TriRock Clearwater Race Report

Yesterday was the final race of my triathlon season, the Olympic distance TriRock Clearwater.  The race is run by Competitor who also run the Rock’n Roll marathon series.  TriRock is a newer addition and I think its only been around for a couple years.  I’ve been very excited about this race for 4 or so months now.  Its the first Olympic I’ve done in Tampa which meant less logistical hassle.  The course is a one that I’ve run many times while training with my friends.  And, maybe the clincher for me, the Olympic course was a dedicated course.  Every other course I’ve done has been “do the spring course twice” and that can be extremely boring.  The worst was when the run & bike were once the same out and back so I ended up seeing the same stretch of road over and over.  But not so for TriRock Clearwater!

The weather was just about perfect on Sunday.  It was cool but not cold so the bike wouldn’t be miserable and the run would be bearable.  The water was cool enough that I wanted a wetsuit at 73F but warm enough that with my wetsuit I was comfortable.  Transition closed at 6:35 am and I wanted to be there with plenty of time to set up so my plan was to get up at 4am, have breakfast and then leave by 4:45.  I was up, had my morning cappuccino as well as an egg and a couple biscuits, and then finished loading the car.  I was out the door a few minutes earlier than planned.  So far, so good!  I had already scouted out parking so I knew that I wanted to park at a nearby hotel lot and then made the short walk to transition.

Getting set up was pretty easy.  I’ve done enough of these now that I know the general routine.  So I got my bike all set in the rack and laid out my gear the way I wanted it so that I could switch quickly between legs.  The race is long enough that I want some nutrition but short enough that I don’t need it out on the course with me so I also made sure to lay that out so I could have a Gu when I changed as well.  After I was all set up, close to 6, I wandered down to the water to see how it felt.  I didn’t need more than the water washing over my feet to know that I was definitely using my wetsuit.

After I grabbed my swimming gear, I went back down to the beach because I needed to try my new goggles.  I decided to switch goggles for the race because the ones I had were really starting to get hazy in the lens and no amount of cleaning seemed to fix it.  I had been using the Aquasphere Kayenne because they were the most comfortable.  The problem is they are a bit big.  I was switching to the Aquasphere Kaiman since they seemed to be the best combination of comfort and size for me.  I also was trying out an antifog wipe.  My quick test seemed to go well and the goggles didn’t leak so I was about as ready as I could get.  There was only about 10 or 15 minutes to go at this point.

The race was going to be a wave start and I was in the first wave so I got into the chute with everyone else.  I’m not sure exactly how many of us there were but somewhere in the 20 – 30 range sounds about right.  The water looked nice and calm.  There were no breaking waves and it really looked like a lake.  We got a cannon start and off we went!  I have to give some kudos to the way the course was laid out for the swim.  Every 100m there was a buoy with the distance.  This was, by far, the best swim course I’ve done this year.  I didn’t start very well on the swim and I wish I had been paying closer attention to the buoys.  I actually felt a little trepidation about the swim for the first 500m or so and I think if I had really noticed that the buoys were giving me my distance early on, I would have felt better about what I was doing.  Once I turned the back corner at the 600m buoy, I was feeling my stronger and think I did ok over the final 1k of the swim.  I didn’t do great, mind, but my total swim time ended up being 37:49.  I wanted it closer to 30 minutes but I also didn’t want over 40 and I really thought I had gone over that.  I was quite thrilled to be out of the water, all said and done.

Transition went pretty well from swim to bike.  I ripped my socks putting them on but they were a pair I don’t normally run in.  I just had them for the race because they were easier to put on than some of my others.  My rack was about as far from the exit as possible so I took a Gu shot and then scurried away to the exit.  My T1 was 3:22 but I think it was overall ok.  I was pretty energetic the whole time.  The wetsuit really is what cost me that minute I think so I’ll take it.

Once through the mounting point, I will say I took too long to get on the bike.  I don’t know why but after I crossed the line, instead of just mounting like usual I definitely took a moment to get my bearings.  It only cost me a few seconds so it wasn’t really important but people were definitely all hopping on their bikes and riding off while I was just standing there.  I had cleaned and oiled my bike this week so the gearing was working wonderfully.  It had been squeaking and just not feeling that good to me on my last ride.  Sunday was a different story.  Everything felt smooth and clean.  Obviously that is something I need to do more often.  Once I get my new bike I may break the Giant down completely for a full clean & tune up since it was clearly needed.  My goal for the race was to hold 18mph or better.  The course itself is actually fairly tough by Florida standards as there are some (very) gently rolling sections and 3 very large causeways to go over.  The wind was not very friendly for the race either.

It took me probably about a mile to shake off the swim and get into the groove on the bike but once I did I felt great.  The course was, like the swim, very well marked and Clearwater did an excellent job of protecting the racers (thanks Chris!)  I also appreciate that the police along the route really seemed to enjoy doing it.  I really did not pass many people on the bike.  No surprise since my bike time was 192 out of 280 and I was already far back from my terrible swim.  I did get passed plenty though!  It was ok though.  I felt like I was putting in some good work on the bike since my legs were burning by about halfway.  I really wanted to push the 2nd half though and I managed to do the back half about 1:30 faster.  Not much but considering there was 2 big causeways on the back and only one on the front, I was happy with that.  I finished with an average speed of 18.4 mph.

