|Ravi Pandya software | nanotechnology | economics||
Wed 17 Aug 2011
This was my second triathlon, after Black Diamond last year. Overall, it was a good race, though I had a couple of problems. I had a flat on the bike course, which took me an unbelievably long time to fix. And I was short on salt & hydration, so I cramped up during the run.
On race day, I woke up at 3:30 with pre-race jitters and couldn't get back to sleep. I lay in bed until 5 minutes before my 4:20 alarm was due to go off, and then dressed, grabbed my bag, travel mug of tea, and PB&Bs I had prepared the night before, and drove up to Lake Stevens. I had reserved a parking place near transition, and it was a good thing too - halfway over I realized I had forgotten to get my wetsuit and nutrition bag out of the trunk, and went back to get them. I had plenty of time to setup everything in transition, and then headed over to swim start to use the bathroom, put on my wetsuit, warm up, and stretch.
The swim was great. I jumped off the dock into balmy 69-degree water, put my face in to get acclimatized, and positioned myself on the inside near the buoys. I started strong to get near the head of the pack, and then just followed the wire - no need to sight on this course, just follow the underwater buoy wire. The only problem was that I kept running into the buoys, or even swimming under them. About a third of the way through, I started passing people from the back of the previous waves. The waves were pretty spread out, though, and there wasn't much contact. I just kept a strong, steady pace, focusing on streamlined body position and a good catch and pull through. Pretty soon the finish gate was in sight, and I put on some extra power into the gate.
Transition was fine, but slow - I'm not fast at stripping my wetsuit, and I don't rush getting ready for the bike. The course is beautiful, through winding country roads, and it was a great day, not too hot, with occasional sun. Part way through the first loop, I felt my back wheel grinding, and pulled over to fix a flat. It took a long time - I wanted to be sure I got it right, since I wouldn't have a second chance if I left in the shard or didn't seat the tube correctly. My pump is compact, but hard to get seated on the valve - it seemed like it took a dozen tries. Finally, 18 minutes later, the wheel was back on and I was riding again. The one nice thing about the forced pause was that I was steadily passing people for the rest of the race. I only had one brief stop, to transfer my back bottles into my handlebar bottle so I could sip it as I rode. I averaged 18.8 mph for the first half at 1:30 ride time, but couldn't keep it up on the second lap, averaging 18.3 overall. The hills weren't quite as bad as I had expected. There were a lot of long, slow, rolling climbs, but only one really steep hill, and it was short enough to power up. There were some great screaming downhills to make up for it. I remember one in particular where a race traffic cop sat beside a 35mph speed limit sign, watching bikers fly past at well over the limit - I hit 44 mph and I was not the fastest. At T2, I dumped the flat tube, pump, etc. out of my jersey, put on my running shoes and cap, stopped at the bathroom, and headed out the gate.
I started the run well, hitting the first mile marker at 7:33, but shortly after that I got a cramp in my hamstring. I had made two big mistakes in setup, and this is where they caught up with me. I had forgotten to put the salt packets in my water bottle, and had also run out of fluids to hydrate properly in T2. A passing runner graciously offered me one of her salt tablets, and that cleared things up. I did make a point of walking or even stopping at the aid stations to make sure I got electrolytes and water. After a few miles, I got my running legs back and the mile markers seemed to get closer together. Even with the aid stops, I managed an 8:03 pace on the first half, but then slowed on the second half to 8:43 as the salt ran out. The last slow climb up Lakeshore Drive was a real challenge, and then after the turnaround my legs started to show signs of cramping. I just coasted back down Lakeshore and into town. I was very happy to see my family at the finish, and high-fived them with a big smile as I passed by. But just as I headed into the chute, my legs turned into wooden blocks, and 10 yards from the finish gate I doubled over with cramps. It didn't hurt - it was just like someone had flicked a switch and contracted my abdominal muscles. I hobbled over the finish line, and then a couple of volunteers helped me to the med tent. Linda had rushed over, concerned, and she and Gavin sat with me in the tent. I sat and rested, drank a couple of bottles of Perform with some ice on my neck, and I was OK after a few minutes.
Total time 6:01:42 (52/82 M45-49, 571/1272 overall)
At the beginning of the year, my goal was to improve my time by half an hour over my 6:17 finish at Black Diamond. Going into the race I was more ambitious - 5:30 overall, with 0:35 swim, 3:00 bike, 1:45 run, and 0:10 for transitions & breaks - but I didn't manage that. However, even with the flat, I beat last year's time by 15 minutes, and if you subtract out the 18-minute repair time I cut over half an hour (of course the repair time was also rest time, but anyway) My fitness overall improved significantly: I cut 5 minutes off the swim (partly thanks to the guide wire); I matched my bike time despite a much harder course (after subtracting the repair time); and amazingly I cut almost half an hour from the run despite the cramps. I placed respectably in my age group for the swim and run (#28 and 26 out of 82), but not great on the bike (66 with repair time, 49 without).
I'd like to thank my family for all their support, especially in coming to the race - triathlon is not exactly a spectator sport! I'd also like to thank my coach, Michael Covey from the Pro Club for his invaluable advice and motivation. He put together a great training plan that made really effective use of my limited training time. It was also great to see all the Microsoft people out there - Lars, Ed, Kurt, Jesus, and I'm sure many more that I didn't run into.
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