American Triple T Race Report

American Triple T Race Report

This past weekend was the American Triple T in Shawnee State Park, Ohio.  There are 4 races in 3 days; Friday evening is a Super Sprint, Saturday morning is an Olympic, Saturday afternoon is a bike first Olympic (Bike – Swim – Run), and Sunday morning is a Half Iron.  I’ve never competed in any type of stage race before so this would be a new experience for me.  All-in-all the weekend was a lot of fun, and a great learning experience.  Since it was 4 races I don’t know how to make this report short, so I’ll break it up into different sections.

Super Sprint (350m swim, 5.5k bike, 1600m run) – Friday PM

  • The first race of the weekend, and my first triathlon of the season.
  • I pre-swam the swim before the race to get a feel for swimming in a wetsuit again
  • The swim was a time-trial start, I went off around 10th.  I feel like I swam pretty straight and went as hard as I could
  • In T1 the other guys that exited around me all passed me as they did a flying mount on their bikes.  I put on my shoes and then clipped in.
  • The bike consisted of a short and flat out-and-back, followed by a longer climb out, and downhill back.  It was too short to really look at my power meter, I just tried to ride comfortably hard.  I had just enough gears on my bike to make it up the climb at the effort I wanted.  On the way back down to transition I got stuck behind a cyclist I couldn’t pass on the descent.
  • T2 was quicker than T1 and uneventful.
  • I ran the 1mi run as though it was an interval and ran as hard as I could without risking hurting myself
  • Swim – 4:55, T1 – 0:58, Bike – 9:54 (274AP, 325NP), T2 – 0:35, Run – 5:44 (3:35/km), Total – 22:06 (2nd overall)


Olympic Tri #1 (1300m swim, 38k bike, 10.5k run) – Saturday AM

  • I felt good and ready to race Saturday morning.  The roads were a little wet and it was overcast.
  • I felt really good in the swim.  It was 2 loops, and on my second loop I think I navigated traffic well.
  • On the bike I left transition with the plan of holding about 280W.  The first big climb I realized I was a little short on gearing.  After the peak of the climb I almost missed a switchback turn, and was a little spooked after that so I took the downhills very carefully.  At the bottom of one of the descents I hit a pothole.  I hit it square, and the impact was so hard that it broke off my behind the seat water bottle holder, that had my GoPro attached (unfortunately the battery had died by that point so I don’t have the footage).  In the closing kilometers of the bike I drank most of the bottle of Gatorade I had with me on the bike.
  • Coming into T2 I stopped at the officials tent to let them know about my broken bottle (and thankfully they had my bottle and GoPro waiting for me at the finish).
  • On the run I didn’t feel very good, my stomach was very full.  The run is a tough climb to the turnaround, and then much faster coming back.  I struggled up the hills, both because I wasn’t feeling great, and my shoes weren’t always gripping the mud.  At around 7k my stomach came around and I was able to open up my stride back to the finish.
  • Swim – 18:36, T1 – 1:07, Bike – 1:10:13 (237AP, 265NP), T2 – 0:51, Run – 42:24 (4:02/km), Total – 2:13:11(6th overall)
Starting the swim

Starting the swim

Coming in to T2

Coming in to T2

Olympic Tri #2 (43k bike, 1300m swim, 10.5k run) – Saturday PM

  • I was a little sore and anxious headed into this race.  The sky was overcast but the rain held off.  After this morning’s ride and a couple sketchy corners I wasn’t thrilled about a new course that had a more difficult descent.
  • On the bike I had a plan of riding hard to catch Matt Shanks, and then follow him until the bottom of the descent.  He’s done the race before, knows the course, and seemed like a good descender, so I would try to follow his lead.
  • We started on the bike with a TT start.  This course had a really tough climb that I definitely didn’t have the gears for.  I had to push over 350W standing to move up it.  I was able to catch up to Matt before the descent and followed his lead down until we got back to the main, much wider/smother, road.
  • T1 required putting on a wetsuit in a hurry.  I put plastic bags over my feet to help my legs slide in, but I don’t know if that was really necessary.  My wetsuit is big for me, and it took me longer than I would have liked to get the bags on and off (I didn’t practice).
  • The swim really hurt!  The water felt much colder than the morning and my feet went numb very quickly.  I hadn’t made my first turn before my shoulders were in pain.  It was a struggle to make it around the swim.
  • In T2 I was pulling off my wetsuit and putting on running shoes.  I left T2 with my feet still numb, and my vision was a little disorientated (I have no idea why), but ready to run hard.
  • After not being happy with my run this morning I left T2 with the intention of running well.  I could feel my right hip, but I continued to push the pace.  On the way back from the turnaround I had moved into 2nd place and I decided I was really going to open up my legs on the downhill to try to catch the leader.  I was able to make the pass just before 8k and pushed hard to the line to get my first ever overall win!  I was really happy with this run, and surprised to find out it was only 0:15 faster than the mornings run.
  • Bike – 1:14:35 (248AP, 270NP), T1 – 1:35, Swim – 20:46, T2 – 1:12, Run – 42:09 (4:02/km), Total – 2:20:27 (1st overall)
TT bike start

