Turia Pitt Finishes Ironman Triathlon After Being Told She Would Never Run Again

Is there anyone more inspiring than Turia Pitt?

She has now done what seemed unthinkable five years ago when she suffered burns to 65 percent of her body in a bushfire.

Amid emotional scenes, Turia has completed an Ironman triathlon in 13 hours and 25 minutes of sheer courage.

Source: Inspiring burns survivor Turia Pitt finishes Ironman triathlon in 13 hours after being told she would never run again

Congrats Turia!

How to Use Caffeine to Improve Your Athletic Performance

Caffeine is a performance-enhancing drug that’s legal, cheap, and easy to get: chances are you had some this morning. More importantly, it actually does make you better at sports, which is more than you can say for a lot of supplements marketed to athletes. You just have to know how to use it strategically.

Source: How to Use Caffeine to Improve Your Athletic Performance

To get the exercise benefits, you’ll want between 3 and 6 milligrams of caffeine for every kilogram you weigh.  So how do you make your dose?  See:

Handy Chart!

Race Report

This was another triathlon I did the previous year, so I can review my time to see how or if I improved.  By my count, this also marks the 8th triathlon for me this season.  I only have one more left after this for the 2015 season, and I have to admit – I’m looking forward to “off season”.  Though for me, “off season” means cyclocross.

The Swim

I don’t believe it – my swim time was identical to last year.  16:14…  I know I swam without a wetsuit last year, but I don’t remember if it was a non-wetsuit swim last year.  The weather this year has been quite warm for months, so even the local clubs were advising people to train for swimming non-wetsuit.

This year was a different start.  The organizers separated us by swim time into two groups, where people who claimed 15 min or less were in the first wave.  I don’t remember providing a swim time, but I was in the first wave.  I definitely could have been faster, but this was the first race I remember dealing with congestion for the entire swim.  The first buoy was so bad, I started breast-stroking to let the crazy go but it was still pandemonium getting around and I was very thankful to get on the outside so I could swim around people without running into someone elses feet.  I guess part of this was due to the race being a championship event – there might have been 4 in my category last year, this year it was 12.

Got lost in T1, took a moment to find my bike.  First time that’s ever happened to me, but then I usually spend a lot of time reviewing the transition setup and how I’d attack it.

The Bike

The start felt good, but eventually I lost the people I was trading places with.  Bike time was 43:10, compared to 37:26 last year.  5 minute deficit…  The last real hill on the course, I dropped down to small chainring.  Which is something I never do.  I do remember grinding that hill out last year, but that doesn’t account for 5 minutes difference.  I know I got good speed where I could, so I’m wondering where I lost that much time.

The Run

I believe last year on this course I got my personal best.  I knew early on that I was not feeling in a position to do better or as well.   I drank too much on the bike just before T2, felt it on the run.  But I got a lot of compliments on my finish because I actually sprinted this time.  I didn’t think I could get from my run form into a sprint, the motion feels very different.  But once I was in, I’m flying because my 100 m sprint times were typically under 13 seconds.  Nothing stelar with respect to track & field, but faster than most.  Run time was 33:44.

Total time this year: 1:33:08

Part of what I’ve noticed is my lack of enthusiasm about doing the my last triathlons of this season.  After doing the three back to back, I’m more burnt out than I would have given credit.  Not physically, but mentally.  Part of that could be about the challenges to reclaim fitness in less time than the previous year, and little to no improvement anywhere.  Couple of weeks until the last one, and then three weeks afterwards – first cyclocross race of 2015.

8 yr Old with Cerebral Palsy Completes Triathlon, Unassisted!

While most sports enthusiasts out there may not equate those with physical disabilities as athletically gifted and elite, one boy from Worksop, England changed the minds of many and inspired them in the process last weekend.

Source: Eight-year-old with cerebral palsy inspires at triathlon

Video footage of Bailey’s finish:

Congrats Bailey on completing a triathlon, and an incredible finish.

Race Report

7th sprint triathlon of the season, and this another race I’d done the previous year.  I remember the bike course being the easiest of all that I’ve done to date, and the run being one of the more challenging.  It is supposed to be a 500 m open water swim, but last year people (including myself) wondered why the times were so high & the organizers adjusted to say the buoys got mixed up.  We’d done 750 m instead, and I’ve been able to reproduce the time for 750 m swims.  Just not consistently.

