Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Oxford Comma, A New Year, A New Team, and Red Velvet Cookies

This is a race report for the Stanford Treeathlon. For a too long; didn't read version- I am glad to be part of a tri team, the work I put in the offseason seems to be paying off, I won the age group division, lost to a college kid who started in a different wave by 3 seconds, and my 5k run was a 17:22-a PR as a 5k within a race, and close to a standalone PR. Keep reading for entertaining commentary on the oxford comma, daylight savings time, and more about the race.

Training for triathlons can be a solitary activity. Hours are spent looking at the black line at the bottom of the pool, pushing pedals and hitting the pavement. While you may find people with whom you can train, with my schedule of teaching, coaching, and tutoring, my free time is limited to irregular hours.
Yes, I did just use an oxford comma in last sentence. I will continue to use it, even if the Oxford Style guide tells me not to.

At the end of last summer, my coach Martin suggested that I apply for membership on a triathlon team. There are many reasons to be part of a team, ranging from having set times for workouts, getting pushed by other athletes, and adding friends who understand what it means when you just did a 4x5 min z4 workout on your trainer and then added a brick run just to see how your legs responded (yes, that is still english).

I applied to a few teams, and I received a spot on the Every Man Jack (EMJ) tri team. As mentioned in an earlier post, this team is quick.
How quick? Here is the list of All Americans on the team, divided by age group. To be considered an All American, you must be in the top 10% of the athletes in your age group. Out of a team of 54 guys, 34 earned this honor. I snuck on to the list.

The team has a couple workouts a week, which has forced me to commit to those workouts, as opposed to trying to fit them in at random times during the day. The structure of the training was nice, and now I was working with people who are faster than me. Being on a team also meant that at races, I would have people to cheer for, talk to, etc.

I occasionally do my track workouts after swim practice, which means I am getting to the track around 9pm, when the last of the high school teams are finishing up.

This is what I see when I am finished. The lights have long since been turned off.  It is dead quiet, and I am running by the light of the moon/stars.  

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to race at the Stanford Treeathlon (cute, I know). It was my first race as a member of EMJ, and I was excited to wear the new kit. The new kit is a two piece, which was a first for me. A member of the team told me that if you have a muffin top, it sticks out. Note to self-don't carry muffin tops as fuel.
I don't even know why you would eat the bottom of the muffin. The top is so much better.

Even though this was not a team race, and no other EMJ guys were going to be there, I had made a few friends in the past year and an athlete who worked with Martin was going to be there as well. Having put in the work in the offseason, I was excited to see what I could do, and watch what my friends were capable of doing as well. Personally, I had been doing some fast track workouts, and after getting my rear end handed to me on some long rides by members of EMJ and a local group organized on Facebook, I had some confidence going in.

The night before the race, I packed up my gear, and headed to bed early. The race was on the morning of Daylight Savings Time, which meant that I was going to lose an hour of sleep. When the alarm went off, I groggily got out of bed and made my way down to the race.
For the rest of the country that is covered in snow, no, this is not how daylight savings works.

After setting up my spot in transition, I found some of my friends at the race, and chatted for a bit. We noted that there were a lot of college athletes there, which meant the course was going to be crowded. More to navigate around/get passed by. All things to think about.

For the course, the race starts with a swim through a marina (~500 meters, I think it is longer), followed by a long run to t1, then three laps on a pancake flat lollipop shaped course, and a flat out and back run. The race was done in waves, with the collegiate men going first, then collegiate women five minutes later, and then my wave of the age group males going five minutes after that.

The first waves went off, and I hopped in the water to stretch out, and get ready. It wouldn't be a race if I didn't make a mistake. The day was cloudy, and I had brought my dark goggles. It would make sighting the buoys slightly more difficult. Such is life. At the gun, I took off for the first buoy, and noticed I had a swimmer on either side of me.

