Monday, April 27, 2009

Tri-Benbrook Sprint Triathlon race report

Well, if you remember my 2009 resolutions, one of them was to not have gaps in my training due to life/work getting too busy. I wasn't asking for much: just 2x workouts per sport per week at the minimum. After Lone Star, I had a planned week of rest, but for the last 2 weeks, I've fallen into my old trap of skipping workouts due to crazy work schedule. Sigh... Anyway, I wasn't too keen on doing Benbrook after having done nothing for 3 weeks, but I just kept telling myself I was well-rested! The course for this race is in an area that I train in a lot now since moving to Ft. Worth, so this is a bit of a "backyard" race for me.

Swim was a pool swim, which I absolutely hate pool swims in races. Never fails that the people in front of me put down the wrong times for their seeding and I'm stuck behind slower people, and then there is always someone behind me who put down too slow of time and is plowing over me to get by...much rather just swim in open water. But this swim actually went well! I was seeded #45 and the girl seeded in front of me was at the right pace and so was the guy behind me. I was able to relax, and although only a 3oo yard swim, I was happy with my time for as little as I've been doing. I had the #46 ranked swim out of 239 men.

T1 went pretty well and I was in and out in 42 seconds (#8 out of 239). Got on the bike and tried to stay relaxed until I got into the groove. Wind was pretty strong, which combined with a hilly course with lots of winding turns, was sure to make for a slow bike split. Unfortunately, I never got into that groove and just felt pretty flat for the whole ride without a lot of zip. Going back and looking at my wattage numbers post race, I was a good 20-25 watts below where I should normally be for a sprint. Oh well. The bike course, being hilly and winding, is quite fun. I've grown a fondness for this route and train on it regularly, so I was really familiar with the course and knew exactly where to punch, where I could push my limits, and where to be cautious. It's only a 13.8 mile course, but there are a few challening parts. For instance, I was already hurting pretty good when I came up to the aptly named "Nice hill" at mile 6. Nice hill is short, but really difficult. It took me holding 400 watts to get up over it at only about 10 mph. For reference, I can do a 26+ mph time trial holding only 255 watts on a flat course. If those numbers don't mean anything to you because you aren't a wattage dork like me, the punchline is this: it's real steep and takes a lot out of you. Coming up the backside on the way in isn't as bad, but still hurts. I chugged along doing my best and averaged a pretty slow 22.4 mph, but because of the course difficulty, was good enough for the #7 bike split out of 239. I know, I should be happy with that, but I'd just be happier if I felt like I was on my game for that ride. That's what not training for 3 weeks will do to ya!!

T2 also went well and I was in and out in 38 seconds, #17 out of 239. Started the run, and I knew this was where I was going to do the worst. Anytime I take gaps in training, the sport that suffers the most is my run. I can go a while without swimming or riding and still do okay, but I just crumble without continual run training. First mile did NOT feel good, but time was better than expected. Slowed a bit for the 2nd mile, but was able to pick it back up again for the 3rd mile. The run is advertised as flat, giving the impression it's a fast course, but I thought this was a really difficult run. High winds coming off the lake, which I know it's not possible but it seemed like the wind was in my face for 75% of the time. It's also not really that flat...there is an ever-present incline or decline, even if slight. And lastly, there are lots of turns and turnarounds. The wind, inclines, and turning all make for a challenging run. I did okay for having such a long training layoff: 22nd out of 239.

Overall, I placed 10th out of 239 with a time of 1:04:45 (but I think the #1 guy was racing as an Elite even though lumped in the Age Group results, which means I'd bump up 1 spot technically). I really expected to do a lot worse, so I guess I really have no complaints. Post race, I felt good physically and mentally about my effort, it just wasn't quite as pleasing as I'd like because of feeling flat. What I was most happy about was that I felt smooth and comfortable on the swim, and did a respectable time for me. But after having done 2 races now in my new age group, I HATE racing in the 35-39 AG!! (Sidebar: my triathlon race age is my age on Dec 31 of 2009, which makes me 35 in tri years.) These guys are just way too fast. I was 4th out of 29 in AG. But as much as I say I hate it, I actually like it. Racing against these fast guys all the time will make me better, and I like that.

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