Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Report: Merced Gateway Triathlon 2010

Total Time: 2:49:17
Overall Rank: 26/34
Age Group Rank: 2/3

Pre-race routine

Started the day before by staying hydrated. When it was time for my usual 5 o'clock Subway sandwich, I could only finish half of the foot-long.

Then the fun began. See, the night before the race was my high school class's 30-year reunion. I didn't want to eat anything but I did keep up with drinking water. However, I was quite the dancing fool. You only have one 30-year reunion so race be damned, I was going to boogie, and boogie I did.

Naturally, having that good of a time left me wired. Even though we left a bit early, I couldn't settle down and sleep until well after 1 am. At 4:05 I woke up wide-awake and I knew that I wouldn't be getting back to sleep. I made some toast with Nutella and drank a little water. Experience has shown me that I do not want to be over-hydrated going into an oly race lest I have to take a bathroom break during the run.

I sat listening to the rain coming down until it was time to bike to the race, around 7. Got to the venue, got a nice spot in transition, and set up.

Event warmup

They opened the pool up about 15 minutes before start time so I got in and swam 100 meters.

Note that all split times will be approximate as they (STILL) don't use timing chips in this race. Lame, I know. No, I don't know why they're so lame about them.


I didn't much care for the swim this year. It seemed like the traffic was much worse. Then again, last year I was coming off a shoulder dislocation so maybe I was just lucky that people were passing me but this year I had to do the passing. Anyway, I never felt great during the swim so it was just a matter of getting through it.

What would you do differently?

Get faster.


There was no mount line so once you cleared the racks you hopped on your bike. Everything went like clockwork. Tossed my goggles down (no cap), put gels in my back pocket, glasses, helmet, go! I left everybody I entered transition with behind me, and passed another guy as I was hopping on the bike. There was another guy right in front of me and I used him to pace getting in my shoes. I got up to speed and when I could I would slip my feet into my shoes and get them fastened. As long as I stayed with the guy in front of me (not drafting, of course), I knew I wasn't losing time. Once my shoes were all set, I passed him.

What would you do differently?



I was really happy with the pace I was setting. However, at six or seven miles in I flatted. I wasn't happy but I tried to, as calmly as I could under race conditions, change the flat. I'm not the fastest flat-changer in the world but I am thorough so I did find what caused the flat and got it out of the tire. I'm guessing that I lost five minutes.

I had two goals this race. The first was to beat the friend I came to the race with. He passed me on the side of the road as I was putting my back wheel on. After a few miles I passed him. However, on the way back there is a long, gradual hill. Nothing to get exhausted over but hills are the enemy of a clydesdale so he passed me again. I didn't panic and stuck to my game plan. It took me ten miles but I did re-pass him.

It was sprinkling a bit during the bike so it wasn't too wet but it was damp enough that I couldn't take the few corners on the course as fast as possible.

What would you do differently?

I was thinking about getting some Open Corsa Evo CX race tires but decided not to. I wonder if they would have prevented the flat. Other than that, keep losing weight so I can go up those hills faster.


I was a bit cautious coming into transition because of the wet ground but that would have only cost me a second so no big deal. Everything, including putting the shoes on, went really smoothly here.

What would you do differently?



I decided to take the Garmin with me on the run to help me with my pace. Immediately it told me that I was going out way too fast so I dialed it back to a reasonable pace. I was in or just over my target pace for most of the race but at mile four the wheels started coming off. I think at that point a heart rate monitor would have been helpful. My pace slowed down a lot and I felt really tired. The sun was out by this point but it didn't feel very hot at all. I tried walking tiny bits and that seemed to help. Finally, I decided to shut off the pace alerts and slow way down and that got me through the rest of the run. By the last half-mile I felt better and was able to finish strong-ish.

What would you do differently?

Do more race-distance runs at my goal pace. Especially bricks.

Post race

Warm down

By the time I started walking after the finish line, sweat was just pouring off me. I downed three sports drinks pretty quickly. When I saw white things were getting too white, I recognized that as I sign I was going to get a little light-headed soon so I downed one of my gels and sat down. That passed and things were good. Very tired afterwards.

What limited your ability to perform faster

If I want to get faster in the swim I'm going to need to swim more than two days per week. That's not going to happen anytime soon, though, and I'm okay with that.

I've lost a bunch of weight but I'm still a big guy so any inclines on the bike slow me way down. The weight is coming off so that's getting better.

I'm still slow on the run but way faster than last year. I'm fairly pleased with my performance there. However, I do need to do more 10k runs at more of a race pace than at a slower pace. My lunchtime runs lately have been four miles and that was where I was strongest. After four miles is where things started going bad so I need to up those lunchtime runs to six miles.

Event comments

Timing chips, timing chips, timing chips.

I think the organizers should consider a time trial start for the swim. Up and down each lane, then turn under the lane lines and do the next lane. That would give us 800 yards. It's better than jamming us all in lanes at the same time.