All posts by dbokely

Cougar Mountain Trail Series 2016 – 5k

With zero experience running trails (apart from quick run on a gravel path near the local YMCA) I decide to keep things simple and just pick the 5k race distance for my first trail race. It was at Cougar Mountain, in Bellevue, east of Seattle, where they have a 5 or 6 race series each summer (the Cougar Mountain Trail Series, presented by the Seattle Running Club).

Living only 5 mins from the race course made it an easy decision to pick this race for my trail debut. The trails looked very inviting – lush green surrounds even in the height of a Seattle ‘Summer’. I didn’t have any trail shoes, so I decided to go with my trusty blue Saucony Guides with over 500km on them, so I didn’t mind if they got dirty, rather than my brand new (and quite white) Triumphs.

I decided to ignore pace, and run on feel / HR – trying to stick around the top of Z3 and low Z4, it seemed to work well, as I felt like I pushed pretty hard and had a little in the tank for the finish. The course was great – the 5k has very little of the climbs of the longer distances. It was however fairly muddy, as it was raining. I didn’t loose grip too much but I did need to take it carefully on the descents and corners, as the Guides aren’t off road shoes, and mine were quite worn down by the aforementioned 500kms on road.

The trails were beautiful, lush green everywhere, trees overhead, and some bridge crossings over creeks that were flowing. Such a nice place to go running.

I managed a cheeky 3rd place overall Male (don’t get too excited, all the serious runners were doing either of the 2 other longer distances). It was great fun and I instantly decided I needed get some trail shoes and run a longer one.

2016 and 2017 Update

Well, things have changed quite a bit! Since posting the Busselton 70.3 results, I went on to finally run a 12km road race at under 5:00 min pace, 3 weeks later. After that I broke a toe, started to train mornings during winter, and then did only two triathlons before packing up and moving to Seattle, having accepted a new job with Amazon.

Since then, I’ve been focusing on trail running, taking the most of the opportunities to do something a bit different over here. Longest so far was a trail half marathon at Cougar Mountain which too 3 hours, with a lot of vertical gain!

2015 Busselton 70.3 Half Ironman

I complete the half ironman in 6:25:34 – so I met my ‘B’ goal of sub-6:30, but was quite a way off my ‘A’ goal of sub-6.

The swim took 50mins, which was 5 mins slower than expected, and the bike was 3:11:56 – so 12 mins slower than I wanted.

The run was 2:16 which would have be pretty much OK, if the other two legs had been to their correct time, but since they weren’t I would have had to have done a sub-2 half marathon, which simply was not going to happen.

On the whole it was a great experience, I think I paced the day’s effort well, as each leg I increased my age group placing, and I didn’t find myself having to walk on the run. I still managed a sprint finish, after a 5:38 final KM.

Nutrition strategy worked well, and felt pretty good all day. Of course, I would have liked a faster time, but I knew if I pushed any harder everything would have gone pear-shaped. So I left it for the final half lap on the run to build towards the finish line.

Cottesloe 2015 – Super Sprint Distance

Cottesloe 2015

This race came in the middle of three consecutive weekends of racing. Coming a week after the Busselton Standard (Olympic) Distance race, I was confident I was in shape, but I wasn’t sure how mush speed I had in me, as the lead up was focused around endurance for the race last week.

My friends and family have a tradition of entering the ‘Tri-it’ distance (Super Sprint) which is 300m, 12km, and 3km (though last year it was ‘10km’ bike, which was really closer to 8km – two laps of the bike).

This year due to injury, travel and other commitments, only my youngest brother and I were able to enter. My other brother came first (on the day) last year (2014) in 20-29 age group, after second place the year before. He was relegated to second place last year due to the Pro athlete competing in his race losing his ankle timing chip. Seems odd a pro would be competing in this distance with a proper Sprint also available at this event, but I think it was due to him competing in the Busselton Jetty Swim the following day.

Our circle of friends has had quite some success in this event – in 2014: first and second in the women’s 20-29, 1st, 2nd and 4th in the mens 2014 (adjusted to 2nd, 3rd and 5th on revised results – I came 8th). 2013 1st, 2nd and third in the mens 20-29.

This year I had moved by to 30-39, so I was hopeful of getting a podium, but you never know who decides to do the shorter distance. I suspect the top 60% of the Sprint field would have won this race if they decided to enter.

Swim (Official 300m; 9:32 – all the swim results are very slow, I think they had the race start time wrong. Actual: 340m; 7:25; Pace: 2:10/100m) Place 5 / 8

It was a wetsuit legal swim, but non of the ‘Tri-It’ distance competitors were wearing them, so I decided not to be the odd one out. All of the male age groups started together so it was difficult to tell where you were in your age group. The swim started from a different part of Cottesloe (200m south of where we usually start) so the long sea grass was a bit off-putting. It was a deep water start, so we didn’t have to worry about the uneven surface running into the water like previous years. The swim went well, I felt I was in the middle of the pack most of the way. As this race is typically for less experience triathletes, I think the swim abilities are proportionally weaker.

