View from the Elite Wave

Race: The Washington DC Triathlon 2011
July 8, 2011 12:00 am  by 

This year’s DC Triathlon was the first time I’d done this race since it was the ITU Dextro World Championships. What a great, well organized race. My performance however despite placing 14th overall, left me disappointed hungry for more.

Fourteenth and a 2:08 was ok, but I just expected more of myself given the preparation I’d put in for this race. As a result, I learned two important lessons about 1) Warming-up; and 2) overheating.

Brief race recap: I had a great swim (20:22) for how little I had been swimming—the one area I seriously neglected– but came out of the water with my heart beating out of my chest, dizzy and trying to keep from vomiting all over my bike rack. On the bike, I’d been training to average 25-26mph, but for the first 45 mins, could barely ever get my speed over 23mph and was pedaling on the flats closer to 20 mph. Since I wasn’t doing much riding, I focused on getting my nutrition in while literally waiting for my legs to catch up with me. I was confident they’d come back; I just didn’t know when. They did for the last 15 mins and I was able to average 28-30 to pull my average back up again. That was REALLY exhilarating—I love the bike–but it was a little too late (1:02:50, 23.7 avg; I’d been aiming for a 58:00). On the run, my legs initially felt more sluggish than usual and I didn’t have enough juice to fight the people that were going past me or keep my pace around my 5:45/mi goal. I finished with a 41:39 (6:43 avg). Total: 2:08:03

Despite my disappointment, instead of sulking about it, after the race, I talked with my coach, some fellow club members on the Elite Team and one of the pros, Tim Reed, who came to the Tu/Th club ride at Hains Point the following Tuesday, to see what I could learn and change for next time. Maybe these reminders will help you too:

Lesson #1, Warming-up:
If you’re racing from the gun, this is hugely important. You should get your heart rate up before you start racing and to get your legs firing on the bike, run or both before you start racing. As many of you know, it was very humid and I ignored what I know about warming up. That is, even when it’s hot, you need to warm-up—and I didn’t. I think this was the main contributor to not being able to go the speed I wanted to on the bike until I warmed up and the same with the run.

Lesson #2, Overheating:
As many of you experienced yourselves, the water was 77 degrees (wetsuit cutoff is 78, so wetsuits were legal) and the air was very humid. I chose my brand new Xterra Vector Pro 2 full wetsuit. Xterra deserves some credit, because having never used this wetsuit before, it worked wonderfully for me in terms of fit, comfort (no chafing) and speed. I didn’t deserve to swim 20 mins based on my lack of training, so I credit that all to the wetsuit.

However, knowing myself and how easily I get hot, I should have skipped the wetsuit and just swum in my DC Tri ITU-style suit. Although my swim time would have been slower, it would have saved me almost a minute at transition and maybe the whole race. From talking with others, I’m pretty certain the reason I was dizzy and overheated (not dehydrated) was due to just being plain too hot on after the swim. My body had to do all kinds of things to keep my body temperature down and as a result and those reactions limited how hard I could race.

As a result, I’m really looking forward to my next races: Regional Club Champs (Rocketts), Age-Group Nationals, Nations and Club National Champs (Myrtle Beach).