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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Season Opener: 2005 CSULB Backwards Tri

Around 7 am I hopped into the car and made my way over to CSULB, which was only a mile or so away. At the first stop light I noticed the rain collecting slowly on my windshield. It had obviously rained off and on overnight and the pavement was still slick. By the time I was in the parking lot the rain was tapering off again, but the ground was wet enough to be a problem. The start had been moved to the track since the grass soccer field where it was to be originally was too slick to be safe in a mass start.

Before the megaphone called out the start I noticed that I was at the front of the pack. Generally you shouldn’t start at the front unless you’re pretty fast, otherwise you’ll get trampled. As we got going I noticed I wasn’t being trampled but didn’t think much of it. Two thirds of the way down the track I glanced at the Triax on my wrist and figured something about the start or the rain was giving it fits (though it has always been reliable for me, without fail). A 7:10 pace without any real discomfort seemed pretty unlikely for me. As we all made our way out of the track and onto the course I looked again at it, and realized I was going a lot faster than I usually do, even in a road race.
While going fast is a good thing, it drove my heart rate up. Once my heart rate was high, it didn’t want to come back down. In training the only way I can get my heart rate down on a run is to stop, which wasn’t going to happen in a race. In a backwards triathlon, the run is the first leg, and in any multisport event you don’t want your HR hitting the roof in the first leg. When I entered T1 I realized I would have to cool off a few minutes before taking off on the bike, otherwise I would burn out.
I did the 3.5 mile run in just under 27 minutes, which is a personal best for me. Elaine was watching the race, and she was surprised to see me come into T1 that early. We have done a bunch of training runs together, and that’s usually at a 10+ min/mile pace. For this run I averaged just under 8 min/mile. Unfortunately, I had take a few extra minutes in T1 that made up for some of that, to get my heart rate down.

I walked the bike out of T1 with my cycling shoes on. Unknown to me, this loosened the Speedplay cleats somewhat, so later on the bike I had some slop in my pedalling. The bike course had some straight, flat sections, but the majority of it was shallow ups and downs followed immediately by sharp turns. These sharp turns, of course, were wet. I lost a lot of time having to slow down to take these turns then speed up again on the outside. All of the time I spent on the trainer developing power didn’t help much here, as it came down to bike handling skills. Since I could not take the corners confidently at speed, I lost most of my power advantage.
It was interesting to see the number of people on mountain bikes or using borrowed bikes, doing this as their first triathlon. Several times along the bike course I took the opportunity to tell these folks they were doing well, or just to say hello. Last year I was in the same position, trudging along on a 30 pound mountain bike, just looking to not DNF (Did Not Finish).
Some of the data I have actually suggests that I did 5 laps of the bike course instead of 4, which would explain some things, but nothing is conclusive.
Last year my hands became numb on the bike, this year my toes of my right foot did - for no apparent reason.

In a backwards triathlon the swim is last, so after peeling off shoes and shirt I hopped in. The swim was much easier this year, last year I was pretty burnt out by that time in the race. While I didn’t break any records, I didn’t suck as much on the swim as I expected. It’s still my weak point, but I didn’t get passed by anyone.

Overall it was a fun race. I like the CSULB course and organizers, and I’m very glad that last year it was my first race. With a small number of competitors and a course on a college campus it’s very intimate. There’s a world of difference between CSULB and a race like Newport or Malibu.
And I cut more than 10 minutes off of last year’s time. Not so bad.

4/27/2005 05:42:00 PM ] [  0 comments  ]
A good quick laugh