Reviewing the results I was 5th out of the water in my age group, which I was happy with.

Bike (12km; 25:03; Speed 28.9km/h) Place – Unavailable due to the placement of the timing mats, short distance athletes would have to go out of their way 20m to go over the mat, so they were told not to. The fastest split of the short distance was 28:13 for the athlete who came 4th, as he went over the mate by mistake. My split was 3 minutes faster, so my guess is I had a top 3 bike split)

One of the other things I noticed was due the more inexperience triathletes (though there were definitely a few serious ones, well based on the number of expensive TT bikes in this ‘beginner’s’ event) was that the competitors were well reheard at transition. I passed four people when I was jumping on to to do the flying leap bike mount, and never saw them again. I suspect a few of these would have been in my category.

The bike leg is nice and flat except for a side street hill that you get sent up once every 4km lap. (The full sprint guys had to do the hill 5 times!) It’s a very steep climb, I did the first one out of the saddle, but it fatigued me too much, so I did the remaining two climb seated in a low gear.

I passed a large group of athletes twice, and picked off a number of individual riders from various waves, but also apparently once in my wave. Due to timing mat placement competitors in our race didn’t get bike split times, so I wont know how many I passed. I was only overtaken by athletes very obviously in the full Sprint trip – based on their race number and bike value.

Run (3.3km; 16:01; Pace: 4:51min/km) Place: due to timing mats splits weren’t available. The best split in my age group from a competitor who went 20metres further to get to the other transition entrance and went over a split was 18:48, but that includes transition. Of the people that only got a combined bike+run split, I was the fastest by 4 minutes over the person who came 2nd overall, who also had a combined split. So for Bike and Run I would have had the fastest split out of all 8 in the age group.

I had a few brick sessions where I had run 4:20 pace or faster getting off the bike, but the bike sessions never matched the intensity of the race.

I was hoping for something like a 4:30 pace run split, but I knew this was clearly not achievable as soon as I started the run. I settled into a pace I felt I could maintain (4:50 pace) and kept an eye out for anyone from my category to see if I needed to accelerate to stay in touch. On the outward part of the run, I checked if anyone that passed me turned at the 1.5km mark, but they all continued past it, so I know I was only passed by people doing the 5km run of the full Sprint distance. On the way back I was passed by a few who I recalled seeing going past that mark also so wasn’t too worried, but with 400m to go someone passed me who I was pretty sure was doing the short distance, but I couldn’t tell his age group, but I was feeling OK, so I pushed hard to stay within 20m, and then with 100m to go behind the club house I started a full sprint and passed him a few metres before the line.

Overall 53:46 (Actual: 51:52) Place 1 / 8

I was worried when they announced 3rd place and then 2nd, as I was hoping for a podium, but then I was thrilled to hear my name for first place. I’m under no illusions that the majority of the 30-39 field would have beaten me if they were doing this distance, but you can only beat the people that are there, so I was glad to have improved on this race year on year again.

Comparing to this race in 2013, I improved by 6 minutes from 57:51 to 51:52. in 2014 it only had a two loop bike course, so it isn’t directly comparable. My 2014 was 42:25, adding an addition 10:10 based on my average per-lap bike time would make it 52:35, but the swim was shorter that year also.

Cottesloe Success!

My family and friends have a tradition of doing the “Tri-It” distance as Cottesloe, and we’ve had a few medals so far, because the more serious competitors are all doing the full Sprint Distance. This year, once again there was a pro in the 20-29, but now that I’ve moved into the 30-39 category, I was wondering how strong the field would be. Well here’s the answer: Cottesloe

Race report will come, but in summary: I came out of the water in 5th in my age group, passed 3 or 4 people in transition (not sure which age group) with the flying leap bike mount while they were trying to clip in. Then I passed two groups on the bike, and then a few more individuals, and I was only overtaken by people doing the Sprint Distance. One the run, I wasn’t passed by anyone doing the Tri It distance, and passed a handful of people who were. I was passed with 50m to go, but did a sprint finish to pass him, though I think he was doing the full Sprint Distance anyway. Unfortunately the Tri-It cometitors didn’t get run splits, due to the placement of the bike racks away from transition, I would like to have known if I had the fastest run split of, or if I passed all 5 on the bike.

Busselton Standard Distance 2015

Busselton Olympic 2015

The Olympic (Standard) Distance event this year was all the way down at Busselton – quite a long drive for a race that will only take between 2 and 3 hours, but is a great course, and the location for the Half and Full Ironman races in December and May each year respectively.

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Swim (1.5km; 34:41; Pace: 2:18min/km) Place: 48 / 52

The swim leg was in the Geographe Marina – around the boat parking areas and waterside homes, rather than the iconic Busselton Jetty (a few KM down the coast) where the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 are held.