After the first 50 yards, the two swimmers slowed and fell in on my feet to draft. At the first turn buoy, I made sure to squeeze it tightly to make sure they couldn't cut the corner, and then I put in a 20 second all out effort. I didn't want to be dragging the swimmers with me, so away I went. After the effort, I took a quick look back, and I had gapped the field by about 5 seconds. Not enough to make a huge difference, but it did mean that they would have to work harder to keep pace.

The rest of the swim was uneventful. I hit the ladder out of the marina in first, and started booking it for t1. Last year I had been caught by another athlete on the run to transition, and I did not want to let that happen. I ran over to my bike, slipped on my shoes, helmet and glasses and took off with my bike. The transition was definitely a little slow- I need to work on leaving my shoes on the bike as opposed to putting them on first, but that would require me to have triathlon shoes or jerry-rig my current shoes.

On the bike, I turned my legs over at a high cadence, and pushed the tempo as high as I could without building up lactic acid. I was navigating through the waves of people who were on the course. As time went on, the course became more and more crowded, making it more difficult to keep pace safely. It also meant that there were packs of riders essentially drafting off each other, which is a no-no, but close to impossible to avoid on this course. I got caught a few times behind packs going into turns, and had to wait for openings to slip by them.

Whatever traffic I was going through, the rest of the field had to be dealing with it as well, so I did not get too worked up about losing time. I controlled my effort, and pushed on to the run.

In t2, I racked my bike, grabbed shoes and visor, and headed out. At this point, I was passing the collegiate women and some of the men. With an out and back course, I could see the fastest men on the home stretch. I tried to do the math to figure out what their finishing time would be. Were they more or less than ten minutes in front of me? I couldn't figure it out fast enough, so I put their times out of my head and focused on the run.

The run went by quickly. I hadn't been passed on the bike, which means I had a lead over the rest of my field. Having forgotten to check my watch when I left for the run, I was unsure of what my first mile split was. I made it a point of getting my second mile split, and it was between 5:35 and 5:40. I was moving, and feeling good. I pushed through the rest of the run, finishing the 5k in 17:22. That is close to a PR for a 5k as a standalone event.

Splits, as comparing last year to this year:
Last year                   This year
Swim 8:24                 9:20
T1 :54                        1:02
Bike 29:29                 28:57
T2 :34                        :48
Run 18:20                  17:22

Was I really a minute slower on the swim? The course was a little different, and I hadn't taken the best lines. My transitions can definitely improve, but it was the first race of the year, and last year I was chasing people who were beating me. I still shouldn't give up time there. On the bike, I think I could have been faster with fewer people on the course, but with some improvement, I will take it. I am really happy with my run- almost a full minute faster with just running by feel/not trying to catch somebody. Overall, I had the fastest swim, and I was within ~20 seconds of the fastest bike. The fastest run was a 15:53, which is ridiculously fast for a 5k. Definitely something to aspire to.

At the end of the race, I caught up with Gunnar, who had finished second in his age group with a solid race. I also got my hands on some of these cookies:

Red velvet cookies from Safeway. Almost as good as birthday cake Oreos. If you haven't tried either, you haven't tasted deliciousness. Click on the link. You can order them from Amazon. Amazing.
Gunnar and I smiling for the camera. He placed second in his age group.
They did awards by age group; this is what I won- a nice little coaster

With the second and third place finishers in my age group.

For the first race of the season, I was pretty happy with how I finished. I ended up getting second overall including the collegiate men by 3 seconds. The new kit was actually pretty comfortable, and had pockets that I will be taking advantage of in longer races by putting fuel in them. I hope that this is a good start to the rest of the season. Thanks to the Stanford Triathlon team for putting on a good race, Every Man Jack for allowing me to be on the team, Roka wetsuits, and Gu Energy for powering me, Louis Garneau for making a comfortable kit, and for my coach Martin for helping me through another winter of training. I am very much looking forward to racing this spring and summer and seeing what will happen.

1 comment:

  1. http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/02/training-center/on-the-bike/lactic-acid-myths-debunked_316899