Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pre-race post. The keys to faster triathlons!

Sunday August 21, 2011 is my brother's 27th birthday. I love the guy. He's been my best friend (and worst enemy, sibling rivalry and all that) for as long as I can remember, and I hope he has a great day. And here's the thing. I already gave him his birthday present (stuff from comic-con). On Sunday, I am giving something to myself instead: another triathlon (I enjoy suffering, apparently, and have chosen to give myself the gift of being sore for a week).

The Hansen Dam Triathlon is located at Hansen Dam (duh) in beautiful, scenic (pffft) Lakeview Terrace, CA. It consists of a 500yd swim, followed by an 11 mi bike leg, ending with a 3 mi run. Me being me, I am totally confident that I will win this thing with flying colors.

Who am I kidding, I'll be lucky not to get last place. Just like Redondo Beach, I will probably be Mr. 2nd to last. Which is only slightly better than last. To make things worse, they do not offer the "Clydesdale" category. Meaning I have to race against people the same age as me instead of the same weight as me. But still! I wanna win! And knowing that I won't, I will just have to settle for doing pretty good, or even just ok. Which I don't mind, by the way. You see, I have a tendency to overestimate my abilities. For example, I wanted to finish the Redondo Beach Triathlon in 90 minutes. Didn't happen. Almost happened, but not quite (99 minutes, so close!).

Anyway, I hope to finish the Hansen Dam Tri in 2 hours (But I REALLY wanna finish it in 1 hour 45 minutes). Do I think I can do it? I hope so. If I take 20 minutes on the swim (hoping for 15), 40 minutes on the bike (hoping for 35), and 45 minutes on the run (hoping for 40), then that leaves me with 15 minutes for transition time and any mechanical issues or flats I may encounter during the bike leg (or 0 minutes if I REALLY wanna finish in 1:45). I plan on finishing under 400th place (Really. No joke). I compared my estimated time to last year's results. Out of 424 finishers, those who finished with a time of 1 Hour 45 minutes (1:45) placed 394th-396th in the overall. Finishing at 2 hours would land me at 419th place. Which was 5 spots away from last place, 424th. This year they hope to have 700 athletes compete. So, I hope for a "middle of the pack" kind of day. But if the times are any indication, I will probably be 2nd slowest man again (yay me, writing does wonders for my self esteem).

The good thing about having done a triathlon before is the new things I learned about triathlons and tricks to reduce time. For example, don't wear a wetsuit. The water shouldn't be cold this time of year in the middle of the valley. Besides, even if the water is a bit chilly, I am sure all the sweat and spit from the other athletes (I'm in wave#4) will warm the water a couple of degrees, right?

That's the issue with non-ocean swim legs. You're gonna be swimming in saltwater anyway. But hey, as long as everyone took a shower the morning of, it shouldn't be too bad, right? And I shouldn't worry about cramping in the middle of the swim, since I would be taking in a lot of salt (ok, that's just gross).

So there. Time saving tip for the swim to bike transition. No wetsuit.

Now, what about saving time during the swim? The only thing I can think of is actually getting better at swimming. At least my fat makes me buoyant.

OK, saving time during the bike ride?

Many triathletes (at least the good ones) leave their bike shoes clipped into the pedals, and they don't put on the shoes until later during the ride. That helps reduce the transition time since they don't need to put on the shoes, then clop like a pony with new horseshoes out of transition. As for me, I'm not a good triathlete, so I'm going pony-style. BUT!!! I thought of a way to get in between the "shoes already clipped" method and the "slow pony" style. I will simply have to carry my bike shoes with my bike, then once I step out of transition I will put on the shoes and be on my way. I call it, "Slow Pwny." Catchy, no? Also, I put aero bars and new tires (the tires were an early birthday gift from the my fiance. Thanks, love!) onto my bike, which should help reduce rolling friction and help with being more aerodynamic. That should shave a few minutes off my time, right?

To summarize, reduce weight and improve aerodynamics to save time on the bike.

Now, for the run. What have I learned?

Absolutely nothing. No tricks. Park your bike, change shoes, and go (and I guess remove your helmet, if you don't want to look like an idiot).

You can't learn to run fast. It comes from training. It comes from being more efficient. It comes from (gasp!) losing weight. The only real strategy I have for the run is to do just that. Keep running. No run/walk like I've always done. Just keep running. And don't stop until I cross the finish line (immediately afterwards I will find the nearest soft looking patch of asphalt and proceed to crumple onto it).

So, to recap: Less clothes, less weight, more moving. Bam. I got this triathlon thing down.

Race report next week.

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