The Swim and Transition (T1)

Same as last year, this open water swim was non-wetsuit.  The water temperature was 24.7 C.  People were saying it was warmer in the water than standing on the beach.  Unlike last year, this was a 500 m swim.  But speaking to someone afterwards, who said their Garmin put it at 600 meters.  Last year, it was to be a 500 m swim but when people complained about the swim times being way off so the organizers posted an update to say it had been a 750 swim due to a misplacement of a buoy.

Last year, my swim time was 13:19.  This year?  12:10.  If it was really 600 m, and I know I was wide (more on that later) sometimes, that puts me a tad over 2 minutes/100 meters.  Which is almost back to form, but as I mentioned there were some factors to consider.

My start was terrible.  It was a mass start for men, women, and relays.  I found myself behind people who were slower than me.  I was desperately trying to find a way around without getting kicked, and did not get out unscathed.  While I didn’t make skin contact, someone’s heel dislodged my right goggle.  I swam with one eye the entire time, which made me see (heh) how much I rely on my right eye for sighting.  So getting stuck hurt my time, as did not being able to see properly.  I did manage to find an opening to get out, but between adrenaline and a desire to get away from the pack – I was struggling to reclaim my breathing.  All this before the first buoy…  I worked at pulling back on the speed, and ran into some trouble after the first buoy when I swallowed some water.  I did not need something messing with my breathing, but I’ve had good success with recovering from swallowing water while staying in motion.

MY T1 time this year was 1:55, compared to 1:46 last year.  I was breathing heavy coming out of the water, so I don’t know if I was as fast as last year.  In addition, I had trouble putting my cycling shoes on because the boa enclosure was not open.  I definitely lost a couple seconds working with the boa buckle.  First time it’s been an issue but I will be more vigilant about the shoes in the future.  I still highly recommend boa equipped shoes vs anything else.

The Bike and Transition (T2)

It rained the previous day, so I opted to swap my bike tires for something better suited to wet roads.  I usually run Schwalbe Ultremo’s, but in the wet – they feel like the tire pressure is too low.  So for wet conditions, I use Continental Grand Prix 4000.  It was a good call, as the first thing I noticed when I reached for my shoes in T1 was that it had rained while we were in the water.

My bike time this year was 30:10, vs 28:12 last year.  The bike I’m riding this year has disc brakes, but I still didn’t take chances in the corners.  It was a shame to loose the speed, but someone did crash on the bike course, and this was a course with a few 90 degree corners.  The conditions are what I’m chalking the time difference to, but I did bring a water bottle this time so I was carrying more weight (bottle + cage).

Out on the bike course, the nearest competitor I could see was part of a relay.  It was a dead giveaway because of the gear they were wearing and the fact they were dry.  That guy had some sort of tri/aero bike, and he was putting distance on me as we passed people.  But I almost overtook him when we hit the one and only hill on the course.  I got within about 10-15 meters, he’d lost the lead on me of at least 100 meters.  But he made the crest, and the bike course suited him so off he went.

In my experience cycling, I’ve come to know when people are actually faster than me.  They don’t just pass you, they continue to put distance as they are in front.  Someone tried to overtake me, and it was clear to me they were burning matches they didn’t have.  Technically, I should have dropped back as the wheel over took but the person saw that I didn’t – they tried to respond but it was over within 30 meters.  More to the point, they were nowhere to be found when I turned the corner.  I deal with that mentality a lot in my bike commute to/from work, and I have no patience for it.  To have followed the rules, I’d have lost speed and would have still overtaken the person.  What I did was not right per the rules (which may be changing to drop the stupid rule in the future), but it was not unsafe – we were two abreast, and I was in the shoulder with no overhang on the road.

The most interesting/weird thing that happened was that after the turnaround, I suddenly found myself unable to switch into a portion of my gears.  There were three gears I could not use – the chain kept skipping.  Top gear or 4th were my highest options.  I was annoyed that this happened to me again – the last time was due to old cables.  So I was bordering on livid…  It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed there was something on the cassette.  There was a bike sticker, as usual, that I put round my seat post as usual…  Apparently, the water destroyed the sticker (happens) but that the remains got deposited in my cassette.  And for only two adhesive patches, the remains were quite sticky.  It took a little effort with a paring knife (flat blade screwdriver would have worked).  Glad I didn’t get to chewing out the mechanics at my local bike shop 😉

Even my T2 time was slower this year, 0:57 vs 0:44 last year.  A couple of seconds were due to me unclipping my helmet (not removing), and an official made me stop & clip before traveling the remaining 6 ft to my stuff.  One of the sillier rules that adds time (and potentially congestion as people stop) for no value when someone has finished the bike portion of the race.