TT bike start

Running for the win with less than 1k to go

Running for the win with less than 1k to go

Half Iron (1600m swim, 91k bike, 20.6k run) – Sunday AM

  • Coming into the weekend it was my goal to try to win this race overall.  As of race morning I didn’t care to start it.  I hadn’t got a good nights sleep, my right hip and shoulders were really sore and I felt run down.  On the plus side it looked like the sun would finally come out.
  • The swim felt alright.  I didn’t feel as strong as yesterday morning, but I was moving pretty well.
  • On the bike I wanted to try to catch up to Matt Shanks again, because following him on the descents really helped yesterday.  About 8k in there’s a turnaround.  I saw Matt and a couple other riders ahead of me as I was headed out to the turnaround.  That was the last time I’d see them until the bike.  I did the entire ride alone, nobody in sight in front or behind me.  The first 57k of the bike was on rough roads, and this was a mental struggle.  I checkout out of the race on multiple occasions and just couldn’t wait to be done.  My power was in the low 200s, I’d hoped to be in the mid-200s.  At 57k we hit some smooth roads, and though I was still counting down the kilometers, it wasn’t as mentally challenging.  On a lot of the climbs I was out of the saddle because I just didn’t have the power in my legs, and I was short on gears.
  • When I was coming into T2 I saw Matt Shanks leaving.  There were also 2 other bikes, so I was in 4th.  I thought I might be able to have a good run and manage a top 3, so long as my right hip held up.
  • I left T2 running about as hard as I dared.  We were running 2 loops of the run we used for the Olympic races, so I was very familiar with it.  I was surprised at how good I felt.  I passed Matt on my way to the turnaround, and saw that I still had a lot of ground to cover to catch the top 2 guys.  I ran back from the turnaround hard my first lap to try to cover as much of the gap to the front 2 as I could.  At the end of the first lap I could tell I’d made up considerable time, and at that point I decided I’d push even harder to see if I could get the win.  The course was more crowded at this point and a lot of people were encouraging me.  I moved into 2nd around 12k and then ran as hard as I could in the 800m downhill to the turnaround to catch and pass the leader.  5.5k to go and I was in the lead.  When I made the turn I was surprised to see that Matt was less than 0:20 behind me.  I ran back up the 800m hill as hard as I could to try to break the elastic.  There’s a lot of turns and I was hoping to disappear.  Also, once I got to the top of this hill it was all downhill the final 4.5k to the finish.  I didn’t look back until I made it to the finish chute and I managed to get away and get the win.
  • Swim – 24:43, T1 – 1:18, Bike – 2:46:00 (216AP, 232NP), T2 – 1:07, Run – 1:27:41 (4:15/km), Total – 4:40:49 (1st overall)

 

What went well

  • I won 2 races!  I’ve never won a race before, and I was able to win both the Saturday PM race, and the Sunday Half Iron.  In both races I left T2 with work to do and was able to run my way into the lead and the win.  Having the run as a weapon is a big confidence boost for me because I feel like I always have a chance.  In Saturday’s race I was down about 1:00 headed into the run, and in Sunday’s race I had about 8:00 to run down.
  • The swim.  This was my first open water swimming of thr year, and I felt like I was moving really well.  It was a time-trial start based on your fastest Half Iron time, so I was around strong athletes, and I felt like I could hold my own and limit my deficit.
  • The run.  Across the entire weekend I felt my running was strong.  Obviously the two races that I ran my way to the win were highlights, but I was even happy with my performance in the Saturday AM Olympic when my stomach was bothering me on the run.  I was still able to hold a decent pace when I wasn’t feeling great and I closed well in the final km’s when my stomach was finally coming around.

