Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This race was not originally on my training schedule, however looking at the race distances and where it was being held, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some real race experience and put in to practice things I learned from my first triathlon. Specifically I wanted to improve on my transition times and gain more experience swimming. This was a smaller well organized event. If you must have accurate timing with transition splits, this is not the race for you. All timing is done manually by volunteers. No timing chips are used. Transition one time is rolled in to your swim time and transition two is rolled in to your bike time. The run stands alone.
This race is not a traditional Olympic distance and that is why I decided to do it. The swim is 1K in the Colorado River, a 55K bike course that takes you over the Parker Dam crossing the river twice and an 8K run mostly along the Arizona shore of the river. On paper I figured this distance versus a true Olympic distance (1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run) suited my skills coming from a background of bike racing.
THE SWIM – Swimming in a river is a little different than the lake swim I did at the OC Tri. In a river you have current to contend with. Fortunately the majority of the swim would be down current, however you need to have a plan going in to the water when swimming cross current. At the start I was looking at the buoy and noticing people were lining up on the shore in a way that would take them directly to the buoy. I’ve only done one other Tri but this did not make sense to me so I started to walk up river so the current would carry me to the buoy as I swam across. I noticed others started following me but not everyone. The water temp. was 71 degrees so wetsuits were allowed. The horn sounded and I settled in to my slow but deliberate pace. I made it past the first buoy and started down river with the current without any problems alternating between free style and back stroke. The problem I had was swimming now back to the east shore. The sun was rising and now shining right in to my eyes. I could not site the finish line. I also did not wear my tinted goggles thinking I wouldn’t need them. I ended up going of course because of the current and the sun and had to swim farther than I needed to up current. My goal time was 28 minutes. I finished the swim in 28:22
TRANSITION 1 – After forgetting my timing chip in the last race I new I could improve on my transition time this race. One thing I planned for was getting my compression socks on easier. This time I put them on the night before the race and rolled them down to my toes to make it easier to put them on with wet legs. After taking off my wetsuit I just put my toes in and rolled them up my legs. In this transition I try not to rush and just focus on what I need to do step by step. Things like removing your ear plugs can be overlooked if you’re in a hurry. Transition one time was a respectable 5:46.
THE BIKE – This course I felt was perfect for me. Flat and rolling terrain with some steep but short hills. I know I’m still using too much of my legs in the swim because again my legs felt heavy for the first 6-10 miles. After that I settled in to my groove. I passed a lot of strong swimmers which always makes me feel good and four guys in my age group. The last eight miles I battled back and forth with a woman who was very strong at one point riding side by side (no drafting in tri’s) for a mile. We encouraged each other and I finally dropped her just before the finish. Bike time: 1:44:18. 19.7 MPH Avg.
TRANSITION 2 – Going from the bike to the run is pretty straight forward. I wanted to take my shoes off before the transition leaving my bike shoes in the in the pedals and soft pedaling with my feet on top of the shoes to save some time but got caught up in the moment of racing my bike downhill in to the transition area. Transition 2 time: 2:21
THE RUN – I actually look forward to the run after the bike. I’m not a great runner…far from it, but I’m learning to appreciate running and the simplicity of it. I’ve also been running well in training despite my two a week run program. I also find motivation in knowing this is the last task to accomplish and I can do this. I put my running shoes and hat on and jogged thru the transition area. I was not prepared for what I saw as I left transition…we had to run up a hill on a dirt road for what looked like over a mile. I was planning on a flat run course along the river. What I got was two miles of up hill to start the run followed by a downhill and two and a half miles of flat course. My legs felt like lead going uphill after the bike. Did I mention I did no brick (bike/run) workouts before this event? This was the first time in training or racing that I was almost overcome with the desire to walk. The race organizers said there is water every 1.5 miles. I kept telling my self run to the water station and walk while taking on water. I made it to the aid station which also was the point where the course flattened out. This was without a doubt the hardest run I’ve ever done. Not so much because of the course, I think it was because I gave so much on the bike and did not do a brick workout since my last race six weeks ago. One thing I’ve learned with two races under my belt know, is that on the run your legs start coming back after three to four miles. I’m not sure if this is experienced by everyone but what seems to happen for me is my legs start adjusting the muscles from cycling to running and it seems perceptibly easier. I even start running a faster pace. Three competitors who passed me early in the run I eventually passed within the last two miles. Run time: 47:39, 9:31 mile pace.
TOTAL TIME 3:08:26

Swim: 7:22
Bike: 926.9 Miles
Run: 93.2 Miles

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