The Run

I remember this feeling terrible last year.  That I had to really work to keep myself going, because I was breathing so hard at the beginning as the run route started us off with a hill.  It might have been my worst run at 34:41 for all of last season.

This year, my time was 33:45.  It felt good – my breathing wasn’t laboured as it has been in the past, and I thought I was moving faster than I really was.  I am happy that my time is better, I just was hoping the improvement was more noticeable.  At times, I thought my stride was doing OK, and the experience was misleading.  It took a while before people overtook me, some apparently were too timid to pass on the trail run, and two people I closed in on before they managed to pick up speed.  In that aspect, it reminded me of the bike portion of a race about a month ago – passing numerous people gave the illusion of speed.

Conclusion

This year, I did the sprint in 1h 18 min 55 seconds.  Last year?  1:18:41.  Part of that is due to weather, which can’t be helped.  Even if my swim were similar, my run time is always what makes the difference.

I am feeling a little disillusioned about my running.  Long before I took up triathlon, I was running for fitness/exercise.  I was closing in on 5:15 min/KM, but now I struggle to get under 6 min/KM and I’m not very consistent.  It doesn’t help that some co-workers have been making fun of me for doing sprints, saying sprints are not “real triathlons”.  I do want to do intervals at the track, but everything is about recovering from the broken rib – my times are coming to par with what I did last year, starting from scratch.  All I do is look forward to “next year”.

Race Report

This was the second tri in a series of three, one per week.  I log my stuff in Google Calendar, but still managed to schedule myself like this.  That said, this makes triathlon #6 of the season to date.

This was the first time the triathlon had been held at this location.  I wasn’t feeling great or particularly enthusiastic, and arriving to get setup didn’t help.  As the course is public, in a well-used area, it was understandable the organizers would not want to encroach.  We were lining up to get into transition, watching as they constructed the bar to hang the bikes.  I really did not care for how they envisioned processing us into transition.  They assumed we’d all be suited up, so they could check us off, bodymark, and finally time chip us before we entered transition.  There was a lineup over a block long at points…  Why they couldn’t let us in to rack, and then proceed to bodymarking/chip like every other event I’ve been to?  But I digress…

The Swim

The course was nothing like the diagram – they only setup the buoys for the turns.  Maybe they ran out of the little yellow ones?  I don’t remember seeing any kayaks either.

Open water, 500 m swim, and the water was over 25 C – making it definitely a non-wetsuit swim.  It was an in-water start, which no one mentioned that you could not stand.  So there I was, treading water while waiting for the horn….

Nothing much to say about the swim.  I train without a wetsuit (though I have two), So I saw some ahead of me that I could no longer see once past the first buoy.  I swam with one other person that I could see for the majority.  I don’t think I was especially fast, but someone I’ve seen at a number of tri events this year said they saw me heading out of T1 as they were entering T1.  My T1 times are roughly 2 minutes, so that infers a lead on this person of upwards of 3 minutes in the water.

Swim time: 17:24.  It didn’t feel like swimming 750 meters, but the times certainly suggest this was the case.  Even at 750 m, my time sucks.  But part of that is likely because the timing mat was at the entry to transition, and it was not a direct path.  So, chop off a minute or so for actual swim time?  17th place overall, coming out of the water.

Transition 1 (T1) Swim to Bike

Initially I scoffed at the setup.  It wasn’t the longest run between water to transition, and the mats certainly helped.  What I didn’t feel good about was that we crossed a street, and more importantly – there were gates on either side to stop general traffic from running through the intersection.  So two choke points.  Thankfully, I was alone getting out of the water.  Often I pass a few people on the way in but not this time.

The racking had numbering to portion competitors, but they neglected to mark numbers to indicate where you rack your bike.  Fair enough, that means first come first served…

I didn’t get the ankle on one of the socks right, but managed to shift it enough that it wasn’t a problem.  Add shoes and helmet, and off I went. The mount line for the bike was not far outside of transition, which was nice.

