Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bank of China (HK) 55th Festival of Sport – Age Group Triathlon - Race Report

May 6, 2012

This was a fun local race held in the same area where I regularly train.  I was looking forward to having a strong race on the bike since I know every inch of the route.

The Swim (1,500m Tai Mei Tuk)

After checking in and setting up my transition area, I headed over to the the water in hopes of having a short warm-up swim before my wave's start.  No such luck.  The entry and exit area to the water was very narrow and only had enough space to accommodate the waves that were already underway.  I resorted to stretching and arm rotations instead.  My swim training volume was considerably low leading into the race so I wasn't expecting much improvement with time.  The target was to stay reasonably relaxed to set me up for a hard effort on the bike.

Once my wave was up I swam out a few meters and positioned myself three quarters of the way to the outside and three quarters of the way back from the front for the deep water start.  The horn sounded and I set off swimming intentionally easy.  The water was calm, cool and murky--not what I'd describe as nice but at the same time not bad either.  There isn't much to report as I held a steady relaxed pace through the entire distance.  Occasionally I had to fight my way through congested swimmers at the turn buoys but quickly broke free into clear water.

Swim Time:  35:09
v. 2010 HK ITU: 36:42

The Bike (40K - Bride's Pool Road Loop x 4)

After a quick T1 I was on the bike (opted for my road bike on this hilly course) and hunting for a decent group to draft behind.  I quickly realized how hard it is to catch decent cyclists as a crap swimmer.  I figured I was roughly 5 to 7 minutes behind the leaders so I set off hammering and sling-shotting my way up through the field.  I was going at a pace I knew was unsustainable for 40K but decided it was worth the gamble to try to catch a decent draft and a bit of relief for the legs.

Each loop of the course included a 1.5K climb (avg 7-8% gradient).  I managed to ride these fairly well without getting passed more than a handful of times. In fact, overall I managed to do more passing than being passed.  I had hoped to really make up ground on the descents.  In training I'm able to rip through the downhills at full speed without ever touching the brakes.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that in the race.  There was simply too many competitors on the course that didn't look confident on the bike and decided to keep my speed in the low 50kph range.

About halfway into the second loop I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to catch any of the fast group ahead and would have to predominately tackle the course on my own--oh well.  I eased back the pace a bit but stayed just under threshold on through to the finish of the bike leg.

Bike Time:  1:18:31
v. 2010 HK ITU: 1:12:36 (much flatter bike course)

The Run (10K - Tai Mei Tuk Dam x 2)

I didn't waste any time in T2 and was quickly out onto the run.  My plan was simple: set into sub 5:00/K pace and hold steady for the first half then grind out a faster final lap. After the first couple of kilometers I developed a side stitch.  It wasn't debilitating but forced my pace to slower than target speed.  I skipped the first couple of aid stations hoping that whatever fluid I had sloshing around in my gut would be quickly absorbed.  Finally, at the halfway mark the side stitch started to ease up and I was able to pick up the pace and make a strong run to the finish.

Run Time:  47:58
v. 2010 HK ITU: 48:56

Overall Time:  2:48:10 (New OD PR)
v. 2010 HK ITU: 2:49:50

13 hours after the race I was on a plane headed to London.  5 days later I set a half marathon PR (1:42) in Hyde Park, London.  Happy days.  Training is looking like it is headed in the right direction for Kona.

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