Date: Aug. 20, 2011
Location:Beaver Lake Park, Sammamish, WA
Photo Gallery: Flickr.com set
The Beaver Lake Tri is one of my favorite races: it is small and intimate (under 300 participants this year), the location is gorgeous, and it is in my back yard. OK, not literally in my back yard but I only have to drive a couple miles. Last year was almost a colossal failure. I was intent on NOT repeating the same mistakes from last year. This would also be the first race in which I actually used the multi-sport functionality of my Forerunner 310XT. I wanted to use it last year but neglected to actually bring it to the race. It sat comfortably on my desk charging its battery that year. This time I not only remembered to bring it, but I was able to get the splits to match the official splits to within 2 seconds! That may not seem like much to most of you but for a first-time use I was pretty amazed.
The night before I slept really well, which is unusual for me. I am the kind of person who gets major butterflies in the stomach before highly anticipated events, including triathlons. This time was no different. As I laid awake in bed I went over my pre-race checklist, walked through my morning routine, and visualized the entire race from beginning to end.
I had a wheel issue last month that required me to replace both the wheels on my road bike (more on this in a later post). As I approached race day (and even as I write this post 10 days later) my new road wheels had not arrived. A friend at work graciously offered to loan me his Mavic Ksryium rear wheel for the race (I have a spare front wheel). If you look closely in the pic below you can see that it is not my usual wheel. This required quite a bit of tuning to fit properly and to get the derailleur to reach all the gears. In the end it worked flawlessly and allowed me to focus on other race-day issues.
I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm went off at 5:30 am, another unusual happening. It typically takes the sound of a dump truck or blasting rock and roll to get me out of bed in the morning but not today. Even the kids were up early and ready to roll right on time.
The transition area was already packed when I got there at 6:30 am. With such a small race it doesn't take long to find your transition area which is nice during the race. It's easy for a slow person like me to have sub-90 second transition times.
The weather was sunny and somewhat warm but the water was even warmer (somewhere around 75F). Once again the entire family came along to volunteer at the race. If you were at the race and saw a tall woman in the food area, that's my wife.
Boy #1 was my official race photog and found the continuous shutter mode. Now if I can only get him to hold the camera still and let it focus between shots...
After the obligatory "mandatory race meeting" I had the opportunity to be a spectator for nearly 45 minutes as wave after wave of people started in front of my group. Around 8:15 am they finally called us into the starting pen and away we went. My traditional strategy of "wait for everyone else to go first" kind of went out the window. I'm not exactly sure why but as the horn sounded I positioned myself in the middle of the pack where I stayed for the entire race. I'm not sure how I did it but I actually passed a couple of people! Not a single person passed me after the initial "wash tub" start, not even the next wave, which started 3 minutes after us. This is unusual for me since my "freight barge" racing style makes me a prime confidence booster for the faster swimmers. This year I felt unusually fast and even turned up the speed in the last 50 meters. I came out of the water feeling great with lots of energy.
Swim result: 8:29, OA: 204/283, AG: 11/20 (Clydesdale)
T1 T1 Result: 3:41, AG: 15/20 (Clydesdale)
Notice the guy in front me as I exited T1? Number 295 and I played tag on most of the bike. We are very similar in size although I think he may be a few pounds heavier than me. He is also 13 years older. About two-thirds of the way up the big climb on Issaquah-Fall City Road he passed me for the final time and didn't see him again until the finish line food area. He beat me by just over a minute overall.
I downed a Gu Roctane gel within the first 2 miles. It's amazing how fast you can open/eat one of those gel packs without taking your arms off the aerobars. The bike felt REALLY good through the flat section and down the big descent on Duthie Hill Road. I even felt good climbing although I couldn't quite keep up the climbing pace I had hoped for. As I crested the longest climbing section I cautiously approached my nemesis, a 90-degree left hand turn near 287th Ave SE where I crashed the previous year. This time I did it perfectly: I came into it in the right position and at the perfect speed to hold a fast turn through the apex and out the other side. At least that's how it went in my dream the night before. The reality is that I slowed down a little more than I should and a faster cyclist behind me caught up and tried to pass on the inside of that heinous curve. I could hear him approaching from behind by the sound of his freewheel and yelled at him to watch his speed in the turn. He slowed down and waited to pass until after the turn, for which I shouted my approval with a HUGE "Thank you!" and the hardest part of the race was over.
