Sunday, January 30, 2011

losing the cherry - a race report

last year i was meant to complete my first olympic distance triathlon at point walter.  however this became a run-bike-run when hail and rain did not allow any swimming in the river.  sadly i have also learnt (thanks to garmin) that the final run was only about 9k and explains why my time was better than expected.    i had raced at the city of perth (langley park) venue before but for me a great deal has changed since then.  i was also a volunteer when the world long course championships were held here in 2009. 

at the beginning of the season i had tagged this event as my second 'A' race.  but when it came down to it i was the least prepared and had a terrible week leading into it.  i struggled with niggling soreness, i never felt fresh although i had backed off the training and my nutrition was terrible.  mainly due to an upset stomache i just couldnt shake.  stress does that to me and i think the problems with my job became a massive distraction.  so when they said a cyclone was on its way and would cross the coast on sunday i started to feel much better. 

these weather people cant predict jack shit.  it turned out to be a perfectly hot summers day and we were notified at 5.15 am that the race was all go.  i had got organised the night before but  just to top things off i had a terrible nights sleep which included being up at 2 am checking the forecast and then dreaming about arriving at the event without my bike (again). 

had the usual pre-race jitters.  nothing has changed there.  i didnt eat enough solids - not even my faithful banana.  organised transition and then sat back and relaxed chatting to silke (arch nemesis) and pip (speed freak).  it was just what i needed.  this week someone reminded me why i chose to compete in triathlon.  it is about 'being fit, having fun and becoming a better person'.  and the swimming of course.  but i had started to get way too serious about everything and i needed to get back to just having fun with it.  finishing would make me happy. 

swimming in the swan river is not the best swim.  the water is brown and murky and leaves a slimy sludge all over you.  the water has a salty taste and maybe why it does not bother me the way champion lakes does.  it is famous for the moustache and beards it leaves on competitors.  i was determined not to be seen running with a beard but sadly no matter how much water i threw over myself it seems i had one.  did i mention the jelly fish ? they were everywhere and some were so large you thought it was a person you were touching.  but they dont sting so you get use to it.  it was a deep water start and these always result in a better swim for me.  and i was right.  from the very start i started swimming well and felt relaxed.  i did feel the twinge of a cramp in my toes and one leg but it didnt get past being a twinge.  other than a few people getting in the way it was all very civilised.  it did seem to take forever and i went slightly off course towards the end but when i got out of the water i felt really good. at this stage i was happy so i was very surprised with the time.  35.12 is 2.20 pace per 100m.  this is very, very slow.  the swim did not feel like this at all and i have had bad swims that were faster than this.  this was not a bad swim.  so either the course was longer than 1500m or there was a current that i did not notice.

then i got on the bike and my legs were tired from  the start.  bummer.  i tried anyway.  they had shortened the course back from the traffic lights and so it was five laps.  the wind coming back was okay - i have ridden when it was much worse.  i hate any form of cheating and in the last two rounds they have introduced the 'green zone'.  you are not allowed to overtake but you can draft.  these are generally dangerous parts of the course and they do this to ensure people dont hurt themselves.  i thought it was smart to use this section to draft and save your legs but it was amazing the amount of people who just kept overtaking others.  i could feel my leg cramping up a bit on the bike but my lower back was far worse.  it really hurt and that is all i have to say about that.  according to garmin the bike course was 43.5k.

by now the weather had got hot.  really hot.  i had consumed my bottle of powerade on the bike and a gel.  some people had packed enough food for a picnic.  i knew it was going to be a long 10k as soon as i started to run.  in the first 500m i really did not know how i was going to finish.  i clearly remember thinking that i cannot do this.   the course was three laps of 3.3k.  i walked through every aid station and if i didnt drink i was throwing water over myself.  during my hot runs i had noticed that my feet would swell and it would radiate pain up my legs as my shoes became too tight.  so i made the decision to run without socks.  i do it for 5k no problem and it would have been okay if i had remembered not to soak my shoes when pouring the nice cool water over myself.  around 5k i could feel them squelching.  i ate my other gel to take my mind off things.  i knew if i got to the middle of the second lap i would make it so i focused on that.  i ran on the grass for a bit as my knee started playing up and i knew this would help.  on the last lap i started talking to people.  i thanked all the volunteers as i ran past.  one girl had got her ankle torn up in the swim and had blood swilling around her shoe so i didnt feel as bad.  i saw one competitor being loaded into an ambulance.  i never looked at my run time once.  i knew that overall i was going to miss coming in under three hours but otherwise i could not have cared less what speed i was moving at.  i was moving. 

