Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Maple Grove Triathlon Race Report

This was the 4th year for the Maple Grove Triathlon, and it was my 4th year doing this triathlon. I have done this triathlon since the beginning, which is cool to say,  and every year I have done the Olympic\International distance.  The race is now owned by Lifetime.  Aside from the advertising, the race was run the same as always.
The bike is a little long for an Olympic distance race, at 26 miles, I am guessing that is why they labeled it as an "International Distance".  The swim was a little long this year too.......more about that later.
I was up early, as usual.  I went through my usual routine and got there pretty early, about 5ish, transition opens at 5AM, and got into transition by 5:30.  Long walk from parking to bike, and I was finishing my donut :)
In the past, you racked your bike by wave, anywhere you wanted on the rack for your wave.  This year, everyone was assigned a number.  Somehow, somehow, I lucked out and my number was on the end of a rack.  Hooray. 
I setup, chatted with some people, which is nice, as always, took some pictures, and wandered around.  I decided to go for a little ride, so I grabbed my bike and went to head out.  The night before I put new cleats on my shoes, see my race report from last weekend, and I was pretty sure I did it right.  I discovered I put my right cleat on backwards.  Lucky, I tend to check my stuff on race day.  I got a screwdriver and fixed it.  No problem. 
I was feeling ok this morning.  Not great, not super tired, just ok.  This race has a tough run, it is two loops, it can get really hot, and it is not flat.  So, not feeling fresh can be a bad thing.
I was in the 10th wave, which sounds like a long wait, but it was not.  They did waves, but with time trial start within each wave.  Two person side-by-side start. 
I started off well.  Sometimes it is hard for me to have a fast start with TT.  You don't get the same rush you get with a group wave start.  The TT does give you a little more room at the start, which is a nice trade-off.  The swim felt like it was going well, but it seemed like it was taking a long, long time.  When I got out, it had taken me 32+ minutes!  What!  The longest previously, here was 28 minutes, the last two years I was in the 27 minute range. I know, I know I was not swimming that much slower.  After the race I talked with people, we all agreed, it was long.  I overheard that someone with GPS on the swim said it was closer to 2000 yards, which is over a mile.  I think I let my swim time get to me a little during the race.  I was trying to shoot for a goal time, and I let the longer swim time get into my head a little. 
The transition run was longer this year, they changed the transition to make it more neutral.
While I was transitioning from the swim to the bike, a guy two bikes down from me started talking to me.  He asked if I was Chris Hawes, and when I responded yes, he told me his name and said we graduated from high school together.  Odd.
I got out on the bike and it did not feel too bad at first.  The wind was harsh, there were points I felt like I was not moving.  I am surprised my average speed was not worse.  I like the bike course, I think if there was little to know wind, it would be one of my fastest bikes of the year, but the wind is killer.  I tried a gel pack on the bike.  Not sure this was a great idea.  It didn't taste great going down and it felt ick in my stomach for a little while.  Luckily, the ick went away before the run.
As I was coming into the last half-mile or less of the bike I decide to start getting out of my shoes.  I reached down to undo the Velcro on my right shoe, and a massive ab cramp came.  I locked up a little, then I tried to stretch myself out a little.  Eventually, it went away enough for me to get out of my shoe.  I went to the left and it happened again, not as bad.  I did get out of both shoes and the cramps mostly passed by the time I had to dismount.  When you come into transition, from the bike, you  take a sharp right, go down a short and steep hill to the dismount line.  For some reason, people think they don't have to slow down.  A bunch of people passed me going into the right turn and down the hill.  When I got to the bottom there was about a 12-14 person cluster, with someone on the ground.  People need to learn that there are times it is ok to slow down. 
I came off the bike feeling ok.  I took it a little easy on the way out, partly because of the steep uphill on the way out.  They changed the run a little, since they now have the run going through the park on the second loop.  I felt about as good as I think I could feel, especially with the difficulty of this run.  I started the second loop, going up the hill through transition, and I could start to feel myself slow down.  About mile 4 it started to become the real mental challenge.  Just telling myself it was about 2 more miles, don't walk, keep running.  There are two tough hills near the end, and I did not want to walk them.  I ended up not walking, I was able to "run" them.  It definitely was not my fastest 10K, but it was not my slowest.  The water stops out there were lifesavers
It is amazing how this triathlon has grown, both in number and competition.  There was 62 people in my AG this year!  That is almost 3 times as many people as 2010.  The first year I got third in my AG, now I am not even close.  Everyone is soooooo fast now.
So, I had my slowest run and my slowest bike of the 4 years I have done this race.  I doubt it was my slowest swim.  I think my swim was probably about the same as previous years and close to what I have been swimming this year.  I really want to go under, it is actually a goal of mine, to go under 2.5 hours for an Olympic distance tri.  If I went 2 hours and 33 minutes, or so, I would hit that goal at Maple Grove, due to the long bike.  Even if you take out about 5 minutes for the swim, I wasn't even close.  That is somewhat disappointing.  But, the fact that I finished, and it wasn't too terrible, makes it ok.  At least by not going under 2.5 hours for an Olympic distance(ish) race I still have a goal to shoot for.  I think I will continue to do this race.  It is well run, mostly, and challenging.  They could make the racer post-race food and refreshment area a little larger and with some better shade.  It is a little crowded and they were out of some of the food.
This coming weekend, as usual, I am doing St. Croix Valley.  Last year I was my absolute worst race of the year.  I am not sure what happened, but I, for lack of better phrasing "shit the bed".  It was one of my worst races of all time.  I had nothing.  This is the race I have the best chance for going under 2.5 hours.  Not sure I can do it this year.  I am definitely going for better than last year.

