Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gateway Olympic 2012

This past Sunday, I raced the Gateway Olympic tri put on by 3 Disciplines Racing. This is a great race venue and the folks at 3 Disciplines put on a nice race.  The course is flat and fast and would be perfect in the weather would turn out to be a little cooler, which it hasn't for the last three years.

I met up with my BT/blogger friend Anne and Troy, who I met last year. This was Troy's first Olympic Tri and he just learned to swim in January.  Despite his lack of experience, I wish he was in a different age group :-).  He is fast!  I also met up with BT friends Mike and Jennifer.

It was really great meeting up with friends at the race.  I never really got any of the pre-race anxiety I normally get.  I attribute that totally to hanging out with friends that had the same concerns as I did.  The day before the race we met for packet pick up then drove the bike course, swam the sprint course, and rode the run course.  It was a perfect pre-race warm-up and course check out.  After that we went out for some pizza and beer at a local establishment and it was delicious.

swim start
Unlike last year where I stayed in a camper, I stayed at home since the race site is only an hour from my house. Actually it's much less time at 5:30 am but I'm glad I have a radar detector because there was an officer shooting radar at 6 am on a back country road.  What's up with that?

I didn't dwell too much on my goals for this race but after coming off a five minute PR last weekend, I figured a couple minute PR would be no trouble.  More on that later...

So race day I had my usual yogurt, banana and coffee and headed to the race site.  Got set up in no time and chatted with my friends and those around me.  Headed down to the water, listened to the pre-race instructions and got ready to go.

I'm a pretty slow swimmer so I seeded myself near the rear and with everyone inching forward before the siren went off, I started out DFL.  Oh well, no where to go but up, right?  The swim was uneventful and I felt pretty good.  Just tried to keep it smooth and steady and do a better job of sighting this year.  The water temp was 74 degrees and I wore my sleeveless wet suit for the first time in a race and it was perfect.  Last year the water temp was like 62 and a full wet suit was perfect.  I kept it smooth and steady and sighted every six strokes on the first half and every four strokes on the way back.  I had the normal negative thoughts at the start of the swim.  I suck at this, why am I doing this, this is crazy, I can DNF now and save some pain.  Pretty much the same drill every race. About half way through, I decided to tread water for a bit and my feet hit the bottom!  I stood up and looked around and it was weird standing up that far out in the lake.  I started swimming again and had the normal second half of the swim thoughts of, I'm going to do this, no problem, just keep swimming.  I swam until my hands hit the bottom and stood up. I wasn't tired at all and started jogging up the big hill to transition and stripping off my wet suit.

hill up to T1
Once in T1, I had a little trouble with the wet suit but not too bad.  My lower back has been bugging me a little making it tough to bend over so I sat down, which I usually don't do. Rinsed some sand off my feet, put on socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses and I was off.

The bike is a very flat and fast course and just like last year we had a tail wind going out and a head wind coming back.  I was holding 22-24 mph on the way out, so I knew the way back would be 16-17 so I hammered the way out the best I could.

flat and fast with a couple small hills

the roads weren't closed but the traffic was light and the locals nice

nice country roads
About 15 minutes into the bike, I took a gel and drank some water.  The gel didn't sit so well, so that would be it for nutrition in this race.  I drank to thirst, but that wasn't sitting so well either.  I ended up taking in about 2/3 of a bottle of water.  By the half way point I got a stitch in my side.  I've never had that happen in a race. I was thinking it was a bad sign, but couldn't stomach any more water. About a quarter way in, I passed a racer with a 26 on his calf.  Of course he would have none of that and chased me down. A bit later I passed him again and he returned the favor.  He would pass me up the hills and I would pass him on the flats.  We started chatting a bit and kind of laughed at each pass.  I passed him with about a 1/4 of the way to go and he said he was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to catch me again.  I said, don't worry, I'll see you on the run :-).

T2 went fine. Changed shoes, grabbed race belt and visor and I was off.  By this time it was mid eighties and my side stitch was worsening making it hard to take a deep breath.  A PR was in reach if I could just run 9 minute miles.  After running sub 8 minute miles last weekend, I still thought a PR was in reach.  The run is across a rock lined dam on asphalt with no shade.  It's like running in a sauna.

start of the run

pretty run, but hot!

At mile one of the run, I took a sip of water and grabbed an ice cold towel (nice touch 3D racing!) and kept going.  I don't have a Garmin so I was trying to do some math in my head.  I don't really remember but I think I was still on track the first couple miles.  At each aid station I poured some water on my head and arms, grabbed a towel (until they ran out on the way back) and took a few sips of water.  At about mile 4 I was really getting hot.  I was tempted to pull the shorts out and pour some cold water in to cool off but I didn't want to freak out the volunteers, many of which were kids :-).  Somewhere around here 26 guy caught me and said he was surprised he caught me.  I told him he was having a great race and he ran away from me very quickly.  I looked up his time later and he averaged 8:34 miles.  I was no where near that.  With about a mile to go, I started getting cold chills even though it was 87 degrees and I was in full sun. I'm not sure if I stopped sweating, but I knew chills were a bad sign, but walking would have taken even longer.  At this point I also knew a PR was out of reach (I could do math with one mile left :-). I finished a little under 2 minutes slower than last year and have to admit I was a little disappointed.

