Sunday, March 4, 2012

Desert Tri; Sprint

Well as this is my first ever Triathlon race report you can expect it to be a bit long, mostly for me it’s a bit of a mental brain dump on lessons learned.

Night before and set up; An early night after pizza and pasta. The alarm was set for 4:30am, this allowed time to shower, shave etc, have breakfast, load the bike on the car, drive to the race etc. I had laid out all my stuff the night before, put my numbers on my bike, helmet and race belt and so the morning was really just a case of following the production line of items laid out, (can you tell I am a Virgo!?!)

The drive was 15 minutes and I arrived in good time, I was pleased to find that on my row I was the first and so I took the prime end spot and claimed about 2’ of width for all my stuff. I had purchased a Zoot Tri Bag and was really pleased that I managed to get everything in it, it was comfortable to wear and appears to be fairly robust, I am sure I will get around to writing a review at some point. I unpacked and laid things out in what seemed a sensible order;

  • Helmet with sunglasses and liner (my helmet is a bit big without) on my aerobars
  • Cycling shoes with socks rolled down (they’re road bike shoes and are scratchy inside so no bare feet for me)
  • Garmin Edge 500 on bike; I had turned this on and got a satellite lock to minimize the wait/wasted time (my 910xt is due at the end of the month)
  • I had a nice bright towel to stand on/dry my feet and a couple of bottle to wash the sand off my feet; it was quiet a long run from the end of the swim along a sandy path
  • My race belt with number was on my saddle; I planned to wear it for the bike
  • My bike was in a low gear as the mount line was on a hill which continued up before leveling off and toppling over 10’ past the line wasn’t on my things to do list!
  • Running shoes had my 305 in and again I had turned it on and then off again
  • A small Fuelbelt handheld with 12oz of water to carry on the run
  • A visor; actually not a Visor, I forgot to put it out and left if in my bag


I checked and double checked and with the exception of my Visor I was set it was a little after 6:00am and my wave started at 7:33am. I dug out my wetsuit and left it on the rack and went to look for the porta johns.


The next hour was spent getting body markings, finding coffee, another trip to the porta johns, watching the sunrise walking the first and second transitions, looking for sight lines on the swim, checking out the other competitors and what they were doing and drooling over some bike porn. Although while there was a fair share of disc wheels and carbon fiber there was also a mix of cruisers, mountain bikes and even a tandem!

Pre Start and Start; With half an hour to go I wrestled into wetsuit, lubed my neck, wrist and ankles did the two cap thing to keep warm and keep my goggles and headed to just the side of the start line to warm up, well actually get cold would be a better description. I waded out to my waist and without a second thought just went for it, OMFG the water was cold! I swam for 25 yards or so and turned around and bobbed about a bit before heading back in. I waded in and made some small talk with other competitors and then the first wave went off, I walked to start line and stood at the back, three minutes later my wave went.


I waded out and started to swim, it was going ok until I swallowed some and took a good splash in the face with the cold water. The coldness of water and tightness of my wetsuit was making catching my breath really hard. At this point any semblance of form seemed to vanish and to be honest a little bit of panic set in. I saw a surfboard to the side and aimed for it. The further out I got the colder the water seemed to be, I took a moment to breath and set off. Again the coldness of the water was shocking to me. This was really repeated for the rest of the swim along with flipping on to my back and a bit of breast stroke. I was swum over a couple of times and punched and kicked a bit too as the waves behind caught and passed. Finally I was within wading distance; 5’ counts right(?) and I waded out. I was bitterly disappointed, I knew this was going to be my weakest of three but I was just not prepared for it to be what it was.

As I left the water I was determined to make up for the poor start and as other walked to the transition area I made sure to run and strip off the top of my wetsuit as I went.


T1 and Bike; I reached my bike and started the reverse wrestle of the wetsuit, first one leg and then the other, this took some time; the suit is too small I have decided, it also pulled off my timing chip so I had to put that back on. I dried off one foot got my sock and shoe on and then just put the other on; drying could wait, race belt, liner, hat glasses, I hung my suit over the rack, (this would haunt me later) and started the run to the mount line.

