2015 0906 – Des Moines Sprint Triathlon

Executive Summary:

Race Priority:        C
Race Execution:   B+

.                     Plan           2015
.          Dist     Time         Time             Notes
Swim  400m   0:07:30    0:10:25      Link      Long course, slower swim, non-wetsuit
T1                   0:01:50    0:01:17                  Okay given traffic
Bike  12.5mi   0:29:00    0:28:20     Link      Short course, good ride
T2                   0:1:15     0:01:00                 Okay given traffic
Run    3.1mi    0:24:00   0:24:24     Link      Okay run, warm temps.
Total                1:03:35   1:05:23


  • 1 Scoop of CarboPro in my water bottle, 100 cals (drank about 1/2 of this).
  • 1 Honey Stinger waffle, Kind Bar and 1 GU with caffeine 3 hours before the race.  One GU with caffeine 30 minutes before the race.


  • What went well:  I was pleased to get the age group win and was very happy to finish 8th overall out of 276 participants.
  • What could have gone better:  The swim course was long, but my swimming pace was still too slow after correcting for the distance.
Race Report Commentary:

After USAT Nationals in early August, I had originally planned to wrap up my triathlon season.  But, with my season going much better than expected this year, I thought it made sense to squeeze one last triathlon in with the specific goal of trying qualifying for the USAT Nationals for 2016.  Although my peak fitness was late July, I felt like I still had enough left in me to be competitive at a sprint distance, so I signed up for the Des Moines Triathlon.  I anticipated that I’d need to win my age group to ensure I qualified, so my plan was simply to follow what had worked most of the year… try not to lose too much in the swim, push the bike to get out front and hang on the best I could on the run.

Before the race with Don, Laura and Maddie.

Before the race with Don, Laura and Maddie.  Photo by K’Ann Brandt

The Olympic length race started first, so it wasn’t until around 8:30 am before the waves started for the Sprint.  Race day was hot and muggy, 81 degrees / 70% RH at the start of the race and I knew it was only going to get warmer as the day progressed.  It was also surprisingly windy, with winds 12-15 mph from the south.  A friend of mine asked me to help an 11 year old (Maddie) get ready for her first Sprint triathlon, as her father had started earlier in the Olympic race.  She reminded me of my daughter, and spending time with Maddie kept my constructively busy during the long wait for my wave.  It was impressive how brave this young lady was, getting ready for her first adult length triathlon.  Even more impressive was her overall finish (3rd fastest swim of the day, sub 1:15 on the race and 50th place overall).

I was in the last swim wave and positioned myself near the front of my wave.  It was a non-wetsuit legal swim with the water temp around 81 degrees.  As I got ready to start, my fellow TriRacer teammate, Don Peddy, told me to start in front of him since I was “going to win my age group”… which was a nice boost before hitting the water.  They had put a sighting buoy out in the middle of the lake and had said to go left of it (which was the straightest distance), and yet everyone was swimming to the right.  I stayed toward the left, but the lifeguards kept herding us to the right, so I anticipated a longer swim.  Overall my perception was that I was swimming decently straight and pacing felt okay.  When I got out of the water I was surprised… not in a good way… when I looked down and my time was over 10 minutes.  I hoped I hadn’t fallen too far back to make up the difference on the bike.  I actually came out of the water in 2nd place in my AG, with a official race time of 10:25 (2:23/100y pace).  The actual distance was 568y (per my Garmin), which is a 1:50/100y pace.

     T1 was fine overall.  I had no trouble with getting gear on and getting on my way.  The biggest issue was the bottleneck that occurred leaving transition.  I ended up simply walking my bike out rather than jogging, because everyone was walking in front of me.  A bit frustrating, but it happens when you start in the last wave.  I ended up passing the first guy in my AG in transition, although I didn’t know it at the time.

TriRacer competitors and spectators. Photo by K'Ann Brandt.

TriRacer competitors and spectators. Photo by K’Ann Brandt.

My “gliding” mount went fine, I got my shoes on without issue and started pushing the bike pace to try to make up time.  I had heard from people who did the same bike course last year how “fast” it was.  In reality… it was simply a lot shorter than advertised.  The race map lists it as 12.5 miles, but as I mapped it out in advance in ridewithgps, it came out to 11.3 miles.  I then used this route to create a race projection/plan in Best Bike Split (BBS).  The projection had estimated my time at 28:25 with an NP of 247w (here is the original projection link), although this doesn’t include getting on and off the bike.  The ride out of the park is long… almost a mile… so it’s important to push this section as well.  I settled in quickly and just maintained my targeted power levels.  I came across quite a few people who didn’t understand “ride right, pass left”, but for most of the ride there was plenty of opportunity to pass.  There was a great group of TriRacers out on the median cheering each time I went by, which always helped me stay focused and pushing the pace.  When I came back toward transition, I once again hit a bottleneck of slow riders and got trapped into a slow dismount and walk back into transition.  My official race time was 28:20, showing 26.3 mph (over the incorrect distance).  My actual pacing & power (per my Garmin… power on to power off) was 24.5 mph at 247/240 NP/AP with a 91% Intensity Factor.  My average HR was 161 and my threshold is 163 – 165, so I had a little spare capacity… but not a lot.

T2 went fine other than the people walking or jogging slowly when I first got to transition.  I racked my bike and had no problem with my helmet strap.  I slid on my Zoots, grabbed my race belt and started running out of transition.

"Embracing the suck". Photo by Jennifer Borst.

“Embracing the suck”. Photo by Jennifer Borst.

Based on my current running fitness, I felt like I should be able to run around a 7:30 pace. My concern was being run down by someone in my age group with stronger running fitness.  As I started the run, I felt it was likely my race to lose at that point.   With the heat, I expected that may pace may drift up a bit, but my goal was to start around my 7:30 target and simply try to hang on the best I could.  By the end of mile 1, I could feel my pace fading a bit as my Garmin announced a 7:37 pace.  I put just a little GU in my mouth and a little water, and dumped the rest of the water on my head.  I was getting really hot.  Shortly after mile 1, I had some cardiac arrhythmia (good times) with my HR popping up to around 195 for 20 seconds and then settling back down to a more normal 165 (threshold 168).  At the halfway point, my TriRacer friends were cheering me on and you can see on my Garmin data file an increase in my speed as I picked up some energy from them.  Mile 2 clicked off at 7:47 right at threshold HR, with my pace slowing.  More water on my head, but I was still very hot.  I was so glad I wasn’t doing the Olympic at that point… everyone looked like they were suffering.  I had more TriRacers cheering before and on the hill, giving me just a little push to pick up my pace.  The 3rd mile clicked off at a somewhat disappointing 8:11 but with my HR up into the low 170’s and it was all I had left in the heat.  My official time was 24:24 with an average pace of 7:53, which was close to my Garmin’s pace of 7:52.  My average HR was 167, averaging close to my threshold over the run.

TriRacers winning Age Group Spots. Photo by Angie Thornton.

TriRacers winning Age Group Spots. Photo by Angie Thornton.

My overall time ended up being 1:05:23 and I managed to hold off a faster runner to take the first position in my age group (by just over a minute).  In the total event, I was 8th overall out of 276 participants, aided by having the 2nd fastest bike split of the day.  The race overall was well run (although I think the pre-race meeting is unnecessary) and the volunteers were great.  As always, I really enjoyed the company of the local triathlon community as well as our TriRacer group.