Friday, September 20, 2013

Pre-Race: 5150 Galveston

5150 Galveston Logo

Well, we're all settled in down here in Galveston.  TJ is fast asleep and Analise and I are actually getting a chance to relax.  It's always nice when racing can also mean a chance to get away from the normal routine. 

5150 has always struck me as an odd name for a race.  Yeah, I get how they came up with it, but it's not nearly as intuitive and recognizable as something like 70.3, 140.6, IM, HIM, Sprint, OD, etc., and not just because it's in metric.  I prefer metric, but try telling someone you're doing a 5150, and you're more than likely to get a blank stare. 

So, for the uninitiated, 5150 is the brand name WTC chose for their Olympic distance race series.  Olympic distance (OD) is a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, and WTC is the organization that owns the Ironman brand. I've done a number of WTC races and they've always been high quality events.  This'll be my first 5150 though and I'm excited to see how they do. 

OD races are historically my worst distance.  Of course, my "history" only consists of three races, none of which have gone well.  I did two in 2007, just weeks after buying my first bike.  I think I finished both in about 2:45, and while they were good experience, they were tough events with unimpressive times.  In 2012 I did Kemah just a months after TJ was born.  Not surprisingly, my body was wasted and the race was a disaster.  I finished right at 2:30 and walked most of the run.  The relatively long swim doesn't play to my strengths, and this distance is tough to pace. 

All that said, I'm pretty optimistic about this race.  While the past couple of months haven't been great training, I'm feeling better than I have in a while and should at least be pretty well rested, if maybe a bit flat.  I've been swimming more than I ever have in my life and I'll be racing the new bike for the first time!

I am a little concerned though.  This is the sight that greeted me when we drove up today:

Yikes!  That's some chop there.  But we actually swim in a protected bay, so that's NOT what it'll be like!

This swim course is a simple two turn course, so hopefully navigation isn't a problem:


I'm going to keep the pace fairly moderate and focus on keeping good form throughout.   My hope is to be in the 26 minute range, but anywhere from 26-28 is realistic.


This is as simple as it gets for a bike course.  Out and back, flat as can be.  There will probably be a fairly heavy cross wind, so hopefully it's not too gusty.  I've never had a problem with a disc and deep front, even in Lubbock, but it's still nice not to have to focus too much on that.  On a stand along 40k course, I would do this in ~58 minutes.  At 90% CP, it'll probably be closer to 63-65 minutes but this is one leg that could be a bit faster.


So I get dizzy just looking at that map.  So many turns, but it keeps us in a local area, which usually means a lot of water stations.  That'll be crucial, because it means a lot of water and ice to dump over the torso to cool off.  Storm conditions mean it'll be slightly cooler anyway, so it could be a nice day to run.  My run fitness is lagging, so I can't run fast right now.  A 40-42 minute 10k is about all I can expect.

Adding all that up with about 3 minutes of transition results in 2:12-2:18.  That's not a superb time, but still pretty solid considering I've still got a long way to go fitness wise.   Regardless, it should be a fun race and a good test of where my fitness is.  Cozumel is approaching fast, so there isn't much time to waste!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Race Prep: All About the Gear

Sorry folks.  It's been way too long since I've checked in.  I'm sure everyone has been waiting anxiously for more rambling by Andrew!  It's been a busy month at both work and home, so I've been taking care of priorities accordingly.  I've also been recovering from the foot injury and fighting the normal training blues, meaning this blog has been pretty low on that priority list!

The good news is that I'm back to racing this weekend!  If I haven't mentioned it before, I love racing.  It pumps me up and gives my motivation a real jump start.  I'm good for 3-4 weeks of super motivated training after a race, something I should probably plan for in my 2014 schedule.  Regular racing is also good practice and good for fitness benchmarks.  On the flip side, when I don't race often (like the past 2 months), my motivation really takes a hit.  Fortunately, I've got 4 races planned between now and Dec 1!

This weekend is 5150 Galveston. Normally, I don't even consider putting Olympic Distance races on my calendar, but I've spent a lot more time in the pool this year and it's good to mix things up.  The longer swim definitely puts me at a disadvantage, but I like a challenge.  I haven't done this race before, but I've heard pretty good things.  I'll post a report on what I thought after the race.

For now though, I thought I'd give an overview of my race gear and how I prep for a race.  Triathlon is a sport that can be very gear heavy, with an overwhelming lineup of choices.  I spend way too much time reading about and thinking about my gear choices, but at the end of the day, simplicity is key.  Smart choices in equipment can result in a lot of saved time, but this is definitely an area where less is more. 

I'll stop a moment to let that sink in.  Yes, less gear is usually better than more gear.  That's blasphemy to a lot of triathletes, but a simple clean setup is probably the fastest.  Yeah, this varies a bit with race distance, but strapping gear all over your bike and body will only slow you down.  Keep it simple and both your mind and body will thank you. 

Before every race, I lay out my gear.  This helps me ensure I have everything and also start my mental preparation for how I'll execute.

Cap, Goggles, Trisuit, Swimskin and Timing Chip

The cap and timing chip aren't shown because I haven't picked up packet yet.  Likewise, my swimskin (Torque) is missing.  Still, that one is optional anyway.  I'm always playing with goggles and have never found a pair that really satisfy me.  I'm open to suggestions.

The swim skin is a bit of a toss up.  My testing in a pool indicates it's good for a few seconds per 100yds.  Over a 1500m swim, that's significant time.  Considering it takes about 10s max to take off, any race over 300-400yds it should be a net gain.  Mostly, it's a bit of a confidence booster, which can't be ignored. 

Helmet, Glasses, Computer, Shoes

Just a single bottle and simple flat kit on the bike.  In transition, I wont have any extra gear than what you see above.  No towel, no bucket, no socks.  Glasses and helmet on, then run to the mount line!

I use a Lazer Tardiz helmet, which seems to have a smooth profile with my aero position.  I'm using Oakley Flak Jacket glasses, Garmin 500 computer and the specialized tri shoes.  The bike I've already posted on, but I have switched to Vittoria Open Corsa Tri tires with latex tubes for this race which I'm super excited to try!!!


Visor, Race Belt, Shoes & Garmin.

Most races, I go without the visor and Garmin.  I bring them just in case I change my mind, but they're sometimes an extra distraction that I'd rather not have.  T2 is almost always faster than T1, since all you have to do is slip on the shoes.  Everything else you grab and put on while you run.

I've been racing in the same pair of Saucony Kinvaras for the past year and a half.  It's time to change them out, but I love the shoes!  The belt is as simple as it gets as well.  There's never a need for a fuel bet to carry your own nutrition.  Race courses are well stocked and loading up on "stuff" just looks silly, adds weight and makes running uncomfortable.

 Other Stuff

Really, that's about it.  I bring a tool bag with bike wrenching equipment just in case (pump, tubes, CO2, zip ties, pliers, tape, lube, etc.).  I also bring a headlamp for transition.  But...that's really it.  To a runner or swimmer, that probably sounds like a lot of stuff, but if you go into transition at a lot of triathlons, you'll think people brought their whole garage with them.  Keep it simple, less is more.