2013 Maple Grove Triathlon Results
Swim (1640yards?) = 32:27 (2:03/100 yards)  - This was NOT 1.5Km (~0.9mi)!
T1 = 3:39
Bike (26mi) = 1:16:01 (20.6MPH, slowest bike split at this race)
T2 = 1:10
Run (6.2mi) = 54:05 (8:43/mi, slowest run split at this race)
Total = 1:47:47
Overall = 120/438
AG = 23/62
Overall Pace = 4:45/mi

2012 Maple Grove Triathlon Results
Swim (1640yards) = 28:26 (1:48/100 yards)
T1 = 1:57
Bike (26mi) = 1:13:14 (21.2MPH)
T2 = 0:54
Run (6.2mi) = 52:12 (8:25/mi)
Total = 1:37:09
Overall = 103/367
AG = 18/47
Overall Pace = 4:45/mi

2011 Maple Grove Triathlon Results
Swim (1640yards) = 27:29 (1:44/100 yards)
T1 = 2:26
Bike (26mi) = 1:13:32 (21.2MPH)
T2 = 1:12
Run (6.2mi) = 50:15 (8:06/mi)
Total = 1:34:49
Overall = 44/216
AG = 9/33
Overall Pace = 4:41/mi

2010 Maple Grove Triathlon Results
Swim (1640yards) = 27:23 (1:43/100 yards)
T1 = 2:27
Bike (26mi) = 1:13:12 (21.3MPH)
T2 = 1:03
Run (6.2mi) = 52:49 (8:32/mi)
Total = 1:36:54
Overall = 31/167
AG = 3/22
Overall Pace = 4:44/mi

Kerry Yndestad, Yndecam, took this picture of my ugly, ugly feet.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2013 Lake Marion Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Pictures of me, taken by Kerry Yndestad, at Yndecam.

As usual, picture of scenery and stuff taken by me

This was my first time racing Lake Marion.  I decided to do the Sprint instead of the Olympic.   Normally, I will do the Olympic over a Sprint, but I am doing two Olympics in a row the following weekends, so I opted for the shorter distance.  Opting for the shorter distance appeared to be the right decision, because, surprisingly, I got my first podium finish of the year.  I got second place in my AG.  