I hit T2 and this should have been a fast transition.  I had very little to do.  I can and often have done this one in under 2 minutes.  For some reason I took over 4 minutes.  I remember fussing a bit with where I was changing and that really cost me most of my delay.  While not a huge deal, my final time was 3:00:59 and if I’d had a better T2 I could have been comfortably under 3 hours.  Oh well!  I did do a good job of hustling back out of transition at least.  T2 for the Olympic athletes was probably part of the problem.  We were on the opposite side of the pen from the entry and exit so we had farther to go than anyone else.  I’m sure that was at least 30 – 45 seconds.  That may also be why the run course only measured 6 miles on my watch.  I’m pretty sure we picked up that extra .2 running the length of transition (I’m serious).

Once I did get moving out of transition I was feeling great.  I haven’t done any brick workouts in the past 3 months (bad bad) so I was a little worried I was going to take off too slowly.  My only one problem was when I left T2 there was a water stand literally at the exit and I grabbed water and then heard someone say Endurance.  I really wanted that so I went over and got that.  And then I wasn’t sure I was on the Olympic course.  After checking I was off for real but that definitely cost me 30 seconds while I stood there.  It was ok, I soon had to check myself on the run because I was flying.  I saw a sub 8 min pace on there!  No bueno.  Once I settled in though I started passing people.  Oh, how my running has improved this year!  Whether pure running events or triathlons its a different ball game.  My first 4 tris this year were all pretty rough when I got to the run.  Now my legs actually felt fresh.  After swimming and biking I got close to my PR time for the 10k.  Other races I’ve been happy to be close to a 10 minute pace.

The run course had pretty good water stops along the route.  Since it was an out and back they were strategically placed to get them twice.  The volunteers were all very good as well (and I have so much more appreciation for what you do now!) so a great job.  The mile markers were the nicest outside of a Disney race as they were playing good music all along the course.  My only complaint there is that the 4 mile marker was broken and not playing tunes.  Also, strangely, the mileage was off.  My watch clocked me in at just about 6 miles.  It should have been 6.2.  After the first mile mark (which was right on) all of the mile markers were off by about a .25 miles.  Not sure if I was wrong or if they were but something was off.  Either way I finished the run in 55:18 which they say was a 9:13 min pace.  My watch said I was a 9:16 pace.  Either way, my goal for Space Coast is 9:11 and I feel like I had that in me yesterday.  I actually probably could have gone a little harder than I did on the run.  My last 2 miles I averaged 8:45 or so so I had a lot in me those final couple miles.

Around the first mile I also heard someone shouting my name and it turned out to be Pete Amedure, the same person who I gave some support to last week at IMFL.  That was a nice surprise since I never have anyone I know watching me do these things.  By the time I crossed the finishing line he had moved over that way so I got a double cheer and a good kick to the finish.  I got some IM training tips from him afterwards.  I’m pretending that’s still a long way off because it is!  I don’t need to peak too early for that one.

The medal was pretty awesome.  It also doubles as a bottle opener (and as my girlfriend tells me, I’m a medal whore.  Guilty as charged) so its even useful!  I feel like I need to open a bottle with it just because.  The post race party had a decent band playing music.  I got some powerbars (yum) and more sports drinks and then off to enjoy the rest of my day!  Overall, my time was 3:00:59 which is about 8 minutes slower than my PR at this distance.  To be fair, the one I PRed on had a shorter run (which shouldn’t be legal since Olympic distance is supposedly standard) but even with that, my run was still faster than that day so that’s no excuse!  My biggest hits were in transition and the swim.  I will admit that about 400m into the swim I was questioning whether I’d be able to do IMFL next year.  It was going that poorly.  In reality, I could do the IMFL swim in 1:40 at the pace I set so that’s actually not a big deal.  More than fast enough.  My only disappointment is that I didn’t go sub 3hrs but my one goal was really only to go out and enjoy this particular race since I haven’t done that this year and I really did.  I actually had a few goals:

1) Enjoy the race

2) See where I’m at, tri-wise

3) See how I could run when I was already tired

The third thing is just for my upcoming marathon so I’ll be fine there.  I definitely enjoyed myself.  The big thing I was able to do was evaluate where I stand since I have to start thinking about Ironman next year.  When it comes to the run, I think I can safely say I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing this year.  I’m good on the run.  The bike could improve but I also haven’t hit the bike as much as I wanted to so I think I’m fine there too.  We’ll see what happens when I get my Kestrel Talon Tri in a couple weeks.  Transition I’m generally decent at.  I could be slightly faster but if I do sub 5min transitions at Ironman I’ll be fine with that.  Then there’s the swim.  I really suck at the swim.  I had a lot of doubts going through my head during the first 1/3 of the swim.  I did calm down after I got going and it didn’t end up being as bad as I thought it was.  But it wasn’t great.  So I need to do a few things.  I need to focus more on the swim.  I definitely need 3 days a week at least.  I need to swim longer.  30 minutes per session is just not quite enough. 45 min – 1 hour.

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