Kinetic Half 2016 Race Report

Race Review

There are simply too many words to describe the past couple of months, but the end result is I finally finished my first “Half” (70.3 mile) triathlon. Mental toughness is required, as the numerous temptations to quit continuously ‘punch you in the face’: between drinking five gallons of water during the swim, the soreness of your legs and your “saddle” area while cycling 56 miles, or on the run where everyone simply looks beat down… trying to muster enough strength to finish their half marathon. Knowing that I was able to overcome all of those and cross the finish line was great (plus there was free pizza and a finishers medal).

Swim

  • Today was the FIRST day of the year that I was able to wear my wetsuit. Bad sign #1. I’m slightly over exaggerating in that statement, but it would have definitely helped if I had one Sprint race under my belt this year to make sure I remember how it felt to swim while wearing a wetsuit. Having to sight in front to find which direction you should swim is tiring on your neck, even though you are more buoyant and don’t need to work as hart to stay afloat (and not drown). The first 100m I wanted to quit. I hated every minute of it. I really don’t like people swimming around me, and I knew that I had become a better swimmer over the winter and I wasn’t showing it. It took me forever to get into a groove where I could relax and effortlessly propel myself through the lake. When I finally reached the first yellow turning marker I ingested a couple of gallons of water and had to call for aid. Fortunately, I force myself to cough it all out quickly so I could return to the race (I think I only lost about 30-40 seconds). I was doing fine and feeling great up to the 1500m mark… when I caught up to a swimmer that had no idea where they were going and I had to adjust my swim stroke. Then DAMN IT, I did it again… more water down my throat. So that is TWICE that I had to get assistance on the swim which killed my time. Here is to a better swim next month.
  • Training Peaks Swim Data

Transition 1

  • I thought I would be smart in shoving my race food and gloves (it was cold) in my team cycling jersey and I would simply whip it on before the bike started. Rule #1 of racing, don’t try anything new (and bad sign #2). It was a slow transition but I knew that may happen as I had to remove a wetsuit, but I could have cut 30 seconds and just gave up on the jersey idea, especially since once I got the jersey over my head all the items that I had prep then fell out so I had to pick them up anyways.

Bike

  • I love the bike! Coach Josh’s of Speed Sherpa recommendation to keep my power output at a low and constant setting really paid off in the end as I was able to finish with an average of 20mph over 56 miles. The one thing that was mildly frustrating was during one climb where I was getting ready to pass some other racers but two pickup trucks and a box truck slipped in between. What all of us realized was the three racers in front of me could not climb. I ended up passing all three vehicles and the racers on the left because they were slowing me down. Passing people on the bike is fun, passing cars…. BONUS!
  • Training Peaks Bike Data

Transition 2

  • After what I though was a good bike split (and realizing I finally remember to use the transition button through the entire race for the first time) I was in good spirits. T2 went well in terms of trying to find my spot and quickly put on my running shoes, removing the stupid jersey, and grabbing a couple of gels for the rest of the miles.

Run

  • I was going well till about mile eight when pure fatigue starting creeping in along with my IT band issues. Oh yea… I’ve been dealing with IT Band issues for the past 10 days going to Physical Therapy five times before the race. After mile eight I had to start walking downhills as the pain of my right knee and hip were simply too unbearable. I was able to regain some ground on people as they were struggling to go uphill while I was rested, but it simply wasn’t enough as I watched three people in my age group pass me from mile 8 to the finish line.
  • Training Peaks Run Data

Post Race

Overall, I’m glad it’s over… but really happy that I finished. It was also amazing to see the onslaught of Facebook props my team provided once I returned to my truck and grabbed my phone. It would have been great to have a fellow team member race, but now I get to sit back and relax and watch some of them travel to TN while they race their Half IRONMAN in Chattanooga.

Race Results

Rankings

  • Overall: Placed 118th out of 476 (top 25% against some amazing athletes1).
  • Gender: Placed 99th out of 282 (top 35%, but still the above applies).
  • Male 40-44: Paced 9th out of 36.