First place went to the overall winner, who was about 15 minutes (!) faster than me.  It was not my fastest race of the year.  Actually, it was very average.  My swim was slightly, very slightly faster, than my average race pace, my bike was slightly faster than my average race pace for the year, and my run pace was my average for the year.  I was much faster at Graniteman Big Lake two weeks, where I was 7th out of 28.  I would say that the Lake Marion course is a little more difficult than Big Lake.  Lake Marion is a shorter swim, longer bike, same run distance, but maybe a little more challenging.

I started my morning as usual, usual breakfast, usual coffee and donut on the way.  Water and Gatorade before the race.  I was there early, as usual, but not so early that I was one of the first in transition.  Even though I was not one of the first, I think I got one of the best spots.  The racks were setup up long, so there was not a lot of end spots, where I like to be.  All the end spots were taken, except for the one nearest the run entrance, almost right in front.  It was nearly perfect for me.  I loved the spot. 
There were a lot of people I know doing this race, so I did a little more chatting beforehand, which was really nice.  Also, the Sprint waves went later than Olympic, so there was a bit of a longer wait.  

On Tuesday night, I discovered I had a busted a cleat on my left shoe.  I road with the busted cleat at Tuesday Night Time Trials, and it went ok.  I thought I fixed it.  Stupidly, I thought I fixed it without checking to see if the shoe would clip in.  When I got setup in transition, I decide to take the bike out and discovered the cleat still did not work correctly.  I went over to the guys who were wrenching, Valley View Bikes (I think), and got a screw driver.  Only to discover part of the cleat that holds the shoe onto the cleat was missing.  The back portion was there but the front was gone.  I flipped the back to the front and that seemed to work ok.  At least to race with.  It did work ok.  My foot slipped once, but not bad.  I don't think it hurt my speed too badly.

So, as I have tried to do the last two races, I went out aggressively on the swim.  I think it worked well. I came out 3rd in my AG.  Out of the water I got passed by Steve Stenzel (if you haven't checked out his blog, go here http://iwannagetphysical.blogspot.com he is a much better writer, picture taker, and runner than I am) on the long run to the transition.  We are not in the same AG, so I was not worried about it, but I thought we biked about the same pace, so when I saw him leaving transition before me I thought he would either keep the gap on me, or I would barely catch him on the bike.  If you compare us running, his slowest day to my fastest day, he probably outruns me by about 5-6 minutes.  Anyway, I got in and out of transition without issue.

There was a lot more wind on the bike than I thought there would be.  It seemed like a constant headwind.  If the wind was light, or not at all, it would be a fast bike course.  No serious climbs, that I can remember.  I had no issues with my pedal.  

I came off the bike feeling ok.  Not great.  I got out of T2, pretty quick.  Another one under a minute.  I started off fast, I had no idea what the run was like.  It starts off flat to a little downhill, and then around a mile has a long and painful uphill, then it flattens briefly, and then a short and very steep uphill near the turnaround, then downhill most of the way back.  The morning temp started off pleasant, but got hot by the time I ran.  This was one of the few "hot" runs of the year.  It hurt more than Big Lake, and was slower.  I think the wind on the bike, and my desire to really crank it out, wore out my legs pretty good.

When it was over, I got my final time split and figured I would not finish on the podium.  I waited for the results to post, just in case.  I was glad I waited, because I did get a nice 2nd place metal for my effort.  I also spent some more time chatting with people I don't see too often at races.

I would do this race again.  Packet pick-up was nice and easy on race day.  I like the course, challenging run.  Good job with food and water.  I think I might try the Olympic next year, depending on my schedule, otherwise I would do the sprint again.  Weather was great.  All-in-all it was a great day.

2013 Lake Marion Sprint Triathlon Results
Swim (440 yds) = 7:15 (1:39/100yds)
T1 = 2:50
Bike (17.3mi) = 47:34 (21.8 MPH)
T2 = 0:49
Run (3.1mi, heard a rumor it was actually 3.2) = 25:06 (8:06/mi)
Total = 1:23:22
Overall = 23/282
AG = 2/27 (First podium of the year, last time I had one was 2011)
Overall Pace = 4:03/mi

Friday, August 9, 2013

2013 Graniteman Big Lake Race Report

First of all, this was the 90th individual multi-sport event (63 triathlons and 27 duathlons) I have completed since I started with the Gear West Duathlon in 2006.  Next stop, 100?  I think I will hit 100 races next season, 100 triathlons will be a few years away.