i got to run through the finish chute on my own.  i did try to wipe my snotty, slimy face in case a photo opportunity was at hand.  it was a feeling of huge relief.  i have a new PB of 3.07.01 and  the olympic distance cherry is finally gone.  silke, pip and martin were at the finish.  i remember silke taking off my  timing chip. i had no clue and martin had the coldest and most delicious coke i have ever drank.  it was wonderful.  this was also when silke informed me that i did indeed have a beard.

from there we stayed around recovering and hoping to win a spot prize.  pip left early which was unfortunate as she placed third in her age group and was a fantastic effort - especially taking into account the conditions - and one to be remembered.  i think anyone who started out and made it down the finish chute had a great day. 

i headed home and went to have a shower to wash the slime and sweat off.  when i did i thought i had somehow got a stinger from the river stuck in my trishorts and i was having a very delayed reaction.  it stung like you would not believe.  turns out it was chafing that reacted badly to the soap.  this was new.  i seriously do not know how guys handle these delicate issues.  my trisuit doesnt have great padding and it is not as wide as my other tri shorts so i got some rubbing on the top of my legs near either side of the bum bones.  you get the idea.  a bit delicate but with the snot and beard i think it completes the picture.  not to mention the operation i had to perform on my feet to pop blisters.  

i managed to use my garmin correctly for the whole course.  both transitions are added into the official bike time.  my swim was out by 20 seconds and my run was only off by one second.  my gps tracking for swim looks hilarious and it appears i doubled back on numerous occasions. 

official results
swim 1500m - 35.12 - 2.20 pace p/100m
bike 40k - 1.27.13 - 27.5k p/hr
run 10k - 1.04.35 - 6.27 pace  p/km

they did provide the splits for each lap of the run - mine were 20.00 (6.03 pace), 22.27 (6.48 pace) and 21.44 (6.35 pace).  this is the slowest i have ever run but i am not bothered by it at all.  in the heat it was an excellent run. 

garmin results
swim 1500m - 34.53 - 2.19 pace p/100m
T1 1.58
bike 43.5k - 1.23.42 - 31.1k p/hr
T2 1.42
run 10k - 1.04.34 - 6.27 pace p/km

i was 303/459 overall, 76/118 gender and 7/15 age group. 

this event is known for being hot and windy and it delivered on the hot.  next time i am taking the monday off work.  i am tired but quietly satisfied.  and today at least  i do have a 60 minute massage to look forward to.

Monday, January 24, 2011

something other than a race report

i have changed pools again.  i am such a creature of habit.  you would think that keeping your training locations fresh would help with the motivation but not me.  i want my pool back.  i swam at my old pool saturday and it was the best swim i have had in a month.

my new job sucks.  i dont even want to talk about it.

i installed an inverter/split airconditioner at home.  i could have bought a new mountain bike.

molly the dog had a haircut and it now looks like her head does not belong on her body.

i slept more than i was awake this weekend.

i booked my accommodation in busselton for the 70.3 and i was bad.  when i could not find a reasonably priced place i booked a very expensive place.  people will envy me when i am soaking in my own spa after the race. 

changing my bike set-up was a mistake. let me correct that.  my new bike set-up was a mistake.  changing it is not the issue. 

the longest conversation i had last week was with the dude at my local bike shop.  he just received his custom built trek.  sexy.  the bike, not the dude.

i am excited as i have a new pair of gel nimbus runners on their way from wiggle. 

did i mention my new job sucks.  really sucks.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Champion Lakes Triseries Sprint Triathlon Race Report

i wasnt going to do this event as we all know how much i dislike swimming in the brown murky waters but i thought it would be a good brick session and maybe i would have some fun.  i also think i need to get over my little phobia.  i stuck with my normal training and expected to be a little tired. 

