But first I need to get my excuses out of the way: basically I've been working a lot since IMAZ in April, my daughter graduated high school, and my house is being remodeled. So I haven't done a lot of training - some swimming once or twice a week, a long run on the weekends, but I only rode my bike three times since April, and that counts my 14 mile roundtrip to work once.
I approached yesterday as a training day more than an actual race. I have IMC coming in August, and I needed find what I need to work on, and most of all I needed to avoid injury.
I had a good race, with a slow back-of-pack time but that's about what I expected. I had one bad calf cramp in T1, but overall that had less of an effect than I feared.
I also enjoyed the race a great deal. The JFT2 team was there in full force, in our cool team kits.
My race plan was to swim steady (as always), to average 150 watts on the bike, don't exceed 255 on long hills, and then on the run I was going to do 160-165 bpm. For nutrition I had two bottles of Carbopro with 4 scoops each, one with Gatorade and one with water. I planned on using on-course water.
The Lake Stevens venue was pretty much the same as last year. The swim is in the lake, the bike is a two loop affair on local country roads still open to traffic, and the run is a a double loop of an around-downtown course with a loop on one side of town, and an out and back along the lake. Lake Stevens is about 30 miles from Bellevue, so it's easy to get there for me.
I drove up in the morning with my wife, three daughters, and of course Danny our corgi. The day was cloudy and raining in Bellevue, and to be honest I was a little ticked off by the weather. It's been awful all spring, and I just haven't wanted to go out and bike in it. And now it's July, I have a race, and it's still raining? Arrghh! Anyway, it was dry in Lake Stevens and while not exactly summer weather, pretty good weather for a triathlon.
The swim start is an in-water wave start by age group, next to the boat launch. I skipped the in-water warmup beforehand because there's no good place to do it; I learned last year the little area next to the dock is full of underwater rocks and logs. I wanted no injuries from that.
So at 6:44 I was in the water. I was wearing my wetsuit, and the water was warm at 72, but not too warm. I saw Jill just as the starting horn sounded, and off we went! Well, in about 300 yards I found my goggles were leaking, so I had to stop and adjust. I had to do that twice more before I cured the leaks. The rest of the swim was uneventful, except that I over-turned the second turn and swam 50 yards into the center before being waved off by a kayaker.
In T1 though I had a massive 60 second long cramp in my left calf. I was taking off my wetsuit, so I was on the ground with it all around my feet and BOOM I was cramping and was pretty much stranded. I hoped to just let it go away, but after 20 seconds it was obvious it was there to stay. I tried to stretch it out, but by the time I got my foot free of the wetsuit one of the volunteers was there to help. He did the push-my-toes-toward-my-knee bit, and the cramp worked loose in a few long, long seconds.
Now I was completely off my game, and futzed around getting my wetsuit the rest of the way off, getting my helmet, etc. Eventually I had my bike off the rack and took off through the bike exit, waved at my family, and then at the first turn in two blocks I was actually stopped by a volunteer and told to go back and get my race number! Arrgh! I rode back, saw Jill and had her hold my bike while I ran back to the rack to get my race belt. I saw later that many, many people had no race number on the bike.
After retrieving my bike from Jill I was finally out on the course again. The bike course is an up-and-down through rollers with a few actual climbs. I had a good ride, staying at my fairly conservative power output goal. The power meter shows my average was 149, which was right at the number I wanted. Nutrition wise I was OK; I had planned on using on-course water but there was only one aid station near the end of the first lap (not near the beginning like I expected). So my food mix was a bit undiluted until the second lap. My left calf bothered me at times, and my left knee started to have pain by the middle of the second loop. I'm sure this was a side-effect of the calf problems. And of course my neck and shoulders hurt from staying aero for 56 miles.
At one point I found a referee alongside me, and heard him say "What you're doing is drafting" and since no one was ahead of me I was surprised. But then I realized he was talking to the wheel-sucker sitting behind me! I hadn't noticed him, but Jurgen the head coach did. And he got the red card for a four minute drafting penalty. The guy actually argued for a moment, saying he was "part of a relay" and "not competing". Jurgen would have none of that; as he said at the pre-race briefing "arguing won't work, once we're talking to you you're getting the penalty".
The last 10 miles of the bike I was starting to tire. My neck hurt, and my calf hurt, and the hills seemed one-after-the-other (gee, that's because they were). I longed for a clear flat straight stretch, but that's just not Lake Stevens.
Back in T2 I futzed around re-racking my bike. The people around me seemed to leave quite a mess, and I was one of the later people coming back in and getting my bike in place among their bikes wasn't all that easy. But them's the breaks when you're slow. I switched to running shoes and hat, grabbed my gels and Saltstick capsuls, and off I went.
The run starts with a two block section out of the finish area, and I saw my family. High-fives all around, and I told them I was doing great and I'd be done in around 2 hours, one hour for each loop.
The first loop I had some quad cramps same as last year, and I was confident they'd be gone after the second mile. At the first aid station I took two Saltstick capsules, ate a Gu, and had a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade while walking the station. That's a lot, but it was a bit warmer than I expected and I needed to fuel and hydrate. I did that at two more aid stations, plus I alternated water and Gatorade at the aid stations.
I had a great time on the run. I really do enjoy running, and I just ran it like a long training run. I was pushing myself a bit to the 165 HR mark, but since my calf and knee were still in pain I didn't want to push it too far. I remember my injury back in Arizona last January, and wanted no part of that this year.I cheered every JFT team member I saw (and there were a lot!), and I chatted with the occasional racer as I passed them or they passed me. I saw my family a couple times, and gave them all a hug and/or a high five. And seeing (and hearing!) the JFT2 cheering section was a lot of fun.
I actually heard them call my name this year at the finish line. Somehow I often don't hear that, although Theresa tells me they are calling my name. I guess my concentration is elsewhere!
The end-of-race venue was good; they had pizza and fruit along with water and Gatorade.
Swim 49:22 vs. 40:49 last year - 9 minutes slower
Bike 3:20 vs. 2:56 last year – 24 minutes slower
Run 2:07 vs. 1:57 last year – 10 minutes slower
Overall 6:27 vs. 5:40 last year – 47 minutes slower
And way way back in my age group. Ouch! But this is par for the course (pardon the pun) given my low amount of training.
Overall, as a "identify weaknesses" event there were no surprises and I found what I expected to find. I need to ride a lot more (especially hill training) to finish IMC with any kind of reasonable time. I need to get in more mid-week runs, and good steady open-water swims.