Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lanikai Sprint Tri Race Report

Lanikai Sprint Tri Race Reoprt

Race pain is temporary, but results on the internet are forever.
(Search bib #203 or my name to find me. But you knew that. Duh.)

Swim- 500yds- 8:18
T1- 1:50
Bike- 12.4mi- 32:14
T2- 1:43
Run- 3.5mi- 20:26
Total time- 1:13:30

Early morning. Too early in fact. Someone (me) misread the race information sheet and thought it said the transition area opened for set up at 4am. Uh, no, 4:45. Which is close...but not quite. So we got up a little earlier than we needed to, but we got rock star parking. There is that. And if this had been any of the other races I've done so far I also could have grabbed a stellar bike spot. This was not to be as the racks were labeled with race numbers. So instead of setting up right by the bike exit I was simply next to 204 and 202 and pretty right in the middle of the transition area. This, I'm sure, is partially to blame for me coming in 11th in my age group. If I'd just had a better bike spot I could have won it all! I coulda been a contenda, Charlie.
Speaking of age groups, apparently USAT (USA Triathlon) goes by the age the athlete will be in December of the year the race is in. Normally this wouldn't matter. But I'm 29 until November 24 (Now all of you know my birthday. I expect gifts). So instead of being in the 25-29 age group as I had been, I'm in the 30-35 age group. USAT thinks I'm thirty! As for placing in races, this doesn't help one way or another. Endurance events favor slightly older athletes. Older bodies absorb the punishment better it seems. So just because I'm aged up doesn't mean I'll be placing any higher. (Ok, I just looked at the 25-29 age group times after I typed that and I would have placed 19th instead of 9th. So I guess it did help. Shhh, I won't tell if you won't.)
On to the race!
It was a perfect morning for a swim. The water was warm and smooth, very little wave action going on. The sky was clear and it was shaping up to be a warm race day. Good for making athletes stronger. We started in two waves, men first and then women three minutes later.
From the Go! it was a mosh pit. Mass starts, I'm learning, always are. At least until the first buoy there is no space for real strokes, just much jostling, pushing, grabbing, being grabbed, and kicking people off your feet. The first 200 yards of a triathlon are hard and I struggled to find some open water to lengthen my stroke out. It came after the turn.
Once we made the turn and were heading parallel with the shore I was able to step it up. I bunched up a few times with some other swimmers, getting around them in the water is harder than on the bike or run. That, the opening 200yd mosh, plus the occasional heads-up stroke to spot the next buoy I'm sure contributed to my less-than-stellar 1:40 pace. After the second turn towards the beach I was locked in right on one guy's feet and right next to another swimmer. Rather than try to sprint past for the transition I went with some race strategy and settled in. Getting out of the water a second or two ahead of them wouldn't be worth the energy burnt to do it.
It was, thankfully, a short run to the transition area. Everything went on quickly and smoothly and I was off again. My overall swim place was 28th, but that includes the women and relays. So my view coming in to the transition area was of one still very full of bikes.
The bike start was a difficult one. Rather than exit transition, get on, and ride we had a short jog along a path to the street. We couldn't mount before the street because the park had barriers separating the path from the outside world. Navigating these would have been, in a word, bad. I'm not thrilled I had to run with my cycling shoes on. They aren't built for it.
Once I was off on the bike I felt very strong. I used high, heavy gears and actually passed someone right away. All right! And then about a hundred people passed me. Oh well. The ride was good, flat, and clear. Mostly. We hit the Marine base, K-Bay, where the middle third of the race would take place. And what is in the middle of K-Bay, you may ask. Or you may not since why would you ask that? It's kind of a strange question. Either way, even if you may not ask I'll tell you. In the middle of K-Bay is a hill. Oh good, a climb in the midst of my race. And not a piddly climb. A decent ascent. Enough to send my speed and the speed of many around me crashing int single digits. Not all of those around me, however. Getting passed while cruising on the flats in one thing. Getting passed by a dude climbing is something else. It sucks more. At the base I actually felt fairly positive about the whole thing. I climb all the time on my rides. I should be strong for this. Not so much as some of the others. Jerks.
The turn around was at the summit and then zoooooooom back down the hill. Gotta admit, this is fun. It was plenty steep because I know I was flying. Tight turn at the bottom which required some heavy braking and it was back on the road. Again, I overtook one or two riders. At one point, though, a whole freaking peloton went by me. Just a ton of guys and gals ripping along in one group. Crazy. I made one last pass before turning back to the bike dismount point. Average speed during the ride: 21mph. I couldn't be more pleased with this. It gives me serious amounts of confidence that I can generate that kind of speed over 12 miles. I know its not all that far, but I've only been riding for a few months. And I think I could have pushed faster. Also, I spent nearly all of the race down on my aerobars and that was excellent. I honestly don't know if I'm any faster there than I would be on the drops but its more comfortable and, as I've said a few times before, it feels faster. Mentally, this is a huge step up. So they were a good purchase.
