My first race report
Today I completed my first sprint race. It went fairly well, but there were some definite hiccups as well. Here’s a play-by-play:
Pre-race was pretty uneventful. I took the bike out for a loop on the bike course. Oddly enough, this was the first time I had been on my Zipps, so it was kind of fun. I realized very quickly that it was going to be a very cold bike segment. My shoes have quite a few vents in them and my feet were freezing (more on this later). After re-racking my bike and jogging for a bit, I tossed on my wetsuit and walked over to the beach. I decided to warm up on the swim and headed in. I think my feet must have already been numb because I remember thinking “hey, it’s not that bad.” I was wrong. It was freezing. Now maybe I’m just a bit spoiled by San Diego water temps, but I was not ready for that. Absolutely freezing.
The worst start ever
Granted, this was my first triathlon, but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb saying that this was easily the most disorganized race start ever. All of the athletes were gathered on the beach to explain a few things about the race. Our “go” horn was a weak little sound that came out of the bull horn. OK. Fine. I don’t need a fog horn.
The meeting finishes and we all start walking to the point on the beach where we assumed we would start from, with several of the athletes in my age group jumping into the water to try to warm up. Next thing we know, we hear the weak ass horn sound. Most of us turned around assuming that it was just another test run…surely they hadn’t started us yet. Wrong! Next thing we know we hear people yelling “go!” WTF?!?!?! I mean, really! There was so much confusion that about a dozen athletes in the wave behind mine actually started with us.
Oh well, no time to get angry now, into the water. Lord all mighty was that water cold. I actually had difficulty breathing it was so cold and my chest felt very constricted. Aside from the difficulty breathing and the retarded start, the swim was relatively uneventful. Up the beach and then about 500 yards on concrete/asphault to the transition area (really, guys?) and I was ready to get started on the bike.
The Bike Leg
Since the swim had gone so poorly, I decided to just let it loose on the bike and have some fun. I was moving pretty well and passing people left and right on the first loop (I spent the second loop almost entirely in the left lane, but I was passing the waves that started after me so I don’t really count that). I felt good on the bike and like I was moving pretty well. I wasn’t as cold as I thought I’d be, but I couldn’t feel my feet at all.
I ended up with a bike time somewhere between the 31:00 and 31:30 range (I didn’t hit the button on my watch until after I had left T2 and was running) so I was hovering right around 23 miles an hour on average for the course. I am very happy with my performance on the bike. The speed might not sound spectacular, but the course had quite a few turns, including one 180 degree turnaround and a couple of other 90 degree turns that required you to slow down quite a bit. Regardless, for my first race, I’m happy with this time.
Going into the race I was a bit concerned about having little rocks on my feet when I put on my running shoes. Once I hit T2, I realized this wouldn’t be a problem because I couldn’t feel my feet. In fact, I didn’t regain full feeling in my feet until about two miles in. A side stitch crept up on my within the first half mile and I was not happy about that. I tried to ignore it and it must have worked because I felt pretty good by the turnaround.
The way back went pretty well. I was passed by a few people and wasn’t passing too many which is never a good sign. Oh well. I knew that running wasn’t my strong suit.
I was a little surprised though when I was creeping up on the finish line: my time actually wasn’t too horrible. I managed to pull off a 23:30 run split, or just over 7:30/mile. Not bad, not great, but I’ll take it.
I crossed the finish line with 1:11 and change showing on the clock. With my other times, this means that I spent about 15 minutes on the swim/transition run to T1/transition in T1. Overall, I’m happy with my race. Realistically I’d like to shave at least 11 minutes off of this time, but in a normal race I might not need to shave as much (considering the retarded start probably cost me 1-2 minutes on the swim and the cold water definitely slowed me down). I’d probably need to shave 6-7 minutes or so to break an hour in a normal race. I’d like to shave at least two minutes off of my run, another two off the swim, about 1-2 off the bike and then speed up my transitions.
Overall, I had a great time. For all the training I’ve done it was great to actually see it put to work in a race. I have another sprint in two weeks though that one is a bit shorter and in warmer water. After that, all I have left this season are my olympic races. I need to work on my run a bit, so this is going to be my focus over the next month or so. Should be fun…
Update: Final Race Results
Well the results have been posted and I came in 6/25 in my age group and 32/148 overall. My bike leg was the third fastest in my age group and 18th overall. As I suspected, my swim and my run killed me. I discussed earlier the various reasons for my horrible swim time, so I’m not too concerned about that. I’d definitely like to get my run a bit faster before my next race so that will be a point of emphasis for me over the next couple of weeks.
I have just under two weeks until my next sprint race (Imperial Beach) and just under one month until my first olympic race (L.A.). The competition at these two races will likely be much stiffer than at Santa Cruz, so I’d be thrilled to place anywhere even close to what I placed in this race but I’m not going to be disappointed if I don’t.