Race Report: Ocean Shores Sprint Triathlon 2012

Date: 14 July 2012

Location: North Bay Park, Ocean Shores, WA

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My goal was to do 4 races this year but finding a way to fit in that many races into a 3-month timeframe was looking to be nearly impossible.

Then one day my sister-in-law calls up to talk about their planned trip from the Mid-West out to see us in Washington. In going down the list of things to do in our area (which in and of itself turned into a fun brainstorming activity for my boys) her teenage son Sam asked if it were possible to do a triathlon with me during their visit. I was intrigued and went to searching and found the Ocean Shores Tri & Foot Fest which fit neatly into their planned visit.

My nephew Sam (my wife's, actually...) is a tall, slender, natural born athlete, as opposed to me, a tall, not-so-slender, works-really-hard-just-to-finish athlete. I knew right away he would take this sport just like he has just about every other sport he has tried out.

So we did some email-based planning, borrowed a bike from a friend of mine (THANKS Lauren!), and packed up the family for a trip to the beach.

For those of you that have never been to the Washington coast it isn't typically "shorts and sandals" weather. Indeed the most common apparel worn at the beach in Washington is long pants and a parka. Perhaps even a rain slicker but don't bother with an umbrella because the wind will destroy it in a matter of minutes.

...but do bring your kites!

Pre-race

There would be 3 of us racing, Sam, myself, and my oldest son (Boy #1).

We arrived at Ocean Shores the night before and immediately drove to the park to check out the race venue. As expected the park was a very small park at the north end of a inland lake (i.e. we wouldn't be swimming in the ocean or Gray's Harbor). The water temperature was cool but tolerable (low 60's?). With nothing really set up for the race we spent some time on the playground and watched a few people doing practice swims in the lake.

After playing on the local state beach we checked into our hotel and picked up some dinner from Alec's By the Sea, a fabulous little seafood joint not a mile from our hotel. It was at this point that I realized we had almost missed packet pick-up! So off we went to pick up our race packets.

The Goal

This race has a slightly longer swim than my previous sprints (800m as opposed to 400m) so this one would be a bit different. My training this year has not been what I had hoped: consistency remains my biggest weakness. With this in mind I set a somewhat conservative goal for this race-

Swim: 20:00, T1: 2:00, Bike: 35:00, T2: 2:00, Run: 27:00, Total: 1:26:00

Race Morning

The morning of the race Sam and I set out early from the hotel on our bikes and rode the short distance to the race venue (about 1.5 miles). We arrived with plenty of time to setup our transition areas and get ready for the race but just as we were about to go "review the course maps one more time" the first wave for the sprint tri went off. Whoops, time to race!

Sam's transition area for the Ocean Shores Sprint Tri.

The Swim

Sam and I were fortunate that there was a second wave. }B^)

We waded out into the water and got set for the start. We didn't have to wait very long. When they sounded the starting horn I turned to Sam and said, "Good luck!" It turns out that I didn't see him again until after I finished.

The water was colder than I expected. When we arrived at the park the air temp was pretty warm and I almost didn't wear wet suit. Boy, was I glad that I did. After a few minutes I was into my swim rhythm and off to the races! As I did so, I passed a few people, a rare occurrence!

Here's something else you don't see during a triathlon: a woman doing the back stroke. Not just for a few yards but for the ENTIRE race. With the sky completely cloudy/overcast there were no overhead methods for sighting. Every few minutes she would turn her head sideways to sight off the shoreline of the narrow lake. In the last 50m she turned over and did the crawl stroke. How do I know all this? Because she paced me almost the entire race.

I came out of the water feeling really strong with only a little dizziness.

My Swim result: 23:04, OA: 61/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

Sam's Swim Result: 14:43, OA: 7/93, AG: 2/4 (<18)

T1 

T1 was uneventful and relatively easy. I looked around but there was no Sam. He was long gone. I told him not to wait for me in T1. Good thing too, because he would have been waiting around for 8+ minutes.