The Bike

I’d ridden the area, and honestly – never thought to pre-ride the course.  It’s not that I thought I knew it, it just never occurred to me.  I’d heard different reports from various people – that it wasn’t hilly, that there was one hill, and that there was two hills.  There were more than that, but the majority of them – if you pushed on the downhill you’d have the momentum to get over what was next.  I passed some that I knew were fellow Sprint participants, the faster swimmers, but congestion was low for me.  The last hill was nasty – it might be a 8-10%  grade but short – 30 meters?  I can see participants who were not strong cyclists having trouble with it.

Back to organization/setup, the signage and signalling was not clear until you were in most intersections.  Way too late, but I guess that’s why I shouldn’t rely on racing infrastructure.  I almost got hit at an intersection because the people watching me failed to tell the person signaling traffic.  It might have been a typical issue with people who really can’t judge cycling traffic speed, or just that they weren’t paying attention for the job they were out there for.  Whatever the issue, I hope people after me got better treatment.

Bike time for 23 KM was 46:41, an average of 29.56 KM/h.  Put me at 10th overall.

Transition 2 (T2): Bike to Run

Nothing special, but I could hear surprise as I did my running dismount.  There were markings suggesting to slow down, and people were starting to approach me as I’m sure they thought I’d blow over the line but at least no one thought they’d make themselves a marter…

Racked the bike, swapped the shoes, added a race belt and hat.  Out I went…

The Run

I struggled with the run.  I stopped for water at the start, and walked a few steps because my breathing was horrible.  What was weird about my breathing is that it was downhill to get onto the course.  All I can figure is my running into transition is blowing out my lungs.  The walk didn’t help at all – I resumed, and it still took until around the 2 KM mark for my breathing to recover.  I tried altering my stride, but with the trail run going up and down – I didn’t maintain.

I also messed up the finish.  I misunderstood where the finish was to be, so I started ramping up to find out I had to make a hard left and continue for another 50 meters.  Would it have made much of a difference?  10 seconds I figure, at best.

Part of the issue was that a major intersection of the trail, where 5+ trails combined – there was no one there to direct, and there was no markings.  Myself and a few others ran an extra ~30 meters to find out we were off course.  It’s not my worst run time this season, but I was hoping I could be a little faster.

Run time was 32:56, a 6:35 min/KM.

Conclusion

I placed 2nd in my category, but I didn’t stick around.  It’s usually just a ribbon, and I have enough of those already.  It’s my run time that I’m really interested in.  I missed first by 7 minutes, but what’s interesting is the person in first was just like me – their run was 28 minutes.  And they were slightly faster than me on the swim and bike.

My times are fairly consistent, so I’m not going to blame this on not getting adequate recovery between events.  And the next tri is next weekend…  Another aspect of consistency is the breathing on the run, that it sucks but it’s largly mental.

This was the first time for the location, but to my knowledge – this outfit has run one other triathlon for at least a couple of years.  I am really not impressed with what I saw today.  I spoke with others who had similar stories about the run, that were stretches of no one (or signage) so they’d ask general public.  But it was nice to be starting at 7 AM – it meant being done before 9.

Race Report

This was the second time I did this triathlon, and the course was unchanged.  That was the best part for me, having the confidence of knowing what the run was like.  And knowing that it was the flatest run that I can remember.

However, this year there was no chip timing.  I asked, and the organizers said something “blew up” but the software was working.  So timing was entered manually.

The Swim

Pool swim – 500 meters, 25 meter lengths, and only three people to a lane.  The Kiefer lane lines were nice, but probably overkill.  Last year, I was in the last swim heat but this year I was in the second to last swim heat.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d be first in the lane, and I was correct.

I miss-timed a few turn arounds, and then noticed that though no toes were tapped – the person behind me was very close.  I can’t remember exactly when or where 2nd overtook me, but it was apparent they were burning matches to stay ahead.  Pushing off the wall, I’d end up on their toes.  One length was especially slow, and I pulled out to pass but didn’t push to make it.  I dropped back to stay in the draft anyway.  We got out of the pool at the same time, but they weren’t jogging into transition.  It doesn’t pay to be first if you can’t pace yourself…

Swim time was 9:25.  Last year, it was 9:37 (on chip).  I don’t know how they scored it, but the woman in front – her time is listed as 9:17.  I pulled up along side to get out of the pool with her, and was 10+ meters ahead getting into transition.  The overall time is key however.  Second fastest swim time for my age category.

Transition 1 (T1): Swim to Bike

I got my socks right this time.  No blisters.  Had a little difficulty getting my feet into the shoes, as my wet hands would loose grip on the shoe heel.

