I first dipped my toe into the triathlon waters in 2012. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I certainly was a newbie to the sport. And I had some trepidation about it all, especially the swim.
As each season passed I gained a lot more knowledge and confidence. Finishing Ironman Wisconsin in 2013 certainly did wonders for my confidence, both in the water and on the bike, taking me distances I had never covered in either discipline.
But I sometimes still have some things holding me back somewhat. I’m prone to having to use my wetsuit in open water, as it eases my anxiety a little. It’s sort of a security blanket for me. In addition to the wetsuit, I have also played it safe with using my full disc aero cycling wheel.
As you start out in triathlon, you tend to make do with what you have or invest in the entry level stuff, with the thought that if you don’t want to continue doing the sport you haven’t invested your life savings into it. But as I grew to love the sport I eventually graduated from my road bike to a tri bike, a regular road helmet to an aero helmet, an off the rack tri kit to a full custom kit, and from standard cycling wheels to aero wheels. And then I bought a full disc aero wheel.
The full disc wheel goes on the rear of the bike and thanks to some aerodynamics that are beyond my scope, is supposed to make you faster. I certainly did notice a difference, finding myself hitting speeds easier than when I used my normal set up. I also found out on the first few rides that any sort of wind made for an adventure for me. One windy day I was nearly blown off the trail with it.
I recently read some posts online regarding using the full disc wheel on the Ironman Louisville course that I will be doing in October. A guy advised that there was absolutely no reason not to use it. I saw some other comments saying that it was less about the full disc and more about the front wheel when it came to feeling the wind, mainly due to the rider weight distribution. After thinking about it a little, I decided I should ride with it more often and this week seemed like as good a time as any.
I rode with it on Wednesday for a short 45 minutes and a Thursday ride of an hour, both with a little bit of wind but nothing to difficult. Then came Saturday. It was windy. I was a little concerned because my route is mainly open farm roads with very little wind buffer. But I figured this would be a good test. So I did it. And it wasn’t too bad. I found myself leaning into the crosswind a little more than usual, but I never felt like was jockeying around too much. So I decided to race with it on Sunday in a sprint triathlon. That went really well, helping me to hit a 21.5 mph average over the 14.7 mile course.
So there you go. I have now graduated from being over-conscience about using the full disc. I’ll be training with that sucker as much as I can leading up to IM Lou.
I also graduated from having to use the wetsuit for every open water swim, doing without it at the ET Batavia Sprint triathlon. It’s a short 400 yards in a man-made sandy bottom swimming hole, but the water is usually too cold for me. Today’s race day water temperature was 73 degrees, so I decided to do a swim warm up and test out my tolerance for swimming without it. I acclimated quickly and found myself swimming comfortably.
I’m starting to feel good about testing my limits. We’ll see where that takes me in this crazy sport.
Distances: 400 yard Swim, 14.7 mile Bike, 4.1 mile Run
Back for the fourth time to do the race in Batavia. I really enjoy this one. It’s a quick swim, rolling hills bike route with plenty of time to go fast, and a flat and fast trail run.
This week I experimented somewhat with pushing my limits a little. I decided to use my full disc aero wheel on the bike, something I chickened out with a year ago. I also decided to swim without the wetsuit, thanks to the water temperature being just warm enough for my comfort level. I’m glad I didn’t have to fight with it to get it on and off. That is a chore.
The temperature of the morning was comfortable, but the day would get warm later. It wasn’t bad on the bike, but I did start to feel it somewhat on the run.
SWIM – 7:16 minutes, 208th overall
The swim started well for me. I felt like my pace was good. I got to the turn and made it to the backside of the swim and kept swimming. It is pretty shallow in this part of the man-made, sandy bottom public swimming hole, and most people walk the back side of it. I decided to keep swimming until about 10 yards from the turn for the second lap. Once swimming again, I found myself in a much crowded field of swimmers, as more had joined in on the fun, thanks to a time trial type start. But I made it through and started walking the back part of it earlier, just like everyone else.
T1 – 1:44 minutes
Getting to T1 was quick, no need to fuss with removing the wetsuit. Grabbed my bike gear and bike and was gone to Bike Out.
BIKE – 40:58 minutes, 21.5 MPH average, 36th overall
There is a sharp climb right away which sent my heart rate into the red, where it would stay for quite a while, most of the ride actually. I really pushed myself on the ride and it paid off with a quick ride. There was some cross wind, but it didn’t last long. I ate a gel just into the first mile, and one more just before getting back to T2 to fuel for the run.
