Wet Dog Triathlon, Decatur, AL – 20 July 2013
400m Swim, 15km Bike, 5km Run.
So, pre-race routine was an experiment in what "not to do." the night before a race. After picking up my race packet on Friday, I went with the family to Point Mallard waterpark compliments of Alabama Pediatric Dental Associates. We left the water park around 9:00 pm and arrived back home at 9:30. Since I had not eaten dinner yet…pizza to the rescue. I polished off half of a large pizza around 10:30. Not exactly the time or the meal to expect great things from on race day.
Race Day - Early wake up with the usual “superstition nutrition”. Picked up a friend and arrived at transition at 5:30. Grabbed a good spot on the bike rack, picked up my race bib, and went through all the normal set up routine. Took a short jog and then a warm up on the bike. Tried something a little different this time for the bike warm-up...I did three 1-minute intervals at approximately 90% RPE with 1-minute rest in between. Made it back to transition and hurried to the start line to barely make the team picture. I managed to snag Gregg on the way and used my "search" for him as my excuse for being a little late. 73°F and 93% Humidity, yeaaah, love this Alabama weather. Last thought before going in the water, "Why didn’t they play the National Anthem before the race?"
SWIM – 6:43. Swim line up was a little hectic. Kinda, sorta by race number. IF the estimated swim times were accurate (they were not, judging by the number of "wet dogs" I had to pass) it would be nice to see the line-up order better enforced. I had estimated a 7:29 swim so I expected to pass a few people but not every 5 strokes. I wasn’t able to find a set of feet to follow this race and had to maneuver around a lot of other swimmers.
T1 – Other than the slow jog from the water to the bike, transition was smooth. I came out of the water pretty winded and jogged through the gates and into transition. I got passed by a little kid who ran around me as I was jogging through the bike racks….youth, ha!
BIKE – 23:45/22.7mph. The plan was to never let my speed get below 23mph on the bike. I averaged 21.2mph at last year’s Wet Dog. After getting my feet secure in my shoes without the shenanigans from my last race, and witnessing what was almost a nasty bike pile-up I was able to get to 23mph within the first minute. (Please, if you are trying to get your feet in your shoes just stay to the right side of the road and keep your wheel straight.) I kept the speed above 23mph and passed lots of disc wheels and tri-bikes (evil laugh). As I turned back into the park, I must’ve run out of gas. I couldn’t keep the speed up for the last mile and averaged 20mph coming back to the transition area.
T2 – No problem on the dismount, but my legs were definitely feeling the effort on the bike. Almost collided with a volunteer who was “moseying” through transition as I tried to get to my bike rack. Checked my Garmin and heart rate was showing 179bpm. This is not where I want to be starting the run with the heart rate maxed out. Shoes, hat, glasses and I’m off, wondering how I’m going to get my heart rate to settle down.
RUN – 24:18/7:52 pace. Goal was to run a 7:40 average pace. Started the run and immediately I knew I was going to pay for the fast bike time. My hamstrings felt like they were tied in knots. I had not drunk enough on the bike due to concentrating on keeping my speed up. So now I’m dry-mouthed and feeling a little overheated. I managed an 8:06 for mile 1. Water station must have been prepared early, but the water wasn’t cold enough to help cool me down. (side note: If only the sponsors would provide paper cups because it’s really hard to run and drink from a Styrofoam cup). The next mile was even worse at 8:17. I knew I had to make up time just to stay under 8 minute miles for the run. To make matters worse, at the turn-around point I kept going straight. Thank goodness there was a runner behind me. He whistled me back into consciousness telling me “Left!, Left!”. I was completely zoned out. Looped back and hit the water station and I must have woken up from there. I came out of my funk and knew I had to make up time. I turned in a 7:25 for mile 3 and sprinted through the finish line with a goofy photo op for Gregg Gelmis.
This was my 7th triathlon this year but the first repeat race from last season. Good to be able to compare and see some progress. I shaved 5:15 off of my total time and improved significantly on the bike and swim. I was 9th in my age group and 34th overall with a final time of 56:38. Hot and humid race day made the run a little more challenging than a 5K should be, despite the trail being mostly shaded. Colder water stations with paper cups would be nice, and I need to make sure and get more liquid down during the bike. More bike-run bricks will hopefully improve the first half of my run. Another good show of support for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Great race support on the course and great to see local athletes and volunteers making a difference in support of a worthy cause. Lots of podium spots from the Fleet Feet Tri Team!
Short plug for the CEP calf sleeves. Foremost, all the cool triathletes wear them, just ask Rick Greif or Wes Johnson. Psychological or physiological, I couldn't say. If you read other reviews, you'll find the jury is still out, and maybe you should try a pair and make your own decision. You can wear them during the swim and they don't absorb enough water to notice. They claim to improve circulation and help prevent shin splints. I've had problems with shin splints in the past so maybe this is an ounce of prevention (compression IS a medically accepted treatment for shin splints). I have started wearing them this season and my run times are getting faster (and it's not because I'm training more for the run). They do help to keep your muscles more stable which should help conserve energy, and compression helps prevent your blood from collecting in the lower extremities during longer races. Science or pseudoscience? Stop by Fleet Feet Huntsville and give 'em a Tri.