Monday, August 15, 2011

Bridgeland Sprint Race Report

As I mentioned in my last post, I clearly identify myself as an endurance triathlete, but in an effort to be more balanced in the family / work / training triangle this upcoming year, I am going to focus on short course racing as well as endurance trail running races.

What better way to determine my short course base than to do a test race? So, on a whim I entered the Bridgeland Sprint triathlon on August 7. I entered the race less than a month out, so I didn't have much time to train for it.

Most people think that sounds stupid ... Of course, I can do a Sprint if I can do an Ironman ... but racing a sprint and finishing a sprint are two very different things. My body is trained to go moderately hard for a very long time - which means pushing hard and staying in the red for nearly an hour and a half is a different animal.

My plan for the race was to survive the swim, err, swim to my best ability on my limited swim training, push as hard as possible on the bike and run sub 8:00 average on the run ... so here is how it all turned out:

Swim - 500 Meters (550 yards)
My wave started last - ugh. Starting 30 minutes behind the first wave means a hotter run and lots of passing on the bike. The race leaders actually passed the swim start on their run while I was waiting for my wave to start.

The swim was point to point and the lake was pefect. Not a wetsuit legal race by any stretch, but the water was not overly warm like I have experienced in other races. I started towards the front of my wave and stayed on the buoy line. My sighting was good and I felt pretty good in the water, depsite the fact that I have been avoiding the pool.

Given my lack of swimming, I was happy with my time, but I seriously am going to need some help on my swim if I am ever going to be competitive in this sport (more on that in a future post).

Time: 10:57
Rank: 26/70

I ran hard out of the water in order to have a fast transition time, but my heart was pounding when I got to the rack. The only advantage of starting in the last wave is that transition was nearly empty so at least I didn't have to contend with a lot of other people. Since I registered late, I was not racked with my AG, but with other people who registered late (I found this to be odd) so I didn't even have other women in my AG next to me.

My T1 is always longer than my T2 as I do a couple of things in T1 that save me time in T2, but this T1 was considerbly slower than it should have been. I think my pounding heart overwhelmed me a bit...

Time: 1:49
Rank: 23/70

Bike - 13.5 Miles
My goal was to go as hard as possible on the bike without blowing up. It took me about 5 miles to really find my legs and for my heart rate to settle down a bit at the harder effort. I was pretty much passing people the entire race, but not many people in my AG. I had no clue where I was relative to the rest of my AG at that point. I finally started catching up and passing women in my AG in the second half of the bike. There were several women in my AG that I played leap frog with as well. At the last turn around heading back into transition (with a couple of miles to go) I saw a bunch of fast women approaching so I did my best to just pedal hard. The look on my face in my race photos from the bike show how hard I was working.

Overall, I am happy with my effort and the results relative to my AG, but I can't help but think I should be able to go significantly faster. If I can average 18.7 mph for 6 hours in an Ironman, I should be able to go significantly faster for 40 minutes. That is where the speed training comes in, I guess!

My bike time and T2 time are approximate because I am guessing at my T2 time as was lumped into my bike time. I hate inaccurate timing!

Time: 0:37:36 - 21.5 mph
Rank: 8/70

T2 was quick and easy. Change shoes, drop sunglasses, grab visor and hand water bottle and exit.

Time: 0:01:00 (estimate)
Rank: ??/70

Run - 3.6 miles
My goal for the run was to run 8:30s for the first 1.5 miles and then really kick it for the last 2 miles. My heart rate was still pretty high as I started the run and I was barely holding pace. It was pretty hot and I was not sure I had it in me to run 7:30s for the last 2 miles. Fellow blogger Christy Blain ran by me in the fist mile and introduced herself and she gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace (thanks, Christy!).

Unfortunately, shortly after this I got stopped by a volunteer to let traffic past. I have to be honest, I was pretty pissed off. I was running closely behind two other women in my AG, pacing off of them and I lost about 30 seconds because of that stop. I assume the volunteer figured that late in the race it wouldn't matter, but given that my AG started last, it did make a difference to us. I was pretty disheartened after that and my pace slowed in the heat instead of speeding up as planned. I managed a nice kick for the last half mile, but not enough to make a big difference. Given that I averaged 8:33 for my last HIM run (although with cooler temps), I know I can manage a sub 8:00 average for a sprint distance, if not a 7:30 average pace.

Time: 0:32:57 - 8:54 pace
Rank: 13/70

Overall Time: 1:24:21
Overall AG Rank: 14/70 (80th percentile)
Overall Rank: 329/1133 (70th percentile)

Overall, it was a fun, well run race and I recommend it if you are in the area. The race has grown significantly (40 people in my AG in 2010 vs 70 in 2011 - and the top race times were a lot faster too!) and OnUrMark does a great job putting on athlete friendly races. I would like to see them add touches to make their races more family friendly like Rev3 does.

I know that I have a lot of work to do, but it is nice to have a recent short course race under my belt as a baseline. I just purchased The Time Crunched Triathlete - Race Winning Fitness on 8 Hours a Week and I am going to use it as my guide to get faster. I am still reading the book and I will do a review of it when I am finished.


Matthew Smith said...

What a solid performance! I think you ROCKED it! I bet your body was freaking out thinking, "What the heck is going on?" That sucks about the volunteer stopping you. I wonder if you would have picked off several more from your AG on the run. Great job! You're amazing!!!

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I completely agree with a Sprint being a whole different animal compared to our long-course races.

And what the heck with stopping racers for traffic?! They're supposed to be stopping traffic for us!! If it was me, I might have run right into traffic and taken my chances. Sprint, Oly, or Ironman, once I start a race, it's a whole different mentality; that survival instinct takes a back seat. haha

Either way, a great race. Now you know where you stand going into another sprint.

Lora said...

Congrats on the race. It definitely feels good to get a baseline for something different. Happy training!

Anonymous said...

Great job on your race with very little prep!

and that is so annoying about traffic...I had that happen during my first marathon at about mile 23! needless to say I almost cried!!

Anonymous said...

Are you freaking kidding me??? She stopped you DURING the run?? Where were the police? My sister-in-law heads up marketing/PR for Bridgeland so I will pass it along b/c THAT is unaccecptable. We came in for a sprint in Pearland (in July)that was a comedy of errors and made it simply difficult to finish. Police support was great though.
Great race...its very hard to transition from long course to short. I've been stuck in short all year s/p injury and it's been miserable. They have me training for long to build up for next year, so my short course races are torture!!! I'm still trying to figure how to just have fun with it and the season is almost over!!