Sunday, October 2, 2011

My first Olympic Distance Tri

All summer we looked forward to the challenge of the Bartlett Lake Olympic Distance Triathlon ... put on by "This is the most difficult triathlon in the state of Arizona." This was the recurring quote we heard during the months leading up to it.

Guess what. It is a very difficult course.

I am going to do a full race report because I think a first Olympic triathlon on a course of this magnitude deserves a write up worthy of it's size and relentlessness.

The lake level is down to 43% capacity. Last month it was at 93%. Why does this matter? Because the run from the water to the transition area was up the shore for over a quarter mile in loose, steep and sharp gravel.

The first lap of the swim was rough on many of the swimmers - not only because of jostling for position, but also for sighting the buoys around which we were directed to swim. Carrie and I both had trouble sighting marks to swim toward due to glare... and probably inexperience :-). We both swam quite a bit extra ... me I would say I swam probably an extra 150 meters, which adds up when you are already swimming 1500 meters. So my mile in the water was within my range of target times at 39m 57sec. I am pleased. I did wear the wet suit. I think I am glad I wore it. It was a little hot, but the added buoyancy probably helped.

Time for the bike. We did the Bicycle Tour of Colorado in June. Good thing. At least we knew a little about what to expect. It took me about 20 minutes on the bike to get my legs under me ...

Steep and sustained was the rule of the day. For 12 of the 24 miles, the bike was uphill between 6% and 8% grade. My speed varied between 7mph and 51mph on the course. Overall, I am pleased with the bike - because it was challenging AND it started getting HOTTTTT while we were finishing the bike leg. 1hr 47min 11sec on the bike. Averaging nearly 14mph on that course is a badge of honor for me. I'll take it.

So after a 1650 meter swim, a 25 mile bike (which is what my computer showed) all I needed to do was run a 10K. A steep and HOTTTTT (98 degrees) 10K. The first 1.25 miles was about an 8% incline. The next 2 miles was a steady downhill. At the turnaround I took a bath in the drinking water. Then all I needed to do was get up that "steady downhill" I just ran down. That steady downhill had sections of 6%+ grade on it. I was so happy to get back to the water tent at the 1.25 mile mark. I ran the last section quite fast because it was downhill and I was ready to be done.

3hrs 43min 20sec -- Total time.

On a regular Olympic course, the time would likely be a sub three hour performance. The outsider might see 3:43 and scoff. Since I was there and I did the race, I am just happy that I finished it. I am pleased with my swim and bike. I think the heat zapped me on the run. Calf cramps were the tell-tale sign that heat was the enemy.

Carrie was second in her age group. I was third in mine. It was a solid day.

This week is going to be harsh in regards to training. I have one more week of serious work before my taper begins for the SOMA Half Ironman in Tempe.


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