Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Race Summary: Indoor Triathlon Championship (and Mini Bike Shoe Tutorial)

Good evening, everyone! I hope your Monday has been swell. I can't complain. As Mondays go, this was a pretty good one. Not least of all because I got back the results from yesterday's triathlon championship. Before I go into those, though, I'll cover the race itself in detail.

The Swim:

The swim is starting to become my biggest weakness. I can swim for awhile, but not fast. A slow swim will not be helpful in Providence if I hope to complete the race this year. Before my heat started, I went up into the stands to watch the previous heat. I watched one woman in particular because she seemed to be especially slow and counted her lengths. She completed one more than I did, so my own swim must be at a snail's pace! I will say, as well, that becoming fatigued in the water is much scarier than it is while running, for obvious reasons. It's not that I'm afraid of any real danger, but it's much harder and less acceptable, in my mind, to stop swimming than it is to stop running. Where I might just start walking during a run to catch my breath, I am much less inclined to do so while swimming. As I was getting tired I just had to keep my mind on moving forward and trying to maintain my form. Occasionally I would breathe more often than on every fourth stroke in an attempt to catch my breath but that was the extent of the relief I could give myself.The resulting length count: 18.

The Bike:

Alright, before going into this I think it's time for a brief tutorial on bike shoes for anyone who's unfamiliar. On many road and triathlon bikes, pedals are made so that the rider can "clip into" them while wearing special shoes that have cleats at the toe. This allows the rider to utilize leg power on both the downstroke AND upstroke. Mine look like this:

The cleat (please ignore the obvious Phoebe hairs stuck to the sole):

The pedal:

The shoe while it's clipped in:

It might be a little hard to see the pedal in the last couple of pictures. In the first one, I circled both the cleat and pedal and just the pedal in the second to make it a little easier to imagine, since the pictures might be a little unclear.

So, now that we have that in order, back to the race. Unbeknownst to me, a tiny sandstone pebble had lodged itself in one of the holes of my left cleat. As a result, the shoe wasn't fully clipping into the pedal on the spin bike and kept dislodging, which left me to slow the bike down to a stop from 36mph with one foot still attached and then bring it back up to speed. This happened three or four times in the first few minutes of the ride. Since I'd never had that problem before, I assumed it was the bike and the people who organized the race were kind enough to allow me to start over on a different bike. Once on the new bike, though, it happened again! This time only once, at least, so I managed to crank out 18.08 in 30 minutes on the spin bike, which I believe is .03 miles less than what I did last time. I'm confident that if I hadn't had to deal with that one pedal incident I would've beaten my old distance by a few to 10 hundredths of a mile. Regardless, it was a good effort and I was proud of it. Plus, the ratio of male to female triathletes in the spin room was quite high. If you've spent any time in the sport, you know it's an attractive group of men. Tee hee.

Err...back to business!

The Run:

If you've been following, you may remember that one of my goals for the year is to run 2.5 miles in 20 minutes. I hopped on the treadmill before the race and got my instructions, which included a warning that the buttons on the treadmill's LCD display might not be very responsive. They were certainly right about that. It took 30 seconds and the assistance of one of the race officials to bring my treadmill up to the desired speed of 7.5 mph. Once there, though, I maintained that pace for the entire remaining 19.5 minutes and even managed to speed it up to 8 in the last 20 seconds or so. I ended up with 2.44 miles. Even though I still haven't actually recorded 2.5 miles at exactly 20 minutes, I'm fairly sure I have accomplished this goal a couple of times. I won't mark it off until it's official, but I consider it done.

So that's a complete summary of my pre-results impressions and scores. I expected that, while my distances are higher overall, my score would be much lower since this group of women would be the most competitive I've faced so far. Scores are determined based on the highest and lowest distances achieved by female or male athletes, so it's possible that 18 laps in one race might give me a score of 67 and 55 in a different, more competitive one. I anticipated that I would place near the bottom.

In fact, the results came via email today and I placed...10th! Well, technically tied for 10th, but still. I was extremely happy with that placement, considering these were the best of the best of whoever competed in the whole series. Here are the full results:

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