Month: August 2014

Main-Post Mainfrankentriathlon 2014

Background

I am gonna call this the Spudman of Germany, or maybe the Kartoffelmann? Like the Spudman it is a downriver swim, an Olympic, and takes place in August to share a few similarities with the Burley Idaho triathlon. I chose this race at the beginning of the year because it was an Olympic, on Saturday, in August, and relatively close to our home (within 2 hours). I had previously chosen this race as my A race because I figured it to be similar to the Spudman and wanted to use it as a comparison of my fitness to previous years. As such, much of my training has been planned around this race. I will avoid saying something geeky like “I just trained right through it”, but due to the 70.3 in August, this race had been knocked down a notch in focus. My goals were two fold and can be broken down to pacing:

B Goal: 2:45:00  

Swim: 1:45 min/100m = 28 min

T1: 3 min

Bike: 30km/hr = 1:20:00

T2: 2 min

Run: 5:20 min/km = 53 min

A Goal: 2:30:00

Swim: 1:30 min/100m = 24 min

T1: 2 min

Bike: 33km/hr = 1:12:00

T2: 2 min

Run: 5:00 min/km = 50 min

Going into the race according to my splits and workout times, my A Goal was quite possible, but I would need a little help from the river current. I would also need the conditions to be pretty good on the bike. I tried to look up beforehand how fast the current was in that particular part of the river, but I was unsuccessful. As is always the case, my B Goal is set up as better than a DNF, but only marginally, and can be mostly considered just better than a Zone 2 pace. By this time in my progression as a Hobbyist Triathlete, I should be able to clock a 5:00 min/km 10km run split, but so much is dependent on what occurs during the swim and bike.

Arrival and Pre-Race

One thing that I haven’t changed accordingly with my reading race descriptions and rules in a foreign language is the skimming I do. In the states when I read the announcements from the race director I usually skim a bit while paying attention to race specific details. I do this cause it is often the same information from race to race (I usually know more of the rules than others too). However, I shouldn’t do this in another language. Small details in a foreign language can change a lot of the meaning of the sentence. The information on the webpage stated that there was a mandatory pre-race meeting at 12:00. Normally the packet pickup goes until that time or 15 minutes before. Not this race. Clearly stated on the webpage (I checked afterwards) was that the packet pickup ended at 11:00 and that the athletes were to be in the transition area waiting for an hour before the pre-race meeting. That makes no sense whatsoever, but it was in writing, and therefore law. Because of traffic our 2 hour drive became a 3 hour drive, and I was running to get the packet and get in the transition area at 11:45.

Hurrying to packet pickup before transition area closes.

Hurrying to packet pickup before transition area closes.

Luckily I met with some nice people at the packet pickup that allowed it, but the race director met me at the transition entrance like a mad mother hen guarding her eggs. I had no idea who he was at the time, but he was clearly mad at me for disrespecting his rule. The thought going through my head at the time was, “should I play the foreigner card”. I ultimately didn’t and let him berate me as long as he was willing and he “graciously” allowed me to participate in the race. However, he assured that when he got the mike in his hands for the pre-race meeting that he once again told the whole group how little respect he had for people that came so late. OK, I got it. I was late.

Swim

After the lengthiest pre-race briefing I have ever been a part of, the Olympic distance triathletes jumped on 5 different buses to be shuttled to the swim start. Being as the swim was downriver, this meant upriver 1.68 kilometers the buses would go. I liked this setup more than the Spudman due to only requiring the logistics of one Transition zone instead of two as the Spudman does. I stated before that wetsuits in Germany are not allowed in races if the water temperature is above 22 degrees Celcius. The water temperature was 24 degrees according to the online reading, so I didn’t include my wetsuit. More proof of my low desire to bust my brain trying to understand every sentence of the race rules was that everyone else was wearing a wetsuit. Oh well… After another 15 minutes of standing around and wading slowly out into the river, it was time for the countdown. Then an alarm of sorts sounded and 400 people started swimming in a narrow river downstream at the same time. I wanted to go out slow and let the pack get ahead. Most people do differently, but I’m a slow swimmer, so I might just wait anyways. I also stopped after about 50 meters and assured I had pressed the start button hard enough on my watch while treading water. I hadn’t! It was after a little while that I noticed that the current wasn’t as fast as what I was expecting. I also noticed that I was swimming rather slowly in comparison to people in wetsuits. This is to be expected. I have seen statistically significant data showing the advantage of a wetsuit of anywhere between 5 and 10 seconds faster per 100 meters. So over 1700 meters that would be a time savings of approximately 1.5 to 3 minutes. After crossing under the second bridge, I finally noticed a good pull with the current.