Again, a jog from bike dismount to T2. I should have taken off my cycling shoes and held them, running barefoot to transition, but I didn't think of that. Instead click click click I went, trying not to think about how bad this was for my clips. In and out of T2 in 1:43, which is slow. My toes got caught up in my TrekSports. I blame that. And my middle of the transition area position, can't forget that! Curses! I totally would have won. For shoes I went with the TrekSport VFFs rather than the KSOs because the last time I had been to Lanikai the road had sucked. It was an ugly mix of chipseal, sharp rocks, and razors. The KSOs would not have been good. Since I was last out the road had been repaved and was now smooth like butter. KSOs would have been fine, probably better than TrekSports. Oh well, too late now.
The run started out with a hill. Because right after you get off a bike the first thing you want to do is run up a hill. There were two more little rollers after that first one, but the first was the biggest. I was fresh out of T2 and leaving the park when I decided my one-piece tri suit wasn't going to be comfortable on this leg and I shrugged out of the top, baring my chest to the world. This served two functions. One, it made me more comfortable and cooler. Two, it totally distracted some of the female racers. Oh yeah.
On the way up the initial hill I ran next to the guy I had just gone by on the bike. Some younger guy, probably in the 15-19 age group. We had a conversation. I said, "Oh good, another hill." He chuckled and gasped, "Yeah. Whats your strongest event." I told him swimming. "Me too," he said. Then he started to slow and I started to speed up, I'm somewhat used to running hills, and I never saw him again.
For me the run is much like the bike. I get passed more than I pass but I feel strong either way most of the time. I must admit, there was a point there when the temperature was starting to rise with the sun when I thought, "This is kind of a stupid thing to do." But that quickly went away and I was back at it. My goal, if you remember, was to push the whole run and really make it hurt. In this I failed. I succumbed to the fear of pain. I couldn't really amp my cadence up any more and settled in to a rhythm. The whole time I was thinking, "I should be running harder," but I couldn't get my legs to do it.
I was prepared for a three mile run, maybe a little more, but the run was actually 3.5. This is more than a little more than three miles mentally. But what was nice about it was the run out was longer than the run back due to small curves and the hills on that end. So once we hit the turn around point we were over halfway. I clung to that.
The run ended with the hill that started it, then short beach section to the finish. I powered up the hill, quick-stepped down, and went oceanward once again. Running on the sand normally is no fun. It's soft and it sucks the strength straight from your legs. Lanikai's beach though, is hard packed near the water's edge. It was like running on grass. It felt great. And I was able to really get my cadence up. Coming to the end, maybe 200 yards from the finish, I caught a shadow in my peripheral and head footsteps. No way, mutherfrakker. No way are you passing my when I can see the finish. We raced to the end. It was great! Racing is fun, that's why I do it, but to have an hour and thirteen minutes come down to a sprint to the finish is, for lack of a better word, awesome. And looking at the list of times, he was in my age group. I finished with a time of 1:13:30 and the guy below me finished with 1:13:31. I beat him by a second! Yes! Of course, as a good sport I gave him a fist bump and a "good race" when we were walking it off.
My run pace over the 3.5mi was 7:53/mile. Kick ass as far as I'm concerned. I still think I could have pushed harder over the whole run and my ability to sprint at the end backs that up. But I'm not going to complain about a 7:53 mile. Things are coming along in my two weak areas very nicely. And the swim...well, the swim will come back.
I'm so glad I was able to do these two races before the Honolulu Triathlon next month. It was great to get some more race experience under my belt, great to be able to see how my training is improving, and racing is still a lot of fun. Even it it doesn't always seem like it at the time. So much thanks to Dirtbag Mom and Skip and Dirtbag Best Friend and Best Friend's Wife Who Needs a Better And Shorter Nickname for funding them both. And of course to Team Dirtbag's Official Sexy Wife/Photographer/Nutritionist, Stiches, who is the best ever and makes awesome pre-race tofu tacos. Also, to the rest of Team Dirtbag for their support and encouragement. And to my director and all the writers and my agent, I couldn't have won this without you. Who am I forgetting? Oh, and of course the Dark Lord of the Underworld, without your voice constantly whispering in my ear where would I be? What, the music is playing already?
Honolulu is coming up soon. I had better get back on the road.

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