Sunday August 18th, 2013 marked the 31st running of the Jackson County Triathlon at Longview Lake, Missouri. I was in for the Long Course race, my longest triathlon of the year. The Kansas 5150 race would have surpassed the run distance, but unfortunately I didn't start the race. Despite the somewhat longer distances, I was prepared and ready for a great day!
The Long Course encompassed a 1500 meter swim, a (supposedly) 40 kilometer bike segment, and ended with a 5 mile run along the shaded trails around Longview Lake.
With my last race almost 6 weeks ago, I was targeting this race as an "A" race, or focus for my periodization of training. AKA I was "peaking" for the race, meaning I knew I would be in the best shape possible for a solid outcome.
Race week went really well. Normally, I try and do as many workouts as possible, and was able to get 4 swims, 4 bike rides, and 5 runs in before the race. Most were really short and easy, focused on frequency. Despite the short and easy workouts, I was feeling very fatigued and stiff, which is common. But by Saturday, the day before the race, I was feeling AMAZING! Maybe that's because of the carb loading... Thanks, Chipotle!
My goal for this race (and the year) was to average over 21mph for the 40 kilometer bike segment, just under 25 miles. I was feeling very confident in accomplishing this, and was hoping to still have a good run afterwards.
I woke up race morning around 4:55am and headed to Longview with Rach. She was racing the short course herself! We arrived around 6:00am and found a transition rack where we both would fit. We then began unpacking our stuff. After a quick warm up ride, I realized I was running short on time and needed to head down to the swim start. After cramming myself into my wetsuit and listened to the pre-race instructions, I ran into a training buddy who was in my swim wave. We were the first to go on the day. We both positioned ourselves at the front of the wave, and were off once the horn sounded!
|Chillin' before the start. Well, maybe freezing.|
My wave probably only had 25-30 people, which is still relatively small considering every guy under 40 years old was starting. Having a smaller wave made for a pretty uneventful start. Instead of going out really hard and fast to separate myself, I just settled into a nice and smooth stroke from the start and found someone to draft off of. There was a group of 5 people at the front of the first of two swim laps, with myself taking up the rear of the group. I stuck right on the feet of some guy in a BlueSeventy wetsuit, and tried not to get dropped off the back.
|Swim Start! I'm the guy in the front...|
Heading back for the second lap included a brief stretch swimming parallel to the beach area. I was really happy with this, as I thought we had to exit the water and run along the beach to the start again. I just stayed in my zone and kept right behind the other swimmer, who seemed to be going right at the pace I was comfortable with.
As soon as we got going on the second lap, I could tell we were hitting a lot of other traffic in the water, likely from other swimmers in the short course race that had just started. The second lap wasn't much fun, as it was 750 meters of constant zigzagging around slower swimmers, who were spread out randomly throughout the swim course. I had no contact, but it was still a ton of navigating that slowed me quite a bit.
Soon enough, I was out of the water, probably a few seconds behind the BlueSeventy guy, who I silently thanked for pulling me 95% of the swim. The swim itself was likely a bit longer, probably 100-150 yards more than the stated 1500 meters. I don't think anyone swam faster than a 1:35/100m average, which is unlikely. Not to mention my average is slower than my warmup pace...
|Losing some clothing|
Age Group: 2/10
This transition didn't go smoothly. As soon as I stood up in the water, I worked on getting my wetsuit off, and had to take my Garmin strap off my wrist to remove my wetsuit sleeve. I then ran by my bike rack, and had to do a bit of backtracking to find it. I also forgot to remove my swim cap running to my bike, which probably cost a few seconds. I struggled getting my aero helmet on, and eventually took off to the mount line, where I made an ass of myself trying to mount my bike. I went for a flying mount, but missed my right foot on my pre-clipped shoes. I had to stop and mount my bike, probably causing a mini traffic jam. I was a bit disoriented following the longer swim...
After finally mounting my bike and getting my feet slipped into my shoes, I began riding along Longview Lake, and enjoyed a nice downhill out of transition to get the bike ride going. My plan was to take it easier the first 20 minutes of the bike, and then up the intensity the remainder of the ride. AND I ACTUALLY STUCK TO THE PLAN! It was probably the first time I've ever done what I planned on doing in a race! Normally, I'm all jacked up at the start of the bike and I'm like, "Eff the plan, let's hammer!!!" only to run out of steam 30 minutes later.
Midway through each lap, you cross a somewhat rickety bridge that is covered in wooden planks. It's fine to ride across, but there is a bit of a bump as you get onto it. I neglected to remember this on the first lap, and forgot to slow down. I rocketed over the bridge, and heard a loud THUMP. I began freaking out, thinking my Garmin had gone flying. Nope, still there. The water bottle between my aero bars apparently ejected. I turned to make sure everyone behind me was okay, and kept on flying, hoping that I had hydrated enough from the lake water I drank on the swim...
|Probably staring at a dog...|
After the first 20 minutes, I glanced back and noticed my training buddy right behind me, and we started pushing the pace a bit. We picked up two other riders in front of us, who also picked up the pace and stayed with us. We had a group of 4 all together, with no one really pushing ahead of the others. We stayed this way for most of the second lap. At the last climb, I pushed the pace and was able to break away from the group heading back into T2.
All in all, it was a fantastic ride and I was felt like I pushed hard, yet had a lot left in my legs for a solid run! The distance on the bike is DEFINITELY short, probably by at least a mile. SOOO take my splits for what they're worth. But they are impressive... (humble brag).
Distance: 24.6 (likely not 40k)
Pace: 23.5mph (haha yeah no)
I had slipped out of my shoes while riding, so I just dismounted my bike, ran to my rack, threw on my shoes and took off. There was a longer run out of transition, but all in all, pretty solid.
Let me start out by saying I have NO IDEA where this run came from, but I'm definitely okay with it...
I started out the run on the paved trail right behind my buddy and a guy in my AG, who I likely thought was in 1st place in our AG. I was about 15 seconds behind them, and was content with this starting out on the run. I kept checking my watch initially, and saw the 6:55/mi pace and thought "WTF MARK?!" But I was feeling really good coming off the bike, and the pace seemed comfortable so I just went with it. The plan was for a 7:30/mi average, maybe 7:20 at best. But nothing in training led me to think I'd be doing anything faster than a 7:20 for the 5 miles.
|Working. Upside-down "13" for better luck! It worked!|
I definitely slowed a bit on the back half, but overall my heart rate and lungs were feeling comfortably uncomfortable. My legs just couldn't muster anything faster than the already fast pace they were maintaining. The AGer eventually pulled away, about 40 seconds in front of me and I couldn't catch him. I eventually crossed the finish line, 20 seconds behind the winner.
Distance: 5 miles
I had a really great race that far exceeded my expectations. I was happy with another Age Group podium this year (4/4 so far), and was really happy with the top 15 placement overall while racing the Long Course (usually the better competition does longer events, but not always). The weather definitely contributed to the fast times, as the fairly low humidity and high 60s were conducive to speedy racing. But I usually stay pretty cool in my Sugoi race gear anyway. But I still can't exactly explain the run. The average was probably faster than many of the intervals I do in training, despite those being significantly shorter. Again, I can't explain it, but I'm thrilled with the results! And I got my 21mph average on the bike, even with a more correct race distance!
Rach finished her second triathlon this year, and also took 2nd in her AG. She's going to be kicking my ass in no time... All in all, a great race, fun course on a beautiful day!