T2 – 1:18 minutes
RUN – 27:43 minutes, 6:46 average per mile, 27th overall
There was a slight deviation to the final mile of the run as the trail near a public works facility was under construction. Fortunately, the detour had a nice downhill leading back to the bridge that takes you back over the Fox River and the trail on the other side to the finish. The run was going well, but I was feeling the heat a little even though it was almost completely shaded. I took water at the water station twice and splashed it on me and in me as best as I could. I passed a lot of younger racers and not seeing hardly any in my 50-54 Age Group. That’s because they were ahead of me! There was one guy with 50 written on his calf. I decided to pace with him for a little while and then pass him in the last mile if I could. He had is bib on backwards, and I realized his bib was white, which meant he was in the duathlon (run/bike/run) race and not in the triathlon. So, knowing that I wasn’t really competing with him, I decided to push tempo again and pass him. He must of saw my 53 on my calf and he reacted. Once we got to that downhill at about 3.25 miles, he took off. I started to chuckle because I knew he was racing me even though I wasn’t competing with him in his event. I slowly worked on catching up with him, but I knew that I didn’t have to worry about him.
When I got back to the finish, I cooled down and got some fluids in me. I knew it would be a while before the award ceremony, so I decided to walk back to transition, take a shower, gather my bike and junk and take it to the car. I then drove back to the VFW where the finish line area was located.
I decided to grab a couple pieces of pizza and check out the results. Fourth in the age group – no award this year. I was kind of expecting to finish a little higher than the 3rd place I won last year, but just didn’t have it in me. Upon review the posted results online later in the day I realized my swim time did me in. It was a full minute slower than last year! I’m not really sure why that is. It could be the wetsuit I guess, but I really did feel like I swam pretty well. Oh well. The swim ranking had me 208th overall. That is really sad. I also dropped in the overall ranking from 2016, from 23rd to 37th. The guy that beat me for 3rd place beat me by 7 seconds. One glimmer of hope, the 2nd place age group winner was a 50 year old, so he is the newcomer to the rank, whereas I am starting to age into the next group. Not my day, I guess. Maybe next year I will be kicking butt in the 55-59 A/G as the young gun.
The Experience Triathlon club puts on a good event, and I enjoy racing at the Batavia Triathlon. So I signed up back in March, and set my alarm for 3:40am in order to drive the 45 minutes to Batavia for the 6:30am start on June 12, 2016.
After a very hot Saturday, Sunday race day was blessed with a nice and cool upper 60’s degree morning. Matter of fact, the water temperature of the quarry where the swim takes place was 74.5 degrees and warmer than the air temperature. During the period for swim warm-up, I went to the water and waded in up to my knees. Still felt cold for me, but as I stood there I could tell it wasn’t too bad. I was on the fence about swimming without my wetsuit, but I saw many others putting their’s on, so I somewhat reluctantly pulled mine out of the bag and tried to wrestle it on.
I got in line around the quarry to prepare for the staggered time trial start and realized that I needed to set my new triathlon watch to the multi-sport setting. Only I didn’t know how. I knew I had seen it before, and how could one of the most triathlon dominate sports watches not have that function. I must of pushed fifty different combination of buttons until I realized that I had to go Settings. No kidding. Unlearned Lesson #1: Make sure to have a good understanding of your new device before using it in a race.
I was also thinking how to approach the swim. Last time I did the race the swim did not go well. I figured since I was a newly minted Ironman, I would just go all out for the 400 yards or so, and rock it. I was hyperventilating by the first turn. This time I forced myself to not run into the water and to really hold back. It worked! I swam really efficiently and got through the two lap swim actually swimming. I say actually swimming because on the backside of the swim the water is very shallow and most will stand and walk that portion. That’s what I HAD to do last time. Not this time. Lesson learned.
After exiting the swim area, I found a grassy area where I decided that I would shed my tri suit. It came off very easily this time. I really didn’t lose much time wrangling with the dumb thing. Off to the bike and grab my bike gear. Pretty smooth through that too. When I got to the bike mount line is when the wheels came off – almost literally. When I was driving in I could see that it was pretty breezy out, so I decided to remove the full disc wheel that I had put on the night before and replace it with my FLO 60 aero wheel. Apparently I neglected to get the gears right and the bike was not liking me trying to peddle it that way. People were looking at me. It finally clicked into the correct gear and off I sped. Unlearned Lesson #2: Avoid a total newbie move and make sure that your bike is ready to ride right out of T1.
