit, Brian and I went over to the start corral.  Our wave (35+ males) was to start at 7:30.  The weather was overcast and, naturally, my goggles were fogging up.  This was going to make for an interesting swim.

Once the start horn blew, we ran for the water.  We then continue to run for the water and continue, and continue.  I felt like I was about 150 meters before finally diving in.  Clinton lake was pretty low and shallow.

The wave wasn't huge so I didn't have too much trouble finding free space; however, I noticed I was really close to the safety boats on the right.  I kept trying to swim to the buoys but they just seemed far off.  I knew I was in trouble.  I had taken a poor line at the start.  It didn't help out it was cloudy with foggy goggles and then the buoys were very far apart. When there are probably 20 buoys used for the 1000 meter swim at Shawnee Mission Park Tri to roughly 6 used for this 1,500 meter swim, it becomes a challenge to sight.

Once I got past the first turn, naturally I was concerned I would eventually miss the turn back to the beach. Fortunately there were a couple guys with me (one in a wetsuit, by the way) and we managed to figure it out together.  Similar to the start, about 150 meters to the beach the water got shallow again.  I could walk faster than swim but eventually it got waist deep again so I dove back in.
Not sure if I'm in this photo, but you can tell how shallow the lake is

Time: 35:46 / 2:24 per 100 meters
Age Group: 8 of 17

Poor sighting killed my time, but when you consider I was still 8th of 17 in my age group, the course may have been long.

Transition 1

Relatively short run to the transition area but it was muddy at times.  No real issues with the transition.

Time: 1:19
Age Group: 5 of 17

Tucker did some recon on Saturday and drove the bike course with his Garmin to record the elevation.  It didn't look horrible but not good.  I knew hammering it on this course probably wouldn't reflect in the average miles per hour.

Only a few hills would be considered steep but the ones left were long and tiring.   I just tried to push through it.  The only reprieve to the pain was the view.  With the sun peeking through the clouds, it was really a pretty sight.  

I ate a couple chomps on the course when I knew I wouldn't need to grit through the pain of the hills.

The course wasn't closed to traffic and there were a few precarious moments when it got congested with cyclists and an RV.


Time: 1:10:34 / 21.1 average mph
Age Group: 5 of 17

Transition 2
This was longer than normal because I brought my Mizuno Inspire shoes, which weren't prepped for triathlons.  It had regular shoe laces so I had to actually tie them.

Time: 1:10
Age Group: 10 of 17

The heat was definitely rising at this point and the humidity was rearing it's ugly head.  

The two loop run course was part trail, part road through a campground, and part crushed gravel/dirt road.  

Brian, being an awesome open water swimmer, naturally beat me out of the water and I had finally caught up with him in transition 2.  But my lead on him only lasted about one minute as he caught me in the run. After about a mile, Dane caught up with me as well.  Dane even started 10 minutes after me.  I was just hoping to hold him off a little longer!!

There was one aid station on the course which was passed a total of 4 times on the two loop course.

The legs were not as snappy as they had been in the past.  I was expecting this and figured I would hit 8 minute miles.  I actually managed to average 7:50 minute miles.  

Time: 48:31 / 7:50 minutes per mile
Age Group: 6 of 17

Time: 2:37:17
Overall: 33 out of 121
Age Group: 5 out of 17

I didn't exactly go easy on the swim and, according to Garmin, I probably added 150 meters to my distance with all the poor sighting.  I'm also hoping that maybe the course was long as it appeared that many people were over 30 minutes.

I got the results I was expecting on my test to crush the bike and see what happens.  I still enjoyed the bike considering my plan and the hills.  My average heart rate was 159, which means I probably could have pushed it a little more.

Compared to my plan:
Swim: 6 minutes over goal -> Poor sighting
Bike: 5.5 minutes over goal -> Didn't account for the hills but still hoped to get on target
Run: 1.5 minutes under goal -> Fine with me

Decent post-race food options.  Fruit, fruit cups, granola bars, Power Ade, water, finishers pint glass, and immediately available printed results were waiting for participants.  Otherwise, this was pretty bare bones.  It seemed like only a few volunteers out there but it didn't detract from the race.  It was a first time event although experienced race director.  I actually liked the experience.


Brian, Me, Dane

TKB's partner-in-crime today.  Dane's Dad!

Dane starting his run.  He'll catch me in about 3 steps even though I started 10 minutes before.

