Posted by: cadavidson | July 28, 2014

Back to Triathlon

On April 13 of 2014 I made my return to triathlon. It’s been 9 years since my last triathlon, which was a small spring triathlon immediately after Ironman Arizona in 2005. Since then, as you’ve read in my previous entries in this blog, I’ve involved myself in a slurry of running, primarily trail and ultra running events.

Through involving myself more in the trail running and ultra scene, I’ve seen first hand the difference in culture between the two endurance sports. One analogy I’ve heard is that wine is to triathlon as beer is to ultra runners (most ultra runners would prefer I use “craft” beer as a qualifier, but that would require I allow a qualifier for wine as well, which I won’t). While I was strictly running ultras and trail events, I will say that I did prefer that culture. A more laid back, and accepting culture. I liken it to early morning bike rides in Scottsdale. When I come upon a group of cyclists, either on triathlon or road bikes, typically not a work of greeting is returned, even if I offer first. On the other hand, any time I’m out on the trails and I run in to another runner, no matter what the level, there is a friendly exchange. Ultra folk are also less tech-geeky, although someone should probably let them know that they can really no longer say that they prefer the simplicity of trail running. Increasingly, at races, everyone has a Garmin GPS unit, many have compression gear (the hated look of those “geeky-triathletes”), and more and more are dressing in more matching and fashionable gear (the euros are still far ahead of us westerners, but we’re not far behind). Don’t get me wrong, I think this is great! I think it’s awesome that companies are able to provide more gear for a growing and great sport! Myself, I’m torn. I love the sports of both triathlon and ultra running. I love the simplicity of ultra and trail running, but I must confess – I’m a techie and gear geek. I love all of the gear and pre-race setup associated with triathlons!

Lifetime Fitness Tempe Marquee Triathlon – April 13, 2014

This would be my first race back.  As usual, I arrived one of the first few in transition; a little senseless given bikes were checked the previous day and rack positions already assigned. My swim has always been my weakness, and I figured this race would be no different. After 9 years of little to no swimming, I started swimming again in February of this year. Nothing too structured; just laps, laps, laps from February – April. I started near the back of the pack, I didn’t feel confident in mixing it up just yet. I stayed relaxed for the entire swim. I exited the water knowing I could have swum faster. Normally, I would be disappointed in this feeling, wishing I’d gone harder. In this case, I was fine with this feeling. First race back, successfully navigated the swim – content with a 31:18 swim. Most of the comparable times with others who finished around me were around 28:00. So, some work to be done.

Headed south over Mill Avenue Bridge. Not sure what I'm looking at. Courtesy

Headed south over Mill Avenue Bridge. Not sure what I’m looking at.

I’ve been loving my new VeloVie Veloce100 that VeloVie in Tempe set me up with. I spend most of my training time on it, as opposed to my road bike. After a marginal 1:44 transition, I hopped on my bike and pedaled my way through the two lap course. The bike was largely uneventful, no flat tires, near crashes, etc.I opted to put my cycling shoes on in transition, and clunk / run my bike through transition. It makes for a little slower bike mount, however it’s pretty foolproof. No potential flying leap and crashes. Again, first race back, I wasn’t in the mood to try anything super aggressive or new. I pushed relatively hard, for my current fitness level and managed a 1:21:20 or 20.7 MPH. This was a case where I knew I should have and could have pushed harder. Again though, I was not too disappointed. My 20.7 MPH was more or less in line with those who I finished around. I wanted to have a good time and enjoy my first race back.

Just starting the bike. Heading west on Rio Salado. Courtesy

Just starting the bike. Heading west on Rio Salado.

After a 1:27 transition, I hurried off on to the run. I felt really good still and knew I could pass several people. My first four miles I felt great, and felt like I was holding back a little. I had just passed my 19th person, then, it happened, the dreaded, usual, typical, and on schedule hamstring cramp. This particular cramp was only in one hamstring, but left me hamstrung – I could not even walk. I stood massaging and trying to stretch within site of the 5 mile aid station. The aid station volunteers looked at me like I was in need of medical treatment. One thoughtful volunteer even walked a cup of water to me. I graciously accepted. Another passer by said I needed more water – nope. Sorry, not the case. I think my consistent hamstring troubles are related to inflexibility and maybe some muscle weakness in my lower hamstrings. Both things I’ve since been devoting training time specifically to.  Nonetheless, mile 5 was a slow 8:42. After two and a half minutes of massage and stretching, the cramp did not go away. I tried one last try and flailing my right leg out to the side and began to run. Somehow, this seemed to work. Almost immediately, I was able to open by gate and return t normal 6:30 pace. I wish I had tried this approach earlier in the stretch and massage break!

Avg Pace
Summary 42:13.0 6.27 6:44
1 6:24.8 1.00 6:25
2 6:27.6 1.00 6:28
3 6:26.2 1.00 6:26
4 6:30.0 1.00 6:30
5 8:42.6 1.00 8:43
6 6:10.3 1.00 6:10
7 1:31.5 0.27 5:44

 My last mile and a half I ran at 6:00 flat pace! Maybe a lesson learned, maybe just a freak cramp… I would have gained another 5 spots overall had I maintained my 6:30 pace and been crampless. Part of the game.

 Overall, a successful first triathlon in 9 years! Results here.

Overall: 58th out of 418.

Age group: 7th out of 46.


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