the swim was okay and better than i expected.  i do think i used my dislike of the water  as an excuse to take it easy.  i was wearing my garmin for the whole race for the first time and managed to fuck it up.  i then wasted the first few minutes on the bike re-setting it back so i could at least track my run.  live and learn.  the bike went really well and i felt great.  the bike time includes both T1 and T2 and my bike tells me i averaged 31k p/h so i am happy with that.  interesting to note that if i had not screwed around with my garmin i would have finished one place higher as it was only a 10 second gap.  i should have consumed my gel much earlier on the run and while 5.30 pace is okay i should be running 5.15 by now.  last year i was slow at 30.18 so i guess a 27.28 is not too bad. 

i have to say that trievents are just getting better and better at putting these races together.  they changed the set-up of transition and changed the bike course so it is now only 21k and not 26 like last year.  the whole thing just came together and i was impressed.  all areas were clearly identified and security was excellent.  even the expo/supplier tents are increasing and are slightly interesting.  the crowds are building as well.  i had to leave early so no freebies for me this time.  i did wear my newly won trisuit and i am a convert.

bit of rant coming up.  what the fuck is wrong with guys who seem to think they are racing for sheep stations and everyone must get out of their way.  the bike course has parts that are only maybe two metres wide.  one corner in particular sneaks up on you and i saw at least one guy lose it and some skin there.  so i am coming up on it and i am as left as you can get.  a guy is passing me - not a great time to do it but it was okay.  then three to four guys come screaming through yelling left left left.  are they fucking blind ?  we are going around a sharp bend two metres wide with two people next to each other.  there is no further left we can go.  they are fucking stupid.  if you think about the course you know this corner.  then you plan for it.  if you see people ahead you need to decide to hit the pedals prior to the corner or you wait.  i just dont get this yelling left left left when a tadpole can see there is no room to move left.  i happened to mention this to them as they passed by.  strangely enough i did not get a mouth full back.

something else that i wasnt too happy about was when i came back into transition to check my gear and drop of my sunnies before the start.  my gear had been moved.  i knew anna to the right of me and she told me the girls next to me had moved it because they believed it should go under your back wheel.  i rack my bike by the seat.  this would have really pissed me off because my helmet, sunnies and race belt go on my aerobars and i always run to the front of my bike.  which i would have done to then find my bike shoes and runners at the back of my bike.  it is so wrong to touch another persons stuff.  especially without asking.  at first i thought it was the FOP girls but after looking at the finishers list i know who you are.  and they were behind me the whole race.  the thing that is really annoying is the girl to the left of me had the biggest fucking beach towel with god knows what and anna on the right had a bucket of water to rinse her feet.  i have no problem with their choices.  and yet they move my little strip that was as wide as my bike shoes sitting side by side. 

result total time 1.28.57.  swim 17.32, bike 43.56, run 27.28.  age group 8/14 gender 51/96.  of the top five overall female finishers second was in 40-44 age group and third, fourth and fifth were in mine 45-49.  tough group.

Monday, January 10, 2011

half iron training progress

i started 'my' half iron program three weeks ago.  it is tough to start the week of christmas and i missed one session of each discipline.  the next week i was spreading all that mulch and in hot weather and missed one bike and a run.  then last week i started a new job and my ear was still playing up so i missed two swims.  it feels like forever since i swam in a pool but it has only been 13 days.  i think that is the longest break from the pool in three years.  one problem i have solved is being bitten by the cramp shark.  i was at a point where it was cutting my swims short and leaving a dull ache in whatever muscle it bit.  then i took magnesium and not one attack since.  magnesium works in conjunction with calcium so i have started taking that as well.  i thought i had a pretty good diet.  and this was almost instantaneous.  i changed nothing else and the cramp shark is gone.  i am still having trouble with my bike fit and i am starting to regret changing anything.  i can put up with quite a bit and i am willing to persevere but at times i just want to either throw my bike in the bushes or sit and cry.  my shoulders kill me and now the sides of both knees are just painful.  i am going to the physio to get it checked out and get a second opinion.  i was riding 90k okay and now struggle to get to 75k.  boo hoo. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cottelsoe Classic Mile OWS Race Report

now this is what i am talking about.  i swam this event in 31.17 which is a 100m pace of 1.56.  last sunday i swam the leighton swim at 2.14 pace.  i dont think i even swim a cool down that slow.  so i am feeling pretty good about things.  not only was it a good swim but i now understand more about what i am doing wrong.  

