2016 King Pine Triathlon Race Report

First triathlon complete of the year. The 2016 King Pine Olympic Triathlon took place on Saturday, May 21st. This was the day after we closed on our new home. I finished 45th overall and 5th in my age group. Total distances and times were:

SplitsTime
Swim
(0.9 Miles)
0:28:28
T10:02:10
Bike
(32 Miles)
1:48:34
T20:01:45
Run
(6.2 Miles)
0:54:28
Total3:15:23

This was an interesting race with very limited training up to the race. Read on for more.

How it Went

As noted above, this race was the day after we closed on a new home. For the month and a half leading up to that date, we were spending nearly every free moment packing or moving stuff into storage. As a result and due to some poor planning on my part, I took off a LOT of time prior to the event. Either way, I entered the race knowing I wouldn’t be in top shape and honestly had limited expectations.

For the week leading up to our closing date, we were staying with my in-laws. While I had my running shoes, bike, and swim stuff, I only got out for a single run. Between moving, baseball (for which I was a coach for my kids), getting the kids ready for their 45 minute commute to school, and work, it was simply too busy. But, sometimes the best races are the ones in which you aren’t “in it to win it.”

I arrived at King Pine ski area with about an hour to spare. After parking and walking through the parking lot I saw a fellow Northeast Multisport (NEMS) member in a bit of a bind. She had a flat tire and tubes with stems 5-10 mm too short. So, it made getting a pump on a bit difficult. Whenever I go to races I ALWAYS bring a full bike toolbox with me. This toolbox has pretty much enough tools to take apart a bike, tune it, lube any bearings, and put it all back together again. Obviously included in his are tire levers and a few extra CO2 cartridges. I hadn’t checked in yet or set up transition so another NEMS who already was setup in transition and checked in finished helping her fill up the tire. It basically was a two-person job to get the valve stem through the rim. Either way, she was up and running.

View of Transition From the Road
View of Transition From the Road
Looking down transition from bike out/in
Looking down transition from bike out/in
Setting up transition
Setting up transition
Yes, that'll do.
Yes, that’ll do.

The Swim

Based on last year’s race, I knew that we’d have a decent walk down to the beach and then have 15-20 minutes before the race started. I’ve listened to several podcasts over the year that discouraged warmup when you weren’t going to be able to get your heart rate up and immediately hit the starting line. It was an unnecessary expenditure of calories. So I hopped in the water, did a quick 3 minute swim to get used to the water temperature (which was chilly) and then get out of the water and wait for the pre-race rules. The one and only Colin Cook was the race official which is always nice to say a quick hello and catchup with him. Pre-race rules were typical. Don’t draft, don’t litter, have fun. We were also told to PLEASE not try to hit 45 miles per hour on a downhill stretch of fresh pavement. Triathletes aren’t known for being great bike handlers. I listened as I only wound up hitting 42.3 mph on that hill.

Pre-race rules. "You don't need to hit 45 going downhill..."
Pre-race rules. “You don’t need to hit 45 going downhill…”
One or two people doing the race. View of the participants.
One or two people doing the race. View of the participants.

After the rules session, everyone entered the water again as they counted the number of people entering for safety reasons. If 89 people go in, they’d better have 89 coming over the timing mat at T1.

Oh that's flattering. Entering the water.
Oh that’s flattering. Entering the water.

A few NEMS members found each other in the water so it was good to have a chat pre-race. Timberman last year was the last time some of us had seen each other.

Pre-race NEMS meeting. Water is warm right?
Pre-race NEMS meeting. Water is warm right?
Let's get started. I'm waiting in the background.
Let’s get started. I’m waiting in the background.

The thing about mass start swim races is you need to think about where you want to place yourself. If you are up front and don’t get a good start, you’ll get swum over. If you are too far wide you’ll swim more distance than you should OR have people swim over you as they try to get to the inside. I’ve learned that 90% of the people who start go out way too fast. The other 10% pick poor lines. So for me, I like to start second row in the dead middle of the pack. This beach was pretty wide so the start really wasn’t that chaotic.

Take your mark...get set...
Take your mark…get set…
GO!
GO!
Starts are always a bit chaotic.
Starts are always a bit chaotic.

There were five buoys to swim around. First was an orange one. For everyone doing the sprint distance, they would have made an immediate left turn here. The Olympic distance kept this on our left and headed out to the next of three yellow buoys. You can see the little bitty buoy in the picture below. After this there was another at the farthest point in the lake and then you headed back around another yellow and then the last orange. Last year I felt my sighting was terrible. For this year I went out MUCH slower and more conservative as I knew I hadn’t been swimming much. I knew there were more people ahead of me than last year so I had plenty of people to sight off. The good news was I didn’t see anyone to my left or my right. So while I was in a bit of no-man’s land, I felt like I took a pretty good track.