Among the Male 40-44 category, I was able to be competitive, but that swim killed my rankings:

  • Swim: Ranked 17th (the difference between 6th fastest swimmer and myself was 3 minutes and 25 seconds)
  • Bike: Ranked 11th (the difference between 6th fastest cyclist and myself was 5 minutes and 12 seconds)
  • Run: Ranked 11th (the difference between 6th fastest runner and myself was 3 minutes and 4 seconds)

Oh, and pro tip… you should really really really wear sunscreen

Updated 2016-05-19 (Race Photos)

Tables

Kinetic 1.2 Mile Swim T1 56 Mile Bike T2 13.1 Mile Run Total
Goal Times2 38:00 3:00 3:17:00 3:00 1:58:00 5:59:00
Actual Times3 38:43 4:03 2:47:50 1:49 1:58:01 5:30:24

Footnotes

  1. First place finished in 4:16:20, and is the same age as me!

  2. I really had no idea what to expect. Times based on slower times compared to Smithfiled: 2:00/100m swim, 17mph ride, 9:00 minutes/mi run because of current injuries.

  3. Official Race Results available at VTS/MTS Kinetic Half Results page.

Smithfield Sprint 2016 Race Report

Race Review

Apparently VTS/MTS races and myself have an issue, and the issue is RAIN! Similar to last year’s Colonial Beach Sprint (although not as bad of a downpour and no open water swim with gasoline fuel on the top), we were challenged with Mother Nature… and she did not disappoint.

The Smithfield Sprint is a pool swim start, because this early in the year in Virginia most lakes/bays/ocean is simply not warm enough for people to go out in open water (unless you are REALLY crazy and thik something like Norseman would be a good time). With a swim start you have to stagger swimmers in hopes that you won’t be impeded (slowed down because there is a large group in front of you, or force to let someone pass yourself thus holding on the wall) while everyone is in the pool. This dictates a one person start every 10 seconds. With over 520 people starting every 10 seconds, you can imaging that the first people will definitely finished before others get into the pool. Thank goodness this year I was able to do with fellow teammates from Speed Sherpa! Between Madi, Melissa, Peyton, and Will; we were able to pass most of the time (for me a 1 hour and 41 minute wait) chatting in the hallways while trying to stay warm and dry.

Now that I’ve began the race (officially starting at 11:41.45), here are my thoughts on each part:

Swim

  • The water was warm, but not bath water temps. The line was well organized and people fell into place without any issues.

Transition 1

  • OMG MUD! From the Rain that has not stopped since I arrived (around 8:00 am), there have now been almost two hours of racers going in and out of transition with their shoes and bikes destroying the grass and thus the ground is a mud pit of which “mud runners” would swoon. For how small the transition area is between the swim and the in/out parts for the bike and run, I should have been closer to a 1 minute transition, however, I decided to put on my water proof jacket for the bike because I’m a wimp when it comes to being cold and wet.

Bike

  • It felt a little windy, guessing around 5-10 MPH winds as I constantly felt that I had to lean one direction or the other on the “out and back” bike segment. The route was good in that most of the uphills were at the beginning, which allowed you to hammer it home on the back half.

Transition 2

  • HERMAGERD MUD!!! Just when you thought T1 was bad, T2 was MUDiculous. I almost lost my shoe TWICE just in transition for how much thick gooey mud was on the ground. Again my transition was slow, because now I had to remove the wet “waterproof” jacket.

Run

  • I enjoyed the run. We zigzaged through downtown Smithfield to catch a road that led out to the country while passing a few subdivisions. The route peaked at the half way point, so again get half way and then it’s relatively downhill to the finish line.

Post Race

Smithfield Sprint 2016

After the race we were served some excellent Carolina Style BBQ (as there was no sauce but only a hint of vinegar) with some beans and slaw. The Speed Sherpa team found each other and shared some highs and lows (one crashed) from each other’s race experience, but quickly knew that one of the “sherpettes” was going to place in the top three of her age category. I decided to stick around so I could snap a picture of her on the podium, while she waited for the remaining racers to crossed finish line. Little did I know I placed third! I’m really surprised by this as I know VTS/MTS has some excellent racers and the Male 40-44 category is one of the toughest to compete (hello fellow mid life crisis friends). When I was looking at the results for my category, I thought I was fifth vs. third. What I then later discovered was the gender/age categories did not separate out the “Masters” and Aqua Bike racers.

I don’t believe I place again this race season so I won’t let this get to my head, but greatly appreciate the support from my coach, teammates, and family to get me this far. Here is to the next race, my first Half at Kinetic!

Race Results

Rankings

Smithfield Sprint 2016

  • Overall: Placed 80 out of 521 (top 15%, and that is with College kids race teams and “Masters” (Age Group Pros) catgory).
  • Gender: Placed 67 out of 293 (top 23%, but still the above applies).
  • Male 40-44: Paced 3rd out of 18.

