Monday, June 16, 2008

Race Report: Wisconsin Triterium

Well I woke up to a solid downpour, and a little tired from not having as much sleep as I'd like. I was feeling really as well as I'd felt all week - which was great...though it's not saying a lot. I just can't shake this thing - even this morning I'm maybe 75%. That's probably about how I felt yesterday. I wasn't obsessive about it, though - once I made the decision on Saturday to race, then the question marks were put out of my head about how I was feeling. Just get out there and get it done.

As I pulled into Verona, the rain stopped and the skies cleared, ready for a great day of racing. Transition was a little mucky, and the lake - which is really a small pond, as it's in a quarry - was pretty high-water; like every other body of water in Wisconsin it was flooded - the beach is much shorter than it usually is, beachside playground equipment touching the water, and submerged piers - the lifeguards were standing in knee-high water on piers that usually clear the water by several feet. Crazy.

It was tough to really have a strategy for this race, because I'd felt so crappy all week. I would have liked to execute something specific to working towards Racine, but instead it became a more independent purpose to just learn to race when I'm not at my best. Just, see what's what out there. My only intentional strategy on the day was to hold off on the bike, and try to keep fresher legs for the run. Otherwise, just get out there and enjoy the day.

The race is called "Triterium" for a reason - the swim is 3 loops of 500 yards around the quarry, and at the end of each lap you actually get out, run up onto the beach and around a tree, then jump back into the water. That's hysterical and original to me, and I get a kick out of it. The bike is out, then 2 loops around a segment, then back. The run is 3 2-mile loops around the park where the quarry is. I joined my wave in the water for the start of the swim - no beach start here, and committed for the first 500 to just take it easy and see where my fitness is after the week I'd had.

The swim was mostly uneventful. I felt pretty good - better than I expected, all things considered, and even had a few solid stretches where I practiced drafting off of other swimmers. I had the occasional zig-zag, which is typical, but all in all I got out of the water feeling better than I would have expected.

My time was a little slow - 33:59, which is quite a bit slower than the 32:47 that I posted at this race in 2005. I'll take it though - with my lack of pool time and being sick, I have no complaints.

The run to T1 is a motha, with a run over several hundred yards up the beach to the transition area, then running through a chute all the way around transition, and finally running 3/4 the way through transition to get to my bike rack. Once finally to my bike it was quick work, and with my feet in my bike shoes I trotted my bike out through the squishy muck to mount up, out of T1 in 2:27.

Right away I tried to find 90rpm and then just relax. I tried really hard not to race anybody, which was hard, and I'd consistently find myself pushing before realizing that I needed to pull back. It took some discipline to let others go, to not attack on a hill, to not see if I could eek a little more power out. But, it was the right strategy to see if I could get fresher legs off the bike.

The bike course is very, very challenging and makes for a great training ride. It's a mix of tough rollers, difficult climbs, and a few heartbreakers. Usually when climbing I take solace that "what comes up must come down", but it seems the descents are less frequent on this ride somehow - there are only a few that stand out, and maybe a handful of miles where it's flat enough to get into a rhythm. Otherwise, we're climbing. My legs felt good all day, though, and I stuck pretty well to my plan to take it easy. I was off the bike in 1:27:24 for a 17.5mph average - an improvement over the 1:31:21 I rode in '05.

Out of T2 in 52 seconds, and on to the first lap of the run. The run course is challenging like the rest of this race - the first mile or so of the loop is various grades of uphill, with a major hill about .3 miles into the loop - the kind that you just put your head down and not pay attention to how long it's taking to get to the top. I focused on getting comfortable with my legs for the first lap, keeping my form on point and having a crisp turnover.

I rounded the first lap feeling pretty good, but hit the big hill on the second lap and my quads cramped up horribly, making me walk, then stop and stretch each leg out. Awful. I could hardly bend my legs at the top of the hill, but I got some relief coming down the big hill and committed to more electrolytes the rest of the way, stopping to drink at each aid station. I had a fun Team out there today, with my aunt & uncle, plus Grandpa and the Captains, Amy & Dakota.

Note the awesome Team shirt D is wearing! Sweet!

Baby, I need more cowbell!

I didn't really start to feel the effects of being sick until the last lap on the run, when maybe the sun and the hills started getting to me a bit - I just kind of had that "out of breath at the top of the stairs" tired-from-being-sick sensation for the whole last lap. I finished the run in 58:59, for a 9:31/mile pace. Improved over the 1:03:27/10:14 pace of '05. Finished in 3:03:40, a personal record on this course by over 6 minutes. 118/196.

Some general observations:

-- Not really concerned about my times, etc. for this one - I didn't have it in me to really "see what I could do", so I was just glad I got out there, stayed mostly consistent, and enjoyed myself with no major drama. Still, I think I don't really know how to race this distance. I don't have nearly the science for it down as I do for, say, Half or full Iron. It wasn't until last summer that I started to feel like I really knew how to race a Sprint triathlon. I don't think my nutrition is as solid as it could be on the bike to leave me strongest on the run, for instance. Anyway, maybe after Ironman next year I'll focus on really trying to understand how to race this distance, and make it a priority.

-- I'm a little concerned about my run coming off the bike. I know I was sick, etc., but don't want that to be an excuse - I want to try and run at a 9:00 half marathon pace at Racine, and I've trained with those numbers, so I know I can do it. With that in mind, I would have hoped for something faster yesterday. Scratching my head there a little bit. I wonder, actually, if I haven't lost a little bit of run fitness after the half marathon a month ago. My training has been a shade scattered since then, with back-to-back races, storms, and illness.

-- Where we go from here: It's all about Racine. Long mileage on the bike, focused long runs, with consistent speed/strength work during the week. My swim will also start getting some attention - the pool hours change, now that the school year is ending, and Amy is taking a new job this fall, leaving her all of July and August open - I should get some consistent water time in from here to Racine, which is much needed. It's getting down to it already, though - WIBA is in a couple of weeks, and will serve as my last weekend of long mileage - I'll start to taper afterwards for the July 20th race.

-- All of that said, though - I may need to continue to take the next few days off until I can really shake this damned cold. Sigh. We'll see.

-- There were pro photographers on the course yesterday, and I think at least some of those photos will be worth showing, so I'll have another post up for them once they come in.

-- Apropos of nothing - seriously, how fantastic was Tiger Woods this weekend?

-- Shout out to RobbyB, who took home some hardware last week at Capitol View, coming in first in his Age Group. Well done, buddy!

-- More to come as I buckle down my thought processes on Racine and my preparation for it. Stay tuned.

-- Happy Father's Day, everybody!


Triteacher said...

Huh. This whole race distance thing is critical. Rural Girl was just commenting that sprints seem more difficult to her than half and full IMs and you allude to adjustment re: olys. I love a recurring theme; it smacks of tri-truth.

Though I got my start on olys and have done more of them than any other distance, I think I would describe myself as a sprinter these days. That all being said, gooooood luck at Racine!

One final note: as a gift from (or for??) me, you've been tagged.

Alili said...

Cut yourself some slack, you had a solid oly after some big obstacles (sick, weather, etc.). You went out there and got it done.

Have fun and good luck at Racine!

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice PR!!! And great photos!! That little one is growing up!!!!

Pharmie said...

You've got one cute race support crew! Great job on the race despite the less than ideal week to prepare for it.