What didn’t go well

  • I need to get faster in transition.  I lost race 1 in transition; my swim, bike and run were faster than the winner, but I was slower in transition.  There’s a bunch of things I can do to improve.  The first is clipping my shoes in.
  • My bike was below expectations.  This may be from setting unrealistic expectations, but my power was really low for Sunday’s Half Iron.  When I tried to work on the bike my legs were just flat.  Across the entire weekend my bike output was lower than anticipated, but in Saturday’s races the course profile was a big reason for this – lots of descents more technical that I’m used to, and not knowing the course meant a lot of breaks pedalling.
  • I need to make smarter nutrition choices.  In the Saturday AM Olympic I came off the bike with a very full stomach.  I drank a lot of Gatorade in the closing km’s.  In the middle of the ride I wasn’t drinking because I was so focused on the technical challenges of the course.
  • I need to remain mentally strong.  Before the final race Sunday morning I didn’t feel like doing the race.  I hadn’t got a good nights sleep, and my hip was really sore.  When the race started I got into the race, but again by 20k of the bike my focus was waining.  I was riding completely solo, I couldn’t see anyone in front or behind me.  The roads were rough and I just wasn’t happy being out there.  My power dropped off considerably and I didn’t get back into the race until I was closing in on T2.

Thoughts on the Race

  • I think this is a great event, and worth it even if you just use it as a training weekend.  The entire weekend of racing was $200 and included 4 races, food after each race, and a finishers jacket.
  • My favourite part of the weekend was getting to meet all the other athletes.  Your transition spot remains the same all weekend, so you get to know the people around you.  You also get to know the people you’re racing against, and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • I found racing the same people really helped me realize areas I need to improve, such as my shockingly slow T1
  • I definitely underestimated the challenge of this race.  It wasn’t just the distance covered, but the difficulty of the bike and run, the rough roads, and the limited rest.  I expected I would have a lot more downtime between races, but I didn’t get close to my normal 8 hours of sleep per night
The food tent, a popular spot after every race

The food tent, a popular spot after every race

 

 

2016 American Triple T Prep

2016 American Triple T Prep

The last 3 weeks weren’t exactly ideal prep for my race this weekend, but it wasn’t the worst either.  I was without my bike for 2 weeks as it underwent extensive repairs, but no bike meant I was able to focus on my running, which really needed the extra attention.

By the numbers:

  • 39.15 hours of total training
  • 13.05 hours of training a week (focusing on the run limited my total hours)
  • 0 days with no training
  • May 2 was my shortest day, 1:12 of swimming
  • Time spent swimming – 11:57:00
  • Percentage of training time swimming – 30.5%
  • Distance swam – 35,850m
  • Days I swam – 16 of 21
  • Time spent cycling – 10:00:00
  • Percentage of training time cycling – 25.5%
  • FTP Improvement – 0 (I’m glad that I seem to have been able to hold onto my FTP after about 3 weeks off the bike)
  • Cycling TSS – 572.1
  • Time spent running – 17:11:59
  • Percentage of training time running – 43.9%
  • Distance run – 229k
  • Longest run – 29.1k
  • Highest weekly milage – 116k (18k was the lowest, last week when I got my bike back)
  • Time spent doing other exercise – 00:00

What I did well:

  1. Focused on running.  I was in desperate need of some solid running.  In the two weeks I was without my bike I ran 225k.  I got in some quality work, but I didn’t bury myself and risk injury.  The weather in Toronto is improving and I really enjoyed running.
  2. Consistent in the pool.  Work has been really busy the last couple weeks, but I’ve been able to consistently get into the pool.  I had a video swim analysis done, which has given me an idea of what I need to work on (HERE is the video, if there’s any experienced swimmers out there, I’m open to feedback).  My stroke doesn’t look anything like I expected.  Some parts better than I thought, some parts worse.  But now I know what I need to work on.

What didn’t go so well:

My bike!  The short story goes: my bike required an amputated left shifter and front derailleur, a transplanted crank, and some carbon patchwork, but she is once again ready to roll.

