2015 0718 – Bluff Creek Olympic Triathlon

Executive Summary:

Race Priority:        A
Race Execution:   B

.                        2012          2015        2015
.          Dist        Time           Goal        Time       Stats      Notes
Swim  1500m   0:33:22       0:30:00   0:32:52   Link      Slow swim
T1                     0:01:01      0:01:10    0:00:43               Decent transition (no wetsuit)
Bike    24.9mi   1:11:14      1:10:30    1:09:28   Link      Held back, but good ride.
T2                     0:00:58     0:01:00     0:00:48               Decent transition.
Run    6.2mi     0:45:58      0:55:00     0:53:23    Link    Good run for my fitness.
Total                2:32:33       2:38:00     2:37:16


  • 2 GU’s in the morning, 1 100mg caffeine tab.
  • 2 Scoops of CarboPro in my water bottle, 200 cals.
  • 1 Hammer GU eaten on the run, 90 cals.


  • What went well:  Happy with the 2nd place Age Group finish and to be under 2:40 for the day… particularly in a non-wetsuit swim.  Held back on the bike to see it improved my run and it did.
  • What could have gone better:  Lost focus, form and sighting on the second half of the swim, resulting in a slow time relative to my Age Group.
Race Report Commentary:

Early in the season, Steve Cox suggested to a group of the TriRacers that we should consider Bluff Creek this year since it was a regional qualifier for the USAT Nationals.  Regional qualifying events allow the top 5 people (rather than just the top 10%) to qualify for Nationals in Milwaukee.  Since I had qualified for the USAT Nationals in a couple of prior years but had never been able to fit it into my schedule, qualifying for Nationals as part of Bluff Creek sounded like a good plan.  Looking at historic data for the 50-54 age group, it looked like a 2:40:00 overall time would likely get me a qualification spot.

2012 PMC.  BC was actually between two HIM races.  Much more consistent training that year.

2012 PMC. BC was actually between two HIM races. Much more consistent training that year.

Going into this race, I was curious as to my potential time.  It was interesting that my peak fitness (as defined by Chronic Training Load, CTL) was virtually identical to 2012 at 83.6 (83.7 this year).  The significant difference was the makeup of the training load.  My swim was nearly the same (19.3 vs 19.8), my bike was much higher this year (42.3 vs 23.9) and my run was significantly lower (22.5 vs 40.9).  Note that CTL is relative to your fitness at the time… so with my significantly reduced VDOT value (I started consistently running again in March), I knew the run would

2015 PMC.  Much more variation this year as I've worked around illness and injuries.

2015 PMC. Much more variation this year as I’ve worked around illness and injuries.

be a challenge.  In 2012, I held back a bit on my bike and had a very strong run within a second or two of my ideal Olympic run pace.  In my last race this year (Copper Creek), I pushed the bike hard and had a horrible run.  With my lack of brick workouts this year (concerned about making my knee injury worse) and lack of overall running volume, my strategy was to hold back on my ride in an attempt to have a better result.

Unlike my Copper Creek Race, pre-race went off with no problems.  I arrived early, lathered up in bug spray / sun screen (Bluff Creek always seems to have a lot of mosquitos).  I met with the other TriRacers and two athletes that I coach who were also doing the race.  It’s great begin part of a Tri Team, as we had other members there cheering us on (thanks Millers).  A special thanks to Gavin Jerome who was getting us water, handling our flip flops and being a wonderful cheerleader.

Swim start.  Photo by Devin Miller.

Swim start. Photo by Devin Miller.

Race morning was warm.  By 9 am it was 79 degrees with 78% RH and 9 mph wind.  The water temperature was over 80 degrees, so it was a non-wetsuit swim.  I knew this would slow my swim down, but with the warm outdoor temp and after overheating in the wetsuit prior to my last race, I wasn’t too disappointed.

I was in the second wave and got off to a decent start.  I felt like my form was going well and it wasn’t long before I started passing others in my wave.  I managed to sight pretty well and swam reasonably straight.  About 700 yards in I felt myself starting to lose focus and form.  As I approached the first turn buoy I started swimming off the left.  A lot.  Which required a lot more sighting to stay on track.  My body position felt poor and I felt slow.  I started getting passed by a lot more people.  From my data, I dropped 10 – 15s per 100 for about 400 yards until I got it together again.  Finally I started getting back to the basics (front quadrant swimming) to improve body position and focusing on better catches with my left hand.  I was pleasantly surprised to get out of the water a little over 30 minutes (it’s a long run transition) and felt good knowing I had beaten my swim time from 2012. Unfortunately race time doesn’t always tell the entire story though… as when I look at the data the swim was shorter this year than in 2012.
My typical triathlon scowl face... about as close to a smile as I get.  Photo by Devin Miller.

