Friday, June 24, 2011

Race Report - Stroke & Stride #4

The bad weather held off so I was able to complete the whole race this week. Just like a week ago, traffic from the DTC was nothing short of lousy so despite leaving the office a little after 4:00, I did not arrive at the reservoir until after 5:30.

Fortunately, that was still enough time to get into my wetsuit, set up my transition area and get down to the water. I expect I had about five minutes or less to spare, but then again, it was that much less time standing around in a black wetsuit in eighty-some degree heat.

Considering the unpleasant "washing machine" experience I had last week, I decided to hang back. No way I was going to lead the pack in any case. So off we went and I stayed calm and took it easy as I had committed to swim 1500 meters rather than the shorter 750.

As it often does, the trip out to the first buoy seemed to take a long time. Until you've swum a course, you just don't get a good feel for how far out it is. Nevertheless, I sighted reasonably well and was soon making the right turn on the clock-wise course. The distance between the first and second was fairly short making the course look a little like a tall, skinny trapezoid. The problem after rounding the second was that I was swimming west and looking back into the sun. Not directly, but still enough to make a lot of objects in front of me look somewhat silhouetted. That unfortunately included the intermediate tracking buoy. At the time, this did not seem like a problem because the big red flags marking the exit were easy to pick out. So I just pointed myself at them and swam and of course, sighted every so often.

After a while of this, I noticed I was by myself which seemed weird because even if I was at the back of the pack, the swimmers from the second wave--swimming the 750 meter short course--should have caught me. Strange but I kept going. Then I saw a rope in front of me that marks the normal swim area. Then I heard a lifeguard hollering at me from one of the floating platforms that I had needed to swim around that buoy I couldn't see before. So I had to swim around and it made my first lap look a little bit like this:

I actually have found I can sight reasonably well as long as I have some idea of where I'm going. So this was clearly a case of knowing that I really needed to find that buoy and keep it on my right.

The course here is unusually in that after getting out of the water and crossing the timing mat, you run along the beach and get back in the water at the same start point (the one at the top of the map above). Already feeling tired, I ran along the sand at what I thought was a fairly easy pace. Nevertheless, I was panting pretty hard when I got back into the water. I slowly eased in to that second lap so that my heart rate would come back down.

Lap #2 was not any easier, but it did seem to go by more smoothly and by this point, there really was not much company, just me and a few other slow swimmers. One of the things about doing a race in the Boulder area is that it draws out some of the best amateur triathletes in the state and makes average Joes like me look pretty weak by comparison. I also expect that a lot of the slower folks opted for the 750 meter swim.

I was not dead last out of the water, but I'm also pretty sure they reeled in the buoys not long after I stepped out and ran for transition:

Since the swim event last week was cancelled, this was my first experience with transitioning without any assistance. You my recall I took advantage of wetsuit strippers at the Greeley Triathlon. No such luxury here so as I made my way up the hill to the grassy area that served as transition, I managed to get the suit off down to my waist.

Getting out of the suit proved not to be too much trouble and then I was putting on socks and shoes and heading out. I managed to forget the wrist strap from my Garmin so here I am tucking it into my shorts:

I had no particular need to need to PR on the run portion of this my first aquathalon so I just went at the best pace I could. I knew the course having run it last week and I just went at my pace. After about a mile, it actually got a little better and I felt my pulse calm down a bit and my breathing steady. I got turned around and then headed back down along the dam with the finish line out of sight, but the PA system and music within earshot.

Considering I need to do a six mile run tomorrow, I saved a little strength and headed into the finish at a respectable pace but not a sprint either.

At least no one clipped me at the finish.

When it was over, my results broke down like this:

Swim Lap 1: 15:49
Swim Lap 2: 16:42

Total Swim: 32:30

Transition: 3:07

Run: 27:54

Overall time: 1:03:30

Given that the Stroke & Stride Series is not a full on event in the sense of a triathlon or even a running race, I won't be doing my usual list of good and bad. Overall, it's a very good event. I like that I can get timed for my efforts and they've set up at a venue that is host to some of the bigger triathlons in the state, including the Iron Man Boulder 70.3 which will be later this summer.

Once I had cleaned up a little bit and changed into some fresh clothes, my wife (who gets all of the photo credits) and I headed into Boulder where I enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Pizzeria Locale downtown. I've had one or two Neapolitan pizzas before, but this was really good. I highly recommend it if you find yourself looking for unique dining experience in Boulder.

Today I'm enjoying a day off from work with no more workout than some strength exercises. Tomorrow is back on the run for six miles and that will be followed Sunday by a long ride.

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