The swim conditions were simply ideal, pretty low waves, nice and warm water, and production from any currents because it was in the marina.

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Bike (40km; 1:21:23; Speed: 29.5km/h) Place: 41 / 52

We knew from waiting around at the start line it was going to be windy on the bike, and these expectations were confirmed the second you pushed your first pedal stroke. The wind was north easterly, meaning the two main outward sections were diagonally into the breeze, the first outward sections was a bit more cross breeze, the second outward section was almost straight into the headwind. I passed a few people on the headwind sections, as I managed to pedal strongly in the aero position, and the tail wind sections were simply great! Flying at 37-40km/h made you feel like a pro cyclist. I had two Gels on the bike, and for drink I had one hydrolyte (electrolytes only, no carbs) and one water.

Run (10km; 57:41; Pace: 5:46min/km) Place: 46 / 52

I had hoped for a 5:20min/km pace run and managed to hold that pace for the first 3km, but then it became apparent this was not going to be sustainable, so I slowed to 5:45 and 6 min pace. Ankles and lower calves were very fatigued at this point.

I had a Winners’ Energy Gel just before the 5km aid station and felt this helped a bit. It was a struggle through to the finish, but I beat last years’ run time by nearly 3 mins.

Overall (2:57:26; Place 45 / 52)

I was happy with the sub 3 overall, but really wanted a sub 55 run, and was aiming for a 30min swim rather than 35. Bike was very close to 30km/h, and on a less windy day I’m confident I could have hit that target.

It was a nice race in a nice location, and a precursor to the 70.3 in May!

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Telstra Tri Series 2014/15 – Race #2: Armadale – Champion Lakes

I wasn’t surpised to receive the email during the week leading up to the event letting the athletes know that the swim leg would be cancelled for this event due to poor water quality. Having raced there last year in the murky conditions it was only a matter of time until a swim would be cancelled, especially with the consistent hot weather leading up to the event.

A view over the lake we wouldn't be swimming in due to water quality issues
A view over the lake we wouldn’t be swimming in due to water quality issues

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Run #1 (2.5km [2.4]; 11:00; Pace: 4:34min/km) Place: 36 / 54

Given there was no swim leg, I wore cycling socks with my running shoes. This had the added advantage of being able to put the ankle timing chip over the sock which made it a little more comfortable. The start format was a time trial start, which athletes heading off every 5 seconds, in numerical order of bib number. For the first run I set off at a reasonably quick pace as I wanted to maintain the gaps initially so as not to get in anyone’s way or find myself having to pass or be passed. However as I was expecting I set off to fast, averaging 3:30min pace for the first 200m, I slowed down 4:40 up the bridge, but sped up to 3:30 again on the downhill. For the rest of the first km I slowed down a bit so the first split was 4:18, and maintained the pace to end up with 4:35min/km. I was pretty happy with the speed, but slightly worried I took the first run a little to fast.

Cycle (20km [20.8]; 40:58; Speed: 30.4km/h) Place: 43 / 54

I could tell it was going to be a windy cycle, given the headwind on the return section of the out and back initial run. However, it was really only one quarter of the more-or-less rectangular course where you felt the strong headwind. The ‘back straight’ was actually a nice long stretch of tailwind so I got my average for that section up over 35km/h to compensate for the slow section. Not a lot else to report except I felt that the flatter course suited my training, rather than the more hilly courses at Left Bank and Hillarys. I finished the bike with 30.4km/h average, finally beating the 30km/h average in a race.

Run #2 (5km [4.9]; 24:35; 5:01min/km) 36 / 54

Running out of T2 I didn’t feel too bad – I think on the whole the initial run is less exhausting than a swim leg. I set out trying to maintain 5min/km pace, and not getting tempted into running the first km too hard. The first 2 splits were 5:04 and 5:08, I tried to pick up the pace a bit in kms 3 and 4, but they ended up being 5:10 and 5:11. I had been focusing on cadence in training drills, and tried to keep the cadence at 180 during the run, but it drifted to 176 and 174, as I just could quite it the right turnover rhythm. For the final km I pushed a lot hard, increasing stride distance having given up on cadence leaving it at 174. The pace for the final 900m, was 4:30, including a final sprint that had me only 1 second slower over the final 100m sprint Strava segment that I’m still equal 3rd overall. I ended the run leg utterly exhausted averaging 5:01min/km, which I was pretty happy with.

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Overall 1:19:41 38 / 54

I was very happy with the overall age group placing I managed to get this time, however, many of the more ‘serious’ triathletes did not attend due to it being a long drive to an event with no swim. However, you can only beat the people who are there, and with a bike over 30km/h and a second run leg at 5:01, I’m confident I got the best out of myself.

The Open Race was exciting to watch afterwards, and there were some sprint finishes for podium places.

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Afterwards I spotted this awesome orange Giant Propel – definitely the brightest bike this season.

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Then I enjoyed a recovery coffee and bagel at The Roastery.

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