Race Report: Tri for Fun #3

In dire need of a shave/haircut

I just wrapped up my final pre-season race with a relatively disappointing performance, though it provided a lot of insight that will prove beneficial for the start of my competitive season in two weeks. It was pretty cool being able to compete in a summer race series, because I was very familiar with the course by the third time around, and it also made for a solid benchmark in measuring my fitness. This was my first race of the season in a full time-trial kit on the bike, so I was particularly curious in regards to how fast I could go in a very aerodynamic setup. Additionally, my confidence in the open water was at its highest point coming into the race. Thus, I was eager to start at the very front and try to come out of the water without too much of a defect on the leading swimmers.

Pre-Race

I woke up at 4am, and was very disappointed when I measured my blood-glucose level to be 500+ mg/dL: about 4-5 times larger than I would’ve liked. This was surprising to me, as I had solid readings before I went to bed. I took a pretty large dose of Humalog (fast acting insulin) and prayed that it would kick in before the race start. I found myself at the race site with a decent amount of spare time, so I did a couple of quick warmups: a 15-minute bike ride with a few bursts at race effort (mostly to check that my equipment was ready); an easy 5K run on the race course, and a few minutes of swimming. Through the warmups and through the start of the event, I felt extremely lethargic due to the severe hyperglycemia, but I just told myself to hang in and do my best.

Swim

I started off the swim in a solid position, and although I felt pretty great in the first couple of minutes, it was very short lived. Reality settled in, and I noticed myself falling off the lead bunch. Fortunately, I was still moving forward at a decent pace, so I didn’t feel too bad about my sub-optimal output. Perhaps the most disappointing part of the swim was my general discomfort, which caused me to swallow a sizable amount of water. I never felt comfortable, and I was clearly exerting more effort than was ideal to set myself up for a good bike and run. I just put my head down and did the work, which put me at 18th position in the wave (Men 17-39) coming out of the water.

Cycle

I had what was arguably my worst transition ever: I lost about 10 seconds dropping my goggles whilst running up the beach, and I completely forgot to remove my Roka SIM Pro swimming shorts before I hopped on the bike. It took me about 45 seconds to realize this horribly stupid mistake. My head was clearly not in the best place, and by that time it was too late to turn around and go back to the transition area (without losing an unreasonable amount of time). Thus, I came up with an incredibly silly and questionable decision (though it seemed like a good one at the time): I removed my shorts while continuing to pedal (this took about 45 seconds), and then I actually tossed them in a bush on the side of the road. I told myself I would go back and get them after the race, though in hindsight this was a fairly risky move.

By this point, my mistake had probably cost me a little under a minute. Additionally, I had a very similar experience as in Tri for Fun #1: my body would only let me ride at about 85-90% of my threshold power. This was incredibly frustrating, because it resulted in a normalized power output that was lower than some of my recent training rides, many of which were in the 2-hour range. I was also really eager to see how fast I could go at 230-240 watts in my full time-trial setup, but I suppose that will have to wait a bit longer. Interestingly, I posted the same cycling speed as in Tri for Fun #2. This really demonstrates the significance of aerodynamics: even though I rode at 15 less watts than before, and I lost almost a minute due to a silly transition mistake, I still ended up with the same bike split. Nonetheless, I significantly improved my position in the race, coming into the transition area in sixth place for my wave. My normalized power was 208 watts.

Run

As soon as I started running, I experienced the consequences of swallowing so much water: a very upset stomach. This, combined with the still-present hyperglycemia, made it difficult to throw down a speed that I was satisfied with. However, I reminded myself that this was just a pre-season race, and that my result was relatively insignificant. I ended up averaging about 6:40/mile, which is quite astonishing in hindsight when I recall how poor my body felt. Fortunately, it was good enough to make a pass about halfway through the second mile, which put me in fifth position through the finish.

Conclusion

Final time: 59:24
Final position: 6th overall (5th in my wave) out of 201; link to results

I was pretty disappointed with my performance while I was racing and just after I finished; however, now that I’ve had time to think about it, I’m not too bothered by today’s results. This was still a pre-season race, so it’s sole purpose was to prepare me for my competitive season (which starts in two weeks). I think this experience is gonna make me be even more careful regarding diabetes management in the days leading up to and the day of a race. I have proven in the past that I can race with my diabetes very well under control, I just need to get myself back to that level of planning/execution. On top of that, a less-than-ideal result means that I will be very hungry going into my training the next two weeks before my next race. I’m gonna work really hard in training over the next weeks so I can go into the Oakland Triathlon Festival (Olympic-distance) with a shot at an impressive overall result.

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