Sunday, January 15, 2012

Competition. My first 'full' sprint.

Some quick details. This was a sprint tri held in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne. It was my second tri ever, my first at this distance and my first 'big' event. I've written more than I planned so I'll break the report into 2 parts. Part 1 - my performance. Part 2 - the event.

Part 1 - My Performance.

Preparation. Well it started OK but quickly fell away. I was up nice and early, got everything ready and was on the road in plenty of time. Driving through Melbourne early on a Sunday morning is pretty easy and so I got to the race venue with plenty of time to spare. As a result I had plenty of time to rue forgetting both the bidons I'd taken off the bike last night, filled with sports drink and carefully put (and then left) in the fridge. Bugger. Still, as it turned out this wasnt that much of a drama. My new tri club was giving out bidons to new members (score!) and there was a drinking water dispenser so I was in business.

Apart from that everything else was pretty routine. I got into my gear with time to spare thanks to the guys from mtc for helping me do up my wetsuit (did I buy a size too small? I worry its too tight). I was at the beach 15 minutes before my wave listening to the pa guy patter wondering if I would ever get to swim. One thing I remember him saying was to check the timing chips were on properly, I wish I'd listened to that more carefully!!! Anyway after what felt like hours of waiting suddenly I was off and wondering where the time went.

Swim. I have never really needed a warm up when swimming, my body just drops into the routine and off we go. And so it was today. To be honest the conditions sucked, it was windy generating a fair surface chop but underlying that were were relatively strong waves driving you off course if you weren't careful. For a few minutes this had me worried. And my wetsuit felt odd (really, is it too small?), but then I saw I was out on my own, but in a good way. I'd opened up a little gap on most of my wave and appeared to be doing comparatively well. Despite constant course checks and corrections I soon caught people from the wave before me and I really started to feel good (perhaps this wetsuit is the right size). Turning for the return leg was not as satisfying as I had hoped. I'd half expected a bit of a surf back to the beach but alas no, while the chop was easier it wasn't exactly helpful either. As it was however I got out of the water OK and ready for the ride.

T1. I didn't do this well. It annoys me that I put all this effort into passing people in the water and then then breeze past me in:

a. The run up the beach.
b. The actual transition area.
c. The run out to the mounting area.

Seriously, I really have to do better here.

Ride. Well I didn't fall off when trying to mount so I did better than a bunch of others but that's a pretty low bar. All I really wanted to do was not shame my bike. That's sounds a bit silly, but basically with my new Wilier Imperiele I should be significantly faster than the Avanti Giro I rode in my previous tri. In that race, which like this one was on a basically flat course with some rollers and a gentle headwind in one direction and obviously a little tailwind the other way, I averaged around 26 kph for 10 k's. I also note that I was 12 kg lighter and a fair bit fitter by today as well. So broadly I was hoping to average 30 kph or better for 20 k's. Today I averaged 36 kph, only occasionally dipping under 30 kph on some of the hills and occasionally hitting 48 kph on the down slopes. Frankly I could have gone a lot faster downhill but I was hitting the average speed I had targeted, I was only occasionally getting overtaken and then by people way more serious than me so I let the gears spin out and gave my legs a rest before the run.  All in all I couldn't have hoped for better.  Oh, and I maintained form pretty much the whole race, the only times I dropped out of the aero position were the tight corners at the ends of the course and when standing in the climbs so all in all more happiness.

T2. Learning my lesson from T1 I pushed harder through here and did better but an important lesson here, speedplay pedals are great for riding, they suck at running.

Run. One word, slow! First I misread the course and believed I had 2 laps to run so went out easy and was getting really disheartened when the turn around I believed was just 1.2k from the start simply wouldn't come. Then I saw the 2k sign and quickly figured out my mistake. Clearly I was doing better than I'd feared, this freed up my mind more than anything and I started running easier. But all in all it was slow. Worse, I finished feeling great making we think I had left way to much in the tank. I need to step up my training with running to get used to more speed as I have the fitness, rather it seems my legs and head have just locked themselves into a plod that is safe but a lot less than I'm capable of.

Overall. Well lets start with the bad. Somewhere out on the course I lost my timing chip so I didn't officially finish. That's OK really. It wasn't an ironman, there was no finishing t shirt and at the moment I'm still more of a completer than a competer and I know I finished, I ran under that bloody arch, but still its annoying. Worse, I don't have good split times. I can guess my swim, the bike computer gives me good data but I'm really just guessing on T times and the run. That's a real pain.

Another lesson.  take care of that stuff in the event.  A few seconds to check timing chips, numbers etc can save an entire event.

Anyway, the good. Finishing is never going to be an issue for a sprint tri again. This might sound silly to those readers completing iron events but this was my second tri ever and first 'full' distance sprint event, finishing and knowing I can finish any event like this is a big deal to me a will let me approach future events a lot more aggressively. The swim, despite terrible conditions was good, that wetsuit may still be half a size to small but it really helps and I'm so glad I have it. The ride was way better than I could have hoped for. The run, well, I need to do more of those intervals and tempo runs the magazines say but lets not overlook it was still quite possibly the fastest 5k I've ever run.

So, I'm pumped, I'm happy and I cant wait for the next one.

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