Monday, July 13, 2009

Just Off The Mark - Vincentown Sprint Race Report

Before I get into my race report I want to give a HUGE congratulations and virtual high 5 to my girlfriend, Kim, still the best looking triathlete I know for her SECOND PLACE AGE GROUP finish at this past weekend's race! Kim had a great race and seeing the smile on her face when she read the results made swimming through a mud pond and fighting through hours of traffic to make more than worth the drive to Vincentown! Great job Kim!

The drive down to Vincentown was frustrating, we had to run some errands before leaving Boston so our 1:30 departure time was delayed to almost 3:30; this was made all the worse by an awful accident on the NJ Turnpike. The accident caused a full road closure and delayed us another 2 hours, so we didn't make it to our hotel until after 9pm - not the best thing the night before the race. Thankfully a Macaroni Grill was close to our hotel so we both were able to get some whole wheat pasta for our pre-race dinner.

Pre-Race Nutrition:

Since this triathlon was just a sprint I decided to change up my pre-race eating plan a bit. I knew I wouldn't need the full carbohydrate load I normally take in, so instead of toast with almond butter, a pre-race nutrition drink and a clif bar, I opted for a pistachio muffin and 1/2 my usual pre-race nutrition drink. This had me start the race with a blood sugar of 235, probably on the high side but just about where I wanted it.


The swim was in one of the muddiest ponds I had ever seen. Growing up my parent's pool would often be on the receiving end of a mud slide after a bad rain storm. This pond made all those memories come back! I felt bad for the women who had to swim after the men. We kicked up all the mud and they all came out of the water looking like they grew hair on their face and chest!

Since the swim was only 400 yards I opted not to wear a wet suit; although I decided to have my tri top on for the swim. For whatever reason I just can't find the same comfort level in the open water that I have in the pool. My 500 yard swim test was finished in 8 minutes and 30 seconds, yet the 400 yard swim on Saturday took me 9 minutes (including a 200 yard jog to the timing pad). I'm not sure if it was my tri top coming unzipped creating extra drag, not fully digesting my pre-race nutrition or pre-race dinner or just plain not being that good at open water swimming that hurt my time; but fact is 9 minutes isn't close to good enough.

The huge positive though, is that for the first time EVER I didn't freak out at the start of the swim, and used my stroke the entire time. Coach E wanted me to warm up in the water, so I swam about 200 yards and that seemed to take all the freaking out, out of my system.

Swim Time: 9:01
Swim Grade: C, I'm happy that I was able to swim the entire time without pausing, changing stroke or freaking out, but that time is just WAY TOO slow for me to be close to happy about.

My T1 time was awful, as usual. It took me over 2 minutes to put on my bike shoes, grab my helmet and head out to the course. Perhaps next time I should take a nap, read War & Peace and try and solve The Proof of Fermat. I need to train for transition just like I do for the other disciplines, something I plan to address pronto.


This was the big goal for my race, to post one of the best times of the day. I wanted to see how fast I could be on the bike, I wanted to see if the big gears I can push in training would correlate to race day success. The answer to that is yes and no.

My bike split was good for 44th best on the day and not much separated the 44th rider from the 25th rider; but my goal was to exceed an average pace of 24 mph - that didn't happen. I wasn't as fast up the false flat that started the bike course as I should have been and that cost me my timing goal. This was the first time I was racing with heart rate, heading up the false flats my heart rate was creeping towards 170 so I knew I had to settle down a bit. The few miles I rode at a 19 mph pace cost me my time goals. However, I rode towards the front of the pack on the bike, and when I asked my legs to push for the last 4 miles they had enough juice to exceed 26 mph. So my pacing strategy was pretty good but I needed a little extra speed on the false flat to top that 24 mph goal. I also honestly believe I'm faster on my training wheels than my race wheels, but thats a conundrum for a different day.

Bike Time: 40:31, 22.2 mph avg
Bike Grade: B, I was fast but didn't achieve my goals, I set forth the 24 mph goal in full belief that I could achieve it, but I fell short. My time is nothing to be upset about, but it also wasn't the really good performance I knew I could achieve.