Not much faster, but at least faster than swimming in a normal lake. The swim, other than the slowness of it, was rather pleasant and I wasn’t really that tired as I climbed out of the river at transition. I probably should have pushed a little harder, but I don’t think I could have bettered my time by much. My average was a 1:40 min/100 meters which is only a betterment of my normal speed by 20 seconds. By my rough calculations I figured the river to only be flowing at approximately 1.8 KMH (1.1 MPH).   This is much slower than I had hoped for. Thus on exiting and pushing the lap button I saw the time of 26 minutes.

Swim Course, but I started watch a little late

Swim Course, but I started watch a little late

Swim Data

Swim Data

T1

Having seen the time as 2 minutes higher than my A Goal, I figured I had to make those up on the bike because I knew I wouldn’t do it on the run. However, that still being the case I took my time in T1 cause I wanted to assure calmness. I ate a banana; I sat down and pulled on my socks. I turned on my computer and got a big drink out of my bottle. Then I trotted to the bike mount zone.

Bike

I started to pick my cadence up to the zones I wanted to hit early on in the race, but noticed that my HR was already higher than I wanted. I felt good though and felt really comfortable at the pace, so I kept at it. Slowly my HR settled down too. Made sense. After leaving Kitzingen, the wind started being felt. Like most people I have problem with wind. Much like hills, you never get back what the wind takes out of you. The HR started to pick up again and I started shifting down assuring I was as low as I could get. At one point, the wind was so strong that it had me on the small chain ring on a flat. Then getting to Frickenhausen and going through the cobblestone city center I thought, OK, where are the hills? The answer came at km 15.

Not too bad, not too steep, but 6 kilometers long. As said before, I am OK with climbing, but long climbs eventually eat up my strength.  Utilizing the same data page I had set up for the Pressather Sprint, I noticed my average speed drop all the way to 25 KMH. That meant that the downhill would require me to get as much back as possible. The problem with the first immediate downhill was that it was directly into the wind. After the quick drop into the valley an abrupt turn had us climb back out of the river valley again. This time the grade was double digits. Oddly enough my bike chain jumped into the spokes and got stuck when I shifted to the top of the cog. Guess I need to make some adjustments; silly pre-race oversight. I wasted roughly 2 minutes getting the chain out of the spokes and getting back to speed. Then I continued the climb until I saw where the race director had painted a smiley face on the road. Supposedly that meant the climbing was over. It was all downhill from there (12 km remaining). I even got the full advantage of the wind on 2 straightaways. I really enjoy these parts of each race.  My km splits were under 1:30 and I slowly got the average back up to 29KMH. Then just before coming back into Kitzingen it jumped to 30.2, and I figured, “OK, B Goal is now the only Goal”.

Bike course; more hills than expected, and much more wind.  It did go through Frickenhausen though, so that was fun.

Bike course; more hills than expected, and much more wind. It did go through Frickenhausen though, so that was fun.

Bike Data.

Bike Data.

HR while on Bike.

HR while on Bike.

T2

Quite deflating was that when I came into transition I saw the leading female competitor starting her second lap of the run course. Run your own race right? I was in and out of this transition rather quickly and the most of the time was spent getting to and from my transition spot. I did grab another banana though.

Run

Run Course… 2 Laps.

Run Course… 2 Laps.

At the beginning of the run I held myself back on purpose. With the first km buzzing in at 5:06, I was a little scared I was going too fast. So I slowed it down. With hindsight, I did so too much. Were I to run this course again I would do it differently. I would use the hills to get up to the top of the bridges as my slow splits and the flats as my tempo pace. I know that might not translate to a negative split, but It would suit the purpose of this course just fine.   I also stopped at every aid station and got water or a banana and some electrolyte drink. The most frustrating thing for me was that with my run heavy training, I wasn’t able to put in one sub 5:00 km. I think I could have early, but I decided against it due to the consistently present fear of cramping.

During the second lap I remembered some advice a friend of mine gave me a while back regarding the run portion of triathlons. Hi told me that the run portion will always just be a tad slow, but regardless of the distance, you should treat the last 3rd as if it was a race within itself. In fact he always chose someone with which to race. After the 7km buzz came through, I noticed two older gentlemen slowly cruising passed me. I picked up the pace and kept with them til the final 400 meters. This enabled some negative splits for me, but still not below 5:00. Oh well, all in perspective right, and I figure the wind took more out of me than I was expecting.