i didnt want to get out of bed and my ear is still playing up.  but i like swimming at cottesloe and i knew the conditions were going to perfect - and they were.  because i was one of the first 50 to sign up i also scored a t-shirt.  i will do anything for a free shirt.  and these are pretty cool as you could not buy them. 

the water was wonderful if a little murky.  it was great swimming over the reef -something fun to look at.  i really under estimate my ability.  and i now realise my biggest issue is finding my rhythm.  i mistake my struggles at the start for panic and fear of who knows what when in actual fact it is just me trying to get settled.  so my goal is to find that rhythm as quickly as possible.  and when i do then i really can swim.  i have a drill that i can work on that can help improve this.  the other issue i have is improving my open water skills.  i dont sight as smoothly as i should and this not only slows me down but takes up more energy than it should.  i also need to believe in myself.  at the start i let people get in front of me who are slower and then i have to work past them and that takes up time and energy.  i am too polite.  rather than fight for my space i let people have it or i will swim around them.  i had one guy next to me that was just  all over the place.  for awhile i let him dictate the terms.  then i just got annoyed and i swam through him and others rather than go around.  i passed alot of  people.  i finish fast.  now i just have to start fast. 

for me this was a great event.  not just because of the result.  but because i learnt alot about myself and my swimming.  i think i realised some of this at the end of last season and with no training in open water for six months i just forgot about it.  i really have had a bit of a moment.  an epiphany.  final result 31.17 overall 350/523 gender 129/209 category 13/23.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Open Water Swim Series Leightons 2.5k Race Report

i have my swimming mojo back.  it is not a fast mojo but it is a mojo.  i woke sunday morning with a terrible ear ache.  i had felt it saturday making it difficult to chew on the left side.  straight away i thought bummer i cant swim.  but was it really that bad or just a cop out ?  i also really hated the thought of paying $35 and not starting.  weird intense fear of open water versus the loss of $35.  this should probably be further analysed.  i also thought that no one would believe the ear ache excuse.  so i came up with a plan.  i would go to a chemist and get some drugs.  the only chemists i knew that would be open were on the way to leightons.  i figured get the drugs, see how it feels and worse case scenario at least watch the event and get a free swim cap. 

turns out the chemists do not open until 7am and before i knew it i was in the water waiting for the starting horn.  at this moment i had a real sense of fear.  i dont know exactly what the fear relates to.  it is not sharks because this has happened in fresh water.  the last thing i remember before starting to swim was that i couldnt quit because then i would have to blog about it and that really would be embarrassing. 

this course is fantastic.  while it looks super flat it was a bit choppy further out and coming back into shore you had a strong current to swim against.  the course had six buoys - two in the middle and four turn arounds.  it was a 1.25k course so i had two laps.  the picture above shows swimmers heading for home and also out on the course.

if you want to know just how far 1.25k is you can only just see the last buoy that you turn left at before heading out about 50 metres and turning left again to swim back in the picture below.  it is not the two that are close together either.  look to the right of that.  the first two biggest ones are the middle buoys.  the start buoys are not in the picture.


i swam it in 55.59.  this is slow but i dont fucking care.  i swam 2.5k.  that is twice as far as i ever swam in open water before.  it actually felt pretty good.  i stuck to a plan of just swimming the sides.  i do laps of everything.  i do bike laps, run laps and swim laps.  so i stuck to what knew and broke it up into four sections.  swim down one side then the other and do it again.  i decided not to think any further than the 600m i was swimming.  i also stuck to a 10 strokes then sight policy.  if i felt reckless i went for twenty strokes.  i swam over a school of little fish and i quickly moved away from them.  the outside lap was a bit choppy and i choked on a bit of water but it was my own fault.  the stingers were out and i got stung quite a bit but it made it interesting.  it was less annoying than the 5k swimmers who literally just swam over the top of you.  they did not care.  the winner swam the 5k in just over an hour.  they were moving twice as fast as me but then again i stopped to watch.  it is quite amazing to see.  the winners of the 2.5k were under 18 years of age and did it in 36 minutes. 

i would have swam the second lap much faster than the first and i still had energy at the end.  being a swimming event you are not allowed to wear any watches or jewellery so i do not know for sure.  i really enjoyed swimming in just the speedos.  one good swim and i have my mojo back.   i was pretty pleased with myself for doing it and  it sure feels good.  now for the cottesloe classic mile.  this time i am going for speed.