4.19.2009

2009 King Tut Triathlon

SWIM 500 METERS - BIKE 12 MILES - RUN 5 KILOMETERS

I'd like to begin this by addressing the most obvious question: why on earth is this race called the King Tut triathlon? It takes place in McKinney, Texas. You would be hard pressed to find another spot on earth that least resembles anything to do with ancient Egypt.
Quite honestly I was not well prepared for this race. The past three weeks have been abnormal and my training (or rather lack thereof) has suffered enormously. I have spent almost zero time in the pool since the Athens Triathlon last month. I was not sure what to expect of myself, but I (as always) set down some target times for each leg of the race.

In addition to a lack of training, I have had some health issues. Torn ligaments in my left finger had me in the hospital a couple days and my stomach/diet has been out of whack. I have not eaten breakfast this entire past week and have skipped a number of meals because my stomach felt somewhat nauseous.

My alarm went off at 4:45 AM. I am pretty sure that is the latest I have been able to sleep in for a triathlon since I moved to Texas. It was a 35 mile drive to McKinney, TX. I ate a Peanut Butter PowerBar when I got up. I was out the door by 5:15 AM. Just before 6 AM, I pulled into the Stonebridge Ranch - the race site. Below is the course map:
Swim Course: Rectangular Pattern (500 meters)
Bike Course: 2 Loops (12 miles)
Run Course: Out-and-Back (5k)

After I checked my gear into transition, I just sort of stood around. I did not have as much time to kill as there were pre-race meetings at 6:30 AM and 6:45 AM. It was a cool morning with temperatures in the 50s. The wind was blowing pretty strong (gusts on the bike were +25mph). After the first meeting, we all made our way to the man-made lake.

SWIM: 500 meters
This was my first open water swim since October, and it was also my first change to try out the Orca Apex 2 wetsuit that I got for Christmas (I found a great deal on it through Zappos!). It fits really snug, so hopefully I have the correct size. I had to have another guy help zip me up. I had the wetsuit on for a good hour before it was finally my turn to dive in the water.

The water temperature was 63 degrees. I was nervous that it would feel shockingly cold. However, I never seemed to notice the water temperature. This was my first floating start which was good practice. Also, for the first time I wore my heart rate monitor in a triathlon. My heart rate was 154 when I was just floating in the water! That really concerned me. There was a lot of confusion at the start as to when we were supposed to begin swimming. It was rectangular course fairly well marked by gigantic buoys.

Right from the get-go I was kicked, smacked and nailed by limbs and other various body parts. Unfortunately, these collisions continued throughout the entire swim. It made me lose my composure, kicked up my heart rate and caused me to be short of breath. It was very difficult for me to swim freestyle for very long when I kept getting absolutely smacked on all sides. I also found my arms getting tangled in some kind of sea grass below the water surface. It felt like a fishing net grabbing me. Half of the swim was directly into the sun, so I could not see for the life of me where I was going. It was a tough swim. By the time I got out, my heart rate was over 180! I finsihed the swim in just over 10 minutes, which is what I had projected.

TRANSITION #1
Thankfully, they had people dedicated to helping you remove your wetsuit. That made the process quick and easy. This was the longest run I have ever done to get from the water to my bike. As always, my bike was stationed at the farthest point from the bike exits. I really hate running in my bike shoes. How do people get their feet in bike shoes when the shoes are already clipped to the pedals? I need to find a video or something on that. Overall, it was probably my smoothest transition - no major hiccups. When I got on the bike, my heart rate was 174 - yikes. I turns out I was the fastest out of T1 in my age group.

BIKE: 12 miles
My legs were feeling pretty gassed on the bike. Overall, the course had a number of flat spots but there certainly were a couple of decent hills thrown in. What made it particularly challenging was the intense wind. For a good portion of the bike it felt like we were moving direclty into the headwind. It even made the downhill portion difficult.

It was a 2-loop bike course that went by pretty quickly. A couple people had absolutley amazing bikes passed me, but not too many. I found myself drooling over some of the bikes I saw today. Maybe someday...I ended up averaging over 20mph on the bike which was a goal of mine, and it turns out I was the fastest on the bike in my age group.

TRANSITION #2
Like my last triathlon, I did not feel any "brick leg" sensation when moving from the bike to the run. I completely attribute this to my Newton running shoes and my new style of running. This transition was, again, actually pretty quick and seamless for me. For the first time ever, I had my foot pod which I turned on. Pairing happened within 30 seconds, so it was nice to have that feature to help manage my pace.

RUN: 5 kilometers
I absolutely love running in my Newtons during these short distances. My footstrikes are quick and effortless. The run really is my strength. I did all of the passing - no one came close to passing me.

The first good chunk of the run was just straight up hill with lots of narrow turns. After that, it was a pretty flat out-and-back course. There were three sections with questionable safety standards as the sidewalk (1) went out and was replaced with dirt potholes, (2) was submerged under water and mud and (2) elevated 3 inches and then dropped 3 inches in a four foot span. Thankfully, I got by unscathed. I absolutely bolted to the finish in an all-out sprint. It feels really good to finish strong. I ended up being the second fastest on the run in my age group. I probably could have given it a little more had I known where the finish line was.

METRICS
Time: 01:12:00
Distance: 15.41 miles
Average Heart Rate: 174
Max Heart Rate: 195
Average Run Pace: 7:33 min/mile
Max Run Pace: 5:18 min/mile
Average Run Speed: 7.9 mph
Max Run Speed: 15.3 mph
Ascent: 926 feet
Average Temperature: 63 degrees

SUMMARY
Considering my lack of preparation for this race and the health issues, I feel pretty good about my performance. I hit or exceeded my time targets in each area. I did not crash my bike. I finished strong. It turns out I finished first place in my age group (M 20-24) which is a nice morale booster, particularly considering my lack of preparation for the race. Hopefully I can continue to improve and win a race some day.

I am really loving both my Newton running shoes and my KiWAMi Trinergy triathlon suit. The Orca Apex 2 wetsuit added a lot of buoancy to the swim and definitely kept me warm. I felt that the arms were a bit restrictive, perhaps because it was so tight. Hopefully it just needs to be broken in.

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