Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm an idiot - but if you've been reading you already know that.

It's been a couple weeks since I've posted anything. I've had some good training, worked with WKO+ a bit more, and had the first race of the season.

So, Lake Mills was on June 6th. I decided in advance that I would not "rest" for this race, but I also wouldn't hit it hard on saturday. As it turns out, I didn't have much time for training anyway.

For about 6 months I've had a trip up north planned. It was Thurs - Saturday with the race being Sunday. Lake Mills was a C race and really just a guage of fitness for me prior to some of the Oly races I have coming up.

My hope was to get to the cabin Wednesday evening and do my long run. Do a hard ride on Thursday, and play Friday by ear.
On Wednesday I managed a 40 minute run after my 3.5 hour drive. It was getting late and I needed to start the fire before everyone arrived. So I cut it short.
Thursday morning I did a great 9-10 mile run. It was with Chris and we were holding 7:45's for the first 5 miles, dialed it back for the next 2 miles or so, and then picked it up on the way back. Overall I think we held an 8 pace, but my garmin was losing signal under all the trees.

On Friday the weather was crap, we went to the casiono and goofed off all day. No training.
Saturday was chores day, and I was leaving at 11:30 to get home. So instead of running or riding I ended up building a retaining wall and moving bolders. Not the easiest work.

Certainly not the best build up to a race.

Race day:
Woke up at about 4, left at 4:45. Everything seemed normal.
Got to transition and got set up. Went for a run and did some shorter intervals to get the legs and blood going. I was a touch sore from building the retaining wall, but not bad.
Got my wetsuit on, and was talking with a few geargrinders. As I was putting my arm into the wetsuit I dropped my brand new garmin and cracked the glass. CRAP!!
I put the Garmin on my bike since I could still use it for the bike/run -- Trying to make the best out of a crappy situation.

Did a little swim warmup, not much. Probably should have done more.

Swim: started with Adam, a new Gear Grinder and scholarship swimmer. This was my first opportunity to swim in my new wetsuit. Everything felt really good. But these sprint races are not my bag.
I finished with a 6:39 which ended up being the top swim of the day. While that was cool, I heard several of the elites swam off course. In either case the conditions were much harder than last year and I am certain the course was longer. So while the 6:39 was actually slower than last years swim, I know I am faster. the water was choppy, I kept getting pushed towards shore and had to swim out to the 2nd bouy. And sighting to the shore was really hard as they only had a few orange cones between two rows of boats.

In my head I am having a tough time seperating the fact that my time was slower than last year, yet I still had the top swim. Last year my swim was 24th overall...so I just need to remind myself of that improvement. From 24th to 1st isn't bad at all.

Ok...onto the bike and the reason I am an idiot.
I come running into T1, no problem. I struggle to get my wetsuit off my left leg, with the chip. I need to trim that leg a bit I think.
Anyway I get my shoes on and start running out of T1. Here is where the problems occur.

So I run up to the mount/dismount line and essentially stop since I have never done a cyclecross mount or dismount. I will start practicing soon.
Anyway I hop on my bike and do something VERY stupid. I kick off a little bit with my left foot which starts me slowly rolling. Why I did that I have no idea. So I'm rolling lightly and trying to get my right shoe clipped in and can't. Then I finally do, and it slips out. This particualar pedal has been giving me a lot of trouble with slipping out. I need to switch to speedplay as as I have really started to hate these.
Anyway, once I slip out of the clip I make the fatal mistake...I look straight down at my feet to get clipped in...and yes I was still rolling forward.
At that point I ride straight into the middle of a red cone stopping all momentum and fall over right onto my left butt cheek.
At this point all blood leaves my legs and goes straight to my face and I start cursing my own stupidity. I get up, get back on...and clip in. Start riding...hit another cone on my way past (stay upright) and bolt out of there like a bat out of hell.

All of that time went against my bike split as I had passed the transition mat. UGH!

So I hit the ride and am doing good. I look at my power and am sitting at a pretty high wattage but figure that will take care of itself. I do remember thinking that the course had more hills than I remember...as I didn't remember any from last year. Plus it was somewhat windy this year as I don't recall any wind last year either.
At some point in the ride I look down and my average watts has really dropped...down to 288. Which for a sprint race is too low...by quite a bit. IMO this ride is only 40 minutes. I would like to think I can ride at threshold (320) for that long and still run fine. I would have settled for 310. But for whatever reason I simply could not get my wattage up.
In hindsight I think there are a number of reasons for this.

