Race: Point Grey Triathlon at UBC (July 28, 2013)
Time: 1:40:17 (Placing: 187/247, 77/118 F, 6/8 F45-49)
Swim: 700m (in 50m pool), 24:14 (includes most of T1 in change tent and 250m run to bike)
Bike: 20K, 47:13 (includes time in T1 and T2, about 3 min total)
Run: 5K, 28:51
Summary: This was my second time doing the sprint distance just two months after the North Shore Triathlon in May and about four-and-a-half months after my very first super-sprint in March. I was about the same pace in the swim and slightly faster in the bike and run as in the tri in May. It was a gorgeous day and a lot of fun. :) Clearly I have left a lot of room for improvement in the sport of triathlon.
I arrived at the race site at about 6:15 am, or a little over an hour before my 7:25 am scheduled heat. Because I'm a slower swimmer, I was in the second of seven swim heats. I checked in my bike, organized my stuff in transition (spending about 10 minutes deciding whether to leave my bike shoes there or leave them in my pool bag, eventually deciding on the latter option). I then went to the pool to change and got to the pool deck at about 7:10 to get my body marking and timing chip. The race started about a half-hour late, so after a lot of waiting around I was more than ready to start. I seeded myself pretty far back in the heat; I had predicted 19 minutes for 700m, but started with the 20-minute people because I know most people seed themselves too slowly. We swam in the beautiful 50m outdoor pool, going up and back across the seven lanes. I was going at a slow but steady pace, and got passed by one person around the second lap. I seemed to have more space after that, but still it was hard to relax completely. After about 500m, I got stuck behind a huge traffic jam of people. It seemed one person slowed down in front of about five others, and I caught up to them; at one point I was swimming breast stroke so slowly I had to stop and walk. At the end of the lane we were able to get past the one slow person, but similar back-up happened again in one of the last laps. This was the kind of traffic jam I managed to avoid in my last triathlon. I thought to myself “What can you do?” and I figured I'd save some energy for the bike leg. It seems many inexperienced swimmers don't pace themselves well in the pool, starting fast and then slowing down. I tend to swim pretty steady-paced. I did try to power through the last length after I passed one person. This pool congestion probably cost me about a minute or so in the swim, and my time in the water was just over 20 minutes. I exited the pool feeling good.
My friend Rob took some video of me during the swim:
(I am in the first lane with the yellow cap.)
I tried to have a quick transition, but it was hard to get my shorts and tank over my wet suit. I slipped on some sandals for the transition run, grabbed some Powerade and was off to bike transition (about a 250m run on narrow sidewalk before the transition timing mat). The whole process of putting on new clothes and running to the entrance of transition took me about 4 minutes.
I slipped on my bike shoes, clipped on my helmet, gulped down some Gatorade, and started running with my bike out of transition. The bike was fun and fast on the gradual downhill, but slow on the gradual uphill. I don’t bike a lot, and this is about as long I’d want to do in a race. They added a bit of a technical section with curves and narrow parts, and I slowed more than I probably had to there. But overall the bike was good; about the same pace I did in my last sprint, and I finished feeling a bit better for the run.
Bike to run transition was also a bit slow. My bike time is listed as 47:13, but my Garmin shows just under 44 minutes for the actual ride, so about 3.5 minutes total in T1 and T2 (not including the other part of the swim-to-bike transition before the timing mat). My friend Tim got a picture, and it looks like I need to learn some HTFU. :) (he also got some pictures on the bike, but they aren't very good)
The beginning of the run was a bit of a confusing maze of fences as we exited from transition, until a few hundred metres in when we were on some residential roads. We worked our way to some of the Pacific Spirit Park trails, and then around to Marine Drive. I was running as fast as 5:30/km but I could not maintain that pace on the trails and some slight inclines. It was a gorgeous run and I was wishing it was a longer part of the triathlon, since by the end I felt I had warmed up more into my pace (last kilometre was the fastest, even with a slight incline). I did manage a slightly faster average pace for the run than my last triathlon.
I crossed the finish line at just over 1:40, and was overall really happy with the race. Triathlon is so much fun, but the experience is so different than road races.
My friend Tim took a picture of me coming toward the finish:
Post race thoughts
I am still learning a lot in triathlon and I really enjoy the varied training. The race was fun, and I did race well and strong for my current fitness. I do realize that gains in this sport will take me a LOT more dedicated training, especially on the bike. As a newbie I have enjoyed getting into the sport of triathlon with no real time pressure or expectations. I am not sure how much I will continue to enjoy it without setting improvement goals for myself and training towards them. Truthfully, I'm just not used to being at the bottom of the pack, and it is quite humbling.
Now that this triathlon is done, I am looking forward to getting back to mostly running and working toward getting back my run fitness. I have realized lately that as much as I am enjoying the varied triathlon training, I'm missing being able to do more run mileage. I know my return-to-run fitness has been slowed somewhat but the time spent in the other activities. We will be travelling for much of August, but i will definitely have time to do a lot of running. I have a half-marathon planned for October and maybe another in November. After that I will think about spring goals. Stay tuned.