The Bike

This was a three lap loop that you had to keep track of the laps yourself.  The first two laps were uneventful – no issues with traffic, and it was spread out.  It was hard to know what lap people were on, but some bikes I recognized from the last swim heat.  I think 5 people at most passed me.

Most of the corners I was happy with.  I was worried through some about making the corner at speed while not crossing the center line (automatic disqualification).  Without any congestion, I’d enter the corner wide (on the outside) and had a few of the signal people direct me because they thought I didn’t know the course.  But most corners, I could pedal while navigating the corner which made me very happy.

Only one person was at the dismount line, and they were a volunteer from my triathlon club.  It was very nice not to have someone throw themselves in front of me in some vain attempt to make me stop.  I think I overheard some wincing about my running dismount – probably for my cleats.  Sure, running on any cycling cleats is unusual wear and tear – especially for road cleats.  But it’s less of an issue if you do it on Speedplays – I can’t imagine running in cleats that are Shimano or Keo/etc.

Bike time was 38:20.  Last year, it was 38:13.  Again, it’s unclear where they were recording, vs chip time last year.  Fastest bike time, by little over a minute, for my age category.

Transition 2 (T2): Bike to Run

I noticed one or two bikes on the rack for my swim heat as I racked mine.  That was inspiring.  A fellow competitor from my club was moments behind me on the bike.  He’s a far better runner, so I knew what was coming…

The Run

Knowing that the course was quite flat, I really wanted to try lengthening my stride to improve my time.  Even if it meant periodic bursts, I’m despirate to make improvement on my run time.  I was quite surprised that my fellow competitor took as long as they did to overtake me on the run.  Whatever the reason, they steadily put distance on me once they passed.

The thing I noticed about my stride was that physically I didn’t feel any restraint in my legs.  It’s my breathing that is quite laboured, and stride doesn’t seem to change that much.  There were periods that my stride shortened up, but once I became aware I could push back into a longer stride.

Run time was 29:16, compared to 32:26 last year.  That is a personal best, being under 30 min for 5K!  Not the slowest runner either – just second slowest.

Conclusion

This year, done in 1 h 17 min vs last year – 1 h 20 min.  Largely due to the run improving, which I’ve known all along.  I was in first place for my age category, going into the run…  For coming back from a broken rib, I’m quite happy.  But I still want to be faster 🙂

I saw someone mark their spot on the bike rack in an effort to make it more visible.  The guy pulled out some red electrician tape, and wrapped it around the bar for hanging the bike a couple of times.  This is illegal, and people in my club have mentioned the various things they’ve not been allowed to do.  If there were more people – this guys “trick” would not have helped in any way because there’d be a bike overtop of the tape.  I mentioned the tape to a race official, who reviewed with someone senior.  The ruling was others were doing something similar so it would be allowed, which was BS.  The comparison was against people’s gear being stashed – none of it was setup.  Granted, this wasn’t a race for anything like a berth to later competitions, in which case it would have been dealt with more seriously.  The guy was in the last swim heat, and I knew what bike he was riding.  I know he didn’t pass me, and I was happy to see him after the finish – he did not place in the top 3 for anything.  I don’t even remember seeing him on the run.

Race Report

The Swim

The water was 22 C, and it felt like it.  No wind, which is a big change from last year.  They also reversed the direction of the swim – we kept buoys on our left this time.  And the race results say it was 800 meters, not 750 as advertised…

Both events were sold out (I don’t as of when), but oddly – the sprint was 124 people in total.  Which apparently meant a mass start.  As in, everybody.  No putting women a couple minutes behind the men, but this is better for women.  Starting behind the men means more and slower people to swim through.

This time I tried to swim amongst people to get a draft (because I didn’t the last time), but I still am somewhat anxious about being swam over top of given my previously broken rib.  There was a little bit of collision going on, and I certainly noticed my breathing ramping up before the first buoy.  I tried my best to maintain pace while relaxing my breathing.  I was able to stay on the inside, potentially doing less distance than others.  Sighting was problematic, so I generally tried to keep someone in front of me.  There was a bit of “that’s no buoy, that’s a kayak”…

My time was 16:46 – a 45 second improvement over the previous open water swim about a month ago.  It’s not the sub-14 minute swim however I’ve known to do.  But it is an improvement.  To date, I’ve only been swimming ~1500 meters when last year – I was doing ~2500.  It’s time I resumed doing a lap and a half of the lake…

Transition (T1)

The only issue I had in transition was putting on the socks.  This is always an issue when they are rolled up in order to be easier to be put on.  The issue is that you can’t see where the ankle is, so it can be a poor fit that’s going to bite you when running.  Which it did…

The Bike

Similar to previous experiences, starting the bike feels bad as the shock wears off.  But I ride through it, and things end up being fine approaching the 5 KM mark (if not sooner).  I wasn’t impressed when I found my average was 30.63 KM/h.  Passing people made it feel faster. I wonder what the difference was between this course and the previous one.  But I was happy that I rode almost all of it in the drops.  I’m sure some were surprised when I passed them on the hills …in the drops.

