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).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Harvest Moon Triathlon Race Report

. . . There was only a half mile to go . . . probably even less than that.  I looked down at my feet mostly because I was too exhausted to lift my head any further.  Every step that drew me closer to the finish also inspired a steady wave of nausea like the small ripples washing onto the shore of a lake.  I took the deepest breath that I could and tried to hang on.  A few other competitors came by me in the last stretch leading up to the finish.  Finally, I rounded the corner and up ahead the finish line came into view.  Directly in front of me was the optional "slip n slide," but I deferred, knowing that hurting as badly as I was, I might not be able to make it up and off the slide before the next competitor came barreling down behind me.  I wandered back behind the slip and slide and grabbed a couple of bottles of water.  There was a concrete post that reached just to my shoulders.  I leaned forward and rested my arms and head for a minute, before a kind volunteer offered to get me some recovery beverage.  As nasty as the orange concoction tasted, I stuck with it, knowing how badly I needed the calories.  With that my 2014 triathlon season came to a close . . .

Several hours before that I awoke at my brother's house.  I'd had a solid night's sleep and I awoke not feeling overly tired.  That said, I was fairly anxious as I realized that I had a long day of racing ahead.  I didn't doubt my ability to complete the race, but I wasn't sure how I would perform with the limited amount of training I'd gotten to do in the previous month.  After a quick breakfast we hit the road and reached the race venue in a short twenty minutes.  Our early arrival meant that we were rewarded with a close-in parking space right next to the transition area.  It took us little time to get set-up, body-marked and to take the obligatory trip to the port-o-potty.  A short while later we were down at the water's edge listening to the pre-race announcements.

The Swim:
I'd heard that the water in the Aurora reservoir was a tad cooler, but also very clear, and this was certainly the truth.   As our wave got underway, it was amazing to actually be able to see within my immediate vicinity while staring down into the lake.  This was the first OWS I'd done since the Boulder Sunrise Triathlon back in June.  It was an out and back course that was approximately 1.2 miles long (perhaps a bit shorter than that).  Starting out I had my usual ordeal with being in the washing machine caused by the dozens of other swimmers all around.  I'd tried to move off to the right side, but I still found a number of people coming up from behind me and so I tried not to get kicked or punched.  While I managed to avoid any knock out blows,  I did find the right side of my goggles had a small leak, and so every couple of minutes I was forced to roll onto my back and drain my goggle.  In spite of this, my swim went surprisingly well.  I really tried to focus on both my breathing and my stroke technique, and the more I concentrated, the easier the swimming felt.  As I reached the final turnaround buoy and glanced at my watch, I was pleased to see that I was heading back after an outbound swim of 16:55.  At that pace, I would be right around 34 minutes total, which was well below what I'd anticipated.  I pressed on and did some of my best swimming in the last two to three hundred yards.  When I reached the shore I was a tad slower at 36:55, but this was still on the pointy end of what I'd hoped to do.  Even better, I did not feel tired and I still had plenty left for the rest of the day.  Swim Result (Based on prediction chart): Between Epic and Great.

Transition One:
Sometimes it's easy to take the transition time for granted in this long of a race. Given that the race lasts several hours, there isn't the same level of pressure that can be found in a sprint or olympic distance event when it's essential to be in and out in less than a minute.  Still I wanted to make my transitions a bit quicker and not waste unnecessary time.  I had no trouble getting either my arms or my legs out of the wet suit, even with my watch and timing chip.  I quickly dried my feet and got my shoes on.  The helmet and glasses presented no problems and I was out on the bike course.  Total time for T1 was a quick 2:37.  T1 result: Between Great and Good.