The much longer story: I really should have gotten my bike fixed up over the winter, but I kept putting it off until a few weeks ago.  Sure enough it came back to bite me.  I had a full overhaul done on my bike.  My bike is around 9 years-old, and in the 4 year’s I’ve had her I’ve never had a full overhaul done.  Well, she really needed some work.  I knew carbon behind my crank was chipped (I noticed it the day before IM Canada), but I hadn’t given it too much thought.  Sid, the bike mechanic from Velofix, working on my bike told me I might want to get it looked at.  So I took my frame to a carbon guy in the city.  He was able to patch it up, no problem, but that was about a week.  Sid also mentioned to me that my chainring was past worn.  I have an older Ultegra crank, and it uses a proprietary ring that I couldn’t find.  Luckily, Lisa still had her old crank which would fit my bike.  Problem solved!  But it wasn’t.  As I mentioned, my frame is ageing.  When the front derailleur cable was pulled out to put a new one in the tube inside my frame collapsed, so a derailleur cable couldn’t be run anymore.  This means I don’t have a front derailleur.  Fortunately 1x front chainrings have begun to gain popularity in the past year in road biking, and I was able to get a front chainring that is meant to be ridden as the only chainring up front.  I used to have 50/34.  After looking at gearing charts I settled on a 46t front ring.  Triple T is going to be a hilly course.  I’m hoping 46t is enough to get up the hills and not too little on the downhills.  So this is all to day the last few weeks have been a little frantic to ensure I’d have a bike that I can use.  We’ll see how she performs, but I could be in the market for a new steed in the off season.

The damaged spot behind my BB that was repaired

The damaged spot behind my BB that was repaired

My cockpit after the front derailleur shifter was 'amputated'

My cockpit after the front derailleur shifter was ‘amputated’

Amputated front derailleur, transplanted crank, and new 1x chainring

Amputated front derailleur, transplanted crank, and new 1x chainring

Plan for American Triple T

  • Triple T is 4 races in 3 days.  Friday is a Super Sprint (250m swim, 6k bike, 1mi run).  Saturday morning is an Olympic (1500m swim, 39k bike, 10.6k run).  Saturday afternoon is like an Olympic (40k bike, 1500m swim, 10.6k run).  Sunday is a Half Iron (1900m swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run).
  • My plan for the swim is to swim all of them pretty hard.  I don’t usually find my swim fatigue carries over too much.  I do think it’ll be interesting to get into a wetsuit in a hurry on Saturday afternoon after the bike.
  • My plan for the bike is to pace it as though each event is one distance longer (do Oly at half pace).  So for the super sprint I’ll look at capping my power at 350W.  For the Olympics I’ll look at 280W.  And for the Half I’ll shoot for 250-260W.  I’m not sure how my narrow range of gears will impact this plan.  The course is hilly (similar profile to Muskoka) so I may need to push more power to get up some hills, and I may spin out a lot on the downs.
  • My plan for the run is similar to the run, pace it as though each event is one distance longer.  For the Super Sprint it’s only a mile so I wont bury myself, but that will just be a hard run.  For the Oly’s I’ll be looking at about 4:00/km pace, and for the Half about 4:20/km pace.  We’ll get very familiar with the route on the run because both Olympic run courses are the same, and then it’s two laps for the half.  The run is on a trail.  Depending on just how groomed the trail is can have a major impact on my times.  I’m very much a road runner, and have struggled to hold my pace when a run really gets off road.
  • These plans are all fine and dandy, until it’s time to race.  I really don’t know how my body will hold up.  I’m not sure how the second Olympic race in a day will feel, nor how a Half the next day will impact me.  Getting nutrition and recovery between the races will be really important.  I’ll be looking at about 5 hours between my two Olympic races.  I need to get in some food quickly after the first race, and try to rest up, while not getting too tight.  I’m sure this plan will have to get adjusted as the weekend progresses, but that’s part of the fun in this type of race.

Other Notes

  • I realized at the end of the last training block that I felt like I had began to develop a dependance on Jujubes, and other fuel I use on all my trainer rides.  After not riding for 2 weeks I made a conscious effort to significantly cut down what I was consuming on the bike by about 50%.  I survived and held some good power, so this is something I will continue to experiment with.
  • I ran from my condo downtown to my parents house in Scarborough.  The whole journey was 28.1k.  It was fun to run to a destination.  I was only there long enough to have breakfast, and then I was off to golf 36 holes (I ran there to get my clubs, and FYI I was happy shooting a 204 for those 36, my first time holding a gold club in ages)
  • I ran 13 times in the 15 days without my bike.
  • I recently purchased swim fins to try to learn to kick properly.

 

I recently got a GoPro, so I’m hoping to get some footage of the race, as well as hear how Alex, Jayson, Lisa, and myself are coping throughout the weekend.