Sunday, August 15, 2010

Report: Hansen Dam Triathlon 2010

Total Time: 1:14:14
Overall Rank: 141/424
Age Group: M45-49
Age Group Rank: 13/27

Pre-race routine

My pre-race routine actually started two days before when my family went to a local carnival. Note to self: do not eat carnival food two nights before a race. You feel funky the next day.

The day before I just had this tuna and rice in a bowl dish throughout the day. Makes sure my digestive tract is nice and boring (and that the carnival food is out of the picture, as it were). Had a sandwich from Subway at 5pm and a glass of Ovaltine milk just before I went to bed.

Set the alarm for 4am the night before the race but my body woke up at 3:25 and I knew it wasn't going to let me go back to sleep. Sigh. I did see them putting cones along the course at 3:30, FWIW.

Went right down and had some Nutella on toast and Gatorade. Breakfast of champions! Watched some TV while waiting for things to clear out. Got on my bike a bit after 5 and rode to the venue. Got there well before opening time and, of course, they had already opened transition. While I didn't get a maximum primo spot, I was happy with the spot I did get. It didn't help that the bike in/out was not clearly marked. Still, it was a good spot.

The neatest thing of the morning was walking along the lake to check out the run course before the sun came up. Did you look at the lake and see all those birds flying around, eating bugs? Those weren't birds. They were bats. Lots of them. Cool!

Event warmup

Got in the water about 6:30 to do some swimming. Nice! The sun was coming up and I found that it was going to be right in our eyes when we made our first turn. I got out of the water, traded my clear googles for the smoky ones, and got back in. Swam around maybe 100 yards, and then it was time to get out. I felt tired but I knew (?) that was just sluggishness from taking the last week off.


Distance: 500 yards (so they say)
Time: 11:51
Age Group Rank: 11/27

I have to say that I am surprised by this time. It is only 11 seconds faster than last year's time and last year's swim was lousy. I'm not convinced the course is the same length as last year's.

We started off down a ramp and into the water. Lots of bunching up because, right away, we had to make a left to go around the first buoy. Still in traffic but nothing bad. This new sighting I've been practicing, where I pop my head straight up, look, then swing it back to the left to continue my stroke, works SO MUCH better than the old way (which was the reverse of that). I was able to sight a lot in traffic while still maintaining my speed. Consequently my sighting was very good. For instance, I actually touched two of the buoys as I rounded them while most were swinging way wide. Then, from buoy #3 to #4, a lot of people were swinging wide (following others) while I was on a straight line.

While I wouldn't characterize this swim as fast, I was happy with my effort. I'm still breathing every stroke (still haven't figured out why) but my sighting was great and I knew that I was towards the front of my wave down the home stretch.

What would you do differently?

Just keep training to get faster.


Time: 0:46

I felt pretty tired coming out of the swim but I pushed through that to get to my bike. Threw the cap and goggles in my backpack, quickly put my glasses and helmet on, grabbed my bike, and I was gone. I entered T1 in 11th. I left in 8th.

I smushed my right shoe, somehow, and had a really hard time getting my foot into it. Fortunately, this is my home course and I know where the uphills and downhills are. I waited for a downhill before I finally worked my right foot into the shoe. In all that time, one person passed me (he was just fast) and I actually passed a couple of people.

Ended up with the fastest T1 in my age group by 14 seconds and the tenth fastest overall. I improved on last year's time by ten seconds, too. Don't let anyone tell you that fast transitions are not free speed. They're wrong.

What would you do differently?

Run faster.


Distance: 11 miles (officially--really more like 10.17 miles)
Time: 31:12
Age Group Rank: 9/27

The course is actually just over ten miles long, which makes everybody look faster than they are. I was hoping to average 20mph but realistically expected to average 19.8, and that is what I did. Since this is my home course I know exactly where I want to shift, push, and rest. I was pretty tired by the end so looks like I pushed just right, especially since I ended up almost three minutes faster than last year.

I passed people, I was passed. I didn't get chicked (from the following wave) until the run, though, so I was humming along.

What would you do differently?

Keep working on the engine and get faster.


Time: 1:04

T2 actually started on the bike course. On the downhill after getting off the dam, I got one foot out of its shoe. After the turn into the park, I took the other foot out. Both downhills so no speed lost. After that I downshifted to get my legs ready for the run. Stretched, too.

Hopped off my bike, jogged to the rack, helmet and glasses off, shoes on (quicker than usual, too), grabbed my visor and race belt, and was off. The race belt was already connected so I just slipped it over my head, then the visor. I don't know if it made me any faster but at least I didn't have to fuss with trying to close it while running.

Eight seconds faster than last year.

What would you do differently?

I wish I could figure out why my T2 times are so average. T1 I have down but I don't know why my T2 isn't in the same league. Must think...


Distance: 3 miles
Time: 29:19
Age Group Rank: 21/27

Ah, the run. Faster than last year but still my achilles heel. Still, I was fairly happy with it.

I don't remember running around the lake first from last year's run. That and there were a couple of places on the course where we went a bit wider than last year. That leads me to believe that this year's course is closer to three miles than last year's course. That or I just have a bad memory.

I didn't feel great on the course but I knew the training would take over and I'd run well. A 9:46 pace, while not great, is not bad on a trail run after a hard bike. For me, anyway. 2 1/2 minutes faster than last year, too, and, like I said, I think this year's course was longer than last year's.

This year's motto is "I'm not fast but I'm faster." So I'm satisfied with my run. I kept thinking I wasn't running fast enough but when I tried to go faster I started feeling like I was going to ralph so I guess my effort was just right. :-)

What would you do differently?

Be a faster runner.

