The Alum Creek Multisport Weekend provided several opportunities to vary the current IM training regimen. Saturday morning was a series of open water swims followed by sprint and olympic distance duathlons and triathlons and an aquabike.
The objectives for the open water swim were to:
- Practice swimming in a wetsuit.
- Practice open water swimming.
- Establish a benchmark time for a long open water swim.
- Practice race day mental tactics
- Practice transitions
- Train with a slightly higher intensity
3km open water swim = 61:03.
Olympic Triathlon = 2:33:31
The results were fair and in line with expected values. However, the objectives were easily satisfied and therefore the weekend was deemed successful.
Of the three disciplines, swimming was considered the weakest. In order improve in this area, a wetsuit was recently purchased. Prior to Saturday morning it had only been used once. Therefore getting in and out of the wetsuit was one action that needed to be performed and practiced over and over. In addition, an adjustment needed to be made to the sensation of swimming with the added buoyancy stemming from the wetsuit. Racing with this wetsuit would provide knowledge of the unique nuances of this particular wetsuit. The additional swimming techniques of open water swimming needed to be practiced as well. Techniques such as judging current, dealing with wind and waves, and proper navigation of distances are effectively and ideal practiced in open water swimming. Finally, no long open water swim had been previously attempted or timed. The results of this open water swim would provide a guide to establishing proper workouts for the crucial upcoming months.
The objectives for the Olympic Triathlon were very straight forward. Like the open water swims, the training was invaluable as many factors of a race could not be easily duplicated. The purpose of entering this race was not to establish a PR, but to do a more intense workout than usual.
This was the last weekend of a three week build period. Due to a schedule that was not routine, the legs had not been given a rest day for over a week and were fatigued. Friday was planned as a much needed rest day. However due to some other commitments including a social function at Dave & Buster's on Friday evening, travel was delayed and did not begin until 22:15 and ended about two hours later.
The races were staged at an inland reservoir. The 3 km swim consisted of four laps on a 750 meter triangular course. Beginning at the beach swimmers, had to swim southeast, then turn and swim north, then west back towards the beach. The sun was out and shining brightly. The ambient temperature was comfortable. The water temperature was also very comfortable. There was a slight breeze and some waves that were probably less than a foot.
The Olympic Triathlon also used the same swim course, but only two laps were necessary for the triathlon. The transition area was set up in a grassy area just past the beach and roughly 100 meters from the water. The bike portion was a 40 km loop was fairly flat; there were no climbs. The course was adequately marked in most sections.
The run course consisted of two loops. There was about a 0.5 mile portion of the course that was on grass. There were some small divots that warranted caution while racing through this portion of the course. A gradual uphill climb made the second mile tough, but after the turnaround this uphill became a welcome downhill. The last mile was a flat stretch that went back into the park and towards the spectators and the finish.
The total time for the 3 km open water swim was 61:03. No splits were obtained for the 3km open water swim.
The results from the Olympic Triathlon are listed below. The paces for the swim, bike, and run are listed in parentheses.
Swim 29:44 (31.58)
Bike 1:17:48 (20.8)
Run 43:53 (7:05)
Many of the 16 competitors in the open water swim were pure swimmers or swimmers turned triathletes. About half of the racers wore wetsuits. The intent was to give a solid effort but not the proverbial 110%. A few minutes into the race, most of the racers were already fading into the distance. A few unexpected waves led to some excessive consumption of lake water; that moment of panic was quickly squashed. The thought of 138.2 more miles led to the establishment of a steady pace that was maintained for the duration of the race. Upon exiting the water there was a sense of contentment knowing that the 2.4 mile swim in September was achievable at an effort that would allow the completion of the next 138.2 miles.
One negative aspect of the race was that sighting the buoys was somewhat difficult since contact lenses were not worn. In addition, wind and waves were conditions that had not been encountered this season until this race. Real time race adjustments need to be made quicker and more effectively. This includes selecting and swimming in straighter line.
The triathlon swim was much more crowded - 16 racers to about 300 racers. However it seemed to make sighting easier as swim caps could be used to sight as opposed to the large buoys. Compared to previous triathlons, the swim today was not an epic struggle that elevated the heart rate or led to exhaustion. In T1, the sleeveless wetsuit surprisingly came off efficiently. After a quick gulp of water from a bottle, the attack on the bike course was about to commence.
The knee was not an issue on the bike today. However, minor bike adjustments have been made between each of the last several rides. The issue on this race day was that the aero position was not comfortable enough to be sustained for 40 km. This led to wide variances in speed and intensity throughout the day.
The bike course had not been previewed prior to the race so some doubts existed throughout the whole ride. One wrong turn led to an additional minute or so being added to the total time.
Exiting T2 is always difficult. Today was no different as the legs were sluggish. After leaving the grassy portion and hitting the pavement, many athletes seemed to appear out of nowhere and the race was on. The gradual uphill required physical effort and mental focus to keep moving forward. At the turn around the downhill acted like a springboard as the mile splits actually kept on getting faster for the duration of the race.
The mental intensity throughout the race was certainly higher than a normal training day, but the physical intensity was certainly not an all out effort. There was plenty of juice remaining in the tank as evidenced by the negative run splits. This leads to the belief that a longer race could have been completed with a similar type of effort.
Triathlons are all about the people. Saturday involved a conversation with a veteran of Ironman Wisconsin who came from Milwaukee to race in the open water swim. The banter was insightful and certainly fun.
Sunday was a chance to race with and cheer for other Tri Club members. It was a good day for the club as all the other Club members took home some hardware. Finishing towards the back of the age group was certainly humbling, but solace was found in the fact that deposits were made into the Ironman Bank account.
Bottom line is that the complete weekend was a success. Next test will be the Musselman half IM. Let's roll.