2016 0522 – Hickory Grove Sprint Triathlon

Executive Summary:

Race Priority:        C
Race Execution:   A-

.                             2013           2015       2016
.               Dist       Time           Time                       Stats      Notes
Swim      500y       0:07:27       0:08:13    0:09:00     Link    Swim a bit weak
T1                         0:00:49       0:00:49    0:01:00                Okay transition
Bike        15.7mi   0:40:22       0:41:55     0:39:26     Link    A good ride
T2                         0:00:34       0:00:47    0:00:41                Okay transition
Run         3.2mi    0:23:29        0:25:27    0:24:01     Link     Decent run
Total                     1:12:40       1:17:13     1:14:10

* The swim time includes about a 1/10 mile run uphill to transition.  The bike and the run
always show to be longer than the claimed distances of 15.5 and 3.1 miles.

Nutrition:

  • Kind bar, Honey Stinger Waffle, and Beet Juice about 3 hours before the race.  One GU Roctane with Caffeine about 30 minutes before the race.
  • 1 GU Roctane with Caffeine in mile 1 of the run.

Overall:

  • What went well:  My pacing was pretty good on this race, enabling me to squeeze just about all I could out of my existing fitness.
  • What could have gone better:  My swim was a bit slow, and I fumbled around a little in T1.  I did a rookie mistake and completely forgot to add water and carbo pro to my bike bottle… so I had nothing during the entire ride.
Race Report Commentary:
I did my first triathlon at Hickory Grove in 2007, so it is always a sentimental favorite of mine.  It typically has a lot of the TriRacers participating, and this year was no exception.
Some of the TriRacers at Hickory Grove... lots of smiles! Photo credit, Laura Miller.

Some of the TriRacers at Hickory Grove… lots of smiles! Photo credit, Laura Miller.

We had nearly ideal weather, with a starting temperature around 57 degrees with winds around 4 mph.  Over the course of the ride and run, the temps increased to about 70, with winds up to around 10 mph.  The water temperature was stated to be 64, although it felt a bit warmer subjectively.

I knew I’d have a little hiatus from exercise after St. George.  Unfortunately with a crazy work schedule and another trip, I was only able to squeeze in the Elkhart Time Trial in the following week.  While at our cabin, I did a little trail running and spent some time on the trainer with my mountain bike, but no swimming (the ice hadn’t been off the lake long).  It doesn’t take long for fitness to drop, and I expected some negative impact for Hickory Grove. I usually see some reflection of this in my weight, as my body reduces glycogen stores (and associated fluid) as well as blood volume. Although glycogen stores aren’t as big of concern with a sprint, blood volume reductions lead to reduced cardiac stroke volume… meaning your heart has to beat faster (and work harder) at the same power or pacing level.

I was down about 1.5 lbs after St. George, but down nearly 5 lbs for HG. Lower stored fluids mean more work for the heart, and lower sweat rates to keep you cool.

I was down about 1.5 lbs after St. George, but down nearly 5 lbs for HG. Lower stored fluids mean more work for the heart, and potentially lower sweat rates impacting cooling as well.  You can see when I started exercising regularly again after the race, my weight jumped back up again.

My swim was simply okay.  The lack of swimming practice during the past two weeks made my stroke feel a bit “off”, and I simply tried to keep my cadence up and focusing on pressing back on the water.  I did a little drafting at times, and felt like my sighting was okay as well. Not a stellar time for me, but not a disaster either.  My heart rate averaged around 147, which is probably just a bit above threshold.  Not surprisingly, my peak heart rate was actually running up the hill after the swim at around 167 bpm (which is around my running threshold).
HR spike running up the hill leaving the lake.

HR spike running up the hill leaving the lake.

T1 was a bit slow, as I struggled to get my right leg out of my wetsuit.  With the bike in / out in the same location, I racked my bike near the entrance to limit the amount of time I’d run with my bike.  I got my helmet and glasses on without a problem, headed out and got on my bike without issue.  I put my shoes on as I rode out of the park.
Overall, I had a good ride.  As expected, my heart rate was running high relative to my power output.  My threshold heart rate is typically is around 162 on the bike, and I averaged 162 on this ride with a peak of 167.  My corresponding power output was 270 NP/261 AP, which is a bit lower than my threshold power (285w), but fine given my HR for the ride.  I also expect that some of the difference was simply the adrenaline of racing, which often elevates HR a bit as well.  Part of having a fast ride on this course is maintaining as much speed as possible (safely) through the corner at the bottom of the first hill outside the park, to carry momentum up the hill that follows.  Before checking in for the race, I always stop at that corner to look at the condition and where to ride to avoid any gravel that may be on the road.  This year my lowest speed right at the apex of the corner was 28.5 mph, which was faster than prior years, and helped me maintain better speed through that section of the race.  My only disappointment was forgetting to put my nutrition in my water bottle.  Typically I mix a light amount of Carbo Pro in my bottle, to give me a little boost during the ride (studies have shown having a little carbs can help maintain intensity).  I felt like I could have used it in the last lap, but it wasn’t a huge problem.  Overall, I had a very efficient ride (in terms of watts/mph), managing an average of 24.0 mph over the course, including getting on/off my bike.  This was enough to have the second fastest bike split of the triathletes… which is good for an old beat up guy like me.  😉
I must have been so fast on the bike, that nobody could catch me with a camera... so you are stuck with a graph of my ride.

I must have been so fast on the bike, that nobody could catch me with a camera… so you are stuck with a graph of my ride.

I got into a little traffic getting into T2, but overall the transition went without any big issues. After racking my bike, taking off my helmet and glasses, I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my visor and race belt and headed for the exit.  My only problem was getting my belt clipped… I tried to do it behind my back and I was well out of transition before I gave up and spun it around to get it bucked.
Going into the race, I felt like a realistic goal would be around 7:35 pacing for this course, which would be a big improvement over the prior year, although still quite a bit slower than pre-knee injury.  I’m still a bit cautious with running on uneven surfaces… it’s easy to jam my knee where the cartilage is missing if I don’t focus on my form (as ugly as it is).  My intent was to take the first mile a bit easier, push on mile 2 and see what I had left for mile 3.  I had passed my teammate Laura in T2, and she was hot on my heels during the run.  It was the extra motivation I needed to keep pushing the entire run.  The run pretty much went as planned, with a 7:45, 7:20 and then a 7:36 on the third mile.  I ended up with an average pace of 7:32 (course typically measures around 3.2 miles) and an average HR of 163.  I was a bit below threshold heart rate (around 167 bpm), and felt more limited by some intermittent side aches than cardio.
I missed the first part of the run with my Garmin, as I was screwing around trying to get my race belt on...

I missed the first part of the run with my Garmin, as I was screwing around trying to get my race belt on…

Putting everything together I finished 18th overall and first in my age group. As always, I enjoyed the company of the local triathlon community as well as our TriRacer group. The TriRacers had a fantastic showing at Hickory Grove, winning many of the top age group and two overall spots.  It’s always fun to see people work hard and accomplish their goals… whether it’s simply finishing their first triathlon, or competing for age group or overall wins.

TriRacers after the race. Thanks also to the all TriRacer supporters... it's awesome to hear cheering in the crowds. Photo credit Andy Bernholtz.

TriRacers after the race. Thanks also to the all TriRacer supporters… it’s awesome to hear cheering in the crowds. Photo credit Andy Bernholtz.