100_0387 100_0388
I jumped on the bike and started to peddle with no real problems compared to a few others I saw wobble, I reached the top and couldn’t clip into my pedals; I had left the damn cleat covers on! I reached down and pulled them off threw them to the side, clipped in and I was away.


The ride out was a little rough and there were a couple of 90 degree turns which were busy with riders. Once out onto the open road I found that one side of the road was being used which had two lanes and one lane was coned off so I took up place on the left side and dug in for the ride. The ride was a basic rectangle and had a little downhill on the way out and then the reverse on the way back, this was born out by my splits, the fastest one was M2 2:31 (23.7mph). I blew through 10 miles in 29:28, I think this is actually the fastest I have ever ridden 10 miles and is doubly pleasing as my first mile was 4:18 I was happy to pick up the pace and just got on with it I couldn’t remember whether the bike was 12 or 14 miles but soon figured that out when I passed the 12 mile marker. Knowing that the last couple of miles would be uphill with some sharp turns I pressed on to get to the end and also to get around a few riders who were already slowing down. I was passed only three times on the bike, two guys and a girl all of which were flying and all in the last two miles.

I hit the dismount line and stopped my Garmin, I didn’t check on the time till later but it was 41:19 for 13.8 miles, here is the more detailed info:

  • Ave 2:42 per mile
  • Ave speed 20.7
  • Ave cadence 97
  • Max Speed 25.5
  • Ave HR 159
  • Max HR 167
  • Zone 3 20.8%
  • Zone 4 77.5%

T2 and Run; From the dismount line I ran down to the racks. What I failed to realize was I was running down the wrong aisle so I spent a few extra seconds wondering “where the fuck is my towel!!” until I realized my mistake and ran across to the right rack. Bike up, shoes off, shoes on, remember me hanging up my wetsuit…yeah that had dripped for 40 minutes into my shoes! Glasses, liner, helmet off, Visor on…err nope! Glasses on grabbed water bottle and Garmin 305 hit on and I was done

The run route was basically around the lake so we ran mostly on a shaley path, ahh back to the trails I thought! My Garmin took a quarter mile to catch but when it did I was pleased to see that my pace was sub 8:00 and I had no sign of wobbly legs despite going hard on the bike. With it being only three miles I knew I could just run with myself and aimed for negative splits and a solid finish. The temperature had gotten up a little and carrying my little bottle proved a sensible idea as I could squirt a little on my head to cool me off. All in all the run went well, one girl overtook me within the last half mile and I paid her back the compliment in the sprint finish. Details

  • M1 7:32 157/Ave Cadence 91/Max Cadence 98
  • M2 7:25 159/91/92
  • M3 7:03 167/91/98
  • Zone 3 17.1%
  • Zone 4 61.3%
  • Zone 5 21.6%


I had my chip off, my medal on, grabbed a drink, some food and was done!

The race data published today

  • 599 raced overall
  • Swim 577th 20:26 (not last; holy shit!)
  • Bike 141st 40.59 Ave pace 20.4
  • Run 95th 21:21 Ave pace 7:07
  • T1 3:43
  • T2 2:19
  • Finish time 1:28:48
  • AG 33/48
  • OA 274/599

Summary; Well obviously the swim was the issue; having had time to reflect and do a bit of research I should have done three things:

  1. Joined the open water swim the day before, I got there a bit late and kinda missed it
  2. Spent more time in the water before the start to just become comfortable with it, all my expected issues; fish, not being able to see in the water, other swimmers etc never really came to pass, it was just the cold
  3. Prepared myself more with a bit more research, to be honest I have no idea how I would have done this but I won’t make that mistake again

I have also concluded that my wetsuit is too small, I know it should be tight but it is too restrictive and that combined with the time it takes to get it off in T1 is just setting me up for failure, so another one needs to be gotten…oh good more wallet rape! Although it was free as I won it and if I can sell it that will offset the cost some.