My T1 Result: 3:48, OA: 66/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

Sam's T1 Result: 3:26, OA: 56/93, AG: 3/4 (<18)

Transition Area Exit to the bike course.

The Bike

This was the FLATTEST bike/run course EVER, as evident by the GPS elevation profile-

Total elevation gain: fifty (50) feet. That's not an exaggeration or estimation, that is what my GPS recorded. The only "hills," if you can call them that, were a couple of little bridges over the canals. Once I found the right gear I didn't shift for the first half of the race.

Course difficulties for me started around mile 1 where I almost missed a turn. The sign was on the inside of the turn and I missed it completely. If the woman just in front of me had not turned I would have taken a bit of a detour. I passed her shortly thereafter and kept up enough of a pace to pass a lot of other riders along the way.

The ride was nice but very disoriented with no real landmarks to key off. The weather was overcast, so there no sun or clouds overhead. Even the shore was not visible so I really had no idea where I was on the peninsula.

As I headed south and then west there was a slight headwind which shifted to a tailwind on the way back. This helped me keep the last 5 miles right around 20 MPH (3 minute miles).

As the course entered a new-looking subdivision I saw a sign announcing "100' to turnaround" with a guy who said something to me that I couldn't hear. A little further was another sign,"50' to turnaround," and then nothing. With no other riders in front of me as far as I could see I had a decision to make. Where was the turn around? Do I turn around now or ride to the next turn and hope for another sign? There was no turn around sign, no chalk-paint in the middle of the road, no sign marking the exact turnaround point. I decided to turn around about 100 yards past the 50' sign.

I looked for Sam during the entire bike ride, expected to see him as he came back on the out-and-back course, but I never did. Perhaps he was fast enough that I missed him along the way? He did beat me by quite a bit on the swim.

Total distance advertised as 12.4 miles, GPS clocked 12.92.

Felt great coming off the bike and my speed/splits combined with HR show it: negative splits in the last five miles and a downward trending HR through the entire ride.

My Bike Result: 42:32, OA: 29/93, AG: 8/12 (30-39)

 

T2 

As I entered T2 I immediately looked for Sam's bike but it wasn't in his spot. I guess I didn't miss him on the bike. I changed my shoes and went out on the run.

My T2 Result: 1:58, OA: 70/93, AG: 12/12 (30-39)

The Run

I felt strong as I left T2 on the run (running is never easy for me) but it was obvious that I was doing well.

And the stats hold up that assumption: I negative split each mile. I even passed several people on the run, something I rarely do.

The run turn around was WELL marked with a volunteer right there. Why wasn't the bike course similarly marked/manned?

I came back to the finish feeling great! I tried something new this year and purchased a "finish line video" from the race organizers. Was it worth $10? I guess so, since my family missed seeing me at the finish line by only a few seconds. }B^)

 

My Run Result: 29:25, OA: 43/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

My Total Time: 1:40:45, OA: 41/93, AG: 11/12 (30-39)

Finish line!

Post Race

After crossing the finish line I immediately went to the transition area to look for Sam: still no bike. that meant he was still somewhere out on the bike course? I grabbed some food and waited. After about 15 minutes he finally came into T2, big smile and all-

Sam finally arrives in T2 after a LONG bike ride.

It turns out that Sam and 4 others missed the bike turnaround completely and went all the way to the well-marked Olympic Distance turn around point, doubling their bike distance unnecessarily. Whoops. That took Sam out of the running for his AG podium. He would have no doubt picked up at least a 3rd place spot, perhaps even 2nd.

He went out on the run in high spirits and came back barely breathing hard (at least by my standards; I'm usually gasping for breath at the finish line).

Sam getting de-chipped at the finish area.

