Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marble Falls Triathlon - training matters

I raced last weekend in the Marble Falls Triathlon, which is one of my favorite triathlons. Just one of those smaller, simpler races in a very nice setting. Weird part about me liking that race so much is that it really isn't built for my strengths, as it favors the better bikers over the runners. That's because the bike leg is proportionally longer and harder - It's a mix between sprint and olympic distances (1000m swim; 23 mi bike; 4.4 mi run) - and the bike course is not only relatively longer than the other two segments; it is also very hilly.

I did have a good day, though; ended up finishing under the 2 hour mark; and placed 5th in my age group (out of 28). I missed 4th by 5 seconds, but I don't mind - although I admit I might have been more upset if it was 3rd that I missed! : )  But really, this was just a day to have fun and race with no particular goals.

The reason for the reference to "training matters" in the title of this post is that I proved to myself (once again...) that there is no getting around the level and intensity of training that you are doing. Compared to this same point last year when I was doing IM training (Redman and Cozumel) - I have done half as much swimming and biking; and 3/4 the amount of running - and it has not been quite as intense. Even though I felt very good and had a good race, I can't expect to match what I did the previous year with that kind of change in training.

Nothing special... I got everything ready in transition and then hung out with my wife and some friends at the Georgetown Triathletes tent near the transition area. Here's a couple of pics from the morning::

Packed up and ready to head towards the transition area

Nice to have my wife with me : )

My friend Barry and I look like we're staring each other down, I think we were arguing over who looked best in the yellow swim cap : )

On to the details of the race...

The race got underway, and I felt good during the entire swim. I had a rude surprise when I got out, though, and my swim time was over 2 minutes slower than last year..  yikes! The swim course was laid out different this year, though; so I knew better than to panic until I saw everyone else's swim times (and sure enough, everyone was slower - I ended up 7th out of 28 in my AG for the swim).

I made it through transition quickly and got out on the bike. I knew going into this race that there were two primary factors that would effect my bike time, each pulling in opposite directions. On the positive side, my speed and power on the bike have improved over the last year. On the other hand, like I referenced above, I've only done about half as much biking volume this year compared to last year. Those two factors ended up being a wash, and I finished within 20 seconds of my time from last year! Training matters : )

Happy with my bike split, I set off on the run. Once again, based on training volume, I wasn't expecting to match the 6:40 pace from last year - my goal here was just to keep it under 7:00/mile. Final pace: 6:56; so mission accomplished in that respect.

I crossed the finish line in 1:57+ (3 minute offset from clock time you can see in the picture below). The last half mile of the run there was someone in front of me that I kept getting closer and closer to, but couldn't quite catch. On the final little hill I closed that gap to about 5 seconds, but that was all I had in me. As mentioned above, it turns out that he was in my age group, and we ended up coming in 4th and 5th respectively. Who says seconds don't matter? : )

After the race, I enjoyed some good Texas bbq; and spent some time hanging out under the tent with my wife and friends and fellow members of the Georgetown Triathletes club. It's certainly a lot more fun to have family and friends to share these events with : )

Next up... nothing planned once again... Although I did sign up for Ironman Texas; so more to come about that topic soon.


Help the kids!

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation: to find a cure for childhood cancer for kids like Ishani ... Please help them by donating HERE

Hope For Kidz: program to help educate children in Haiti


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The makings of a triathlon

A couple weeks back we held the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon, for which I am on the race committee (swim director). I took some pictures as we worked on the course setup the day before and day of the race; and thought it might be interesting to talk a little bit about what goes into these events.

Long before it gets to the point shown in the pictures below, there are hundreds of things to be done and details to be taken care of (not that I was the one doing all this...). Working with govt officials to secure the site and the date, arranging for registration, setting up the web site, planning the courses, making course maps, working with law enforcement and transportation on the bike course, arranging for lifeguards, lining up food/drink/ice, getting sponsors, acquiring materials for things like flagging and carpeting and buoys, obtaining goodies for the race packets and getting them stuffed, packet-pick up, awards, etc. etc. etc. Whew! Got tired just writing that. And I bet the race director could list a lot more that I'm leaving off :)
All of that comes to a head the day before the race, when set up begins at the race site. Here are some of the highlights of how the weekend unfolded, starting with the day before the race:

Starting construction of the finisher's chute (thanks to High Five Events)

Building the bike racks. Volunteers that help on setup day are so very much appreciated! :)

Sea of bike racks. Just hauling all that piping back and forth is quite a chore!

Transition path carpeted. Details matter...

Swim area and run finish flagged. Lots of stakes to set and pennant flagging to set up.

Swim start buoys set up.
We set up the main course buoys in early May prior to the open water swim clinics, and leave them up all summer (or as long as the vandals leave them alone...).

Finish line finished

Course ready for race day

With everything set up that can be set up prior to race day, most of us go get some rest. The race director sticks around to keep an eye on things until the police come around 10pm. Yes, the glamorous life of a race director :)  After a short night of sleep, the race committee, vendors, and many of the volunteers start showing up at 0 dark thirty the next morning...

Race morning setup begins

Ice cream truck was big hit

Then the race starts... don't really have too many pictures of the race itself; but that's the part most of you are familiar with anyway : )  After the race we had the awards ceremony, which included some nice door prize giveaways (thanks to the sponsors!).

Of course, everything that gets set up, must get taken down... so everyone gets to work with that as soon as they can (e.g. bike racks taken apart and piping loaded back onto trailer after bikes are taken away, pulling the stakes and flagging...). This particular race went very well - everyone stayed safe and seemed to really enjoy themselves; which is what it's all about in the first place!

Thanks once again to everyone that volunteers at this or any other race : )


Help the kids!

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation: to find a cure for childhood cancer for kids like Ishani ... Please help them by donating HERE

Hope For Kidz: program to help educate children in Haiti