Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shawnee Mission Triathlon Race Report

The SMP Tri is probably one of my favorite races. This is the 3rd year I've done the short course race, and had podium'd in my age group the last 2 years. I was hoping to make it 3 in a row, ultimately trying for the elusive AG win there (2nd place last 2 years).  The weather that day turned out to be perfect for racing, as opposed to the last few years when it's been insanely hot and humid. Rach was doing this race, too. It was her first triathlon, and she did awesome! But this is my blog, so....

Rach and I woke up around 4:15am and got all packed up and headed out to Shawnee Mission Park. We arrived there super early to allow us both time to set up and get through the bag checks, which was a new precaution this year post-Boston.  I think everyone there was fine with the extra time, and appreciated the volunteers being thorough.

I also had to have my bottom bracket adjusted by Elite Cycling.  My cranks were both sliding back and forth while riding, which probably isn't the safest thing going 40mph down a hill. Plus, I couldn't shift into the big ring up front. I quickly got fixed up, and had zero problems the rest of the day (or to this point, either). 

I quickly got everything set up, checked on Rach, and headed over to chat with a few training buddies before the race. I had plenty of time, as the long course race started at 6:45, and my wave was last to go on the day at 8:15.  

Training buds. Guy on the far right not included...

Eventually, I warmed up by swimming over to the beach start.  This was the first year doing a time trial start, with a pair starting every 3 seconds.  I lined myself up as the 3rd pair to swim, and sprinted into the water when the volunteer said go!

I hate time trial starts... I missed the mass chaos of the wave start, getting smashed by limbs, doing some  smashing myself. It is always fairly stressful, yet gets me in racing mode.  The start to this race lacked the intensity.  And it showed. I immediately tried to get into a good rhythm, focusing on my body position and having a strong arm pull. Before I knew it, I was at the dock, and began running into people from the previous wave. Like 150m into the swim...

View from the dock

My heart rate monitor strap also began sliding down my body as soon as I dove into the water, and I had to stop quickly 4 or 5 times to pull it back up on my chest (although on top of my jersey). 

Dealing with the HR strap and the crowded course from slower swimmers made getting into a decent groove impossible.  This wasn't my best swim, far from it, but it's because of the necessary route changes I had to make constantly, as opposed to just swimming slow.  

Soon enough, though, I made my way to the swim exit and saw Rach right in front of me! I wasn't able to catch her, as she started in the wave before mine.

Time: 8:55
Distance: 500 meters
Pace: 1:47/100 meters
Age Group: 4/19
Overall: 17/279

This race has a fairly long run from the water to the transition area, all up hill.  The short course racers also get stuck with the furthest racks away from the swim in and bike exit. Always...  

I passed Rach on the run, tapped her back, and said she's looking good. I then headed to my rack, threw my helmet on, shades on, and hauled ass to the bike exit.  

This was the second race I've done with the shoes clipped in, and haven't had any problems. Yet...

Time:  1:45
Age Group: 3/19
Overall: 11/279

This bike ride was tough.  The course itself can be brutal, with almost 800 feet of climbing in 9 miles. For Kansas, that's crazy.  I immediately had trouble getting power to my pedals. My legs just weren't opening up.  I struggled on every hill, couldn't push the pace on the flats, and was needing to recover on every downhill as opposed to pounding it out.  My heart rate was through the roof the entire ride. I tried to get it down by backing off the pace, but it never really came down.  

Slipping my feet into my bike shoes

The course was also incredibly congested, with slower riders all over the place.  In the past few years, I never noticed any real congestion on the bike course. If I did, the slower riders were staying to the right.  This wasn't the case this year.  I actually spent a decent amount of time out of the TT position navigating my way around people.  

I never was passed, and did pass a ton of people, but just didn't have it in the legs.  My overall pace for the race (2 laps) was slower than any training ride I've done out there this year, even when compared to times when I did 4 laps. Disappointing, but still significantly better than last year.

Time:  25:35
Distance: 9 miles
Pace: 21.1 mph
Age Group: 3/19
Overall: 12/19

Got my feet out of my shoes prior to dismounting, and did a successful rolling dismount while getting my helmet unclipped.  Ran to my rack, mounted my bike, slipped my shoes on and took off, forgetting my race belt. Oops... Hopefully I don't do this at a bigger race, or I will get disqualified!

Time: 0:52
Age Group: 2/19

I immediately could feel my legs opening up as soon as I started running! Finally, let's get it going!  I focused on a quick leg turnover, and began passing people.  I looked down at my Garmin, and saw a 6:45/mi pace. Woah, better slow down a bit. I was hoping to start out at 7:20/mi and descend from there. While I was feeling really good and the pace easy, I knew I should slow down so I didn't blow up at the end.

I made it up the brutal Dam Hill, and enjoyed the downhill section and new flat section before the climb to the finish.  I kept checking my watch, but it still showed a 6:45/mi pace. I kept slowing down, thinking again that I didn't want to explode.

I kept going at that pace till the final climb to the finish. I looked at my watch one more time: 6:45/mi pace. Yeah.... something wasn't right.  There was no way I was averaging under a 7 minute mile.  I pushed hard to the finish, but really didn't feel tired. I could have done a second lap if I needed to. Damn....

Time: 24:55
Distance: 3.2 miles
Pace: 7:47/mi
Age Group:  6/19
Overall:  42/279

Pic as soon as you finish....

Total Time:  1:02:00
Age Group:  3/19
Overall:  13/279

Overall, I'm incredibly disappointed in my performance and myself, for a ONE reason: I relied too heavily on the technology that I use as a tool.  A TOOL!!! Not a guide... I should have had the courage to say, "Hey, I'm feeling good, let's see what I can do!"  I love triathlon because it allows me to test myself, whether it's in training or racing.  I didn't feel like I was able to really test myself at the race. Or maybe I did, and failed... My run should have easily been 2 minutes faster.

I am happy with the 3rd place finish.  The two guys that beat me had great races, and I hope to race them again.  It was great to see Rach race, letting her experience the fun and pain of triathlon! And a bunch of the training buddies had great races, with most of us on the podium.

nerding out at the Awards....
Overall, JCPRD does a great race, and it's probably the best beginner friendly race in Kansas City. Everything is tailored to beginners or newbies, and everyone is very friendly and helpful, should you need it.  The TT start was instituted to make the swim less daunting, which I'm okay with if it brings more people to the sport. I just don't prefer it....

Me and the First Timer...
All in all, not my best race, but I get a chance to redeem myself this weekend at the inaugural Lawrence Triathlon. 

Thanks for reading!

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