Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My mistake (all of them)

It seems like I've done quite a few race reports lately, which is a good thing as it means I've been healthy and racing. Most race reports (mine included) fall into a very mundane routine though... I performed to my fitness level and things went *basically* how everyone expected they would go. Yawn... what did we learn... that I know how to swim bike and run at least competently.

So let's do a little derailing this week. Here's how my sprint went terribly off track. It's a cautionary tale of how getting "comfortable" and overconfident can come back and really bite you in the butt.

Coherent race execution? Negative.

Friday Night - Mistake #1

Date night is always sketchy before a race. You have to find that balance between having a good time and getting adequate rest. Normally I try to schedule around a race, but it wasn't in the cards for this week. We go have sushi and plan to watch a friend play piano at a local coffee shop. Unfortunately he doesn't take the stage until 9p.m. I'm usually in bed by 8 the night before a race, so you can see where the trouble starts. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time, but not going to bed until 11 is not what you should do when the alarm is set for 4:30a.m.

Race Day Morning - Mistakes #2, #3 and #4

This was a jumble of bad decisions. Since I hit the snooze button on my phone a couple of times, I was not promptly on time for the open of transition. That being the case, instead of having a prime spot to rack my bike, I'm stuck far on the outside of the rack... which will definitely add seconds to my transitions.

No rest for the weary. Or the dead. Or the undead. Possibly for the was-un-but now dead again - dead.

Next up was to try something innocent but new on race day. I had forgot to pack a snack for pre-race, so I bummed a LarAbar ALT from a buddy. This is a protein bar and although you'd think something as simple as this wouldn't matter... I believe it had some impact (negatively) on my race. There's a reason we say nothing new on race day...

Finally, my warmup was laughably inadequate. As I've been training through my races this season I've been in need of longer warmups to "get in the groove" before a race. Of course, hopping on my bike to make sure it was in working order and then standing in transition and talking for the 30 minutes leading up to start time is NOT a competent warmup. By the time we were in line for the swim start, I don't think I was "warm" at all.

All of those are relatively small things, but small things move mountains when they start adding up.

Swimming - Thankfully no mistakes made (2:59 / 200y)

The swim was both short and uneventful. I should be flip turning under lanes, something I don't practice in the pool. No excuse, it would give me a couple of free seconds.

Possible to go off course with a black line? Proving it in this picture.

Transition 1 - Practice the flying squirrel (1:07)

My t1's have been uninspiring as of late. I know (and I've said before) I have no excuse not to speed myself up a second or two by getting my "hop" down solidly... but I have been apathetic and not practiced. My transition this time was likewise generic other than having to run a little bit farther and going under the rack.

Not exactly the "optimal" place for a fast transition.

Biking too D#%^ Hard - Mistake #5 (22:00 / 9.32 mi)

I've been riding A LOT lately. My power has improved and my feel on the bike has improved. However, I've been finishing my cycling and that's it. Done. This is triathlon, where there's a run that comes AFTER the bike ride. So when I cruised through the course at a hot 25mph avg, all I was doing was time trialing. I've heard it said a few times that there is no such thing as a good bike followed by a crap run, and I totally agree. A couple of seconds (even a minute) slower on the bike would have most likely saved me quite a few minutes on the run. As a bigger slap in the face, I was only the second fastest bike split (by :09) - if I was going to overcook the bike I should have really went all out and at least had the fastest split :)

Not smart enough to keep the power under control...

Transition 2 - Redeeming quality (:33)

I've got a pretty solid T2. Having to run to the middle of nowhere to rack the bike added a couple of seconds, but overall it was still a fast transition.

Coming into T2 like I know what I'm doing.

Running on E - Being happy with a miserable time (19:45 / 3mi - probably shorter than that)

Happy with a crappy run split (36th fastest run! Holy crap...blah) and not listing any mistakes? That's right. Despite my run being terrible, I think it was actually one of the better executed parts of this race. I started in second place and knew my final placing would be a matter of "holding on" to the advantage I had made myself. At the 1mi mark I had been passed by two other runners. I decided NOT to attempt to pace them... I knew I didn't have the legs for it. So I settled in my own hard pace and carried on. At 1 1/2 miles the side stitches started hitting me. BAD. I've had stitches before, but never this bad. I was badly overheating and each breath really felt like a knife in the abs. I did what I needed to do. I slowed down. As I pass by the pool / transition area for the last mile... I walk. That's right...walking in a sprint. Despite the cheers to keep pushing, I knew I needed to get my body back under control. The thing I kept telling myself is "Just keep moving, slow down the least you can." I wasn't running, but I wasn't stopping either. At mile 2 I felt good enough to start a (albeit slow) run again. The side stitch came back, but at a tolerable pain level instead of a debilitating one. I manage to finish the run and somehow salvage 7th overall and 2nd in my Age group.

Going out for my fun run/walk...

I had the fitness to do much better, but my mistakes cost me quite a bit.  However, I learned (or in many cases...was reminded) quite a few things from this race, and hopefully it will help me grow as an athlete. Hopefully it will also help you all learn from my mistakes!

Well, tonight it's back to Crit racing. This weekend I've got a break from racing to get in a long run and some battery recharging, then it's the SRS Bike Race/Crit the next week followed by the Storm the Fort Olympic. Just to round out the month I'll be going to Dragon Con the final week of the month! (Yes I'm a big nerd) I still have to find a (cheap) costume though.

Dragon Con... the coolest (and strangest) place on earth.

That's it! Thanks for reading this weeks installment of my thoughts. I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock


  1. Doesn't look like the costumes at Dragon Con could possibly be that expensive!! Have fun!

  2. Just last weekend I did a sprint where I didn't necessarily do "bad", but didn't meet my own expectations and knew I could have done much better if I didn't make mistakes that cost me seconds throughout the race. All we can really do is learn and move on. You still did great, I would love a 19 minute 3 mile!