Warm down

Walked around, ate lots of oranges, drank lots of water. They had these Bonk Breakers to eat (one of the sponsors). I have to say that they weren't bad at all. I can see me taking these on my long bike rides.

They immediately had results on a big screen just past the finish line. While the times were wrong, the placings were right. That was pretty cool.

What limited your ability to perform faster

Just me. I was faster in everything compared to last year so I just need to keep on with my training. It's only my second season of doing these so I'm still a noob.

Event comments

Almost six minutes faster than last year. Gotta be pleased with that. And I finished in the top half of my age group. Such a nice change from my recent placings in longer races.

I felt sluggish and tired the whole race. I was hoping that that was because my effort was greater than last year. Given the times I ended up with I'd like to think that was the case. I sprained my knee a few weeks ago and it didn't bother me at all. That was because I have been resting it. It's hard to balance training for a race and resting a knee. I hope I hit it just right.

The organization of this year's race was SO MUCH better than last year's. Our race packets were complete so no lining up race morning. The bike course had marshalls all over the place so we didn't have to worry about traffic or pedestrians. On top of Hansen Dam the gate was open and it was coned off so we didn't have to dodge pedestrians. Three water stations on the run? You gotta be kidding me (in a good way)? I wished I would have used them, since they had gone to all that effort. They didn't run out of food the whole time. Kudos to the organizers.

It looked like the race wasn't going to happen this year, and they mentioned this morning that they only started working on it seven weeks ago. I do hope they find a way to keep it going. The organizers are already posting on Facebook that they're working on having an Oly next year so I take that to be a good sign.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Knee Thing

I have this weird knee thing going on right now. It started about a week ago behind my right knee. I figured that I somehow had hyperextended my right leg during last Tuesday's ride to work. It wasn't a sharp pain. I didn't feel anything pop when it happened. In fact, I didn't even feel it happen. This dull pain just sort of appeared.

I did swim on Wednesday but skipped Thursday morning's run. However, I did ride to work on Thursday and Friday. Liking active rest, I did make the rides easy ones. The pain was still there on Saturday but it had moved to the outer edge of my knee. It now felt like a bruise (i.e. tender to the touch) but there was no bruise there. I did a five-mile run Saturday morning with no problems. Still wanting to rest it, though, I skipped Sunday's planned bike-run brick workout.

I swam on Monday and today, rode to work yesterday, and will, likely, ride to work tomorrow. We'll see about Friday. This weekend I had planned an easy run on Saturday and and easy bike on Sunday. We'll see. Since I am taking next week off from training for the big race, I am hoping that that will keep me healthy and heal me up.

I suspect this was caused by a change I made to the cleats on my cycling shoes. I rotated them a bit to point my toes out a bit. I did this a few weeks ago and hadn't had any problems. My thinking is that I did something (unclip, etc.) that, because my feet were in a funky angle, caused a little strain. I have un-funked my cleats back to their previous positions and we'll see if that helps me get back on track.

Then again, because the pain has been moving, maybe I have worms in my knee.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Countdown to Hansen Dam

Now that Le Tour is over, I can go back to writing in this thing. I've been training all along but no time to write here.

The Hansen Dam Triathlon is two weeks from today and I'll be as ready as I can be. My training has been building up to a peak this weekend and it looks like I hit it--I'm exhausted. Easy training next week followed by no training (save for an easy bike ride Wednesday morning and some transition practice on Thursday or Friday) and I'll be all set.

The Swim

500 yards in a man-made "lake" (more like a big pond). I did this in 12:02 last year. LAME! Definitely under ten minutes this year. Can I hold a 1:45 (8:45) pace this year? That would be nice but we'll see. I think I'm finally getting comfortable in these race swims and have even been pacing myself pretty well. No wetsuit in this race so I don't have to worry about overheating, too. My workouts have been more productive lately, thanks to the advice of an old friend who is a much better swimmer than me, so I should be quite a bit faster.


I had the fastest T1 in my age group last year and 19th overall: 56.1 seconds. Let's see if I can better that this year.

The Bike

Better shape. Better bike. Last year I did this in 34:04. Can I come in under 30 minutes, which is around 20 mph (the course is really just over ten miles)? I don't know if it's realistic but it's what I'll be shooting for.


Last year I did this in 1:12, which is so-so. I don't know if I can get it under a minute but I'll try. Rack bike, take off helmet and put on shoes, grab the race belt and visor, and go!


Last year I did this in 31:55 which, if you believe the course is three miles, is a 10:38 pace. Problem is, the course isn't three miles. More like 2.5 (I've been running it with a Garmin the past few weeks). That comes out to be a 12:46 pace. Hmm. Maybe I'm cutting the course short somehow. Not by a half mile, though, so, for now, let's just go with that 10:38 pace. I want to do the run at about a 9:10 pace, which should knock at least four minutes off my time, and bring me in around 27:30 if the course is three miles, or 23:00 if the course is 2.5 miles. Hmm, that 23:00 figure looks pretty fast compared to all the results for last year so maybe I am cutting the course short. We'll find out soon enough.

My triathlon slogan for this year (and the next few years, no doubt) is: I'm not fast but I'm faster. So let's add up those times. 10:00 for the swim + 1:00 in T1 + 31:00 on the bike + 1:00 in T2 + 25:00 on the run = 1:08 overall, which would have put me in the top 25 in my age group last year. Possible? I'll just go and do my best.

Oh, I do have one other goal for the race. Towards the end of the run there is a short but steep hill. After that there is a not-so-steep uphill followed by a run alongside the lake and then onto the finish line. My other goal is that once I get to the stop of that steep uphill, nobody passes me. If I do get passed I stick with that person and try to re-pass by the finish line. I didn't like being passed on that last stretch last year so I don't want it to happen this year. I've been practicing on that stretch, too.