...or so I thought. After a mile of downhill and that nasty curve we were met with another half mile of moderate climbing. This is where the cramping began. My left calf muscle locked up tight with very little warning. With only 2 miles to go my left leg was essentially useless: I could continue to flex my left knee only if I pedaled with my right leg, which I did all the way back into transition. This slowed me down quite a bit. My goal time was 40 minutes and I missed it by a whopping 10 minutes. Throughout the bike I was steadily draining my Nuun-water which I was hoping would help me avoid problems like this. The slowdown was evident in my pacing as my average went down to 15 MPH from 19-21 MPH on the other flat/rolling sections.
Bike Result: 50:13, OA: 184/297, AG: 15/20 (Clydesdale)
I went through T2 in record time making up almost an entire minute on my fastest T2 time in this race. As I left T2 I downed another Gu gel and off I went.
T2 Result: 1:26, AG: 9/20 (Clydesdale)
The run was almost uneventful. Since our wave was so far back in the time schedule there weren't many folks left out on the course. They put all the under-18 racers in the last wave and many of them passed me (as they should!). At times there wasn't a soul around me either in front or behind. At one point I thought I had taken a wrong turn until I crested a hill and found a water station. I was feeling good until I passed the "Mile 2" marker where my cramping problems began again in earnest. This time my right hamstring muscle was locking up in a major way very similar to my previous left-calf cramp. It loosened up a bit during mile 4 and I was able to increase my pace. This is evident in my split pacing-
|Split||Time||Avg Pace||Distance||Elevation Gain||Avg HR|
In the final 200 yards the cramping became pretty intense and I was unable to bend my right knee. Somehow I kept going and hobbled toward the end. The cramping had really slowed me down and I was 6 minutes behind my goal time.
As I reached the finish line I heard a familiar voice announce my name and city: Boy #1 had somehow talked his was into the announcers area. It was really cool to hear my son say, "Yay, Dad!" over the loudspeaker. I'm not sure how he pulled that one off.
I was greeted with a big hug from Boy #1 as I limped straight-legged toward the food area. The conversation with the chip-removal girl went something like this-
CRG: "Please put your foot up here." (on a milk crate so she could cut off the chip strap)
Me: "Uh, I don't think so. I can't bend my knee."
CRG: "Oh, that's OK, at least you can walk. Hold still and I'll get it for you."
She was very polite and accommodating, just like the rest of the volunteers. Did I mention how great the volunteers are at this race?
Run Result: 41:33, OA: 222/279, AG: 12/20 (Clydesdale)
Total time: 1:45:23, OA: 194/262, AG: 14/20 (Clydesdale)
Well it wasn't anywhere near my goal time of 1:28:00 but I did set a new PR of this event and recorded my fastest 400m swim split EVER. Several folks in the food area were commenting on how short they felt the swim course may have been (maybe around 350m?). Since I was swimming pretty close to my training pace I can't say that it was shorter or longer but I am happy with the result.
My bike and run times were not what I was hoping for but overall I can't complain too much. My time reflects my training effort and lack of consistency in training schedule. At least it gives me something to shoot for next year!
My experience using my Garmin 310XT during the race was a very positive one. For the first time I was able to track bike and run paces and know exactly where I stood in my goal times. I'm sure that in longer races a power meter of some sort on the bike would have been very helpful to make sure I was in my power zones. As expected the GPS tracking on the swim is downright useless, even with open water mode enabled. It looks more like an attempt at modern art than a race course.
I found the perfect way NOT to recover from a race: sit in a car for 7 hours! Within an hour of finishing the race we were packed up and on the road to California to spend some of our summer vacation with my folks. That night we arrived at our overnight hotel by 9pm and I was in bed and sleeping within 15 minutes. I can't say that I recommend this as a preferred race recovery method.