Sam's Bike Result: 1:34:43, OA: 90/93, AG: 4/4 (<18)

Sam's T2 Result: 2:12, OA: 79/93, AG: 4/4 (<18)

Sam's Run Result: 26:33, OA: 25/93, AG: 3/4 (<18)

Sam's Total Time: 2:21:35, OA: 81/93, AG: 4/4 (<18)

Lessons learned:

  1. Rerun: TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. At least in a more consistent manner. Will I ever learn?
  2. No warm-up swim, should have arrived earlier to allow for this. I avoided a disaster by wearing my wet suit.
  3. Arrive earlier to allow for a course review. May have helped Sam avoid his bike mess.
  4. T1 continues to be too slow.

Kids Triathlon

Boy #1 decided to try the Kids Tri but this one was not your average splash-and-dash: the swim was at least 50 yards through deep water.

Boy #1 listening to the pre-race instructions and getting set to get wet.

As they got into the water for the start it was obvious that the kids didn't like the cold water. Boy #1 kept saying "It's cold!" but eventually he started swimming. 

The kids were supposed to swim across the channel, touch the kayak, and return to shore. More than half the kids turned back at some point without touching the kayak. Boy #1 was slow but he eventually made it, swimming on his back for part of it.

He eventually got a pretty good stroke going and made it back to shore.

According to Boy #1 the bike and run courses were "quite short and easy." He finished strong and in good spirits.



Me, Boy #1, and Sam after our races.

Interesting things seen at Ocean Shores

I have never seen an Ellipticycle until this race (ElliptiGo?). Apparently the race officials let him ride it.

The best place to buy touristy type stuff: SHARKY'S! (That's our hotel in the background)

Recovery

There's nothing better for race recovery than sitting in a car for several hours. *cough* *cough*

We stopped off overnight in Tacoma to visit the Grandparents and took a nice trip around the Chambers Bay Golf Course. The ride up the hills really helped burn off the lactic acid and kept me from getting overly sore.

Overall recovery was quick and easy due to the relatively easy nature of this race: it was fast and flat which means I could have pushed harder. If I do a race like this again I'll know that I can push harder than I do on other courses.

What's next?

For me: The Federal Escape Olympic is coming up in 2 weeks followed by the Grand Columbian Half-Iron Tri in mid-September. 

For Boy #1: He wants to do yet another kids tri at the Federal Escape. This will help judge if he is ready to start training for a real race next year.

For Sam: Not sure yet. I asked him to write up a race report and I'll post it when I can. I think he did exceptionally well and would excel at other races in his home state of Minnesota.

}B^)

RACE REPORT: ISSAQUAH TRIATHLON 2012

Boy #1 at the finish of the Issaquah Triathlon, his 3rd kids tri.Date: 2 June 2012

Location: Lake Sammamish State Park, Issaquah, WA

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The Issaquah Triathlon remains one of my favorite races and, no, it's not because it was my first (which it was). It gives me a great barometer of my training during the off-season (or lack thereof) and is a very well run and fun race. It's even more fun when the water is warm but that hasn't happened in years.

Beginning with the 2009 race my oldest son (i.e. Boy #1) decided to do the kids triathlon. He did it again in 2010 but we both had to miss the race last year due to family scheduling conflicts. This year we were both "all-in" as it were, not missing it for anything!

Packet pickup was at a hotel virtually across the street from the race venue, Lake Sammamish State Park. When we arrived, all 3 boys in tow, Boy #3 informed me that he wanted to race. I said, "That's nice. Let's talk about it later," as I grabbed my packet and got my race number. At every step along the way Boy #3 reminded me again that he wanted to race. As I finished getting my number marked on my leg/arm he once again asked me if he could get a number. Did I mentioned he was excited about this race? We had a little talk about trying hard things and doing our best and he was very excited. As I filled out the form he kept asking me to hurry up, thinking they might run out of shirts or something. In the end he got his race packet, race number markings, and exited with a HUGE grin on his face.

Boy #3 at packet pickup, getting his first tri number!

