Saturday, May 21, 2016

2016 Kinetic Sprint Race Report

2016 Kinetic Sprint
May 15st, 2016


Location: Lake Anna State Park, Virginia
Distance: 750-meter swim/15.3 mile bike/3.14 mile run
2016 Triathlon Race Number: 3
Career Triathlon Race Number: 149
Competitors: 563 overall and 24 in my Age Group
Conditions: 54 degrees and very windy.  Choppy waters at 62 degrees.

Just two weeks after my somewhat surprising AG victory at Rumpass, I once again drove the 207 miles south to Lake Anna for my third triathlon of the 2016 campaign.  The Kinetic sprint is “big” (as far as local Sprint triathlons go) and historically very competitive.  I did this race twice—back in 2007 and 2008—when I was in considerably better shape than now, and finished 2nd in my AG both times.  The course has been modified during the interim with the bike being shortened from 17.5 to 15.3 miles.

Looking over the roster of pre-registered guys in my AG (and the race day entry of Oxman), it was really clear I would have trouble finishing any better than 5th.  Even at the peak of my capabilities, I’d probably, at best be the 3rd or 4th fastest guy in this race.  Still, I was eager to race again and hopped to demonstrate some improvements in my fitness over my prior two races. 

I drove down the day before, checked out the course and picked up my race packet.  I returned to the Thornburg Holiday Inn Express for a quiet pre-race evening.  The race was set for a 9 am send off so I didn’t even have to set my alarm clock for the following morning.

The Swim

It was cold and unsettled race morning—this spring has been trying on us East Coast triathletes!  At least it was dry, which was unusual over the prior 30 days.  The wind was light at 6 am but increased steadily throughout the day and well into the high 20s/low 30s during the later stages of the race.  By the time I swam it had picked up enough to create a noticeable chop that definitely impacted the swim.

I was in third wave at 9:08 with all of the 45+ guys—we had 135 in our wave.  It was a clockwise swim and I would have preferred to have started on the buoy line, but opted to go to the outside left (even though I breathe predominately on my left) to avoid a lot of traffic.  The course was in shallow water off the beach with two right turns and a return to the beach a bit closer to transition.  It was advertised as 750 meters and it looked pretty accurate to my eye.  Ben Foy introduced himself to me just prior to the start—he finished second to me at Rumpass—and provides a yardstick for comparing my relative performance between the two races.

At the horn I found relatively clean water and with the exception of some minor tussling at the two turn buoys, I enjoyed a relatively contact free swim.  I felt a little slow and uncoordinated.  This seemed to amplify after the each of the turns as at the first, we swam straight into the wind driven waves and at the second, the waves came into my breathing side.  I didn’t feel real off but my sense was that I was having a slow swim.

I exited the water in 14:55, which confirmed my suspicions about a slow swim.  My Garmin clocked it ay 816 yards or 746 meters so a well-measured swim course.  I averaged 34 strokes per minute (which is a couple of strokes off my A game) and a dismal 1.57 yards/stroke, which is a good foot short—some of this the current state of my swim fitness and probably some of it was caused by the conditions.

In any event, I had the 5th fastest time in my AG (83.3 %-tile) and the 118th OA (79.2 %-tile).  Not a disaster, but not helpful from a racing perspective—I’m anxious to get up to the Jersey Shore and start making some improvements in my swim.  Compared to Foy I was 16.5% faster in this race, while at Rumpass, I was 14.6% faster—so I did a bit better according to that yardstick.  In any event, here is where we stood after the swim:

1.      Oxman                         --------
2.      Fayyad                         + 0:33
3.      Palowitch                     + 1:28
4.      Isley                             + 1:43
5.      Christofferson              + 2:03

Transition One

The Kinetic transition is a bit of a klugie thing—a long run into T1 followed by a big uphill after exiting T1. My T1 took 3:21 and covered 0.21 miles.  I thought I executed a reasonably strong T1—which is more technical than T2, so no surprises that I generally do better in T1 than T2, given my experience base.
In any event, I had the 2nd fastest T1 in my AG (95.8 %-tile) and the 95th fastest OA (83.3 %-tile).  While I was still in 5th in my AG, I was able to make a significant dent competitively (cut my deficit in half):

1.      Oxman                         --------
2.      Palowitch                     + 0:09
3.      Fayyad                         + 0:36
4.      Isley                             + 0:42
5.      Christofferson              + 1:01

The Bike

This was a 15.3-mile lollipop course that was impacted by both the rolling terrain and the strong and growing wind.  I’ve never been super strong on this course and today wasn’t any different.  The initial half of the course was to the north and then northwest—into the teeth of the wind.  Additionally the first 2.5 miles (and the last) were within the park on an uneven, twisty road so this held the average speed down.  Here is what the first five miles looked like (speed/heart rate/cadence/average power/normalized power):

1.            14.8/163/79/215/222
2.            21.3/161/84/202/202
3.            19.4/161/79/214/214
4.            20.7/160/81/207/208
5.            23.1/160/79/214/214

You can see after the very slow first mile I just plugged along until I hit the descents in Mile 5 and began to get rolling.  I passed a guy in my AG during this first 5-mile segment so I knew at that point that I did not have the fastest swim—which was no surprise.