 

Smile for the family and not the results.

Smile for the family and not the results.

Who is holding my son?

Who is holding my son?

Run Splits.

Run Splits.

Run Data.

Run Data.

Results

While the official time chip results are still not up, my watch results put me at just over 2:46:00 missing both my A Goal and my B Goal. Thus, my HR should have been within Zone 2 right? Nope. I account the wind as the biggest reason for my slower time and higher HR, but all is good for experience right? I also hear that my next triathlon has much more wind and much more climbing, so this experience should be helpful for that one.

Thoughts

Triathlons here in Germany have distinctive features that some of the ones in America I have participated in don’t: more of a hilly profile, and slightly faster participants as a whole. I can’t as of yet back this up with numbers, but I have never gotten to the post-race goodie table with one of the items completely gone (watermelon). It will be something to compare more in detail as I get more of a data sample. Nothing new came to me with this triathlon as far as something to do different, but it further solidified my desire to eventually save up the money for a power meter.

With that, thanks for reading.

Support is always welcome and much appreciated.

 

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Red Hills Triathlon 2012

Coming off of the Spudman I was feeling really pretty fit at this point in the year and hoping to luck into an AG or overall podium in this small home town race.  I know pretty much all of the contestants that come each year, and because the advertisement for this race only perpetuates by word of mouth, it remains a small race.  There are usually anywhere from 40 to 80 participants.  However, regardless of the small participant list, this remains one of my favorite races, and I participate every year that I am able. 

In years past, it has been attempted as a reverse triathlon due to unwanted expense that comes with timing chip usage.  Price increase is something that both contestants and the city don’t want.  This year the normal order of swim, bike, then run was done with different waves to facilitate the pool swim.  This works well in my opinion, and most of the “contenders” get in the first wave anyways just to make it a race.  MSRH does this race with his wife (my sister) every year, and it becomes a friendly battle between the two of us.  He is a much faster swimmer, and most days he is faster on the bike, but I am a faster runner, so it always comes down to if and where I might pass him.  If I have a good bike, then I have the edge, but if he has a better day on the bike, It becomes a close race for the two of us. 

This year I was racing a new triathlon specific bike.  I was putting in some good splits beforehand too.  I also knew that since the course was a very flat and fast 20km, I could push it as fast as possible given my fitness.  My swim pace at this point was also as fast as it has ever been, so I was feeling good.  One small item of motivation was that before the race one of my friends whom I had bettered during the Spudman a few weekends earlier (by close to 10 minutes) said that his goal was to better me.  “Good luck with that one buddy” was what I thought, but what I said was, “That’s a good goal, you never know”.  My goal at that point was to take minutes out of him.  I also had never broken the 1:10:00 mark and wanted to see if that was possible.  My training brick splits said it was, but race day is sometimes unpredictable.

SWIM

Body marking and pre-race banter is always fun at this race, but soon enough it was time to get in the pool.  Three people per lane is what it came down to, and each lane had two official counters assuring you touched the wall.  For a 25 meter pool, 17 lengths equates 425 meters, and the most difficult thing for me in sprint triathlons in pools is always counting the predetermined lengths.  Today’s goal, count to 17 and then get out of the water.  I jumped in the same lane as MSRH because I knew he would be the first out of the water.  I was going to try to draft off of him for as long as I could.  I think that lasted about 2 lengths until he started to steadily pull away.  By the end of the swim he almost had 2 lengths on me.  I got out of the water just under 7 and half minutes.  Pretty good for me. IMG_3241

T1

This transition is always the most difficult for me.  Wet feet and dry socks never go as quickly as I plan.  I also had a difficult time with my cycling shoes during for some reason.  The transition area for this triathlon is on the patio of the pool, and is the smallest, fastest transition area I have yet to race.  Placement of your bike doesn’t even really matter cause it all works out so quickly. 