First, this is my first race with the PWM and I need experience dialing in effort and power in this type of setting.
Second, the fall had messed with my head. I wasn't able to maintain concentration as well as I'd have liked or normally could.
Third, I had build a retaining wall they day before...lift with legs, not back.
Fourth...the week leading up was not good preperation. I had some alcohol, not enough good fluids, I didn't eat great, and I slept like crap.

This week, in the leadup to Elkhart, I will do much better with my preparation.

Towards the last 5 miles of the ride someone from team Multisport caught me and passed. But either he slowed down or I sped up because I kept with him no problem. In several instances on rollers I was into the draft zone and should have passed back but didn't want to be a dick. I stayed to the left or right to stay out of his draft zone as bes I could w/out blocking. After a few minutes of that I said screw it, passed him and took off. At that point I realized I could have and should have been going faster the entire time. Over the course of the last couple miles I pulled about 30 seconds ahead of him.
Looking at the times I had a better swim, but he beat me out of T1 by 20 seconds. I wasn't as efficient as I could have been and need to be better organized. But I spent an extra 5-10 seconds on my left leg when I couldn't yank the wetsuit off. I need to address that.

Finally came the run. I had a sloppy T2 in that I forgot my Garmin. Other than that, struggled to get the bare feet into the shoes. I need to loosen them just a touch.

I hit the run and everything went really smooth. The first mile was a touch of a struggle, but manageable. But the Garmin wasn't reading well under the trees. It was saying 7:15's or 7:30's and I knew I was going faster than that.
At about the mile marker the multisport guy passed me. I suspected he might on the ride. I could tell I had no chance to pace him.
At about the 2 mile mark a 2nd multisport guy passed me. I tried to pace him, and did for a while. But I just don't have that speed...yet.

Anyway, I finished the run in a 20:27. So I averaged 6:35's or so. That is officially my fastest 5k ever.

So I ended the day with the following.
Swim - 6:39
T1 - 1:21
Bike - 42:06 (includes the fall)
T2 - 1:06
Run - 20:27
Total - 1:11.38
21st overall, 6th in my age group.

Last year I did the following:
Swim - 6:26
T1 - 2:26
Bike - 43:13 (includes the fall)
T2 - 1:06
Run - 23:37
Total - 1:16.55 76th overall, 4th as a clydesdale.

The aftermath:
It is tough to be disappointed in the result as I showed dramatic improvement in every discipline. However my left ass cheek has a very deep painful bruise that serves as a reminder that there are MANY places to improve.
My bike was no where near as fast as I thought it should have been. had my wattage been where it should have been I wouldn't care...but I've got neither. But with all the time I lost in transition, it is hard to make a comparison. Plus the course was different this year due to construction. And it was windier.

I can gain an easy 20-30 seconds in transition with better preparation alone. That is free.
I could possibly gain 30-60 seconds simply by learning a cyclecross mount/dismount. Also free.
And I would not have lost 10 seconds by falling. Absolutely free.
I could gain 90 seconds by simply holding the power I know I'm capable of. I consider this free, but could cost me a little on the run. Experience will tell me this.

That is roughly 3 minutes of FREE speed. It is nothing more than preparation and execution. Had I done those things I would have been 10-11th overall and 3rd in my age group.

As a result I will be focusing on a few things this week leading up to Elkhart.
First is transitions and wetsuit stripping.
Second is mounting and dismounting. I won't be doing the cyclecross yet. But I am going to practice getting clipped in quickly and properly so I don't lose tons of time again.
And in training I am going to do sets where I hold my power at 90% FTP to prepare. I didn't ride for almost the entire week leading up to Lake Mills. I won't make that mistake again.

All in all the race did exactly what it was supposed to. It gave me several areas to work on and gave me a good guage of fitness. It also gives me a good benchmark in terms of my goals for Elkhart and Lake Mills.


  1. A few tips:

    1. Add baby powder (prior to the race) to the cycling shoes and running shoes to help you slip into them.
    2. Get speedplay pedals.
    3. Do the cyclocross mount at Elkhart lake tri
    4. Get out of your bike shoes in the last 100 yds before hitting T2. Dismount and run (barefoot) to bike rack. Watch the ITU races www.triathlon.org (multimedia tab) to see the pros do it.

    You have a good assessment of your ability and what's preventing you from getting closer to it. Keep up the hard work.

    Good luck at Elkhart Lake!

  2. Eric, Keep it simple. As long as you keep finishing before John White, you're doing ok.

  3. Great race, Eric. I second Matt's suggestion to get speedplays. The cyclocross-style mounts and dismounts are pretty easy. Just head out to an open parking lot where you'll have a lot of room and practice for an hour. I think a lot (or maybe even most) triathletes don't practice transitions so that's definitely a place you can make up time on people if you put some work into it.

    Good luck at Elkhart Lake.