Pre-race

The night before the race I was surprisingly calm and slept very well even though my wife was quite sick and unable to do much of anything that weekend. Once again Grandma and Grandpa came to the rescue to transport the boys to the kids Tri so they didn't have to sit unsupervised in the park while I did my race. That would not have ended well.

At the start I found someone else with the Super Grover jersey! The woman on my transition rack said she found it several years ago on eBay and had to have it. I agree, that is one of my favorite jerseys and I wear it to all my races, even though it is a pain to put on in T1.

The Goal

On every race I set a goal time and this one was no different. Several years ago I set a lofty goal to finish this race in under 75 minutes and for some reason I thought this was doable this time around.

2010 goal

Swim: 8:00, T1: 2:30, Bike: 40:00, T2: 1:30, Run: 23:00, Total: 1:15:00

The Swim

For the two weeks leading up to the race Boy #1 was kind enough to give me daily updates on the water temperature at Lake Sammamish, even though I knew it was going to suck.

Water temp on race morning: 62F, 6 degrees warmer than the 2010 race but still quite cold. A quick warm-up swim before the race really helped to acclimate my body to the shockingly cold water. I can't imagine having to start without a warmup.

After the obligatory "mandatory race meeting" I only had to wait for about 15 minutes for my wave to be called. At around 7:15 am they called us into the starting pen but there were too many of us and they split us into 2 packs. I was 2 people short of being in the back of pack #1, where I wanted to be, so there I was standing at the FRONT of the second group. 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 swim. A group of 5 of us stayed together until the last 50m where they pulled away from me. The water temp didn't affect me as bad as I thought it would. What did throw me off was the sand bar near the end. Here I was in deep water swimming away when all of a sudden, in one of my arm down strokes, I come up with a handful of sand. I pushed away from it and was able to swim to the finish. In the end I was able to stay in my crawl stroke for nearly the entire race except for a short time after the second buoy where I did the breaststroke for a few yards to catch my breath.

Did I mentioned the sharp rocks? The swim this year, as well as last year, were at the smaller beach on the south end of the lake. Despite having a sandy beach the lake bottom is strewn about with very sharp little rocks that REALLY HURT. This slowed me down considerably coming out of the water.

Swim result: 12:46, OA: 439/527, AG: 50/61 (35-39)

T1 

I am glad I hit my "lap" button on my Garmin as I exited the water because I was curious just how long it was from the swim back to transition. Wow. A quarter mile from the lake shore to the exit to T1? They recorded the time as you entered transition so my swim time includes a that 1/4 mile jog, which added about 90 seconds to my swim time. I need to find a quicker way to complete T1. I should have been in and out in under 2 minutes, not 4:25.

 T1 Result: 4:25, OA: 453/527, AG: 55/61 (35-39)

The Bike

As I began the ride, after blowing my swim time by almost 4 minutes, it was obvious that I was not going to make my bike goal: I was tired, my legs already hurt, and my attitude was somewhere around "meh?". Overall the ride went well and with little to no issues. After the first decent down the small hill on East Lake Sammamish Parkway my attitude improved dramatically. There is no substitute for a long, sustained push over 30 MPH (max speed of 38.6 MPH). I hit the turn around, climbed the hill again, and did the same push on the other side. As I looked at my watch it was obvious that I wouldn't hit my 40 minute goal but maybe I could do 45? Nope, not this time. By the time I got into T2 it was obvious my legs were cooked. Hey, at least I beat 50 minutes!

One missing thing: there is usually someone who plays leap-frog with my after we settle into the bike. Not this time. I passed a couple of people but it was amazing how many VERY fast riders passed me.

Bike Result: 49:48, OA: 356/527, AG: 47/61 (35-39)

T2 T2 Result: 2:11, OA: 433/527, AG: 55/61 (35-39)

The Run

...and then the pain set in. Not cramps, per se, just pretty intense muscle soreness. I didn't push it that hard on the bike, did I? Apparently I did and I had to walk several times just to maintain forward momentum.  By the time I hit the finish line I was DONE. Boy, was I done.