One experience of note was a support vehicle passed me, and pulled over a ways down the road.  No big deal, but the driver just opened the door.  I had enough time to move into the center of the lane, but someone else clearly crossed the centerline to power past me – that’s an automatic disqualification.  And I don’t remember it being that they have to – there must have been upwards of 3 feet between me and center.  What made me laugh however was this person died on hills, so I overtook them further down the road.

The end of the bike was probably the best I can remember.  There was a marker to indicate slowing about 10 meters before the stop line, and people indicating.  Two people at the line, and I could hear the surprise as I did my running dismount about a foot or so before the line.  But no twits giving me grief about making the line, throwing themselves in front to attempt to stop me. I wish it was like that more often.

Transition (T2)

I don’t remember much of running with the bike, or really anything about T2.  But I got the race belt, hat, and shoes on without issue.  At this point, I’m happy, confident, and consistent in my transitions so time differences would be due to the course setup.  Some have a really long way to one route or another…

The Run

My run time was 34:21 – 6.52/KM.  Like the swim, it’s not a monumental improvement.  But it is improvement all the same.

I did stop for water – twice.  I was seriously parched, and have noted a need for hydration while cycling now that weather is warmer.  So I’m starting to think about taking water with me on the run.  I had looked into race belts, but I don’t remember finding what I wanted – a combination race belt and water/hydration setup.  It’s so simple to add the stuff for putting a race number on, and I can’t be the first or only one…

I foreshadowed about the sock…  I could feel the blister before the 2 KM mark.  It’s ~3 inches long, running in the middle of my arch.  Right where the ankle of the sock was… I talked with a co-worker about it, who suggested it was probably worth stopping to correct.  I going to try for both approaches – first, get a sock setup working that doesn’t put me in this predicament and second, addressing the sock in T2.

I had thought about trying to lengthen my stride for this race, if only for portions, to get a better time.  It was a relatively flat course, but a trail run so some rises and roots.  The idea for stride was quickly forgotten as the blister made its presence known.

Conclusion

There is improvement.  As always, not as much as I’d like.  It’s been difficult to come to terms with how much I lost when recovering from breaking the rib.  All I can do is strive to continue through this year, to build for a better next year.

The next triathlon is in two weeks.  It’s a 500 m pool swim (easy, sub-10 minutes for me), 20 KM bike on a course that doesn’t appear to have changed, and what I remember as the most flat 5 KM run I’ve experienced to date or can recall.  So I really want to try the stride change (psuedo tempo run).

Run the True Race Distance by Following the Shortest Path

“You want to follow the line that’s closest to that corner,” says Dave Munger, the author of the blog, Science-Based Running. “If you run the tangent, you’re actually running the shortest distance possible.”

Some estimates suggest that running the outside of a turn, as opposed to the inside, can turn out to be up to 40 feet farther. That can add up to nearly a half-mile of extra running over a marathon—but it also depends on the course. If there are more turns or wider roads, then the difference between the inside and outside of each of those turns adds up.

Source: How To Run the Tangents In A Race (And Why You Should!)

You may have to contend with crowds, but as long as the path is clear, “running the tangents” (as the technique is called) can save you a small distance—half a mile over the course of a marathon.

Same principle applies to swimming or cycling.  It’s more important in cycling, because it can allow you to carry/maintain speed through the corner.  Assuming the corner is not sharp.

As for navigating the crowds?  All you can do is be attentive to your surroundings, and anticipate to make the best guess about what people are going to do.  Sometimes that means forcing yourself through them.

Race Report

This is marks the 9th week of the recovery from my broken rib & fractures…

The Swim

This was the first open water swim triathlon of the season for me.  I’d gotten two open water swims in prior to, but not at the location.  The water was 20.2 C, making it wetsuit optional.  The previous year, it was 17 C.  I think I was the only one, Sprint or Standard/Olympic, that swam without a wetsuit.

