Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ordinary Mortals Race Report

The week prior to this race, I was convinced that the bike portion would be canceled due to rain.  Every day the forecast seemed to predict gloomy weather.   On Thursday, it looked most grim, with a forecast in the upper 40's and a 60% + chance of precipitation.   I was quite pleased then, when I awoke on Sunday morning to sunny skies and a road that was 95% dry.  A few overnight rains were no match for the warmer weather we've been experiencing this spring.  The weather was cool, but nothing unbearable.  I arrived at the university around 8:00 a.m. and prepared for the first triathlon of the season.
Run course at about 2.5 miles
For me, Ordinary Mortals was a late edition to the schedule. I didn't anticipate a triathlon until the Greeley Triathlon in June.  However, since the Mortals is a new,  local event, I felt an obligation of sorts to support it.  I'm really glad I did.  The race was well organized and provided much of the experience that a larger event would have.  There is much credit to the RD and the team of volunteers that supported the event.  There was also some tremendous photography.  All of the pictures in this post were taken by the race photographers, and they were all posted for free on Facebook..
One unique aspect of this event was that it was in reverse order.  The run, bike, swim approach was designed to ensure that not everyone was entering the water at once.  It also ensured that no one would be sopping wet when climbing onto the bike on a chilly, April morning and inducing hypothermia from the cold. Strategically, at least for me, it did create a challenge in terms of thinking about how to strategically run the race.  Running is my strong suit, and I can usually rely on my faster speed to make up for a slower swim and bike time.  I enjoy being able to "catch" others during the final stages of the triathlon.  With everything reversed,  I had to figure out how I would approach the race.  Go out too fast on the run, and I'd have nothing left for the bike and swim.  Hold back too much, and I wouldn't be able to compete with those that were stronger cyclists.   I wasn't too worried about the swim, since it was only 300 meters, and I anticipated that the outcome of the race wouldn't be decided in the pool. Passing a lot or being passed a lot, just wasn't going to happen in a small pool.   Truly, there was little likelihood that I'd be competing for first place anyway, but I still wanted to have a strong race.  Finally, I decided that if I felt good, I would shoot for a sub 24 minute run, ride the bike as hard as I could, and just work my way through the swim as best I could.   This is how I executed the race.
One thing that I love about triathlon is the planning, preparation, and execution that have to take place.  To do well, you can't just show up and race.  It's important to lay out your transition carefully, thinking about each step that you will take and the order in which you will do things.  Overlooking one small step can easily add time to your race.  It also helps to establish 2-3 goals that you can play with depending on how the race is unfolding.  These are low, medium, and high goals, and by having some variety, it makes you much more adaptable. 
After arriving and setting up in transition, it was clear that the weather was going to be more cooperative than originally planned.  There were a lot of folks dressed in tights, jackets, etc., but it just didn't really seem necessary as the sun continued to shine.  I decided to go with my arm warmers for the race, and I stashed my gloves in my helmet for the ride (I wound up not needing them, once I got to the bike).  After a few bathroom breaks, and a visit to check out the pool, I took a small warmup jog about 20 minutes before the start and I felt just fine.
The RD gave a brief pre-race meeting, we moved to the starting line, and then we were off.  The five kilometer course at the university is not the easiest.  Although there is a gentle downhill for the first 3/4 of a mile, that quickly turns into a long climb of nearly 1/2 mile.  The field quickly spread out, and a group of about 6 runners established a pack that quickly outpaced the rest of us.  As we turned right back toward the university we began to climb the first hill.   I relish uphill running and soon I was picking my way up from the middle of the pack.  A few other folks would seek to keep up with me, but they would quickly tire. We had an opportunity at about 2 miles to see the lead runners coming back, and I counted off about 16 people in front of me.  By the time we crested the final hill on the course, I had moved up a few spaces to about 14th place.  I wasn't too sure at that point how many of the participants were doing the triathlon and how many were in the duathlon, but I felt good about my race time.  I came through the run portion in a time of 22:40 which was 2nd in my age group (we were told later that the course was a little long).
After a one minute transition, I was out on the bike, and headed downhill towards the highway that would take us out towards the airport.   Almost immediately, a gal on a tri bike came rocketing past me, and disappeared ahead into the distance.  Still, I was making good time and managed to avoid any more passes until about 4-5 miles into the course.  A few minutes in I heard a rattling sound, and cursed the fact that I really needed a tune up for my bike.  As I rode on, I realized that the knocking and rattling was the result of the sensor on the front fork getting bumped and repeatedly hitting the wheel.  My bike speed kept varying from 25 mph, to 2 mph, back up to 24mph..  After a couple of miles, the speed reading disappeared altogether.   I kept on and reached the turn around in good time (this was helped by the downhill direction, and the wind at my back).  As I headed north, the wind smacked straight into me, and I found myself struggling to maintain any kind of pace at all.  The slog back to the university was a little more challenging, and I was passed by another 1/2 dozen riders or so.  Still, I kept riding and pushing and managed to finish the bike in a decent amount of time (40:37, about 18.6 mph, but 9th in my AG).  Not my fastest riding, but pretty good considering the wind.  I was much more tired when I reached the transition, but I was able to strip down to my shorts, grab my goggles and head for the pool.
I found the pool swim, surprisingly easy after the run and the ride.  There was a fair amount of space between me and the other swimmers, and so I didn't have to deal with others interfering with me.  I work out in this pool quite a bit, so it was familiar to me.  Being a little more fatigued, I definitely took more breaths than I usually do, but I still felt fairly strong.  Halfway through the swim I began to notice some bubbles in front of me, and soon found myself staring at another person's feet.  I had caught someone in front of me.  After a minute of following, I was able to get around them, however as I got to the last lap, I felt someone rocket past me, executing a perfect flip turn.  It seemed like this gal was out of the water before I had gotten halfway back through the pool. My swim was a 7:53, the fourth fastest in my age group.
 I managed to extract myself from the water, and head towards the finish line, with enough energy left.  In reality, I probably didn't leave it all out there, but I felt really good about my performance for such an early triathlon. Although I didn't place in my age group (I was sixth), I did manage a top 20 finish overall for the race, which I felt very good about.  It seems that many of the top AG triathletes are between the ages of 40-50, so I may be looking forward to fewer podium finishes compared to last season when I was first and second in my age group at a couple of races.  But racing season is definitely upon us.  Next week I'll have another race report from the Horsetooth Half Marathon in Fort Collins, and then there's about a month before the Colfax Marathon in May.  I will need to do some serious training to get ready for that one!

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