This race was pretty close to one of those rare occasions when all three, I guess four if you include transitions, come together.  I had a very good swim, a great bike (second fast average speed in a triathlon or duathlon), and my fastest run of the year (a very fast run for me in general).  I think a combination of great weather, a great course, and decent night's sleep really helped things along.
The weather was about as close to perfect as you can get.  Sun was out, not humid, not hot, very little wind.  I think the weather, actually  whether it is sunny or not, makes a big difference.  At least this year.  It seems the races that were cloudy and kind of gloomy, I didn't have a great race.  When the weather was nice, I had a better race.
The swim is a rectangle.  I got to the inside and got out fast ahead of almost everyone, for once.  It was clear swimming until we caught the wave before, but it was still not very crowded at all.  I figured I was 3rd or 4th out of the water in my AG.  When I checked the results I was 4th out, not bad.  As has been the case all year, getting out of my wetsuit, getting socks on, and getting on the bike has been painfully slow, at least it feels that way and looks that way from my times.  At this race, I was a little better.
The bike course is nearly flat, no real climbs, no excuses for not going as fast as possible.  The bike went well and it felt pretty good.  I was surprised, pleasantly, to see my split.  It is the second fastest average speed I have ever had in a triathlon or duathlon.  I had my fastest T2 of the year.
The run course, along Big Lake, is not flat, it has some up and downs along it, not as bad as Waconia or Maple Grove.  It has decent shade, not entirely out in the open like Heart of the Lakes.
I would have thought I would finish better than 7th out of 28 in my AG, but it is just that competitive in my AG.  It is only going to get more competitive the older I get.  The 40-44, and 45-49 guys are really fast.
I did two of the three Graniteman races this year, Saint Cloud and Big Lake.  I missed the second race, Clearwater.  I will definitely do Big Lake again, and I would like to try Saint Cloud again.  I think I can go much faster at Saint Cloud.  These races are well run and the courses are pretty nice.
Overall, it was a great day and a great race.

2013 Graniteman Big Lake
Swim (581 yards) = 9:26 (1:41/100yards)
T1 = 2:04
Bike (14.5mi) = 37:50 (22.9MPH)
T2 = 0:41
Run (3.1mi) = 23:45 (7:40/mile)
Total = 1:13:45
Overall = 32/270
AG = 7/28
Pace = 4:07/mile

Saturday, August 3, 2013

July 2013 Racing and Training Summary and a Little Analysis of TT results

July had two triathlons and three time trials, so it was a pretty busy month.
I would say two of the three TTs were pretty good, the last one the best of the year.  The one on 7/16 was the worst of the year.  I think it was the worst of the last few years.  Ugh.  I could not get going that evening.
Heart of the Lakes went well, missed my best time there by 11 seconds.  Chisago Lakes Sprint went pretty good too.  Slow bike, fast swim, and one of my better runs.  So, my triathlons for the month went well.
Total time this year was more than last year, but still down from previous years.  I feel like I am getting the intensity I need, I would, as always like to get a little more time in.  I don't think that is realistic with the amount I race.  I am tempted to train more, but I think with races every weekend, or every other weekend, I sometimes walk a fine line between training the right amount, and being too tired.  I don't know how many more years I am going to keep racing like this, 10+ races a season, but I think I really need to do more to frontload my training.  More time, and intensity in Dec-April, May.  My run is going better this year.  If I can keep it up, it might be one of my faster years, on average.

July Tuesday Night Time Trial (11 mi) Results
7/2 - 29:57 = 22.04MPH
7/16 - 31:09 = 21.2MPH
7/30 - 29:23 = 22.46MPH
Average so far this year = 21.91MPH (Std Dev = 0.492)
I need to have a good final race for the year.  The last time I averaged under 22MPH was 2006, my first year, 2007, the first year I had a TT bike, and 2009, when I only did two and was coming off a stress fracture.