Brian coming in for the finish!
TKB calls this guy my tri-doppelgänger.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Race Preview: Lawrence Triathlon

This is a new race put on by an experienced race director.  Since KC Tri got rained out, they offered free registration to KC Tri participants.  I highly doubt this pleased the KC Tri people but all it does is benefit area triathletes!

I signed up for this race back in June but didn't decide to actually participate until a few weeks ago when Brian and Dane had both registered.  I've decided to change my race strategy quite a bit for this because:

  • It's a new race.  Yes, it's an experienced race director who does multiple triathlons at Clinton Lake but it is a new site in terms of location on the race.
  • It's a FREE Race.  'nuff said.

So my strategy?  I'm going to ride a unicycle!!!  OK, maybe not, but that would be pretty hard core.

Something I've discovered and enjoyed during my training are my brick workouts (bike ride immediately followed by run).  In fact, my favorite workout is my Wednesday morning session.  I get to the downtown airport at 5 am and ride the 3.66 mile loop around the airport four times.  I then hop off the bike (throw it in the back of the truck... gently) and do one loop running.  I generally have to hold myself back when I start running.  I just want to take off hard.  During the run my heart rate is usually in the 140s even though I'm pushing 7:40 minute miles (FYI, that's very fast for me considering the HR).  This isn't just at the start but near the end.

As I mentioned in my race report for Shawnee Mission Triathlon, I just wanted to fly out of transition 2.  I'm sure it has a lot to do with my improved running but also the bike makes a huge difference since it's forces you to ride in a position that mimics running.

SO... here it is...

Swim: 1500 Meters
No goals.  I will probably just treat it as a training swim at around 70% to 80% perceived effort
Time: 30 minutes

Bike: 40k (24.8 miles)
Time trial and PUSH HARD.  I want to push my legs to the limits.  I don't know what the elevation map looks like yet but I hear it's annoying rolling hills.  Let's just say I'm hoping for 23mph+ average.

Time: 1:05

Run: 10k (6.2 miles)
The purpose of this is to simply see how my running reacts when I push the legs to the limits on the bike.  I'll simply listen to the body and see what happens.  I'm not expecting anything amazing here.  In fact, I won't be surprised if I jelly-leg walk the first mile of the run and end up with +9 minute pace.  I just simply want to see how my body reacts after a hard ride.

Time: 50 minutes (8 minute miles)

Total: 2 hours, 30 minutes (adding some time for transitions)

So there you have it.  I'm going to give my running a skills a... run for its money.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Race Report: Shawnee Mission Park Triathlon - Long

Well, it's been way too long since I've posted.  The last month has been a really busy time at work and home computer projects.  I'm in the process of simplifying things in my personal projects, so I've been shedding some projects and that is taking some time to do.

The key is that I'm still keeping up with my ironman training program.  Well, not hitting every workout but just about considering the traveling and racing I'm doing.  Speaking of racing, this past Sunday was the Shawnee Mission Park Triathlon.

It took a while to put this on my list but after a little bit of nudging from Ryan on twitter and Facebook, finally made the plunge.  #SMPShowdown was ON.

This would be my 5th triathlon at Shawnee Mission Park.  KC Corporate Challenge uses this stage for their triathlon.  I did SMP Triathlon in 2011 and KC Corporate Challenge in 2011, 2012, and 2013.  The Corporate Challenge races are sprint distances but I did the long distance in 2011 with the SMP Tri.  

My hopes were to improve on those times and get under 2:00 hours but let's be honest, Ryan pushed me over to the registration site, so my ultimate goal was to beat his time.  I didn't really make that very known until the Saturday before the race with this tweet:

Just to make sure I got his attention, why not post on Facebook too:

OK.  So we've both got some tired legs.  Fair enough.

Race Week
Due to my crazy work week leading up to the race, I actually didn't do my normal carb loading meals.   With only a 2 hour race, I figured I could manage my fuel during the race day but I did have a huge serving of pasta on Friday and a bunch of pizza on Saturday.  That counts, right?

Saturday I tried to keep a bottle of water in my hand the entire day and stuck with that instead of beer Saturday night while spending time with Joe VI and crew.

Race Day
I wasn't real pleased with being rushed at Tinman and KC Corporate Challenge Tri for my pre-race setup early this year, so we got to the race site around 5:45am.  Transition closed at 6:45, so that should give plenty of time to prepare and mingle.  As expected, there was a bag check.  They didn't bother with my bike bag this time, thankfully.

The transition spots were marked by Bib # and I got a nice spot right in the middle of the row.  Since there were two racks per row, this gave me a little extra room plus I was able to put one of my bags on the end of the rack structure as a nice little flag to find my bike.

