Monday, September 26, 2011

Hong Kong Triathlon Challenge Race (Sprint)

Race Morning
The starting point of this race is roughly 12 kilometers from my front door so I didn't do much in the way of preparation for this one.  The alarm went off at 4:30 and after a few cups of coffee and lounging around I was out the door an hour later to meet JoggerJoel en route to the start line.

Equipment Checklist
-Cervelo P3 (same gearing as for IM France but removed the Speedfill and bento box)
-Hydration: Xlab cage on aero bars
-Wheels: FFWD F9R
-Running Shoes: Zoot Ultra Kalani
-Goggles: Zoggs Predator Flex
-Mavic Tri Race bike shoes 
-Race Belt w/ number

For a sprint distance race I saw no need to go overboard on gear, bling or nutrition.  

Slight chance of showers (didn't happen)
Significant chop and swells in the Tolo Harbour

Swim - 750m
I didn't manage to get in much of a warm up swim since the kayak volunteers kicked me out after a few strokes.  Apparently they didn't have resources to ensure the safety of warm-up swimmers in addition to those that were already on the course for earlier waves.  It's a deep water start and the melee had already begun before the gun went off.  Everyone was struggling to stay afloat in the choppy water and we managed to kick the hell out of one another's shins for a minute or two while waiting for the count to reach 1.

Credit: Janice Mei-Yei Lai

I decided to experiment with going out hard to the first buoy in the hopes that I could get close to the front pack and avoid getting trapped in breast-stroke land.  Had I been in decent swim shape the plan might have worked.  Instead I was out of breath halfway to the buoy and quickly getting swallowed up in white water and arms and legs.  I had to slow down (or at least reduce effort) drastically in order to bring my breathing and form back under control.  I think for the 200 meters or so that I went hard it took me another 200 to recover.  Eventually I found a pocket to swim in and swam steadily to the exit.  This was definitely a poor swim performance.

Official Swim Time: 15:37 (2:04/100m pace)
Garmin Time: 15:31 (2:04/100m pace)
The 6 second discrepancy is probably due to the jog up the stairs between water exit and the timing mat.

This is a pretty disappointing result as I'm probably in shape to swim around 13:30.

Uneventful.  Jogged out of the water to the bike, tossed my cap and goggles down, race belt on, helmet on and go.

Official Time:  Unknown.  The official results lumped transition times into the bike or run or a bit of both--I can't be sure.
Garmin Time: 3:35

Bike - 20K
This was my strongest section of the day and I managed to rip through at an average speed of 35 kph.  Drafting was legal so I took advantage of every opportunity that came along. I was able to link on to a very fast group for 4 out of the 5 laps on the course.  The hairpin turns are a bit tricky and staying on the tail of a draft was always a challenge.  I had to basically sprint 300 meters at full tilt at every turn around to stay with the pack.  The effort paid off though because once I was in the slipstream I could ease off and let my legs recover for 2 kilometers until the next turn.  During the bike section i took down about half a bottle of water.  This turned out to be a big mistake that I would only realize on the run.  In the future for such a short distance race I don't intend to take any gel or fluid at all.

Official Time: 37:28 (32kph)
Garmin Time: 34:37 (34.6kph)

Again--uneventful.  I racked my bike, spun my race belt around, ditched my helmet, put on my running shoes and off I went.

Official Time:  Unknown
Garmin Time: 0:51

Run - 5K
This was a two lap course.  My first lap was miserable with a side stitch on my ride side.  I tried to keep my legs turning over quickly while jamming my fingers into the stitch to try to release the cramp.  I adjusted my inhalation patter to match a different foot strike (this sometimes works to clear a stitch) but that wasn't helping either.  I guessed that I had about a minute and a half lead on JoggerJoel because I had seen him coming in off the bike as I was heading out on the run.  With this pinch in my side I wasn't able to stick to my plan of sprinting the first few kilometers at a low 4:00 pace.  I figured if I was able to run the first 2 kilometers between 4:05 - 4:15/k he would be disheartened when seeing me at the turnaround and think to himself that his perceived fast pace wasn't eating into my lead.  Well none of that played out at all.  I did a 4:45 for the first kilometer but then dropped to 5:05 for the next.  That was all JoggerJoel needed to make the pass.  He blew by me at a 4:15 pace and I contemplated going with him but just let him go.  If I could go back and do this race again I would have gone with him.  It would have only cost me 12 or 13 minutes of intense suffering but I would have been much happier with myself at the end for digging down and going for it.  Another race another lesson.  I won't let that happen again.

Official Time: 22:19
Garmin Time: 20:47

I'm going to go ahead and post this report now without my times.  The results haven't been released.  Once they are I will revise the post to include them.  According to my Garmin data comparison of this race and last year's, I was a minute faster on the bike and about 4 minutes faster on the run.  I couldn't accurately compare the swim times because this year's course was extended by 250m.

Final Official Time: 1:15:24
Final Garmin Time: 1:15:30

This landed me in the top 29.41% of the 35-39 age group. (25th place out of 85 old farts).  Not satisfied with this but that's good as it keeps me hungry.

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