I didn't feel well after the race and continued having bouts of chills even though I was still sweating.  Drank about 5 bottles of water and gatorade, looked at the food but I felt so crappy I knew it wouldn't stay down so I skipped it.  Hung around for a while visiting with friends then took off for home.

They never posted the transition times for last year, which makes it tough to compare, but here are the numbers.

2011     2012
swim 0:37:04            swim 0:39:29
        T1 0:03:19
bike+T1 1:18:21     bike1:14:06 1:17:25  
    T2 0:01:14
run+T2 0:59:22     run 0:58:13 0:59:27
total 2:54:47 2:56:21

While I didn't think it was possible to swim slower than last year, I managed to by over 2 minutes!  The run up to T1 was quite a bit longer this year so while my combined T1+bike shows a minute faster, it was probably closer to 2.  My run+T2 time was about the same which is disappointing since my run seems faster this year.  A couple reasons I can think of for missing my PR.  First, I haven't been swimming much, duh! Second, last year I was coming off big volume getting ready for NOLA 70.3.  I'm still ramping up for my HIM in 8-9 weeks.  Third, I was dehydrated.  I weighed myself before and after and lost 8 pounds which is 5% of my body weight.  I drank about a pound of water during the race so I finished 7 pounds lighter.  I drank about 5 pounds of water after the race and on the way home and still lost 2 pounds by the time I got home.

Oh well, assuming I stick with this crazy sport, there is always next year.


Kate Geisen said...

Bummer about being disappointed with your time this year, but I guess they can't all be PR's, right? Meeting up with friends is definitely the best. Knowing people at races makes it soooo much more fun for me.

Patrick Mahoney said...

All good Mike. You improved the bike, so your a hero in my book.

Kathy said...

Don't you be hard on yourself - that heat makes it so hard to push through. And when the gut does not behave ... well ... I certainly can understand what that will do to the race. Look how much stronger your bike/run/transition was in the heat!
Great job!!

Jill said...

You should have just drank a lot of lake water to keep yourself hydrated for the bike and run portions - instant water. :)

I'm sorry the race didn't go better for you; the race director should take a tip from the race I just did and start that thing at 6am so to avoid some of the heat. That heat can really mess up your stomach. But you're getting stronger on the bike and that hard work is paying off. When I do an Iroman one day (stop laughing now, it is a goal :)), will you teach me how to ride my bike?!?

RockStarTri said...

Chills and goosebumps can mean you are overheating. Dont worry about the swim time as mismeasurement happens often. Solid bike and nice run to celebrate.

TriMOEngr said...

I look at this and think "Wow - what a great job!" - all a matter of perspective.

Christie said...

87 degrees, Yikes!! Like everyone else said here those chills seem like a definite overheating issue. Still a great race Mike. HIM in 8-9 weeks??... which one are you doing?

KovasP said...

Not feeling well and still nearly matching last year's time sounds pretty good to me - wait til next year!

Unknown said...

Overall you did really well. I'm actually going to suggest you could have had a faster swim if you'd seeded yourself further forward. Then you might have found some fast feet.

Solid overall. I understand the disappointment about going slower then last year. Just make sure you don't dwell on it.

ajh said...

IF I stood up and touched I'd be tempted to walk! What was the trouble you had with the wet suit? That is my nightmare. Everything about the wet suit.. Do you bother with mid race nutrition in a sprint tri? MId eighties is hot! That is what I am worried about in my half this weekend.
And I agree with the commenter above- I think you did great. Perspective is different with each of us. I hope one year you get this race without the heat. Running in the heat just plain sucks. And your bike time seems wicked fast to me.

Anne B said...

Nice race report, Mike. I do think the swim course was a bit longer, as my swim time was exactly the same as last year and I know I was faster this time around.
It kind of hurt to look at the picture of the dam, just lying there waiting to cook the participants. I would concur with the poster above who said the race ought to start at 6 a.m.

Theia said...

I think you kicked butt! So close to last year's time on a much hotter day, it seems, and with stomach distress. That's a victory in my book.

A Prelude To... said...

TOTALLY works now!!! I can start commenting again :D

Anonymous said...

wow this was such a great report...even though you didn't improve your swim/run time it sounds like you know why and can improve upon that!
nutrition/hydrating is the TOUGHEST part of the race for me, something I'm trying to work on! I usually finish marathons 7-8lbs lighter
I hope your recovery is going well, you will be ready to crush your times in 8 weeks!