Every race is unique to its own. I’m learning that more and more as I’ve now documented nearly 40 race reports, and this is the first time that I (successfully) completed the same race three times. This weekend I participated in the 36th annual Reston Triathlon. The first two times I did this race was back in 2014 (undocumented) and 2015. Fortunately, I did have enough information in the 2015 post to compare my new results, but the more I read the more I realized the day of the race makes a difference.
- 2014 the water was apparently above 78°, thus I couldn’t wear a wetsuit. That would have been detrimental in my performance five years ago.
- My bike and run were nearly identical, leading me to believe my fitness was about the same.
- This year has been mostly recovery workouts and long-distance training, not sprinting and high thresholds. The training is completely different.
- I’m old(er). Let’s face it, I don’t run as fast anymore nor recover as well.
To compare myself to my previous achievements will take a turn someday soon, leaving me unable to obtain a course PR while racing an event. BUT THAT DAY IS NOT TODAY!
Reston Olympic Triathlon is an open water swim (OWS) in Lake Audubon in a “bent rectangle” pattern, followed by a “two and four-fifths” loop on the bike, and then an out and back for the run. There are two different transition locations; one when you exit the swim and the second one is 1.5 miles away at the school. To start the morning, everyone parks at the school and sets T2 with all your running gear, and then bike (with a headlamp and/or bike lights) to the swim start. When you finish the swim and in T1, you must also dump all your belonging into a white trash bag with your race number sticker on the outside. The organization will ensure your bag is then transferred to the school so you can pick it up at the end of the race. Lucky for me this is my third time, and I now find this setup better than a single all-in-one transition area as your all the racers equipment is not cluttered and on-top of each other.
After dumping my T2 equipment off at the school and biking to the swim start, I quickly heard the announcement that the water temperature was slightly above 78° and therefore the swim will NOT be wetsuit legal. I think for the first time in the past seven years of doing triathlons I was not in an anxiety panic. Over the summer I had been recovering from my dumb bike crash and planning on doing a long course race, with that training I have been ramping up on my swim sessions to usually 4k yards. I’m now pretty comfortable in just cruising long in a pool without breaks… I’m not fast… just cruise along.
I soon found Speed Sherpa teammate Caroline where we quickly chatted while picking up our timing chips. We soon departed as she was in wave one (super awesome rock-star wave) while I was in wave 6.
Not knowing wave 6 my swim buddies expertise in OWS without wetsuits, I stayed towards the back and slightly outside from a race strategic position to make sure I do not get in anyone’s way (and more importantly have my needed “elbow room” while I swim). The water was perfect! It was slightly above 78° which felt perfect. There was little to no wind so the water was calm. I did get pushed to the outside more than I like to admit, but when I realized I may be slightly off course I quickly corrected myself and pushed forward. Outside of my shoulders getting a little tired (I think related to my Wattie speedsuit) I think this was the best OWS I’ve ever had… EVER.
Strava Swim Activity
I exited the swim and jumped on the bike for what I hoped to be a bike PR. This was a personal challenge as for the past several months I’ve been working at sitting on the bike for long periods, but going at a conservative pace to ensure I could complete the distance challenges. I was now flipping everything upside-down and try to go at higher sustained levels for a (relatively) short time. From triathlete.com an Olympic should be around 85-95% of your FTP. For me, I wanted to get close to an average of 200W which is just above 90%. I knew the course well as I will often ride nearly this same route when arriving at my office early in the morning and do a bike workout.
The first loop was great! I was attacking and passing people at key downhill sections where others chose to coast. On the second loop, this strategy became a little more dangerous. The slower swimmers were now on the course and were caught off-guard that some of the faster swimmers and bikers were now lapping them. This made passing a little more challenging as the slower riders were utilizing the full protected bike path vs. sharing and staying to the right.
One item that I learned was on the third loop do not force down a giant bite of a Clif bar while racing. All the peanut butter and nuts became a giant dry mass which nearly killed me. I tried to swallow after chewing what felt like five minutes, but it was so dry that it just stayed in my throat preventing me from breathing. I had to calm myself, drink some water and cross my fingers that it would slowly wash away. I finally had some relief just before T2.
BTW; the best volunteer cheering individual must go to the woman that was by herself at the end of Lawyers, RD. She was so happy and encouraging with nobody else to keep her going. Thanks random woman.
Strava Ride Activity
This year’s run was an out and back course, which was different than what I had previously done in 2014 and 2015. What didn’t change was Reston’s relentless undulating hills that crush your legs. The hills in Reston are not big, but the incline/decline are very sharp. I have been feeling like my running fitness has declined the past year. I’ve been working so hard to have running endurance that my speed has suffered. I did not have any specific goals for the hills, but I knew that I didn’t want to push too hard going up and burn myself out, so I would need to pick up my cadence and shorten my stride. I also knew that I didn’t want to stop. I remember in 2015 at the very end of the run while climbing that last steep hill I had to walk up as I was tired and out of energy, and I did NOT want to repeat that experience.
The new route was great. The aid stations were perfectly timed and the volunteers were happy and helpful. The route was mostly under tree shade so if the sun was blasting overhead, you would not be hit with the heat.
Strava Run Activity
Post Race Thoughts
I went into this race a little bummed. I had planned on a LONG course race but my body (and life) gave me signs to forget that idea. Then I received an email reminding me that the Reston Olympic was the following weekend… so I signed up! Despite Reston being a local race, it is VERY competitive with plenty of elite racers. First place was nearly under 2h! I also feel like the community is really behind the event as there were plenty of people through the neighborhoods on their lawn chairs, or on their patio decks watching and cheering racers on.
- Overall: Placed 37th out of 264 (top 14%).
- Gender: Placed 32nd out of 193 (top 16%).
- Male 40-44: Placed 9th out of 29 (top third)
Among the Male 40-44 category there were 29 athletes.
- Swim: Ranked 10th
- Bike: Ranked 8th
- Run: Ranked 13th
Pictures by Biran Kent
Photos by Michael Sturm
Photos by Caroline
|Reston Oly||1.5km Swim||T1||40km Bike||T2||10k Run||Total|
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