Among the Male 40-44 category, I was able to compete at a high level across all three sports for the first time:

  • Swim: Ranked 6th
  • Bike: Ranked 4th (1st and 2nd were “Masters”, and the 3rd was Aqua Bike)
  • Run: Ranked 2nd (by one second)

Times

If you want accurate pace info for races, I’ve been using Running Free Online’s Triathlon Race Calculator.

Smithfield 300m Swim T1 10 Mile Bike T2 5k Run Total
Goal Times1 5:30 2:00 30:00 2:00 23:15 1:02:45
Actual Times2 5:24 1:35 29:09 1:45 21:31 0:59:22

Updated 2016-04-05 (Race Photos)

Footnotes

  1. Times based on 1:50/100m swim, 20mph ride, 7:30 minutes/mi run.

  2. Official Race Results available at VTS/MTS Smithfield Results page

Reston 10 Miler 2016 Run Report

Reston 10 Miler

This is a long over due race run report for the “Reston 10 Miler” as this took place over two weeks ago on March 5th, 2016. The primary goal for this event was to get my legs used to a long run for the upcoming triathlon races, but not burn me out that would jeopardize races early in the season. One of my triathlon races that is scheduled in mid May will require me to run 13.1 miles after I complete the swim and bike sections.

For this race I had a good idea on what my pace should be with the previous month of doing descending runs (as planned by my Speed Sherpa coach Josh). For the past month I’ve been slowly increasing my time of descending paces that lated between 15 to 20 minutes at a time. For the Reston 10 Miler, I wanted to target 8:30 pace for the first and second “20 minutes”, 8:10 for the third “20 minutes”, then end with 7:30 for the remaining distance of the run. This would also prevent me from burning out early in the run as the course is very hilly. The plan also worked out well, as there were a few key downhill points just after mile four and mile 8.5 that aligned perfectly for the timing to increase my speed.

The pre-even atmosphere was great, and you could tell there were many well trained runners who have been doing this for many years, but also LOTS of smiling faces of first timers who were supported by their friends and/or families by participating in the fun of a long run.

Only complaint I have on myself is that I didn’t prepare for the full timeline of the run, and how much the weather would change. In the morning it was cold, so I bundled up with my sweats, thermal shirt, hat, and gloves. But after the first hour I wish I was running in shorts and begged for a way to ditch the gloves, as the combination of my body generating heat and the sun coming out to shine on everyone (as seen in the pictures) was becoming strong. Good to have these experiences to gain knowledge for my 2016 race season.

Results

  • Placed 123 out of 937 runners
  • Placed 23rd in the 40-44 Male
  • Finished in 1:19:02 giving me an average pace of 7:54/mile (beating my goal of 1:20:00)

Amazing what one year makes; for the good or bad. This is the second time I’ve raced the Reston Triathlon, so I’m going to compare my numbers to see where there was any improvement.

What I remember about last year’s race was it was a nice warm fall day that made it great for the bike and run, but that my swim was horrible. Why? It could have been the warm water making it wetsuit illegal, or if it was due to the fact that I really don’t like swimming in a lake since you can’t see anything once your face is in the water. I believe I remembered my bike and run being at top of my A game for the race which helped me make up for my poor start.

As for this year it was a cool 65° and the water temperature was at 77°, which makes it wetsuit legal. The swim was awesome (you will see the time difference in a bit)! I haven’t been feeling well the past two weeks so my goal for the bike and run was to push myself just above easy-strong pace. Nothing fast, because I really didn’t know how much my body would handle.

Results, I beat my time last year (not that hard with a horrible swim), but I also beat my targeted time and it was all because of my swim.

  • Swim time was 27:48. I shaved off 11:06 from last year, ELEVEN minutes! That is where I got all of my gains when comparing to this year vs. last year.

  • Bike time was 1:15:59 which was only 13 seconds faster than last year. It is interesting that I almost got the same time as last year, even though I don’t feel like I’m at my peak fitness.

  • Run time was 52:30 which was 25 seconds slower than last year. Not really surprised, but again I didn’t push myself like I remember last year and I’m almost the same pace.

  • Transitions were damn near identical. However, since I had a wetsuit this year and did not have one last year, I’ll say I improved… somewhere.