I looked at how people were setting up, and opted to take the inside track.  The rest were going to be swimming more distance to the first bouy, because they were swim at an angle.  It meant that I didn’t have to fight with people, and I am not in a position where I can take a smack.  But it meant that I had no draft, and no motivation.  The result was my worst open water 750 m time to date – 17:34.  To date, I’d completed the swim in under 14 minutes.  My best was 13:30…

Admittedly, I’ve only resumed swimming in the last 3 weeks.  There’s numerous aspects to why my time was so bad.  At this point, I have no ability to see improvement in the pool – we switch to open water swimming in a week.

Transition (T1) and The Bike

It was uphill all the way out of the water.  Even the bike racks were on an angle.  My T1 time is pretty consistent at ~2 minutes.  Part of that is because I put on socks and shoes.  Running in shoes can make rough ground much more tolerable so you can run faster, cutting down the advantage that having the shoes on the bike might provide.

It was uphill to the mount line, and the line was not immediately at the road as I believe it was last year.  The course was constrained to using only one lane (more about what can disqualify you below), so the space for the mount line was less than half the lane.  It was two bikes/people wide, at best.  It was a nightmare.  Besides the people anxious to get around you at any point, you had cycling traffic from people already on the course.  They were yelling to run past the mount line in hopes of alleviating the bunching, and it did not work.  I don’t imagine everyone was as lucky as I was.

I’d ridden the course a couple of months back.  Some of it I knew by heart, as I grew up in the area.  This is probably the roughest pavement anyone will ever ride.  Also, I remember the hills used to be so much steeper when I was a kid 😉

I knew spots to capitalize on, and what was coming.  What I could not foresee was the congestion.  There’s not supposed to be any, due to the no-drafting rules at this level of competition.  Either you overtake, and the person you overtook has to fall back or vice versa.  That’s what’s supposed to happen.  But at least twice on hills, I rode on the yellow line to get around people who were riding 3 abreast.  On one occasion, I heard someone shout about the fact that going over the line is an automatic disqualification (DQ).  But the reality of triathlon is there’s basically no marshal to enforce this, or they’d have had to talk to the people 3 abreast I got around (which merits only a warning and eventual DQ).  I’ve experienced people who would not surrender position as they should in other triathlons.  I could have shouted at the idiots, but it’s a waste of energy to me that I’d prefer to use to cycle/compete.

Hills are always my chance to capitalize.  Triathlon, at least the ones I’ve participated in to date, do not tend to have real hills – sustained climbs.  Part of that is likely because of the bike weights and general rider ability I figure.  The competitive threat to me is the people who are decent cyclists, in tuck/aero position for the downhills.  Currently they’re in a better position that I am, but it only lasts until the next hill.

Eventually a few of us were trading spots (no drafting).  But then my chain started slipping/skipping.  I thought it was just the high gears, but I’ve since encountered it on a lower gear.  It was incredibly annoying, but might have been good for me – I opted for easier gears than I would have mashed in, so I might have been approaching “spinning” and thus doing speed with less effort/better efficiency.

The stats say I was 12th fastest overall on the bike course for the Sprint (10th for my gender), with a 33.12 KM/h average.  I was second in my age/gender category.

Transition (T2) and The Run

What goes up, must come down.  It was downhill to the bike rack, and to the transition exit to start the run.  There wasn’t anything of note about T2 that I can remember.  Time was 1:44 minutes.

I haven’t been running, and to add to injury – the start of the run was a winding uphill.  Foolishly, I tried to look like I could run until out of sight.  My lungs paid for it – they didn’t recover until around the 2 KM mark, and still continued to get better.  My 5 KM run time was 35:14.

Conclusion

What I’ve lost while recovering from the ribs shows.  1h 36 minutes is ~10 minutes difference to all my races to date, and primarily in both of my weaker areas as well as areas I could not train in.  I’m not that surprised about the run time – it might not even be my worst run time.  But given the circumstances, it played a role in how relaxed I was about this race.  A friend and fellow competitor mentioned their surprise at my lack of anxiety.

Post Race Meal

This race always provides me with the ability to visit an old friend, who made me lunch.  I had delicious curried chicken on rice with black turtle beans, and watermelon.  Lemon cheesecake with blueberry sauce.  There was no time for pictures… 😉

I asked if I could lick the plate, and got the response: “Not in front of the cat!” 😀