The wind was from the east and man did it make for a fast ride. I was hitting 25mph easily and passing tons of riders. I think I maxed out at one point at 32mph. About a half mile out of T1 I realized that I didn’t know if I needed to push the Lap button on my watch, so I pushed it. And then pushed it again. After reviewing my watch activity it appears most of my ride was considered a transition. Oops. It was also then that I glanced down at my bike computer and realized it wasn’t on. I got it on and it searched and found the satellites quickly, but I had forgotten to reset it from Saturday. So I was essentially starting out with 85 miles on the odometer. I reset it and reminded myself to get my head in the game. Unlearned Lesson #3: See Unlearned Lesson #2.
Only one faster rider passed me on the ride, a tall strong looking guy. I was doing 25 or so and he was faster. I figured I would get him on the run. But that was it. Nobody else passed me on the ride. I had a GU early on the ride and another at the back end to help fuel the run. Heading back in was tough as it was a double whammy of some uphills and the wind in my face. But back into town provided some wind buffer and soon I was whipping around the turns and pulling into T2.
The bike to run transition was smooth as silk. I repeated to myself out loud that I needed my shoes, my visor, my bib belt and off I ran to Run Out. Just before getting there I forgot one thing – I had arm warmers on for the ride that I forgot to take off, so I decided at the last minute to toss them in transition just before the exit and figured I would pick them up after the race.
I forgot to hit the lap button again, and truthfully I was pushing it not knowing if I was supposed to, but I remembered about a tenth of a mile into the run. I really just wanted to know my pace, which at that time was a 6:33 mile. Now I didn’t want to know! Not sure how I planned to hold that pace, but I kept it up for about 3.5 miles of the run. The run was different this year as we went south on the trail instead of heading north. This made for some crazy crowded trail. Not only was there runners running in both directions, but there was some sort of bike event going on locally, so that added some crazy to the whole thing. But as I kept charging ahead I realized I was passing a ton of triathletes. I did not get passed by anyone during the run. I just kept picking off one runner and the next. I paid attention to the age group markings on the calves of the runners and found I was passing a lot of my age group peers, which made me feel great.
At the 3.5 mile mark there was some switchback type turns and a little hill and bridge that kind of took the wind out of me and slowed me down. But I knew that I basically had a half mile to go and the race was ahead of me and not behind me. I finished strong into the finishing chute for an unofficial watch time of 1:18:21. This is a 6 minute PR over my 2014 time! I was shocked. Learned Lesson #2: Know the course well and trusting your running ability. Always bet on the runner!
The hard part was post race, being slightly wet on a cool morning – I was uncomfortable. There was quite a wait for the final finishers to wrap up their races, so I ate some banana, pizza, a cookie and downed another water bottle. I approached the tent where the timing guys were hanging out and was told they would be posted soon. About an hour later (!), they posted them. I waited in line to get a look and found my name on the first page, and learned that I had finished 3rd in the M50-54 age group! This race was a USAT Nationals Age Group Qualifier, so by finishing 3rd I should be qualified! I may not be able to go to it, but it is always nice to know that I had qualified. Now I had to wait until the end to get my award.
I knew that transition was going to close at 11:30am, so I jogged the mile back to transition. All of my stuff was there thankfully, even though the place was mostly cleared out. I grabbed my bag and went into the lockers and took a shower because I was starting to get rank. I packed up my stuff and walked back to the car. I was 5 miles or so away when I realized that my favorite pair of arm warmers were still laying in transition by the Run Out. Unlearned Lesson #3: Don’t ever say to yourself that “I’ll remember” to go back and do something! Now I am out my favorite pair of arm warmers.
So, to sum up the race itself I would say that packet pick-up was a waste of an afternoon driving to Geneva on Friday to get a bib and two stickers, a shirt and a swim cap. Next time use the morning pick-up, I was there in plenty of time to get it. Also, the new run course finishing at the Batavia VFW was way too crowded and busy for the racers, and the finish was way too far from transition. Hopefully they will get some negative feedback on that and move it back to finishing downtown. And if I do finish and get an A/G award, head back to transition, take a shower, pack up all of your junk and then go back to the awards. There will be plenty of time.
Good race, nice day. I’ll be back. That’s a lesson that I have learned.