  • Placing was an improvement, but also noticed that my age group is much more deeper. Last year I was competing against 29 people in my age group, while this year I’m against 54. So with the larger field of competitors it’s hard to say that my placement percentage of the top 37% is measuring against apples to apples when looking back last year. However, in terms of overall placement there were 440 racers vs. the 426 racers last year. A little more, but not by much. This time I came in as 99th top racer which puts me at the top 23% vs. the top 33% last year. A significant improvement, and again all due to my swim knocking off 11 minutes from my time.

Wisdom Oak Winery (WOW) Sprint is a 750 meter open water swim (OWS) in a lake, 16.6 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run that is hilly.

For those of you outside of the Virginia area, the race is actually in Walnut Creek Park located “… in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and just a ten minute scenic drive outside of the City of Charlottesville…“1, with the primary sponsor Wisdom Oak Winery (hence the title of the race).

Pre-race game plan

  • My race plan was to just stay calm. My killer at Colonial Beach was during the swim, and my issues were all mental. As I pulled up, I met three ladies all doing the Sprint distances too, and this was their first triathlon. They were asking me questions and I would try to answer to my best knowledge, but little did they know they helped me stay calm. Plus I was able to spread a little positive triathlon vibe!

Swim

  • Prior to the Sprint start, the Olympic distance male and female racers started first (as they had to do two laps vs. one)2. This helped because I could watch and get a comfortable idea of sighting cues (ability to find the next buoy) throughout the lake course, but also to size up my competition (it’s a race, hello!). This helped me alot! I kept myself calm. Another bonus was the water temperature was measured at 77 degrees prior to race start, which meant I could use my wetsuit FOR THE FIRST TIME! Usually you never try something new during a race, but I wasn’t looking at WOW as my “A race”, but a learning experience for OWS and hopefully how to use my wetsuit during a race. What I found out is sighting is so much easier when using one of these things! I did have some slight issues with breathing around the 600 meter mark, but I think that was due to a poor morning nutrition plan of a second 1/2 bagel and peanut butter.

Bike

  • I always love the bike, and this time we have hills!!! I used every single ring during this race as climbing up the hills required me to drop to the lowest ring on the crank (violating rule #90), to not having enough gears on the rear cassette for the downhills to get full top speed (even though I had a top speed of 45 mph for two seconds).

Run

  • OMG the first 1.2 miles is all up hill. So I don’t like running up hill as much as I like biking up hill. At one point I simply power walked as I didn’t think my “run” was any faster. After going up, there was a short flat spot to get to the half way point, then you turned around and return where you started by going down the same hill. This was nice to have some speed where I was pacing a 7 min mile for 800 meters. The bad thing about downhill is it really beats your feet and knees. I need to improve on this for next year.

Results Here are my thoughts after reading the results.

  • Overall 13 of 132. Top 10 percent, but only a third of the racers when you compare it to Colonial Beach. This does exclude the Relay teams and the Olympic racers in the total account (so there were more racers present en mass), just measuring myself to the Sprint racers.
  • Males 40-44 was 1 of 7. Yup, I won, but again the depth of racers was not that deep. If you look closely, the individual who won 2nd beat me in the bike and run, but the killer was he had a bad T1 of 4:17 where I only took 1:44 (which is long for me but I’ve never had to get myself out of a wetsuit)
  • Swim was 14:31. Amazing what happens when you are relaxed and can see the buoys.
  • T1 was 1:44. This is is all due to getting out of the wetsuit, and that added an additional 45 seconds for me to get out of transition.
  • Bike was 55:11 to cover 16.7 miles averaging 18.2 mph. The hills really killed me towards the end, as I was almost wishing for a compact crank (only for a second, I swear), but then I wouldn’t have been as fast on the down side of those hills.
  • T2 of 0:42 is nice!
  • Run was 25:38. Not the best, but between a high heart rate from the swim AND the bike, with a mile uphill I would only be able to shave off another 45-60 seconds at most. The run was hard.
  • Total time 1:37:48. Now this is slower than Colonial Beach, however, the bike distance was four miles longer so I actually beat my padded expected time!
    • padded time was calculated by 2min for 100m pace (SDI of 1.07), 18 mph bike pace, 8 minute mile pace; thus 17:20 + 55:40 + 24 (+ 4 minutes for transition time) = 101 minutes.

Footnotes


  1. Taken from the WOW website, available at charlottesvillemultisports.com/CMS/WOW_Tri.html.

  2. I don't know if I would do the Olympic in the future as the swimmers had to exit the lake, run on the beach to get a clear spot that was not obstructed by life guard equipment, and then jump back in for lap #2. It seemed odd.