After a couple road races in May, I kicked off my tri season with the Subaru Milton Sprint Triathlon. I’m no fan of race reports. They’re usually steeped in self-aggrandizement or self-pity and full of half-baked excuses and tedious details. No one cares about swim breathing patterns, average cadence or shoe lace selection. But race reports are a mainstay of triathlon blogs, so bear with me and I’ll try to make this as painless as possible. Here’s the Executive Summary (aka the ADD version).

Subaru Milton Sprint Triathlon (June 3, 2012)
1:24:39, 2nd/476 (1st amateur)

Split | Pace | Rank | Comments

Swim (750m):   10:30 | 1:24/100m | 5th | cold, violent
Bike (30km):     47:02 | 38.3km/h | 5th | big climb, windy
Run (7.5km):     26:17 | 3:30/km | 1st | hilly, hungry, hurtin’

And for the handful of people still reading, here’s the tl;dr version:

Swim: Swimming is a frustrating sport. While my endurance continues to improve, my speed has plateaued since my high school swim team days. I have begun to suspect that my swimming fitness has zero correlation with the time I spend in the pool. I can swim 10k to 30k a week and my swimming remains consistently meh. The next step is to test the limits of this hypothesis by swimming 1k per week.
The water temperature in Lake Kelso dropped several degrees due to heavy rain in the week prior to the race. Compared to some of my competitors, I’m built like a preteen girl. I couldn’t help eyeing doughy midriffs, chubby cheeks and fleshy limbs with envy. I was shivering violently by the time the race started. In typical fashion, every over-adrenalized tri-noob did their best Michael Phelps impression. This resulted in complete chaos around the first buoy. There’s a reason that boxing has weight classes. I was not fairly matched with the 200 pound brute who clearly wanted to go one-on-one. I managed to escape and finish the swim. When I tried to sprint out of the water, my cold, jello-y legs danced the grapevine instead, nearly taking out a spectator.

Bike: After struggling with a runner/triathlete identity crisis for years, I finally decided to devote some serious focus to biking, my weakest discipline. I took a three-pronged approach: I worked for some speed (bi-weekly torture sessions on the trainer), I bought some speed (deep front wheel, rear disc cover, aero helmet, faster cockpit, tires and trisuit) and I got some free speed (position tweaks, cleaner cable routing, bottle changes). I even managed to finagle a final-year Physics project involving aerodynamics in a mini wind tunnel, despite the consternation of my supervisor (Picture an old man wringing hands: “This project has real-world applications. Need I remind you that this is Physics not Engineering?”). I was sick of automatically losing minutes to competitors on superbikes like the Specialized Shiv and Cervelo P4, which, incidentally, were ridden to first and third place respectively. With obsessive research and deal hunting, I have reduced this loss to seconds, all on a miserly budget. Trust me, in a world of $10,000 bikes$1200 wetsuits and $900 race entries, a few hundred bucks is definitely miserly.

There is a brutal climb up the Niagara Escarpment a few kilometers into the bike course. Quote from prerace email: “It’s OK if you have to walk your bike up the hill.” But I don’t mind hills. The tables turn. The balloon-biceped brute that pummeled me in the swim got to watch my bony ass recede into the distance. I pressed my advantage on the climb and worked hard to move into second place. At this point I wondered if I was in the lead, since no one was in sight ahead. I was passed near the halfway point by a guy I dropped on the climb. A gap gradually opened and another biker passed me just before the descent down the Escarpment. I descended like a maniac, hitting 75km/h and retaking 3rd position. I averaged 38.3km/h on a challenging, windy course—a huge improvement from last year.

Run: Although cycling has taken priority over running lately, some decent road race results last month showed that my running has not suffered. For some reason, my legs lacked their usual spring. Maybe it was the hilly bike course, more aggressive bike pacing or the rolling, cross-country run course. Second place, a couple hundred meters ahead, was coming back painfully slowly. Then I began to feel the familiar empty sensation of an impending energy crisis. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything the entire race. I became convinced that I was going to bonk. I figured that it was too late for Gatorade, so I ignored the aid stations. I always laugh at the over-exuberant volunteers that really, really want you to take the cup they are brandishing in your face. They look so dejected when you run past. Anyways, I held it together and finished second, a minute down on professional triathlete Sean Bechtel. This was a wake up call; I now know that the tank hits empty after about 90 minutes. Good to know before my first crack at Olympic distance next weekend at the Subaru Guelph Lake Triathlon.

During a run on Thursday, Austin and I got our feet tangled and I fell as gracefully as a sack of potatoes (further evidence that I’m not a jock). I suffered some road rash and a bruised hip and shoulder. Training has been business as usual, but I have to sleep on the wrong side and showering makes me cry. I’m racing the Guelph Lake 10k tomorrow morning. I’m not holding my breath for a PB…