Monday, May 28, 2012

Capital of Texas Triathlon Race Report

Well, I'm a bit disappointed by my results in today's Capital of Texas Triathlon (CapTex). While I did beat my time from last year, I didn't beat my time from the other Olympic-distance triathlon I did, the Austin Triathlon. In fact, I'm probably most disappointed that my swim time was only 10 seconds faster than Austin Tri. While my run today was far from representative of what I'm capable of, I really wanted to have tangible evidence of the work I've done in the pool for the last eight months beyond short-distance split times.

Not that I'm a superstitious person, but getting a flat on a 30-mile ride on Saturday might have been a bad omen. My tire was low this morning, but fortunately it held through the race, and I didn't have any mechanical issues with the bike. Also, it's always a bad idea to do anything new in a race, but I bought a new aero helmet yesterday (because it was on sale and it was pretty), and didn't do any testing with it before deciding to wear it in the race today. Other than sitting a little bit low, such that it was in my vision, but not blocking it, it worked just fine.
Yesterday morning I did a short swim/bike/run workout/warmup. It went pretty well, other than that being the first time I've worn this particular pair of shoes without socks. Even though I ran less than 2 miles, a blister started forming on the arch of my left foot (which still shows signs of the nasty blister I got at RoT Tri). Unfortunately, the sports tape I put on it to try to minimize further blistering fell off on the swim, so I took some extra time in T2 to put some body glide on my arches (I didn't have any socks with me). The blister wasn't that painful, but it was uncomfortable.

It was almost two hours from the time the pros started to the time my wave started. Of course it was about an hour and a half from the time I got there to the time the pros started, so I had plenty of time to kill. It was kind of nice to be able to see a little bit of the race, but it was only the swim course and transition, so it was hard to tell what was really going on with the race. It was kind of neat to see the paratriathletes. It's kind of inspiring to see what they deal with, and they're still out there racing.

I swam most of the course freestyle, with a bit of a breast stroke recovery in the middle. I managed to go fairly straight, as I have improved sighting while swimming freestyle. Also, I was following the small white buoys marking the "median" where some of the power boats were. While that helped me stay straight, I kept finding myself on the wrong side of them, and then when I tried to get back out of the "median," I either tangled with the little buoys or another swimmer. Probably my biggest problem with the swim was pacing. I think I started out too fast, and in addition to using too much energy, I wound up drinking a bunch of the lake water (which could have doomed my run). The "traffic" in the water was kind of weird: it was pretty clear for the first hundred meters, then guys were trying to swim over me, and then another 100 meters down there was a big holdup. Once the field was pretty stratified after the first turn, it was easier until the subsequent wave's fast swimmers started to overtake me. While it seemed like the first turn came quickly, it felt like ages before I got to the second turn. I even had a moment of doubt, wondering what I was even doing. Finally that last turn buoy started getting closer. A co-worker was volunteering, helping pull people out of the water at the exit, so it was nice to see him and get a little encouragement. It was also such a relief just to take my goggles off. While I have worn them before in training, somehow today they were too tight. It didn't feel like a problem at the start, but halfway through I could feel the squeeze. I was worried that it would give me a headache for the rest of the race, but fortunately it subsided once I had the goggles off.

The traffic on the bike wasn't quite as bad as I thought it might be. Other than a few choke points and maybe the first mile of my first lap, I didn't have trouble passing people and maintaining the speed I wanted to go. I didn't really strategize it beforehand,
but what I wound up doing for the four laps was to find my legs on the first lap, pretty steady the second and third, and then nail it on the last lap until the last ~half mile to prepare for the run. I wound up being 8 seconds slower than at Austin Tri, which is actually not bad, considering the CapTex course has more turns.

The run started out pretty fast, but too fast as it turns out. The first half mile was at an 8-minute pace, and then I started getting a cramp on my right side, just below my rib cage. I toughed it out for a full mile, which ended in 8:34, but it was pretty much unrecoverable from there. I walked/jogged most of the rest of the course. By the time the rib pain started to subside, my legs were fatigued and didn't want to resume running. Near the end, I was able to slowly build back up to a decent pace over the last 3/4 of a mile for a relatively strong finish. While I wasn't expecting to match my 10k PR, I was hoping for something closer to the 6-mile run I did Thursday morning.

My splits/pace/rank wound up being 35:13/2:40/1:10:01/2:29/1:01:06; 2:21/100m /21.3 mph/ 9:51/mile; 547/132/579 splits, 417/767 men, 52/98 age group.

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