I did a little analysis of my TT performance when I have a race the weekend before and when I don't have a race the weekend before.   I wanted to see if there is a significant difference between performing on legs that should be better rested, to legs that might be tired after a race weekend.  I looked at all my times, throwing out 2006 and 2009.  2006 was my first year and I did it on a road bike, and 2009 I only did two TTs and I was coming off of a stress fracture.  Also, I only looked at my Tuesday Night Time Trial (T'N'T) races.  I separated the TTs done after a race weekend from the TTs when there was no race the weekend before.  I subtracted the speeds from the average for that year.  Then I added up all those differences for the TTs after race weekends and divided by the number of races.  I then did the same thing for all the TTs that did not have a race the weekend before.  I ended up with two numbers that are an average of the differences in my performance for each year, based on the years average.  If you can follow that.  What I found was that there is little difference.  I was ~0.09MPH faster than my average speed when I had a race the weekend before, and I was about ~0.07MPH slower when I had no race the weekend before.  I did not look at the range or the standard deviation, but it is pretty large.  Based on the data, I would say that there is no difference in my overall performance if I race the weekend before or not.  I guess that, in itself, is a good thing. 

August is going to be a bit busier.  The last TT of the year and four (4) triathlons, two sprints and two Olympics.

Year-to-Year July Totals

YTD and Totals Since 2007

Totals and Averages Since 2007

Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013 Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon Report


Picture of me, above, coming into the finish is courtesy of Nick Morales at Trijuice.com
Same as last year, we stayed at my wife's aunt and uncle's lake house at a lake very close to the start of Chisago.  It is about a 10 minute bike ride from their place.  The good part is that I get to sleep in, the bad part is that I don't get to sleep in my own bed.  I slept badly.  Probably the worst night of sleep before any race this year.  Mostly because the bed was uncomfortable.  I woke up and my left hand, and partway down my arm hurt.  I must have slept on it wrong.  Really wrong.
It rained on and off all day Saturday.  The forecast for Sunday was not good.  Sunday's weather was not the worst of the year, that is reserved for Manitou Sprint, but it was not great.  It was right about 50, windy, and cloudy.
Sunday morning I got up and went through my usual routine, at a different place.  The shower and shave usually kind of wake me up.  Didn't really help this morning.  The pain in my left arm was going away, and was eventually gone by the time I left.  I had breakfast of yogurt, oj, banana, donut, and coffee, more or less the usual.
Once I got organized, I biked off to the start, in the cold and wind.
The transition area at this race is crowded.  There is a sprint and a half-IM, over a 1000 people, and we are all packed on top of a hill overlooking the beach.  I think a number of people backed out, because there seemed to be a number of empty spots around.  I kind of felt slow and disoriented, it took me some time to get my stuff setup, and sorted out.  It was probably a combination of the weather and bad sleep.  I felt a little off.
I really had to go to the bathroom and there was a line.  I decide to wait and get my transition area organized, have my race stuff for the swim, along with wetsuit, and then head to the very long bathroom line.  Typically, I have business taken care of earlier than this.  This being about 20-25 minutes before the first wave goes off. The line went fast and I went fast.  I got out, and got my wetsuit on and went to the beach.  
I did not warmup.  I just went in up to my waist to feel the water.  The first wave went at 7AM, there were 6 or 7 waves, I cannot remember, half-IM waves and then the sprint waves.  I was in wave 10.  It was cold, even with my wetsuit on I started shivering.  I talked to a few people I hadn't seen in awhile and tried to keep warm.
I think they sped things up, wave 10 went at about 20 minutes after, which seemed kind of fast.
I got to the front and took off fast, for me.  At this race, put on by Midwest Sports Events, they have mixed age and sex waves.  So, you don't really know where you are relative to your AG.  Anyway, I got about a third through the quarter mile swim and had to back off a little, which was fine, since the first corner was a log jam, once I got around the first corner and the second corner, I picked up the pace again.  The swim felt pretty good, and turned out to be my fastest swim time here.
I did not feel too cold getting out.  That would change.  My transition was pretty slow, second slowest ever.
I started to feel the cold.  I debated wearing arm warmers, and even a hat under my helmet, and decided against it.  I got out on the bike and was pretty cold.  I didn't really warm up that much on the bike.  
I had a great race last weekend at Heart of the Lakes, and it felt pretty good.  This race was kind of the opposite.  The bike was not feeling too great.  I also felt some GI pain/distress, which is odd.  Not sure if the spaghetti dinner and beer the night before was having an adverse reaction, or what.  It was windy on the bike, and it felt like the wind was a headwind no matter what.  Just kind of miserable.  It turned out to be my second slowest bike split at this race.  Actually, when I saw my time and average speed I was surprised at how fast I had gone.  I thought it would have been slower.
It felt good to get off the bike.  It did not feel as good as it could.  My legs and feet were numb.  The first thing you do is run up a short steep hill, and then up a longer, less steep hill.  It took almost a mile for my legs to feel warmed up.  The run out is mostly uphill, the run back is mostly downhill.  Except of the two short steep hills once you get in the park.  The run felt ok.  It was faster than I felt.  Something else unusual happened, I had GI distress during the run.  I was holding it, on and off, the whole run.  I don't know if this has ever happened to me.  I made it through.  Of course, when I finished, I didn't really have to go.  Eventually, I did and it was less than pleasant.
My wife, her aunt and uncle, her cousin, and her other cousin's boyfriend were there to cheer on me, and my wife's other cousin, who was doing her first triathlon.  She finished and had a very good race, for her first time in such crappy weather.  Good for her.  She even said that she would do another.  Even better.  It was great to have people cheering, after the swim, on the way out on the bike, on the way in from the bike, on the way out on the run, and finishing.  
I was kind of unhappy about how things went, but after I saw my results I cheered up.  I had a much better run than last year, and a pretty good run overall.  My bike was slower than I would have liked, and slower than usual, but faster than I thought.  I had a good fast swim.  So, overall I good race, on a cruddy day, with people cheering for me, so overall it was a very good day.   