After mile 7 we moved into a cross and then subsequently a tailwind so my pace began to pick up:

6.            20.4/162/75/241/243
7.            17.6/161/76/218/218
8.            25.5/160/75/202/203
9.            24.7/160/77/225/227
10.        18.9/159/75/233/233

During this 5-mile stretch I passed two more guys in my AG.  Also the above splits seems to indicate I was grinding too much and I would have benefitted by spinning at 5-10 rpm more…something to work on for future races.
Down the stretch I had to deal with a couple of guys who wanted to let me know they were better cyclists than I (they were wrong) and I generally pushed it pretty hard—here are the last splits:

11.        20.5/161/76/225/227
12.        24.3/162/80/220/221
13.        22.0/161/76/218/220
14.        23.8/164/81/236/236
15.        23.9/166/79/217/219
15.3    13.0/161/64/175/191

The power profile from 6 on is very encouraging.  I was a little tentative early in the ride but my output down the stretch indicates I can definitely go harder in future races.  My AP for Miles 1-5 was 210 watts but the grew to 224 in the middle 5 and held steady at 223 watts for the final five.  I finished the bike in 43:50 and the distance clocked in at 15.3 miles.  This translates into the following stats: 21.0mph/78 rpm/161 bpm/219 watts AP/221 watts NP.  Comparatively, here is how my bike rides for my first three triathlons this year look, stat-wise:

                                    Pasadena  Bumpass    Kinetic

Distance (miles)               9.6             12.0         15.3
Climb (ft.)                         377             108          577
Heart Rate (bpm)                        ?               159          161
Cadence (rpm)                  75               81            79
Speed (mph)                    20.4           21.1         21.0
Average Power (watts)             220            211          219
Normalized Power             220           213          221

Obviously, still a long way to go to do what I normally do on the bike but I feel like my next couple of rides should jump up above 230 watts, which would be respectable, given my training limitations right now.  Also, relative to Foy I was 13.2% faster today vs. 11.0% faster at Rumpass.

From a competitive perspective, I had the 2nd best bike split (95.8%-tile) in my AG and the 40th OA (93.1 %-tile).  Due to a drafting penalty for Oxman, I moved into 2nd in my AG, although I still physically had two guys in my AG up in front of me:

1.      Palowitch                     --------
2.      Christofferson              + 1:42
3.      Isley                             + 2:04
4.      Oxman                         + 3:28
5.      Ortiz                             + 3:29

Transition Two

After dismounting at the bottom of the steep hill (not the easiest thing), I ran quickly into T2 with a sense of urgency as I knew two guys from my AG were likely right behind me.  I executed what felt like a solid T2 in 1:26.  This was good enough for 2nd in my AG (95.8 %-tile) and 105th OA (81.5 %-tile).  Here is where we stood (Oxman was actually 1:34 ahead of me leaving T2 but these results reflect his penalty):

1.      Palowitch                              --------
2.      Christofferson                       + 1:40
3.      Oxman                                  + 1:56
4.      Isley                                      + 2:06
5.      Ortiz                                      + 3:34

The Run

I made my away across the long grassy stretch and then up the steep hill and passed the bike mount line and began heading out the park.  All things considered, I felt pretty good.  The first mile had most of the elevation gain in this run (125 of the 167 feet) and I pushed pretty hard to record a 9:21 first mile with an average HR of 165.  Isley passed me (as did Oxman although with the penalty this was just officially and not physically).

The second mile was flatter and I pushed a bit harder and split the 2nd mile in 8:56 with a 167 bpm HR.  During this mile Dyer passed me and I’m guessing so did Ortiz, although I never saw him (could have been wearing compression socks).  The last mile was partially on pavement and partially on a narrow, winding but paved path through the woods, and featured quite a bit of downhill running.  I split my third mile in 8:30 with an average HR of 166. 

I pushed steadily through to the end of the race and recorded a 27:47 for the run with an average HR of 166 bpm.  Objectively, this is still quite slow but does represent an element of improvement for me.  The chart below compares my three “5k” runs this year:

                                    Pasadena           Rumpass             Kinetic

Distance (miles)              3.30                    3.06                  3.14
Time                                29:46                  29:03               27:47
Pace (min/mile)               9:02                    9:30                  8:51
Heart Rate (bpm)                        ?                       161                    166
Climbing (feet)                  121                     217                   167

Competitively, I didn’t compare too well as I had the 13th fastest in my AG (50 %-tile) and 329th OA (41.7 %-tile).  I dropped to 6th OA in my AG (79.2 %-tile) and 111th OA (80.5 %-tile) for the full race.

1.      Palowitch                     --------
2.      Oxman                         + 1:27
3.      Ortiz                             + 3:04
4.      Isley                             + 4:49
5.      Dyer                             + 5:46
6.      Christofferson              + 7:02

Despite this, I think this was a solid race for me.  Even with my A game, I would have had only an outside chance of being 4 minutes faster and probably 4th is as best as I could do against this field.  I’m pleased with the progress on my bike and run.  Also, I dropped 23 pounds between Pasadena and Kinetic and looking ahead, I’ll have more balanced energy in/out (indeed, I’m trying to go from 7% body fat to 5%, while keeping my weight around 173—so add some muscle mass) going forward and I predict this results in faster times in the races ahead.

Onward and upward!!!

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