The Bike:
The wind was out and it favored us on the outbound leg.  In fact most of the first 30 miles were somewhere between 21-24 mph with little or no effort.  I even clocked one of the miles in under two minutes.  I coasted most of the downhill sections in order to save some energy for later.  I figured that as long as my average speed was somewhere around 20 mph, I was on target for a great ride.  Halfway through I was at 1:18, which would mean a 2:36 ride if I kept the same pace.  I knew that I wouldn't and right around 30 miles the course turned back towards the start and I found myself confronting a steady headwind, as well as a fair amount of climbing.  I did my best to increase cadence on the hills and spin up them with as little effort as possible.  That being the case, I saw my pace dip to below 13 mph on several occasions.  I continued to ride conservatively, but even as I climbed the last bit back to transition, I sensed that my legs were a bit more fatigued than I'd hoped.  My time for the bike leg was 2 hours, 56 minutes, and 14 seconds.  This was a bit slower than I would have hoped, but given the wind and hills was a decent result, putting me somewhere between a "good" and "great" performance.

Transition Two:
Back in transition, I experienced some minor confusion as I returned my bike only to find another bike in my spot.  Another competitor had placed it there without realizing that he was one space off.  At the time, I found this fairly irritating though in retrospect it wasn't such a big deal.  Funny how races can make us hyper-sensitive to things.  At any rate, I racked my bike and carefully got into my running shoes.  As with T1, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in transition.  I was able to stay focused and managed to make it out in 2:58.  Closer to Good in terms of results.

The Run:
Starting out on the first mile, I felt a bit winded and tired from the bike and I sensed that it would be tough to string together a really solid run.  I decided to really look at it as a mile to mile situation.  I pushed forward and to my surprise I hit the first mile in just over 8 minutes.  That was too damn fast I thought to myself.  I stopped and walked through the first aid station so that I could get plenty of water and ice.  The sun was beating down fairly well at this point, and I wanted to be sure that I stayed cool.  The next two miles were a bit slower and I probably spent a little too long at the mile 3 aid station.  I made a mental note to try and walk through the aid stations rather than stopping completely.  Just past mile four I found a bathroom and decided that a quick break was in order.  I also discovered that my right calf muscle had begun to cramp up a bit.  I stopped a couple of times to stretch it out.  I still had 9 long miles ahead of me and I contemplated that I might be walking a fair amount if my calf got any worse.  Instead what I discovered is that the pain was diminished if I kept moving.  I decided to keep running and as I did, the cramping was less bothersome.  I kept getting closer to the turnaround and saw my brother a few minutes ahead of me.  There was a small miracle when I reached the turnaround.  The sun disappeared behind some clouds where it would remain the rest of the afternoon, and I suddenly felt rejuvenated.   As I worked my way back to mile seven, I picked up the pace quite a bit.  Unfortunately, it was a bit too much, and my calf seized up on me again.  I stopped and stretched it out as best I could, but it would remain a dull ache for the next six miles.  Still, I pressed on.  Without the sun, it was much cooler and I even managed to skip a couple of the aid stations.  In retrospect, I probably should have hit one or two more, as I think the last couple of miles were really a "bonk" for me.  I managed to catch up to my brother once at mile 9 and then again at mile 10.  It goes without saying that we were both feeling the effects of a long day of racing.  My time for the run was 2:08:41. This was a "less" than average performance, but I can honestly say that I gave it everything I had, which is the true measure of success.

My overall time for the race was 5:47:27.  This put me in 112th place overall out of 363 competitors.  That's within the top third overall.  In my age group I was 19th out of 45 competitors, or somewhere around  the top 43%.  I've had better finishes in other races, but I still was pleased to be in the top half overall.  When I look at my overall time that gives me a result that is pretty close to a "good" performance, and I'd say that feels about right.  With a bit more training, I think I could have cut the bike time down by a few minutes, and with better bike fitness, that will translate into a stronger run.  I can't say when my next half distance race will be, but I know the next time, I will be in better condition than I was this go around.

Speaking of next races, I know that the next big challenge for me is Ironman Boulder.  This race was a not so subtle reminder of how difficult that race is going to be.  Had IM Boulder been yesterday, I would have been nowhere close to finishing.  Mercifully, it was not.  I will take a bit of a break now, and then sit down to plot out a strategy for tackling that next great challenge.