Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lake Hickory Sprint Race Report

Last week was fun but now it is time to get down to business. My second triathlon of the season is in the books! Woot! Woot! I have had to cancel three races now due to a bum knee. It has been frustrating to the see the race season kick off and simply sit back and watch from the sidelines. The experience taught me two things 1) I am very fortunate to be able to compete in this sport 2) I actually like racing. I used to think I just really liked to train but truth be told racing presents a different kind of challenge, a challenge I enjoy accepting. 

James picked me up early Saturday morning and we headed up to Hickory, NC. The drive was quiet and uneventful. LHST (Lake Hickory Sprint Triathlon) is a new race to the Set Up Events series and to be honest I did not know it existed before Set Up took it over. Despite having a really short swim few people seemed to be signing up for the event so it seemed like a good chance to test the ol' engine and put a little stress on the knee. Yeah it seemed like a great idea until it started pouring on the drive north. Poor conditions on race day seems to be the theme this year but lucky for us the sky cleared just as we pulling into the race site. Once my transition was established I went for a quick run and then hopped down to the water for a nice warm up swim. I swam out to the first buoy and back. I climbed up to the shore when I heard the national anthem starting to play and as I turned around to get back in the water I noticed the back of a Rev3 kit which meant super runner and triathlete Tara Martine came to play. Things just got real. Really real. 

Swim (5:19)
I will admit I felt a little threatened by this swim. 400 yards is a short swim no matter how you look at it but if I am going to grow as a TRIathlete I need to quit leaning on my swim for my confidence on race day. Knowing I would need to create as much of a gap as possible on the swim, I went right into a short sprint when the gun went off. Trying a new strategy I took the first turn buoy wide to maintain momentum and avoid a small pack off to my right. I held the pace steady until the second turn buoy. This one I headed for directly and used the backstroke turn to launch me into sprint for the finish. 

Wonky caps are a big no-no. I should be punished
T1 (:51)
Most of T1 is included in the swim time since there was about a 50 yd run to the timing mat. I was blocking James from exiting and since there were some other dudes in T1 I tried to wait a bit so he could get out but I think he was waiting for me to get out of his way. 

Bike (00:42:34)
Usually when I get on the bike I am out of breath from the swim but today I felt like I had everything under control. James passed me right out of the gate and the second fella wasn't too far behind. I was alone for a good portion of the race until Selle passed me. I tried to keep him in a good visual distance but lost him at a turn where I had to brake hard to avoid hitting a fireman who stepping out right in front of me. My back wheel fishtailed but luckily I did not eat pavement. I was still feeling a bit cautious as I entered the downhill portion on the race but once I was on the second loop I had my confidence back and a lot more company as the athletes from the later waves moved onto the course. 

T2 (:43)
Coming into T2, I was eager to see how far behind was the next female. Since we would run back out to the bike course I knew I would be able to get the scoop on the other ladies. 

Run (20:39)
The road out of the park was pretty empty before several guys started rolling in. Dude. Good. Dude. Good. Dude. Good. Good looking dude. Oh haaaaaaaay. Chick. Shit. When I saw Tara I knew I had a good gap on her but I was not about to underestimate her run. At the SC Half in 2010 I had a 12 minute lead on a girl who ultimately ran me down in the last mile of the race. In my defense she is a super fast runner but I should never have allowed myself to get comfortable. So this day I ran. I tried to focus on the two dudes who were catching me quite quickly. I thought to myself "If they are catching me then she is catching me." Ultimately that thought process got me the win and forced me into a 5K PR. 

An artistic rendering of my backside
As usual Set Up put on a great event and the weather really turned to our favor. It was good to see so many familiar faces but it felt especially good to race again. In reflection I did a workout the week prior to the race that really helped me prepare for the event's super short swim. Tuesday morning I picked up a workout written by Sara McLarty. Sara is one of the fastest swimmers on the triathlon circuit having swam for the Florida Gators and coached by Gregg Troy (coach to Ryan Lochte and Elizabeth Beisel, no big deal). One thing in this particular workout stood out, a 500 all out with paddles and fins. I have done sprint work with paddles and fins for 25s and 50s but never for 500 meters. A fast 500 where you don't blow up requires 3 things:

  • Proper pacing. Going out too fast will slap you in the face around the 300/400
  • A balanced kick. Too hard and you will blow up. Too little and the fins become dead weight.
  • Powerful stroke. The paddles help to find the power portion of your stroke but the stroke rate will have to match the kick or you just end up flailing.  
I ended up finishing the 500m in 5:47. I broke my own rule and went out too fast putting down a 1:05 in the first 100 but once I found a good rhythm I settled in for the rest of the 500. As I was warming up for the super short 400 swim at HLST I was able to recreate the power I felt in that 500. I concentrated on a fast kick, smooth but accelerated turn over, and high elbows as I entered into the power phase of my stroke. 

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