I wasn't sure how I would do on the 5k run. At the Darden Cares 5k I broke 23 minutes and was really hoping I could rival that performance. But the truth is, I've never run all out on a brick; not in training and not in a race so this would be a new experience. I left transition at a 7:20 pace but knew I couldn't hold that so I slowed down to a 7:50 pace and felt pretty good. Somewhere between mile 1.5 and 2.5 my legs started to wobble and I had to ease back on the pace a bit. I believe I had some pre-race hydration issues that cost me some valuable time on the run.

Overall I came in 97th on the run which is pretty disappointing. The official race time has me at an 8:12 pace but the actual course may have been slightly longer than a 5k. Regardless, I've broken an 8 minute pace during a 5k in the past and wanted to do that again in Vincentown. It wasn't training or effort that slowed me down, I believe it was pre-race nutrition and hydration.

Run Time: 25:23
Run Grade: C+, I've been faster in both training and racing then what I showed in this race. Hydration and nutrition is a huge factor in this and I need to learn from that lesson

Overall: 67th place, 1:18:17

I know that the above race report is pretty harsh, but I had some high expectations coming into this race. I finished the race in the top 33% of racers and am pretty happy about that. However, I'm training hard, believe in my Coach's system and want to do better. At the same time I need to remember I'm still a novice in this sport and really this is my first season of "racing." Last year I had to learn how to handle an entire new way of living and an entire new type of athletics where this year is the first time I'm actually striving to get much faster. But I'm pretty competitive and want to do well, and tend to take disappointments to heart.

I came away with some great insight from this race, showed tremendous improvement even from Mooseman and knew I gave the course just about all I had (I was exhausted at the end!) I had a blast racing and am so freaking happy for Kim. So yeah, the race was positive and I did have alot of fun but I'm still giving myself a B- for this race. That grade is based on performance and not on the learning experience or how much fun this small race was.

Moving forward Sunday will be a huge test as I'm racing in the Mussleman Half Ironman. That will be my last "C" priority race for the season. When I return to Virginia in August I will have races with some real performance goals, including a second half Ironman in October in South Carolina. I need to keep refining my nutrition plan, working on transitions and figure out how to continually improve my performance. This is a long process but each step of the way provides new insight, new challenges and more opportunities to have fun while challenging myself.


PJ said...

Don't be too dissappointed - that really is an awesome result. Congrats! Another thing to remember is that you're training more for longer distance races, not sprints. If you were training for sprints, your body would be more adept at the constant, you know? It take more than will to get used to hammering for an hour straight. Not to mention the fact that you guys had a tough night.

Your T1 comments cracked me up. A lot.

Kim said...

you still got to hammer and that must have made you feel AWESOME REGARDLESS of the grades you gave yourself. 44th on the bike is ridiculously awesome! stop eating sandwiches in transition. or reading a book. or writing your thoughts in training peaks. GET TO WORK! :) i'm proud of you, congratulations on your first sprint!!

Train-This said...

way to go ED!

I can't wait for my pre race hig next week!

jpnairn said...

Great race.
I know from foot races that sometimes when you look at race results from previous years, it tells you more about the race than the competition. If times are fast, it might because it's short, and if times are slow, it could have some tough hills or be measured long.
Last year's results on this race fooled you a bit. It sounds like at least the bike and run were long, maybe the swim, too.
You did great.

Missy said...

As a teacher, you're a real dick about handing out grades, dang;) You're terribly hard on yourself. Congrats to you and Kim, killer performances.

JulyDream said...

Congrats to you and Kim on a job well done. I realize your results were no to your liking, but I'm still impressed!! :D

Amanda said...

Job well done!

You're a racing maniac. Musselman is a few short days away...we'll be on the start line before you know it.

Anonymous said...

Hey we have been reading some of your posts. My husband has started running lately but has problems keeping his sensor on, and even less so his pump line. Consequently he has ditched the sensor for the time being, even though his BS likes to drop to the low 40's at least once every 2 days :( Do you have any suggestions for keeping the sensor attached with heavy sweating from running?