Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lake Pflugerville Triathlon

Today I raced the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon, the third event in the Texas Tri Series (the first being the Republic of Texas Tri, which I raced; and the second being the Rookie Tri, which I volunteered for). Since I signed up to do the series, I was planning on at least being at this race, so I decided "what the heck?" and raced. I'm glad I did, because it turned out to be great weather, and I had a great race. Not that it really means anything, but this was my quickest sprint triathlon to date, with a total time of 1:13:33. It was quite a fast field, and my time was good enough for 11th in my age group, and 58th overall (out of 64 and 660, respectively).

This past week, I had some fun with my bike. I don't normally ride outside during the week, but Tuesday was the time trial, and I got a new toy/training tool on Wednesday. It was really windy Tuesday evening as a front was moving in, so it was rough out there, and I was way off of my PR set at last month's event of 19:14. It was pretty fun for the first few miles of tailwind, going 35 mph with minimal effort. On Wednesday evening, I got a new crank with a power meter installed on my bike. I didn't get a chance to test it out until Friday evening at the veloway. It was a lot of fun to play with, and it should be a powerful tool to aid in my training in the future. Even though it's not conducive to endurance, I would like to get a peak power number close to one horsepower (my max so far is 613 Watts) eventually.

As usual, I did not sleep well last night. I woke up at o-dark-thirty and drove 30 miles out to a little reservoir. It wound up being a good thing I got there so early, the racks wound up being quite full before the race started. I hadn't known when I signed up, but it turned out there were several people I knew also doing the race. A few people from the gym, a co-worker, and a guy I know from other races. There was plenty of time to kill to get to chat with them a bit. I went over to the start around 7. I didn't bother with a warmup swim, but I had gotten in a warmup jog earlier along the run course. The first wave was off at 7:30, and six minutes later my wave, the third, got its horn blow.

It wasn't too bad in the early going. There were a lot of thrashing bodies, of course, but it didn't seem like I was colliding with people quite as much as sometimes happens. I even was on somebody's feet for the first 70-100 meters, which I don't think has ever happened. Once we got to the first buoy, though, people seemed to stall, and I was more on my own from there. That was also due to the fact that I was going pretty wide around the course. The course was kind of V-shaped, and once I rounded the point, the sun was right in my eyes when I was trying to sight the next buoy. It took me a while to actually find it, and initially I was going more off of the heads I could see in front of me. In the last hundred meters (of the 500 total) a guy from the subsequent wave body checked me, which threw me off for a few seconds. I came out with a time of 11:24, not quite as good as I was hoping, but not terrible.

The bike leg went pretty well, actually slightly quicker than I had anticipated, despite having a mechanical issue. In the first few miles, I was sliding forward in my saddle. I figured it was just because my shorts were wet, and it wasn't a big deal. It was about 4 miles in that I realized the problem was that my saddle was pointed to the ground instead of being level. Not only did this push me forward, trying to slide me off the front, but it really messed up my stroke. I wasn't getting the best use of my legs when I was forward on the seat, with my butt being closer to the ground. The whole ride I was pushing my butt back in the seat, and also pushing against my handlebars to try and stay there. I had half a thought to stop and fix it, but I figured as long as the seat was staying on the bike, I would tough it out. I didn't use my new power meter that much per se, I was planning on using it more as a recording device, but I did several times think "come on, I can do better than that." I don't think it really changed my biking much over what I would have done without it, but it's some data for next time.
The road surface wasn't great, it was full of cracks, but it could have been worse. I had very little problem getting through slower bikes. Even though there were effectively two bike lanes on a lot of the roads (as opposed to being able to use the whole car lane), people didn't block me. There was really only one time I got close to the center line to pass somebody who was passing someone else. I think only four bikes passed me the whole course. The 14 miles in 36:56 gave me, I believe (haven't checked thoroughly), my best triathlon bike speed to date of 22.7 mph.

I didn't push myself too hard on the run. I probably could have gone faster, but I didn't feel it was necessary. Other than my full mile times, I wasn't even checking my pace. I was kind of pleasantly surprised when the first mile came up as 7:49, then slightly disappointed that mile 2 was 8:03. I started picking up the pace from there, though, since I was fairly confident my body would hold together for the last mile. With about a half mile to go, my pace was ~7:30. With about a quarter mile to go, my pace was up to ~7:00. The last ~100 meters got up closer to 6:20 for a good sprint to the line. My run time was 22:34 for 3 miles (actually 2.89 by my watch), which was better than I thought it might be.

After crossing the finish line, they were handing out ice pops, which is my new favorite post-race treat. Every race on a 95-degree day should have ice pops at the end. When they finally opened up transition, I was ready to go. Unfortunately, so were a lot of other people, and it took a while to get out of the parking lot. I really shouldn't have, but I stopped for a soda and chocolate chip cookies before I got on the interstate headed for home.

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