Tritonman Sprint Triathlon 2013
February 24, 2013
FINALLY a race to put all of the offseason training to the test. Tritonman is the first triathlon for my season after finishing on a high note last year. I spent more time in the water in the last few months than I likely did all of 2012, so was looking to see how my conditioning and technique would hold up. In all, I added this race for a couple reasons:
1. UCSD is my alma mater and I’d gladly support it, especially for how reasonable pricing was ($60 TCSD –or- UCSD faculty/staff alumni).
2. Racing early and then having a 2 month gap until my next few races will a) show me how I’ve improved, b) identify areas of opportunity for the rest of the season, and c) serve as a good refresher for race stress, pace, and atmosphere.
Going into the race, I knew that it was going to be COLD (San Diego cold, that is). I raced in a lake up in Napa last year, and my feet paid the price the entire race through the bike and run. Aside from booties or socks, I figured a solution would be to throw some toe covers on my bike shoes, then put a couple toe warmers inside of the cover on top of the shoes to warm up my feet for the run. Worth a shot at the very least.
Leading up to the Sunday race, I felt pretty good about my preparation. Great chicken and pasta dinner on Friday night, a movie, and awesome sleep (I never have problems sleeping). Woke up early (4:30am) to ride down to Mission Bay on Saturday morning with a buddy to spin out the legs and watch the draft legal Tritonman race. As suspected, it was COLD. Specifically, when on the grass near transition, my toes were icy even with shoes, so I knew it was going to be rough the next morning. To UCSD’s credit, they apparently had moved the old race setup and transition across the bay from the mud on Fiesta Island, so an instant improvement regardless of how cold it was. Also a good chance to check out the course setup. Only thing was that the exit from the water wasn’t very clearly marked, so I knew spotting would be important to I didn’t go off-course. There and back on the bike was about 17 miles, pretty easy, but worked a little harder than I wanted to in a couple spots, largely because I was riding with a friend.
The rest of the day was lazy. Stretched, rolled, cleaned up the bike, got all the race gear ready to go, and took a nap. I ate a spinach salad and a couple slices of healthy(ish) pizza for dinner, watched a movie, and crashed around 10pm.
I woke up around 3:20am for my 7am start. I’m an early riser by nature, but especially on race mornings, I do everything possible to not stress myself out. Coffee, OJ, water, oatmeal, and a banana to start, then casually got myself together. I drove in and parked by about 5:30, then walked up to transition. Really glad I pack a headlamp, since there we exactly zero lights around registration and transition. Racked my bike in a decent spot surrounded by college athletes and just relaxed while I ate a bar and listened to some jams.
About an hour from start, I started warming up. Stretching, running drills, and ran maybe a quarter mile. Legs felt great, but already knew my feet were going to be freezing, so I hoped that my toe warmer scheme would work out. Threw on the wetsuit, grabbed the double swim caps, and walked over to hear the course talk and hop in the water. Aside from my thumb punching a hole in my sleeve by my wrist, and somehow losing the Gu packet that I carry on my back, everything was good. The water was actually pretty nice – cold, but not freezing. I swam maybe 150m, got a feel for the water, and hopped out to watch the first 2 waves.
Swim – 750m
10:35 (off my Garmin – chip timing bugged out)
It was a treading start, 1 rectangle lap with about 60 in the Men’s Open wave. I started near the middle, maybe 3 rows back. I’m not fast, but not afraid of a little contact to get me the shortest possible course. Turns out, I’d be muscling the whole way with one guy who veered hard left into me literally every 10 or 15 strokes. After months of swimming with a bilateral breath, something about the race setting pushed me back to breathing every 2 stroke, but my stroke work felt like it paid off in both stroke rate and catch.
My 10:35 time was ridiculously faster than previous 750m swims (ITU 2012 was 13:20), but there is a factor that would’ve helped me achieve it. The in-water part of the “swim” course was likely a little shorter than 750m. I’d say there was about a 100m run from the edge of the water to transition, which would account for maybe 2 minute advantage. That said, I’ve been hearing a lot that Garmin short-changes distances, so I’m not sure. From start to finish on swim into T1, it marked .48mi (or about 772m). Overall, I felt much more comfortable in the water, swimming with a lot more purpose.
T1, Bike, T2- 21k
34:38 (Garmin – chip still not working)
Got out of the wetsuit just fine. Feet frozen as soon as they hit the cold grass. I had thought hard about doing a shoeless mount on the bike, but knew it would be really difficult with frozen feet, so I threw on the shoes and ran out and still achieved a quick mount. Once on the 3-lap Fiesta course, I dropped into aero and got comfortable. I was merging into the collegiate men’s and women’s athletes already on the course. The longer into the bike I got, the more crowded it got, with competitors basically in two categories: slow and unsteady newer athletes, and then fast guys taking advantage of the lack of officiating and working with small draft groups of 2 or 3 guys.
There was relatively low wind for the course, which was nice, so I stayed somewhere between 22 and 27mph most of the time with a 95ish cadence. Cycling computer had average at 23.9mph. I think I can push a little harder on the bike to still not blow up on the run, so I’ll need to test a little bit in training. I took in 20oz of Cytomax on the bike pretty quickly, which is typically my goal for a sprint race.
Fast shoeless dismount (way easier than the mount), but my feet were still blocks of ice despite the foot warmers. I racked the bike and threw off helmet and glasses, but had some trouble getting my numb feet into the shoes. I had left a spare Gu next to my shoes, so grabbed it and took off running.
Run – 5k
17:45* (timing chip finally worked)
I immediately hit the Gu (pretty standard practice at beginning of run) and headed out. My legs felt pretty good. Since I got the Garmin, I love watching my run pace, but based it off of how I felt. Was hanging between high-5:50s and low 6:00s for the majority of the 2-lap course. I was shocked to looking down as I started my second lap and see a time reading 8 min and change, and my legs felt good enough to keep moving at the same pace. For a 5k race, unless it’s really hot, I run by the water stations. I held the 6:04 pace strong through the finish with a little burst just to see what I had left in the tank.
I added the * to the run time because I’m almost positive it was a shorter course that 5k. Garmin said 2.92 miles, which, at the 6:04 pace I was running, would equate to a real 5k time of 18:50. If that were the case, that would best any 5k time I’ve posted EVER by a minute, so happy regardless.
5th/26 in 20-29 AG (don’t know 25-29)
8th/56 in Men’s Open
61st/343 Overall (including collegiate races)
Overall, a good first race, and I’m really pleased with what are likely PR’s on the swim and bike, with a certain PR on the run. I felt great through the finish, ate and drank at the expo, and enjoyed a very lively atmosphere with the college teams.
Got home, ate, showered, stretched, rolled, ate, napped, then did some mobility work. Quads were a bit tired first, but a day later, it’s my hamstrings a little tight (but not hurting).
The race itself, especially given the fact that it was put on by college students, was great. Good, fast course setup, but with a couple areas on the course that could’ve used a few more volunteers. I would again question the accuracy of the distances on both the swim and run, but hey, if they were right on, I did even better.
The largest disappointment was the timing errors. I was really looking to see what my swim, bike, and transition splits would be as a baseline for in-season training, but I guess it happens. I would certainly consider racing this event again, just hoping that it would be a little warmer.