2013 Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon
Swim (440 yards) - 8:09 (1:52/100yards, fastest swim at this race)
T1 - 2:42 (slow)
Bike (22.5 miles) - 1:02:55 (21.5MPH, second slowest average speed at this race)
T2 - 1:22
Run (3.1 miles) - 24:26 (8:09/miles, much better than last year)
Total - 1:39:35
Overall - 82/590
AG - 13/36
Pace - 3:51/mile (same as 2010)

2012 Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon
Swim (440 yards) - 8:30 (1:56/100yards)
T1 - 1:59
Bike (22 miles) - 57:55 (22.8MPH, fastest average speed of the year)
T2 - 1:17
Run (3.1 miles) - 26:17 (8:29/miles, slow....)
Total - 1:35:59
Overall - 89/647
AG - 15/45
Pace - 3:47/mile (fastest per mile pace at this race)

2010 Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon
Swim (440 yards) - 8:44 (1:59/100yards)
T1 - 1:59
Bike (21 miles) - 56:23 (22.3MPH)
T2 - 1:40
Run (3.1 miles) - 25:03 (8:04/mile)
Total - 1:33:49
Overall - 59/808
AG - 5/57
Pace - 3:51/mile

2008 Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon
Swim (440 yards) - 9:18 (2:19/mile)
T1 - 1:54
Bike (17 miles) - 45:39 (22.3MPH)
T2 - 1:09
Run (3.1 miles) - 24:25 (7:52/mile, fastest run at Chisago also shortest bike before)
Total - 1:22:25
Overall - 68/779
AG - 7/51
Pace - 4:03/mile

2007 Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon
Swim (440 yards) - 11:47 (2:41/mile)
T1 - 2:56
Bike (20.1 miles) - 57:16 (21.1MPH)
T2 - 1:27
Run (3.1 miles) - 25:37 (8:16/mile)
Total - 1:39:02
Overall - 142/801
AG - 17/55
Pace - 4:09/mile