BIKE

After fiddling with my shoes for way too long, I hopped on my bike at the mount line and tried to get my cadence up as quickly as possible.  The race start was at 8:00 a.m., so there was still some cool air present amidst all the sprinkler watered lawns of this small town.  It was rather welcome.  The course goes quickly through the town and spits the riders out on an intertown highway.  This road goes past the fairgrounds and local radio station as well as one of the two in town veterinarians.  As MSRH was riding his road bike and I was on my Tri-Bike, I figured I would pass him on the ride.  I caught up to him right near the radio station and passed him rather quickly.  This put me in the virtual lead on the course for about 4 seconds.  At approximately the same speed difference of my passing MSRH, another rival of ours passed me on his fully aero setup.  I kicked up my pace for around 30 seconds to see if I could keep the gap at a minimum, but it was spiking my HR so I let my pace fall.  There was no way I was going to keep a 25MPH pace for the 13 miles (he didn’t either).  The course is an out and back, and as soon as you get to the neighboring town, you make a sharp U-Turn and head back.  This gives you a good idea of where you are with respect to others.  MSRH though on a road bike, was not too far behind, so I did what I could to put the hammer down.  There was no way I was going to catch the leader, but I could do what I could to keep others from passing me.  Yes, on a sprint, you can make silly game plans like that if you know the course and aren’t worried too much about cramping. 

T2

However, just before the last turn to get back to the swimming pool, I was passed by someone who I didn’t know.  Grrr!  As I rolled into T2 my Dad gave me a report that he was only 30 seconds ahead, and I could get him easily.  This is much like my father, and one of the reasons I am so competitive.  It is in my genetics.  I knew however, that I wasn’t catching anyone on the run.  Shoes off shoes on was very quickly done, and I exited T2 pretty optimistic.

IMG_3231

Run

The run course is a double OAB course in the shape of a T which also gives you an idea of how far ahead you are of your followers, or how far ahead of you the leaders are.  At the first turn around, I was only approximately 15 seconds down on the 2nd place man.  This was roughly 1km into the 5km course, but right then is when the wheels started to come off.  Previously, this happened to me almost every run portion triathlons around 1km in.  It usually takes my legs that long to get into the rhythm of running after riding.  I get a little too excited off the bike sometimes and my cadence stays higher than it should.  This 1km mark is where my heart finally catches up to my legs.  When that happens if I haven’t kept myself in check, I either get cramping or sluggish and have to slow down.  I have made adjustments recently in my running off the bike, but this user error possibility always looms.  Also of note is that this pain onset is much more accentuated when I haven’t gotten enough sleep.  For this race, I didn’t get cramping, but extremely sluggish and a pace drop of approximately a minute on the mile.  It now became a race of holding on to what I could.  As soon as I made this realization is when I was passed by the 3rd person.  Expletive!!!  With only 2km left, I did what I could to ramp up to his pace, but it was impossible. 

At the second and final turn around I started counting and doing math.  The time between myself and the next chasing racer was 90 seconds.  In order for him to catch me at my pace (appx. 8:30/mile), he would have to run a 7:00 min final mile.  Not happening!  The reason why I sometimes do math in my head is to block out the screaming lazy man!  Like a banshee he was at this point.  It also gives me a boost when I solve the most miniscule of math problems.  My pace almost always picks up afterwards too.  As I made the final turn to the finish line, I saw the running clock and noticed it was still within the 1 hr and 8th minute.  I picked it up as fast as I could and crossed the line right on the minute change.  My no kidding official time was 1:09:00.  A PR for me on that course by 2.5 minutes.  Sweet!

Wind Down

As I walked over to my Dad he held up 4 fingers with a large smile which meant I was currently sitting in 4th overall.  For AG, I had no idea, and would have to wait for the awards ceremony for that.  Around that time my little nephew (son of MSRH) was just finishing the kid’s triathlon bike course.  He was near tears, so I decided to run with him and help him out.  The kids only had to complete the first OAB of the T equating to roughly 2km (swim and bike were shorter legs as well), and he was running at a relatively slow pace, so it became a good cool down for me.  More importantly, he seemed to find his groove with me along side and ended up passing a few kids.  This was fun for me.  I was proud of him too. 

IMG_3237

At the awards ceremony I found that I had taken 3 minutes out of MSRH and nearly 5 minutes out of the guy who had challenged me at the beginning.  I also ended up lucking into 2nd place in AG and 5th overall as one other guy from another wave had been faster.  All in all, it was a successful day for me and showed me how much difference a triathlon bike could have on overall time.  Things to improve on would be the pace check during the first km on the run, and assuring to always have a math problem handy while racing.  Just in case.  As said previously this is one of my favorite races during the year and 2012 didn’t disappoint.  Like always thanks for stopping by.  Next up, my first German side Olympic Triathlon in Kitzingen. IMG_3244