Friday, June 13, 2008

2008 Redondo Beach Triathlon

So I finally did my first triathlon for the year. There aren't too many early season races in Southern California. So unless you are doing the California Half-Iron, June is about as early as it gets, and it is about time. I enjoyed the Redondo Beach Triathlon last year and so I was looking forward to doing it again. But I didn't really train for it, because I have been training for the upcoming LA Wheelmen Grand Tour Double Metric Century Challenge. But it was a sprint race and a C race on my race schedule, so I figured putting my run and swim training on maintenance would be ok.

The good news is that I finished higher in the rankings than last year, but the bad news is that I was nearly two minutes slower this year, which to be frank was disappointing. In the end the difference nearly all came down to the run, and reveals that my run needs alot of work.

The Swim

At 1000 meters, the swim is a little long for a sprint triathlon, so the event favors good swimmers. I'm not a good swimmer, but pathetically enough it is my fastest sport of the three. Last year I had a problem moving too far the the left and then swinging wide as I went around the final buoy. This caused me to get caught in some kind of rip current near the pier, and I made very slow progress in the final exit from the water. So this year I was determined to stay close to the buoy's even if it meant going through the inevitable crush zones where all the athletes are vieing for the same inside lane around the buoy.

I was feeling comfortable and confident and I was really surprised that I basically found a group of guys and stuck with them for the entire swim course. This has never actually happened to me before. I did swing a little too wide in the first half of the swim, but got back on course for the second half. The water was very calm so getting out was like a breeze.

My time was just a few seconds slower than last year at 22:57 for the 1000 meters. That is about a 2:18/100meters (not including the run up the beach) which seems pretty fast for me. I rarely go that fast in the pool, but maybe the course was measured short or my wetsuit made me faster. What I think is most likely is that I was probably swimming slightly slower than last year, but I swam a shorter course by staying closer to the buoys. My swim definitely needs lots of work, but it was about what I expected.


Going up that hill from the beach to the transition area is murder, and I had to walk at least half of it. The only problem I had in transition was getting my wetsuit off. I had a little difficulty, but did not sit down so I probably did better than last year at 1 minute and 56 seconds, but I really should be able to get that down to around a minute to a minute and a quarter. That will be a goal for me for my upcoming events.

The Bike

I put on my bike shoes during the bike leg. I did that last year and had issues because another guy closed my bike shoes. Why didn't I learn?! I closed them this year. I thought I was closing them in such a way that they would be wide open, but no such luck. I must have taken at least two minutes to finally get those damn shoes on. I probably should have practiced more, as I haven't practiced since last year.

After getting my shoes on I kept the bike at around 220 watts for nearly the entire course. My lactate threshold is around 190 so I figured for such a short course 220 would be a good pace. People were staying to the right more than last year, but there still were alot of kids, and they had a tendency to weave back and forth right in front of you.

The best part of the course is a fast downhill loop followed by a short but steep hill. I did my best to pass as many people as possible on that downhill because I know they were going to get some distance from me on that uphill. Actually I had an advantage in my road bike on that downhill because I could stay aero in the drops and still maintain good control going around the loop, whereas alot of the people on tri-bikes had to get up on the hoods and slowdown to maintain control.

I had no problem getting out of my tri shoes as I was coming into T2. Now if only I could do a flying dismount. . .

So I did the six miles in 20 minutes and 42 seconds, which averages out to about 17.4 miles per hour. With all the bike training I have been doing I was hoping for better. I guess this just goes to show that specificity is the name of the game. I have been doing lots of bike training, but it has nearly all been long distance endurance training. I need to do those intervals!


T2 was pretty fast at 1 minute and 24 seconds. I put on my running shoes without socks, which made it a bit easier. I was risking blisters, but I figured how could I possibly get blisters over only two miles. I also put on body Glide on my feed earlier, but I have no idea how much remained after the swim and running up the beach in bare feet. But it worked out ok, as I didn't get any blisters.

The Run

Here is where it gets ugly. My legs felt like lead. I haven't done a brick in several months. Boy, did it show. I was really working hard, but I was barely moving. My Polar RS800 was telling me that I was doing about a 12:30 pace. Ugh!

My legs started to feel a little better about a third of the way into the run, but by then my heart rate was really high. I'm not sure how high it was because my HRM lost the signal during the swim and so I didn't have any heart rate readings for the first half of the run. I finally remembered how to get it to find the signal later, but by that time the race was nearly over. I kinda miss my my S625x for races for this reason. It could keep the signal in the swim and I would have a heart rate for the entire event.

For the final hill I dug deep and ran the whole way with a final strong sprint at the end. I finished the two miles in 22 minutes and 7 seconds. That would be around an 11 minutes per miles pace, but probably the course was short. That was still nearly two minutes longer than last year, so my run has really slipped up.

My running has been really inconsistent since the LA Marathon. That's partly because I have been focused on my bike training, but also because I tend to want to run long and don't do much speed work or tempo running. This just trains you to run slow. So now I definitely know that I need to focus on short, fast running for the next few months.

My overall time was 1 hour, 9 minutes and 6 seconds placing 9th (out of 22) in the Clydesdale division (last year I was 22nd out of 41) so that was definitely an improvement.

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Blogger Name: Henry said...

Great job man, way to go.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Bigun said...

it's about time you raced! awesome effort big guy!

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Deniel Hopkins said...

great post and love the photos!! especially that last one!!
keep tri-ing

5:45 AM  

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