Heading down to the first buoy
Heading down to the first buoy

I finished the swim leg with a time of 28:28. This was roughly three minutes slower than last year and was by design. I didn’t want to totally gas myself before the bike. I was pleased with the result and entered T1.

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The Bike

After knocking off 20 seconds from last year’s T1 transition, I headed out on the bike. If you recall from last year, I had massive issues with my heart rate monitor. My heart rate typically is very high out of T1 and I needed to get it down. This year was the first year I had a power meter on my bike. I also had my Mio Link on for my heart rate. Out of transition I had one Gu (salted caramel) shoved under my shorts band and two more gels in my bento box. As soon as I mounted the bike and got settled, the first Gu was consumed.

Also a first this year was additional fluids on-board. Last year I only had a torpedo bottle and one more bottle between the frame. This year I had these two bottles PLUS two additional bottles off the back of my seat. I have a timer beep at me every 5 minutes on my Garmin to remind me to drink. I had two bottles of water (40 oz) and two bottles of Gatorade (40 oz).

Right out of transition. Sitting up to get the heart rate down...as we go uphill.
Right out of transition. Sitting up to get the heart rate down…as we go uphill.
Ready to climb
Ready to climb

Prior to taking off a massive amount of time moving, my FTP was 224. So my plan normally would be to try and maintain 70-75% FTP. This would be an average of 158-168 watts…give or take. Knowing that I had lost fitness, I wanted to target the lower end of this range as last year I had a really uncomfortable run. One of the fields on my “racing” screen includes % FTP. So I tried to maintain this range for the whole race knowing that the hills would push this up and the downhills would drop it. My buddy Dan passed me on the bike around mile 20.

During the course of the race I made sure to continue drinking every 5 minutes or so and actually consumed nearly all of my four bottles while on the bike. This was a massive change from last year. Last year I started the run severely dehydrated. This year, I felt fantastic getting to the run. In addition to the Gu I took out of T1, I had two more on the bike roughly every 40 minutes or so.

I finished the bike portion in 1:48:34 or roughly 8 minutes slower than last year. Again, I knew that this would likely be the case both due to lack of training, but also intentionally not hammering on the bike. This was the first race with power and I’d honestly say that while I gave up 8 minutes on this bike portion, I was quite happy with the run that followed.

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The Run

T2 took me 1:45 or roughly 15 seconds faster than last year. Last year I forgot my number belt and had to return for it. After exiting transition, I felt really good. I decided this year to bring a small bottle and one Gu with me on-board. Also returning from last year I knew the first three miles were downhill and the last three were pretty much all uphill. My plan was to take the first three miles easier and push the last three. Last year, I hammered out of the gate and suffered dearly on the way back.

Around the first mile I saw Colin riding a mountain bike up the hill after a quick exchange of encouragement I continued on. As I’ve noted previously, my major change this winter was consistent focus on foot turnover. I typically ran last year with an average cadence of 85-86. I worked quite a bit to get that up to 89-90 this year. After doing so I found I could run faster more comfortably. For this race, I averaged 89-90. I popped the Gu around mile 2. I felt so smart bringing water with me because I took sips frequently.

Finishing up
Finishing up

At the turnaround point I noticed I had a guy running 10 feet off my back. We wound up running together for the next 2.5 miles or so. He had more left in the tank than I did on the last hill up to the finish, but it was nice having someone to run with. I wound up setting the pace. You’re welcome dude! All in all, while my run finish was 54:28 (2 minutes slower than last year), I was totally pleased with this result. I more or less negative split the second half of the course which was uphill. Sometimes it’s less about the finishing time and more about race execution.

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What I Learned

This year I was approximately 12 minutes slower than last year, but I expected to be. With 10 weeks or so left until Timberman 70.3, I need to get my butt in gear to gain back some fitness. That said, I was absolutely thrilled with my race execution. My nutrition and hydration was spot on. I never felt any crash of energy or felt like I didn’t drink enough. I felt like I was strong (for what fitness I had) on the run right up to the final hill. I kept a surprisingly consistent pace on the run. I do want to keep a few things in mind for next year and Timberman.

  • Pre-shift the bike. I normally do this but was rushed in transition and had the bike in too hard of a gear.
  • Salted Caramel Gu worked quite well. They tasted good and I had no cramping issues.
  • Try something else than Gatorade. I’ve wanted to try Scratch for a while now.
  • Change the Average Power field to Normalized Power. I’ve already got a % FTP field so no need to have straight average power.
  • Work on hills. These killed me on the bike and run.

Finish 2