Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Report: Strawberry Fields Triathlon (Sprint) - 2009

You can read the detailed report with times here.

Pre-Race Routine: Woke up at 3:30am. Had a bowl of cheerios and a glass of orange juice to help the digestive system move along. My wave would not be starting for four hours so this would all be clear of the stomach by then (good thing, too). Everything was packed the night before so it was just a matter of getting dressed, hitting the bathroom, making sure the bike's tires were pumped up, racking the bike, and leaving at 4:30 so I could get to the race site by 5 (when we could start parking).

It was assigned parking in transition so I headed to my spot and set up my little area. Since my bike bag hindered un-racking last race, the bike would hang by its handlebars this time (a wise decision). My water bottle would just be needed for washing off my feet. Put the shoes on the bike and rubber band them up.

Around 6:30 it was time to get into the wetsuits because transition would be closing at 6:40. I tried Bodyglide on my legs to see if that would help getting the suit off. Time to head to the beach.

Warmup: The first wave started at 7:05. I watched that then headed into the ocean to get used to the cold. No run warm up, no bike warm up. All that would have been negated by the 61 degree water, IMHO. Did a little swimming and going under waves. By the time I got out of the water, I was okay with the cold.

Swim: The only way this could have been worse is if I had DNF'd.

I get in the water fine, the water isn't shocking me, and I start to swim. I'm not sighting so well but this is my first real ocean swim so that is to be expected. Then I notice I'm being passed by the rest of my wave. People, I'm a good swimmer. I'm probably faster in a pool than almost everybody else in my wave. Hmm. Then the motion sickness starts.

Before the race I had downed some candied ginger, as that was reported to work. I should have known it wouldn't work on me but you never know unless you try, right? So, I'm getting a bit seasick, which means my swim goes into survival mode: speed is no longer an option, I'm just trying to finish. I was actually swimming fairly well stroke-wise, I was just way slow. Rounding the second buoy and heading for the shore, I'm hating life. I actually heaved up twice on the way in but there was nothing in my stomach (my apologies to the fish for not feeding them). When I finally reached the shore where I could stand up, I saw a wave coming. I had no energy to catch it swimming or resist it standing so my attitude was, "Go ahead and knock me down, I can get back up." It did and I did.

The sad thing was, Dramamine and/or one ocean swim beforehand would likely have landed me on the podium.

T1: T1 started right after the water while on the beach. I was seasick and in no condition to try running in sand so it was a death march to a concrete walkway. Once I got there I did a little jog into transition. I was such a mess that I put my body into auto-pilot and hoped that it knew what to do. When I got into transition, most of my age group was already there. I got out of the wetsuit fairly quickly and squirted the sand off my feet quickly, too. Then it was glasses, helmet, unrack the bike and go. One of my shoes popped out of the pedals (?) so I had to reattach that. My jog with the bike was, as you might imagine, not so speedy, but I got out well before everybody else who was at my rack.

Oh, maybe Bodyglide helps get suits on but I don't think it did a thing to help me get it off.

Bike: I am so freaking pleased with my performance on the bike. I do need to mention, though, that my auto pilot didn't work so well getting into my shoes. I should have engaged my brain sooner. That said, once I was pedaling I was humming along. I was hoping to make it a 20 mph ride, because that sounds cool, but I didn't quite make it. I knew that I wouldn't get to ride a flatter course this year so the plan was to absolutely go for it, giving no thought to the run afterwards.

There was some residual seasickness to deal with but I soon got up to speed. I had the Garmin on the handlebars so I could make sure my gearing was just right. I was getting passed by the fast Olympic guys on their second loop but I was doing most of the passing, and I passed a lot of people.

One thing that amused me was cornering. For the tightest turns we had over a whole car lane to turn, yet people were staying off to the far right the whole time. Me, I looked over my left shoulder, saw that I didn't have anybody coming up, swung wide, and flew into the turns. Blasted by a few people that way.

There were two hills on the whole course and I was very happy with how I flew up them. Heading back into transition I got out of my shoes with plenty of time before the dismount line. I just wish people wouldn't keep telling me to slow down as I approached.

Not bad for a 230 pound guy on an 18-year-old, 14-speed Craigslist special, eh?

T2: This was okay. I didn't get Lock Laces in time to use them in this race so I'll see how they work at Hansen Dam. Other than that, things went well.

Run: The plan was to go out hard so that it hurt. Unfortunately, I could only go so hard before nausea made me back off. That meant I couldn't go as fast as I wanted to but, according to my time, I did hit my current goal pace (yes, I have a lot of room for improvement). My time was about 90 seconds faster than my last tri in March, too, so that's a good thing.

Overall: The conditions in the water were as good as one could hope for in an ocean swim. The bike course was flat with plenty of room (for the most part) to pass, and the run was flat, too. It was a day for speed.

One more thing: the day before the race I stepped on a scale for the first time since December and it looks like I've lost 25 pounds. If I keep up the weight loss, I may not be able to enter as a Clydesdale next year. I could live with that.

You can see other photos from the race here.

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