Sprint factor: Was I able to sprint at the end? Not a chance, even though my watch recorded me on a 7:29 pace for the last 20 seconds of the race.

Run Result: 31:24, OA: 461/527, AG: 59/61 (35-39)

Total time: 1:40:32, OA: 428/527, AG: 53/61 (35-39)

Post Race

This race illustrated very well my lack of consistent off-season training. I did a lot of rides and runs, just not strung together into a pattern that would lead to increased fitness or at the intensity I wanted/needed. In the end I can't ask for much more: I finished without incident, and overall I'm happy that my finish time represents the effort I did (or didn't) put into training. Now it does concern me that a little over 3 months away I want to be finishing my first half-iron distance tri, which will require extensive training in July and August, typically my worst months for training.

Lessons learned:

  1. TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. At least in a more consistent manner. Will I ever learn?
  2. A warm-up swim DOES help! Boy, am I glad I did!
  3. Need to improve T1 time considerably.

Kids Triathlon

My kids arrived just as I was walking over to the transition area after my race. We had to hustle to get them to their race on time, which means I had to skip the brauts for now. We did make it, thanks to the help of the Grandparents!

 Getting ready for the start of the kids tri

See how excited they are? Really, they are excited about the race, just not too thrilled about the cold water temps and sharp rocks. Oh, and that the rain was really starting to come down.

Boy #1 said he was going to try to swim the short little course but in the end he waded through it.

Boy #1 coming out of the water after his "swim".

By the time he got to T1 the rain was POURING. I helped him clean off his feet and put his shoes on and he was off.

It was at this point that I heard the crying. Boy #3 was having a terrible race. He went to run into the water and the rocks stopped him cold. He came out of the water very upset and didn't know what to do next. A very kind woman helped him along the shore to the transition area where I found him. I consoled him, helped him dry off, put his coat on him to help warm back up, and he actually continued on the bike, albeit in a bad mood.

Boy #3 recovering in T1 in the pouring rain.

As Boy #3 left on the bike, Boy #1 was coming in, like a rocket. He quickly ditched his bike, helmet, and gloves, and off he went on the run. We was so fast that he beat Grandma and Grandpa to the finish line so we don't actually have a picture of him finishing. He clearly needs to step up to the next level in triathlons after proving that the kids tri was not a challenge to him at all.

Boy #3 eventually made his way around the bike course and was still pretty upset when he came back into transition.

I decided that Boy #3 needed my help on the run so I ran along with him. He calmed down and was able to do pretty well all the way to the finish line. By the time he finished he was actually somewhat happy.

Boy #3 finishing his first kids tri!

To improve attitudes we made sure that both boys found the chocolate milk and bratwurst in the finish line food. By the time we left happy attitudes did in fact abound.

Post race food! Enjoying some bratwursts after the Issaquah Triathlon.

Recovery

My recovery over the next few days started out pretty good but had a weird side effect: my neck was incredibly sore for the next 3 weeks. So much so that I had to make 2 trips to the Chiropractor and apply ice and stretch every night for a month.

What's next?

For me: I need to seriously step up my training, particularly running and swimming, if I want to do the Federal Escape Olympic in late July and the Grand Columbian half-iron in September.

For Boy #1: There are 2 more opportunities this summer for him to actually swimthe swim leg of the kids tri. The Federal Escape has a longer tri for older kids which includes a 100m swim. I told him that if he completes this race I will help him train to compete in the FULL sprint triathlon next year at the Issaquah Tri. I will even race with him, sacrificing my race time to stay with him to make sure he finishes. At this point he is not quite sure this is what he wants but time will tell. He is making great strides in his swimming lessons so we have high hopes.

For Boy #3: He is also taking swim lessons and wants to do the kids tri again next year. This time with water shoes.

}B^)