The alarm went bright and early for the drive down to the Left Bank Triathlon near Fremantle. I had all my gear packed by the front door to make it easier to load into the car and get away. Even so, I was running a little late.
I got to transition about 10 mins from the official closing time, dropped my bike and bag there, and got my race number sorted out. These triathlons are less strict about cutoff times, so I had a chance to get my gear setup, and look around to see if wet suits were a popular option. There were about 20% or 30% of athletes wearing them so I thought it would be a good time to give mine a race debut. I had only swum in it the first time the day before, in a brief open water practice swim at my local beach.
Swim (500m; Time: 7:45; Pace 1:34/100m)
Being my first we suit race, I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know to expect not to worry about the very cold water – and indeed I didn’t I was nice and relaxed as the others were talking about how cold the water was (at this race last year I remember it being pretty cold). We swam in the opposite direction to last year as the tide and current were different.
Once the race started I got into my swimming stroke rhythm quickly, with the wet suit not hindering rotation or movement in the shoulders at all – it felt great. I found myself catching and bumping into feed in front of me, so the suit must have been helping.
The swim seemed to be finished very quickly – it was only 400m (my Garmin says 500m), so I already knew the wetsuit helped with my speed, as well as the fact we were swimming with the current.
I did notice at T1 I was a little light-headed getting out of suit, however, I wasn’t too concerned as this had happened the day before when I got out of the suit at the end of my practice swim. I think my body needs a few more swims to adjust to the compression on my chest to regulate blood flow when I remove the suit. I just made sure not to push too hard running out of T1 so I wouldn’t loose balance or anything, but the light-heartedness had already stopped by the time I had unracked my bike.
Bike (18.7km; Time: 39:27; Speed: 28.6km/h)
This was my first race with the Serfas Portal Photochromatic lense sunglasses, Specialized S-Works Evade helmet, and S-Works Trivent carbon shoes. I had no problems with any of the gear, the shoes were more comfortable in the race than they had been in training, probably becuase I kept nice even power, and didn’t have any of the huge power intervals that strain the part of the shoe at the heel where you can feel the wire tugging on your achilles.
As soon as I set off on the bike I could tell my HR was high – and the Garmin confirmed it. I tried to set off at a steady pace but there is a significant climb almost immediately. I stayed seated and used the second-easiest gear to get up it, and then settled into the rhythm. On the flats I felt like I was going well, quite efficiently, and passing the people I would expect to pass. I took better advantage of the downhill section than quite a few people, and I noticed they passed me back on the hill climb. I changed places with one person three out of the four laps. I really struggled with the climb each time, losing several places each time it came around.
My average speed was in fact slower than last year, which was disappointing, but the course was a bit shorter (more than 1km shorter than last year), and they had removed the distance from either end of the main flat section, so the average elevation gain per KM was increased. A small consolation – I really expected to be able to push out an average over 30km/h.
I suspect the Trainer Road 40km TT plan I am doing will be of better benefit on flatter courses with more even power output. I’ve not really done any hill training, or simulated hill training on the trainer. Note to self: specificity of training is very important!
Run (4.36km; Time: 21:33; Pace: 4:56/km)
My goal was sub 5min per Km pace. I knew to expect the hills, so I didn’t worry too much about having to drop back to 5:45 pace for the climbs, as I know I can pick up that time quite easily running down hill. All my training runs are over undulating terrain here near the coast so I was relatively well prepared for the hilly course.
Heading out for the first flat section before the hill at 5:00 pace, it all felt under control, so I backed it off a little up the hill, and was 20sec down by the time I got the the 1km mark (each lap is 2km). I planned to regain all of that time by the time I reached the lap turn around, and indeed I got pretty close at the end of the hill, and used the flat section to pick up the final second or two, before setting back down to 5:00 on the dot for the first part of lap top. I let myself fall the same 20sec behind heading up hill, but pushed it a bit harder down the hill so I had regained all the time before the final flat section.
I pushed the final 400m, and a sprint for the last 50m where I passed 4 people, including 2 in the finishing chute (one was in my age group!). I ended up with a 4:57 average. I found racing with the Garmin Virtual Partner set to 5min pace, made things a bit simpler than worrying about more complicated data screens.
Having listened to a lot about low-carb, high-fat diets, and general sports diet information (mainly Fitter Radio) I decided just to go with some sports drink on the bike, and no gels or anything else. It was completely fine. I picked up some Bindi sports drink to try as it’s more natural than things like Gatorade, and tastes a lot nicer, so I’ll be trying that in my next race which is a longer (750m / 25km / 6 km). I might put a gell on the bike, just in case, but I don’t think I’ll need it.
Overall I was happy with the result – winter training kept things improving, except the bike. For swimming I had done 9 swims between 600m and 1.2km in the 4 weeks leading up, and I’d only done one brick session. The wet suit made a big different to my swim placing.