Brian and his wife Jill came over as I was setting up and we chatted a bit.  This was Brian's first triathlon since moving to KC as well as Jill's first long distance triathlon!  They started in the first 2 waves while I was in the last wave of the long distance race.

I ended up racking up a few spots from Ryan, so we chatted a bit.  After a bathroom break, it was about time to head to the boat launch, where I waited with Drew.

Wow.  Checkout that sun.  That surely won't be a problem on the swim.
By the time we got to the boat launch, the race had officially started with the Challenged Athlete division.  There was an athlete missing a leg and another missing an arm.  I'm sure their swim times would be better than mine.  It's really inspiring.  In addition, there were two teams in which the swim was pulling a child in a boat.  After exiting the boat, the child was transferred to a trailer to be pulled by bike and then pushed in a running stroller.  These were children with Cerebral Palsy.  This year United Cerebral Palsy become the title sponsor of the race. 

Eventually we took off for the swim to the beach start.  

Swim - 1000 Meters
Just like KC Corporate Challenge, there was a time trial start.  Drew and I had lined up together but there was an odd person in line before us, so I stepped up and started about five seconds in front of Drew.  Ryan ended up taking off about 20 or so seconds before.  He's a faster swimmer, so my hope would be to catch him on the bike or run.

The swim wasn't too bad in terms of bumping into people.  I had to contend with a few people but soon got into open.  I tried to push the pace but not too hard where I'd be dizzy coming out of the water.  After about 750 meters, I could tell the water had gotten a bit choppy.  Nothing horrible but not as stable.

We soon turned back to the the marina where I quickly realized I was in trouble.  Sighting for the beach was horrible due to the glare of the sun.  Looking forward wasn't possible so I kept the line of buoys in sight on my right.  I naturally breathe on my right; however, I decided to look on my left side to see where the marina docks were.  They were probably 100 meters from the finish.  At one point I looked and was about 5 yards from the shore line!  ACK!  It was actually just a narrow part of the course but freaked me out a bit.

I soon caught sight of the swim exit flags and pushed for it!  

Made it!
Time: 19:06 / 1:45 per 100 yards
Age Group: 12/23

Transition 1
Super long run up the parking lot to the swim.  I found my transition area easily with my bag on the transition rack.  What else was on the transition rack?  Ryan getting ready for the bike.  I thought about yelling at him but decided I'd see if he would notice me.  Didn't want to motivate him any more than necessary!

I thought my transition was pretty fast, so very happy with it.  

Getting started on the bike.
Time: 2:07
Age Group: 9/23

Bike - 18 miles
By the time I was running to the mount line with my bike, Ryan was gone.  Not sure how quickly he got out but TKB yelled to say I was less than a minute behind.  Fortunately, Ryan wears a KU Jayhawk tri kit, so he's pretty easy to spot.  I probably shouldn't give him that information!

The bike is four laps around the SMP lake.  I figured my first lap would be slow, second lap faster, third lap will be pushed to the limits and fourth lap preparing for the running.

I ended up catching up with Ryan in the first major hill of the race but kept my distance.  After about another mile, I pushed past Ryan.  I hoped to not see him until well after the turn around on the out and back portion of the run.

Now it's time to focus on something I should have been doing the whole time, swim/bike/run MY race.  

Waving at TKB after lap 2.

Whether it's good or not, I've noticed I do something different than most people on hills.  When in the rolling portion of the hills, I tend to pedal through the downs HARD in order to garner enough speed to push me most of the way to the top of the next hill.  Sure, going downhill is free speed but I feel that the energy expended pushing on the downhill is less than if I were to crush my pedals on the uphill.  Maybe that's just me but it seems to work.

I ate a quarter of a Cliff bar on the flat portion of lap two and a chomp on the flat portion of lap four.

I successfully completed a flying dismount and off to transition 2.

Flying dismount!!
Time: 52:32 / 20.6 mph
Age Group: 9/23

Transition 2
I feel like the only thing I can do after dismounting my bike is run hard.  I love it.   Racked my bike and off to the run.  There is a 90 degree turn out of the transition and during this triathlon and KC Corporate challenge, I almost fly out too hard and hit the barrier that keeps people on track out of transition.  I'm probably burning too much energy here but it feels good.