My typical triathlon scowl face… about as close to a smile as I get. Photo by Devin Miller.

T1 was uneventful… meaning it went fine.  Not wearing a wetsuit meant that I picked up some time relative to my planned transition time, so after slapping on my helmet and glasses, I was running out of transition.

Trying to get those shoes on after the hill.  Photo by the Athletic Training Room (http://www.theathletictrainer.com)

Trying to get those shoes on after the hill. Photo by the Athletic Training Room (http://www.theathletictrainer.com)

My “gliding” mount didn’t go as well this time.  I just had a little balance issue getting started (it’s slightly uphill) and nearly clipped the back wheel of the person next to me.  I waited until I was on top before putting my shoes on and got passed in the interim.  Once I got my shoes on, I ended up waiting a bit behind the guy who passed me before exiting the park re-passing, to avoid a potential draft penalty.  Once out of the park I felt pretty good, so I bumped up the power and focused on staying aero.  Overall, my goal was to be just slightly higher than my half ironman power output (around 85% IF) with a HR high limit of around 160 (threshold 163 – 165).  I started consistently passing people and it wasn’t long before I passed a guy in my age group. I passed four more guys from my age group by the time I got to the turn around.  I was concerned that the 5 guys I had passed on the bike may come back and pass me on the run and could potentially drop me out of the top 5.  I had the desire to hammer it… but maintained my planned wattage and HR values.  (Note that my HR strap started reading wonky 200 bpm values at times… it happens some times when your shirt dries out and moves in the wind on the bike and you need to simply watch for when it comes back into “normal” ranges).  Interestingly, my 2012 and 2015 bike numbers were very close.  2012 I did 229 NP/223 AP and this year I was at 229 NP/219 NP.  My peak descent was 45 mph in 2012 and I hit 48 this year.  But… my overall ride was almost 2 minutes faster.  I’ve gone from a Cervelo P2 to a P3 in that time, I ran a disk cover this year and have a little bit more aero setup, which likely accounts for the improvement in time.  Overall it was a good measured ride for me (21.8 mph average), trying to avoid a meltdown on the run.

Multitasking... undoing my strap while running... taxing my exercising capabilities.  Photo by Devin Miller.

Multitasking… undoing my strap while running… taxing my exercising mental capabilities. Photo by Devin Miller.

T2 was fine.  I racked my bike and got my helmet off with no issues.  I put on my shoes, grabbed my race belt and a Hammer Gel and headed out of transition.

The run starts out cross country and I promptly jammed my knee right in the spot with no cartilage on some uneven ground.  After a couple minutes the stabbing pains subsided and I simply focused on trying to find a good sustainable rhythm.  The temp had climbed up over 81 and my goal was to simply see to keep my HR in my target areas and have a better run than I had at Copper Creek.  I ended up rationing my Hammer Gel over the 4 water stations… taking just a bit in my mouth and washing it down with water.  I held my HR at 158 on the first loop and allowed it to drift up to 164 in the second (threshold 168-170).  It can be mentally challenging taking a big setback in fitness.  At my targeted HR levels, I was running in the low 8:40’s and feeling that I was at my max.  In 2012 I was running mid 7:20’s on the same course… it feels like huge difference.  Every time I could hear a guy coming behind me to pass me on the run, I expected it to be one of the guys in my age group that I had passed on the bike.  Although I had quite a few people pass me on the run, none were from my age group.  Overall I succeeded in making this run feel better (and at a faster average pace) than my last run (a sprint), with only one real issue.  I

What are socks?  This is Karma for asking that question... or being stupid and not using glide.

What are socks? This is Karma for asking that question… or being stupid and not using glide.

did a rookie thing and decided to go with shoes I haven’t worn in a while without socks.  The results were predictable… my feet were worn raw by the end of the race… setting me up for an “interesting” challenge for USAT Nationals.

After finishing up the race I checked my time and found that I was 2nd in my age group and had beaten my projected 2:38 time, even with a non-wetsuit swim.  The two women I coach had good races, with one winning her age group and the other placing 3rd.  Another great day of racing!
Always great to hang out with the TriRacers of Iowa.

Always great to hang out with the TriRacers of Iowa.  Photo by Devin Miller


1 thought on “2015 0718 – Bluff Creek Olympic Triathlon

  1. Pingback: USAT National Championships: Greg's Report | Discount Tri Supply Blog

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