Friday, June 10, 2011

Hammonton 2011 Triathlon

It might not surprise you to learn that there aren't many lakes on the Island of Manhattan.  There is plenty of Ocean all around, but not many calm lakes or rivers in which to contest a triathlon.  For that reason, most triathlons in my region are contested in Southern New Jersey - where lakes are somewhat more common, albeit nothing like the plethora that abound in Northern Minnesota.  New Jersey lakes also tend to be somewhat pathetic - rather shallow and not very big.

All that is a lead up to saying that before any triathlon starts, I'm looking at a 90 minute drive to get to South Jersey.  I've actually found I like that drive - as 90 minutes is about the right amount of time to eat a little car breakfast, have a diet coke, and wake up from the fog that the 5:30am wake up call entails.

 This was the first triathlon of the season for me, and I was feeling pretty confident. I had a few reasons to feel confident:
  • Upgraded to a legit Tri bike
  • Over the winter increased my time in the pool by about 1000%
  • Swim lessons with a coach
  • Dropped some weight
  • Running pace 45 seconds faster per mile
Confidence is a particularly key component to successful triathlon.  I suppose one could say confidence is key in anything - from picking up chicks to cooking an omelet.  However, if you can confidently feel that you won't drown and can smoke the bike leg; you've got a big mental advantage.

I was confident, but any time you don that wetsuit and look out into open water at some far off buoy - one can't help but get a small tingle of butterflies in the stomach.  There's also a tangible intense vibe as the athletes gather on shore, all wrapped head to toe in neoprene, swim caps, and goggles.

In all my past triathlons, I'd hung to the back of my swim wave - letting the big boys get out in front, and I took up the rear to go at my own (slow) pace.  This time around, I decided I'd mix it up a bit.  I was on the very front line, and when the gun went off - it's herd mentality at it's finest.  Picture that water ship-sinking scene from 'Titanic', with all the bodies thrashing  in the water - just all going the same direction.  You get knocked a bit, people swim over top of you, you randomly grab a foot in front of you...all the while you're trying to get your stroke going.

It was far from a 'perfect' swim, but went pretty well in general.  I'd done this same race in 2010, and on the swim leg this year I basically cut my time in half over the previous year - a 50% improvement.

Transition 1 was quick, saved time by going sockless on the bike - and also pre-clipping my shoes to my pedals.

The bike leg was statistically my best leg of the event, and I averaged a 19.9 mph average.  I got a slight lower abdominal cramp right as I was getting off the bike into T2, and that slowed me up maybe 15 seconds while I stretched it out.

That's me out front, taking a couple 40 year old guys to the woodshed

The run after the bike is always an odd thing.  It takes your brain and body a couple of minutes to realize you're no longer peddling, and instead running.  There's a strange phenomenon where you feel like you're running extremely slowly - but I think it's a mental smokescreen due to how fast you'd just been peddling.  In fact I know it's a trick, because I averaged my fastest miles of the year on the run.

All told, I performed about as well as my training lead me to think I should.  My swim can still be stronger, and the run is still statistically my slowest event comparatively to the competitors who finish around the same time as I do.

Next Triathlon is this Saturday, and we up the ante a bit with a half mile swim, 16 mile bike, and 4 mile run.

I'm 17 pounds lighter than last June and 12 pounds lighter than New Years.

Learn to like egg whites.

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