Sunday, August 31, 2008

Scoggins Valley Triathlon Report

First off, let me let the cat out of the bag. I made a goal earlier to beat last year's time by 10 minutes. I did that and more. Heck yeah!

I did not do much specific preparation for this triathlon. Well, I have been riding quite a bit, but I have done little to prepare for a triathlon other than my swim class which ended almost two weeks ago. I went on one run last week just to see what it felt like to run after not doing any running for 2 months. That went fairly well as reported previously in the blog. So with the exception of just a bit of pre-race jitters the night before the race I didn't worry about anything.

I arrived at about 6:30 AM at Hagg Lake to pick up my race packet and do this little event. I estimate that there were about 150 people that did the sprint distance. The sprint distance tri includes a half mile open water swim, a 12.5 mile bike and a 5k run. Really those distances should be no biggie. This course is a slower because bike and run are done on a fairly hilly road. During the bike the constant ossilation of the road makes it tough to get into any sort of rhythm that one would expect to do in a time trial for most triathlons. The run has maybe about 3/4 of a mile that is on flat the rest of the time you either climbing or descending a hill. For this reason, last year I was not too terribly disappointed in my race. Afterall, I had just taken the bar exam and was still getting back in shape. This year, despite my non-specific preparation I wanted the race to be much better.

My goal was to do the swim inbetween 16 and 17 minutes. That didn't happen. I finished in 17:57. I could not seem to swim in a straight line and then with about 100 yards to go I started doing the ol' open water freak out and I had to flip on my back. I was hyperventilating. I had been pushing it too hard and was having a hard time getting a good breath. I really don't have a good reason why it was an issue. I swim 1500 yards or more every swim class. It is mental weakness, pure and simple. I need to work on that. A lot more time in the pool is going to have to happen prior to next April's Half Ironman in Oceanside.

Anyway after finally getting to the shore I was actually able to run up the long carpeted length (about 150 yards uphill) to where the bikes were waiting. Last year I was barely able to walk up the hill. I also went sockless and without gloves. Last year I took the trouble to do both. My T1 time was almost 90 seconds faster this year.

Once on the bike I had a hard time getting into a groove. I mean I passed lots of folks out there, with only a couple of people passing me, but my legs were tight. I stretched prior to the swim and took my normal anti-cramping pills, SportLegs, but something was off. The last two little hills before the end I had significant calf cramping issues. I could not put any power into those climbs. I just sort of nursed myself back in. I strongly considered packing it in at that point. I thought that since I was already cramping up that there would be little chance that I would be able to complete the run without cramping up as well, especially with those stupid hills. Nevertheless, I decided to keep going. I mean I was 2/3 done why stop now?

The run began ugly. I was passed by a several people immediately as I tried to maintain a decent pace while staving off a full on revolt by my left calf. After dealing with this discomfort for about a mile I started feeling better--better as in, the left calf wasn't on a hair trigger to developing rigur mortis. At the turnaround I was doing better. When I got to the point where I started running up the two hills that brought me so much pain on the bike due to the cramping I was doing great. I started running a bit fast, cheered on by the fact that would more than make my goal if I kept up the pace. Near the top of the last hill prior to going down the last 100 yards or so into the parking lot and finish a guy passed me at a pretty good clip. He was going faster than I could have gone up that hill and I was a bit disappointed to be passed one more time so close to the finish. But was we crested the top of the hill it seemed like he just maintained the same speed. I knew that I could speed up with gravity now my ally. And I did. I sprinted to the finish and passed him with about 25 yards to go and beat him by 2 seconds. Yeah! You have to finish strong!

My time this year was 1:27:36. Last year I finished the race in 1:40:22. Total time reduction was 12:46 over last year! I really feel that I owe a significant part of the dip in time to a drop in weight. Less weight means obviously that there is less of me to hual up on the climbs whether I am running or riding. Of course, having the swim class for the past 7 or 8 months helped to drop four and a half minutes from my time.

My placement was 40th out of 144 racers. Last year I was 97th out of 172. In my age group I was 7th out of 13. Last year, had I raced in my age division instead of Clydesdales, I would have been 9th out of 11. It is a pretty competitive age group. I would say that this is a pretty freaking good amount of improvement. Overall I am very pleased. Thankfully, I don't feel like I have topped out. There is still room for a couple minutes of improvement even if I just maintained my current fitness.

Below is a snip of this year's result:

Here is last year's result:

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