Participated in the Carlsbad sprint triathlon this Sunday, and I'm having mixed feelings about it. First, the good stuff:
- It's a really well put on race in a beautiful city
- Lots of fans to cheer you on
- A good pro field, I've raced with Michellie Jones and Kate Major since 2007
- A flat bike course!
- A bike course that is two traffic lanes wide, making it MUCH safer with all the beginners that do sprint distance races. I'm looking at you Solana Beach triathlon - I won't be coming back until you take safety more seriously on your course.
- I beat my race time goal of 1 hour, 30 minutes!
And the bad stuff:
- I didn't do my 100 mile ride the day before the race. I've felt horrible on every run that I've done for two weeks, and woke up Saturday dehydrated and feeling awful. I took a Saturday off for the first time in what feels like 3 years.
- My pre-race jog didn't go well. I did one mile, and was dripping with sweat afterward. For some reason my sweat-rate has gone through the roof lately. I can't keep hydrated and I'm seeing spots/getting dizzy after less than 5 miles of running.
- I poked a hole in my wetsuit trying to pull it on over my sweat-drenched skin. Luckily the fantastic service at De Soto fixed it within hours.
So how'd the race go? Confusing. I started in the first wave, along with the Elite males and females. You kind of get intimidated when the woman in front of you at the starting line has finished in the top 10 in Kona 5 times. The swim was a little rough, I got punched in the goggles at the beginning, and several times had the guy swimming next to me run into me because he couldn't swim straight. There was a lot of kelp in the ocean, which was gross but didn't really slow us down much. I got clear of the main group, and had clear water for most of the swim. I could see the fast group in front of me (waaay in front of me) but nobody else - I wasn't able to draft at all. I hit the shore and glanced at my watch, I had done almost exactly what I had thought, around 15 minutes. I had forgotten to put my bike in an easy gear for the steep hill out of the bike transition, but it worked out for me OK. The guy in front of me wasn't so lucky and tumbled over as he tried to climb a 12% grade from a dead stop while in the big chainring. The bike course was fun. Being in the first wave I knew everyone I passed was a legit pass - and the same was true for anyone passing me. I did get passed by a few people, which I don't enjoy, but I let them go and instead focused on keeping my power at 200 to 250 watts. I had quite a bit of saddle pain during the race which is weird for a 15 mile ride, and after the race I was chaffed pretty badly. I only drank half a bottle of Accelerade (12 oz.) during the bike which was a little light, but not too bad. I couldn't choke any more down because I was breathing hard, and swallowing just made me breathe harder and my heart rate spike. Off the bike and into running shoes, then the race took a turn for the worse. The run begins by going along the beach seawall. I tried to focus on form and foot turnover, but it was a bit of a struggle. After about 1km you run up a very short steep hill to get from ocean level to street level, and that's when I decided I had nothing left. I never recovered and felt like I limped the rest of the way around the run. I couldn't even muster a sprint in the finish chute with all my TCSD friends cheering me on - it was pretty embarrassing. After crossing I nearly fell over as my vision narrowed and I got very dizzy. I had to find a chair quickly and took some rest. Things got better quickly, but how does a 3 mile run do this to me? How am I ever going to run 26 miles in September?!
Another great thing about Carlsbad is that I've done it every year since I started training, so it's a good way to check my progress. Take a look at how I've done:
Not bad! I met my goal of under 90 minutes, and I've improved greatly. If you compare 2009 to 2008 then I made up 04:41 on the swim! I also gained 1 minute in T1 - this is because I swam with my tri-top on in 2009 instead of trying to put a dry shirt on like I did the previous year. I also skipped putting on my heart rate strap this year. T2 I lost 30 seconds, probably because I had to tie my shoes this year - definitely need speed laces for these short races. I improved by 03:40 on the bike in 2009, but this is misleading. In 2008 I had to stop and get off my bike when the saddle bag fell off - so I think I'm about the same speed as I was last year. On the run, I improved by 42 seconds - but I don't believe this number. I ran really poorly this weekend, my guess is that they're measuring from a different spot this year.
My friend Rachel mentioned to me (and to my shock she is correct) that I'm a swimmer! In terms of how I do versus my peers, I'm a better swimmer than a cyclist! I'm not sure how I feel about that. I know I'm not the cyclist I want to be - but the reality is that I'm good enough that if I want to continue being a triathlete then I'm better off working on running.
So when is a good day a bad day? When you PR a course, beat your pre-race expectations, and still feel like you're nowhere near ready for your next event.