Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bluff Creek Triathlon

Last weekend was the first triathlon of the season for me.  I started the year with Bluff Creek, a race that has been on my schedule every year since they started running it 3 years ago.  It's a local sprint race that consists of a 546 yd swim, a 15 mile bike, and a 5k run.  This year's approach was much different than year's prior, as my focus have been on building up the run mileage and not focusing on the swimming and biking as I normally would.  So I really had no expectations going into the race, which was refreshing approach for me.  I was just going to have some fun and see what happens.

I woke up early Sunday morning and assessed the sore throat situation. I had felt one coming on the day before but it really didn't feel any worse so I figured I was good to go. I had some breakfast and then got on my way to Ogden. Transition setup was easy peasy and soon enough I was shuttled over to the swim start. The beach was freezing. The wind had picked up quite a bit and it was blowing right at us. The water temp was actually warmer than the air temp so getting in the water seemed like a good idea to stay warm.  I figured since I have only swam a whopping two times all year I might as swim a few yards to make sure I remembered how. It didn't take too long to feel a little fatigued. Okay, Mr. Twoswims lets call that good and save it for the race.

The Swim:

This was a good old fashioned swim start. Ran in, got kicked and punched around a bit and then eventually got into a bit of a groove. It didn't take too long for me to start wishing the swim was over. Fatigue set in pretty quickly and I couldn't keep up any sort of speed. Luckily it was a short swim and it really didn't take that long to get out of the water. After that I just had to contend with the super long run to the transition area, during which my mom snapped this attractive picture of my trying to get the wetsuit unzipped.

Swim Time: 11:20
Swim Pace: 2:04/100 yds
Age Group Place: 9/22
Overall Place: 54/196

I was in and out of transition in 55 seconds.  Nice and speedy for me.

The Bike:

Alright, bike time! Like the swim I had been neglecting my bike training as well. In fact, I had just gotten around to taking my bike off the trainer the weekend before. The couple of rides I had gone on felt good so I wasn't overly concerned with getting through it. I was more worried about how my legs would respond after a hard ride.

Made it out of the park and headed north. Passed a few people right and got passed once or twice. The wind was out of the NW and blowing pretty good. Not nearly as bad as two years ago, but still enough to make a guy feel slow. I at least didn't have to leave the big ring and was able to keep things moving forward. As I neared the turn around I started counting racers coming back to see if I was having a good day or not. I lost track around ten when I saw some guy wipe out up ahead of me when one of his tires slid off the road and onto the gravel shoulder. It looked painful, but he hopped right up and was getting back on as I passed. I asked if he was okay and got a grunt that resembled a "yes" so I kept moving.

Soon I hit the 180 turnaround and started the way back. The semi-tail wind was glorious and I was able to crank a big gear all the way. I think I only passed one more person on the way but still made great time. Got slowed up a bit by a car at the entrance to the park. He was being held up my the cop, but there were Oly racers coming out of the park and I didn't want to encroach on their lane too much. I eventually squeezed by then popped my feet out of my shoes before getting slowed down a bit by and ambulance navigating its way out. It's never good to see an ambulance in use on race day. I jumped off my bike and ran it in.

Bike Time: 41:57
Bike Pace: 21.45 mph
Age Group Place: 6/22
Overall Place: 16/196

Transitions are second nature now.  Although they did add in a little switchback on the way to the exit this year which surprised me, because it didn't seem like it served any real purpose. "This is new," I told the volunteers. "We like to keep you on your toes," one guy replied. Thanks dude. Still in and out in 28 seconds.

The Run:

I was looking forward to the run because that was essentially the only discipline that I have been training for. Granted I wasn't training for 5k speed, but knocking out 50 mile weeks can't hurt either. Now I knew a hard ride could potentially render all that training useless so I was hoping my legs would respond favorable.

They were pretty sluggish to start, especially navigating through the grassy and dirt parts before finally hitting the pavement. Once I got out there I could see a couple of guys a few hundred yards ahead. Might as well see if I can catch them. My legs were starting to feel better with each stride and I closed a bit of that gap on the way to the turnaround.

Once I hit the halfway mark and was on the way back I picked it up another notch, figuring it was only 10 minutes of pain. I caught one of my rabbits just before the big hill with about a mile to go, but the other one was staying just out of reach. I was closing the gap, but not quick enough. He kept glancing over his shoulder to see where I was at and running harder. By the time we reached the final turn I knew I wasn't going to catch him and finished just a few seconds back. It was okay though, the chase probably made me run a bit harder.

Run Time: 20:51
Bike Pace: 6:42 / mile
Age Group Place: 4/22
Overall Place: 14/196

Final Time: 1:15:32
Age Group Place: 6/22
Overall Place 16/196

After the race I found my parents and walked a bit to cool off.  I was a little surprised at how well the legs felt.  It was alright with me though as I was able to go home and run another 12 miles that afternoon.  I really enjoy this race and it is a good season opener.  As far as my performance goes I was extremely pleased. I did fairly well on minimal training. A few minutes off my personal best here, but I crushed my horrendous time from last year's race by 8 minutes so that felt good to make up for that mess. I also had my best 5k split in a sprint by a few seconds so that was another good take away. All that running may be paying off.

My next race is just around the corner on June 2.  It's a 20k run that I haven't done since 2008 so I'm pretty excited to see if I've made in sort of progress in four years.  As far as training goes this week was my last build week to get my weekly mileage up to 55 miles, the distance my official marathon training plan starts at. This week is a recovery/taper week and that aforementioned training plan will be enacted the week after.  Then it's just 18 hard weeks until Chicago.  I bet they fly by.

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