Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hickory Grove Triathlon (Duathlon) - 8/28/11

It was a beautiful day for an outdoor event, but we'll get to that in a minute.

A couple of days ago we got an e-mail from the organizer of the HGT saying...
"The DNR requires signs warning the public of ecoli levels in two situations. One if the 30 day average rises above 126 ecoli colonies per 100ml of water. Two if any single reading rises above 235 ecoli colonies per 100ml of water.
The latest water test for Hickory Grove is 790 ecoli colonies per 100ml of water."
The high levels were caused by goose poop. Lots and lots of goose poop. They cancelled the swim portion of the race and changed it into a duathlon. Instead of starting with a nice 500 yard swim, it would start with a 1.1 mile run, then the normal 15.5 mile bike, and finish up with a 2 mile run. I was a little bummed because the swim is my strong event. But there was nothing for the swimmer in me today. I've never run before a bike, so at least it would be a new experience. 
One interesting side effect of this was that I had very few nerves before the race. I was all psyched up to compete against last year me, and when the swim was eliminated, all the stress of beating last year me went right out the window. I didn't have to worry about where I would leave my glasses for the swim, or anything!
So I pondered how a run before a bike followed by a run would be. Honestly, I was a little interested to see if I could even do that! I hastily made some new goals for the race. I wanted to run the first leg without stopping to walk. I wanted to improve my bike time from the year before. And I wanted to finish the race. With these goals in mind I got ready to race. Mom, Dad, the Wife and the Kiddos all attended and cheered my friend Matt and me on. Lots of people seemed thrown off by the change in plans. I had no worries though, I just wanted to do the best I could. I was hoping to finish around 1:45, preferably faster rather than slower than that mark.
Run leg 1 - 1.1 miles, 11:26
We were to start in our swim waves, but on the road instead of the beach. At 8:20 my group started. I was in the middle off the pack, but was quickly passed by just about everybody.
 (picture by the Wife)
Group Start... that's me in the blue, about to get passed by nearly everyone behind me.
 Did I mention that the run is my very weakest thing? While I am improving with every run, I still have sore knees and bothersome shin splints. Not to mention carrying a bit too much extra weight around. I was able to keep running through the entire mile, and even ran through the transition area to my bike, and later ran my bike out of transition! First goal accomplished! I was feeling pretty good!  

T1- 2:11 Out of my running shorts and into my bike shorts. And of course trying to catch my breath as much as possible.
Bike 15.5 miles (though both Matt and I had 15.7 miles on our bike computers) - 55:26

(picture by the Wife)
Look at me... running my bike out of T1 like a real triathlete!
 I had a lot of fun on the bike. Not just because I maintained a higher speed than I ever have before, (16.8 mph at 15.5 miles or 17 mph for the 15.7 I had recorded!) but I actually passed quite a few people! Including a guy on a really expensive tri bike with a teardrop helmet. The course went three laps, and although the wind kicked up a bit when I was on my third lap, I was able to stay in almost my highest gear for most of the ride. I say almost the highest gear because when I tried to shift into the top two, the chain would skip and jump on and off the sprockets. Not the best thing to mess with on race day. So I left it a couple of gears below the top gear as much as possible and really pushed as much as I could.

(picture by the Wife)

One more time on my Big Yellow Beast

 In short, it was a very good ride for me. And since my new tri bike is on it's way here, this was the last race for my Big Yellow Beast. It held up like a champ, but now it is time to put it out to pasture. The best part of the bike was passing the viewing area and hearing my little ones cheering me on!
 I raced right up to the dismount area where Mom and Dad were located, and hopped off the bike and into T2.
T2 - 2:22 Out of the bike shorts and back into the running shorts. Tired, jelly legs and my right leg started feeling... twingy.
Run leg 2, 2 miles - 28:52
 (picture by the Wife)

Heading out.
VERY small stride,
Fighting a cramp in the leg.
 I knew I was in trouble when I started running out of the transition area. The twinge in my right calf muscle seemed to be preparing to knot into a very painful cramp. I have had zero trouble with cramps in this 13 months of tri training, and can only remember two other times in my life when my legs cramped up. Once in a high school swim practice, and once during a run in boot camp. I remembered the pain very well and was more than worried that my calf would turn into a rubber pretzel and stop me completely. I hobble/ran as far as I could past the crowds, willing myself to keep jogging and try to appear as if all was well. My stride felt more like a short shuffle as I ran past my Wife and Kids again who cheered me wildly. The Wife later said that I looked like I was hurting when I went past, and indeed I was. So much for my acting skills. I went about a third of a mile before the calf threats turned extra painful and I needed to stop to stretch that pesky muscle. I walked and shook my leg and stretched the calf, and jogged a bit again. To no avail for the whole first half of the run. Finally by the turn around, my leg relaxed and I felt like I could run again. So while I spent the first mile limping along and walking more than I would have liked, I spent the great majority of the second mile actually running!
 (picture by the Wife)
feeling MUCH better! I'm actually running with a little speed.
 As I approached the finish, I saw the Wife and my kiddos cheering me on, my parents and friend Matt cheering me on, and I turned on the speed! ... Seriously, I have GOT to work on my run. I had NO speed left, so I kept up my jogging pace and finished with my hands in the air and a smile on my face.
1:40:19 was my finish time.  When I compare it to last years performance it comes out a little like this. Matt and I decided that adding 10 minutes for a swim portion would be fair, as the swim itself would be faster, but the extra time would account for transition and energy lost during the swim. So adding 10 mikes to my time would be around 1:50. That's a full 13 minutes faster than last year! More directly, if we compare the two bike portions, I went from 1:03:00, or 14.7 MPH, to a 55:26, or 16.8 mph! That is a huge improvement from last year! I also shaved a few minutes off my run time, but probably because it was broken into the two sections.
(picture by Mom)

Matt and I in our spiffy new HGT shirts.
I can't compare these two years very well. But I did have a very fun day with friends and family in a beautiful location. This was my last tri of the season. Soon I will be posting some goals for the next season. I am hooked on this tri thing!

More Later

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