In regards to my bike and run, other than the wet shoes and lack of visor I think they both went well. Although as usual it’s humbling to see what “good” people do OA winners time was 1:00:59…but I am only there to beat me and the clock!


In comparison to my targets…I wrote these down somewhere and now can’t find them so from memory:

  • Swim 14:00 +6mins
  • Bike 45:00 -4mins
  • Run 24:00 -3mins
  • T1 2:30 +1:15
  • T2 2:00 +0:19
  • Overall 1:27:30 vs. 1:28:38 +1:08…yep 68 seconds off

Next Steps; Well I hit the pool today, back in the saddle so to speak; my main focus is on swimming and in particular open water swimming! I have identified a couple of possibilities including am open water confidence course, I need to scope out the local lakes, there are a few and I am thinking about joining a local tri club for ocean swimming as I need a buddy. This combined with finding a new wetsuit…and that’s it! Other than that I am going to pretty much stick with what I am doing training wise on the bike and run till my next race in 60 days in terms of the run and bike.

More photos…


  1. Every issue you had is completely surmountable. Be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zones and doing something different! Amazing job putting it back together for the run and bike. You will do much better on the swim at your next race I am sure. Just get some more open water time under your belt (or suit I should say!)

  2. Good job Stuart. How does it feel having first one under your belt ;-). Glad to see things went pretty smoothly for you.

  3. Tri cherry popped :D - Well done, sounds quite an experience - I can recommend the Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit... its thin in the right places and allows great mobility. BTW if you ever do a tri over here, they fit about 3 bikes in 2 feet on a rack ;)

  4. I think you did a WONDERFUL job!! Don't be too hard on yourself. I have found that Body Glide in copious amounts from my knees to my feet...really helps that wetsuit slide off too. Trislide spray works wonders too. Also....when you get it down to your feet, step on it (left foot steps on right side then vice versa) instead of sitting down and pulling....your legs are stronger and you'll break free faster. The suit will be inside out but hang it over the rack and deal with it later. Open water can be really intimidating, but they key is to be comfortable. The unknown makes this hard and now that you "know", I have no doubt you'll be much more pleased the next go round! FWIW, I always hope to see fish...they really pass the time!! Excellent race...I hope you're very proud of what you've done in such short time period!!

  5. How exciting! I was excited just reading about your FIRST, tri that is! Well done. Not that I know anything, but for sprints (water temps permitting) and even Olympic distances, I don't wear a wetsuit...just saves time. Congratulations, you did an awesome job!

  6. RACK HAWG! LOL... seriously, there's nothing worse then getting into transition and finding rack space for 6 bikes taken up by 4-5 bikes. Put your bike on the rack, then your towel and stuff goes behind your bike, in the aisle. Ideally, your little transition are should take up nor more width (maybe a little more) than the width of your bike. When you unrack your bike, just pick it up over your stuff, and off you go!

    Don't sweat the cold swim. My first triathlon was in Lake Lanier in early MAY. I didn't even get into the water before the race start, and when I did, the shock was unlike anything I ever experienced. Good thing for me, the swim was point to point along the beach, so I could stand up and catch my heaving breath often!

    Dude, you crushed the bike and the run. All those little things you've pointed out are obvious room for improvement. You will work the kinks out the more you race.

    Before you go and buy a new wet suit, you might want to consider a couple of things. They make some slipper spray stuff for getting in and out of your wet suit, and you can also cut 3-4 inches off the legs. I, personally, invested in a no sleeves no legs wet suit for shorter races.

    Overall though, you did an amazing job! WELL DONE!!

  7. Nice job on the race report! I would recommend a sleeveless wetsuit!!

  8. Congrats Triathlete!! Sounds like a great first-Tri racing experience. Whoever your photographer was did a good job too.

  9. LOVE the race report. So glad to have hooked up our blogs again. I have a blog board that you're on. CONGRATS STUART!

  10. Nice job Stuart. The swim is always the hardest for people without a swim background. A few more open water swims and you'll have it in the bag. Congrats on completing your first triathlon!!!

  11. Congratulations on a great race and great report!


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