Loving my post-bike legs.
Time: 0:51
Age Group: 9/23

Run - 4.5 miles
Still pushing hard and trying to setup myself for the dam(n) hill.  We are talking about an 18 precent incline that you ride four times and then run it.  I simply kept pushing and kept passing a bunch of people.  In fact, no one had passed me yet in the first mile.  Let's see how long I can keep this going.  I had even passed someone in my age group!

At around 2 miles you start an out and back.  After quite a ways on this, I hadn't see anyone in my age group coming back from the turn around.  Nice!  Eventually I saw some heading back from the turn around and immediately counted 3 people.  So I am not getting a podium.  Again, let's focus on my race.

I hit the turn around at roughly mile 3.  It was at this point I got passed for the first time.  It was someone in the youngest age group.  He was crazy fast.  He was also decidedly wearing running shorts, so I wondered if he was part of a team?  Either way, there was no way I was catching him.  So as long as no one else passes me, then perfect.

After the turn around I started keeping my eyes open for that KU tri kit of Ryan's.  After about a minute and a half I saw him.  Gave him a wave and just kept booking it because there was still another battle ahead.  Leaving the SMP trail system requires another huge hill to be climbed.  In the past I have even walked this section thinking I could walk it fast than run it but I kept moving.

Eventually it leveled out and had about half a mile to go.  There was another uphill and then a nice downhill.  About a .10 of a mile before the finish there is a 30 foot incline.  There were about 8 or 10 people in front of me and I just kicked it HARD.  I passed everyone in that group and finished the race alone.  I had heard about 3 or 4 people cheer me on as I finished, which was pretty cool but I was so narrow sighted I don't remember who all it was.

This is what 5:30 pace looks like after racing for 1 hour and 47 minutes.
One of those voices was Drew!  I had forgotten about him on the course.  I had passed him in the group of runners.  As it turns out, even though I crossed the finish line before him, he actually beat me by 1 second.  Remember when I mentioned he started in the set of swimmers behind me for the time trial start? That means his chip time started 5 seconds after me. I had crossed the line only 4 seconds ahead of him so I didn't make up those 5 seconds of chip time.  Now if anyone questions me spending $$$$ towards my gear to gain a few seconds, now you know why!

That guy that passed me around mile 3?  I saw him writhing in agony at the top of the hill out of the trail system.  From what I could tell it was some MAJOR cramps.  That's what happens when you pass me.  You've been warned!

Time: 33:56 / 7:33 pace
Age Group: 8/23

The weather turned out to be perfect so that helped out with my race.  I remember it being crazy hot two years ago and pushing myself on the run only to get to the next shady spot.  Since I had my selfish goal of finishing ahead of Ryan, I managed to meet that goal but I also stayed under 2 hours.  In fact, I beat my time from two years ago by 13 minutes.  The bike and race wheels (which Ryan set me up with) definitely helped even though the hills on the bike course.  My run time improved by 4.5 minutes simply because I am a much stronger runner these days.  This is definitely attributed to my marathon training from last year, but I also feel STRONGER on the run.  This is attributed to my focus on strength training this year (Thanks Sam!).

Time: 1:48:30
Overall: 44 of 230
Age Group: 8/23

Ryan is a great guy so I hope he takes my ribbing as tongue-in-cheek. We're both in the middle of ironman training (he's doing the new Ironman Tahoe in September).  I'm sure that if we both trained specifically for the same race, he'd have me easily.  But... for the record... in triathlons I am 2 and 0, but who's counting?

Ryan has started a triathlon coaching business and doing this full time, so check out him out if you are looking for some coaching!

Post Race
After engorging on post race food (banana, chocolate milk, gatorade, pop), I met back up with Jill and Brian.  Brian managed to wait for Jill in the water.  They had raced together the entire time.  Talk about triathlon chivalry!

On our way over to the post-race pancakes by Chris Cakes, I saw Mark from twitter.  He managed another podium spot in the short distance race, which he has done every year he's participated in this.  Two 2nd place and a third place.  They have a nice looking trophy, so his mantel is getting pretty full.  His fiancee participated in her first triathlon here as well.  Plenty of triathlete couples representing this day.

Side Note
In a story of what could have been, my sprint distance time for KC Corporate Challenge a few weeks earlier was 1:02:02, which would have placed me 2nd in the age group of the sprint distance triathlon on Sunday. This baffles me since I didn't get anywhere close at KCCC.

The Proof

Pre-race - Brian, Jill, TKB, Dork, Frenemy - Ryan
Me and Drew post race
Post-race... evaluating Ryan's banana consumption technique.  OK, maybe not.

Brian and Jill.. on the bike!
Jill and Brian.. on the run!