Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sunrise Triathlon Race Report - Pool Swim Race Tips!

I made a last minute decision to race the Sunrise Triathlon here in Shreveport last Sunday. It turned out to be a good one!

I had planned to ride long the day before and when I got to Cypress Lake I realized that my cycling shoes were hooked onto the pedals on my road bike which was on the trainer at home... maybe it was a good thing so I'd have fresh legs for the race.

The Sunrise Triathlon Club was formed in 1996 and has grown to over 400 members! It is the second largest tri club in the South MidWest USAT Region. Every May/June the club hosts the Sunrise Triathlon Series. Three races which increase in length on the bike and run all start with a 450 yard pool swim. The reasoning for the increasing length is smart. It's to help newer triathletes gain confidence and experience in racing.

So this race is a pool swim....... I know I've written before how pool swims in triathlons are my least favorite format. Flipping under the lane ropes, hoping that people put down an accurate time so the swim doesn't get all bottle necked and congested... We were asked to enter a predicted time but on race morning were told to line up according to how we thought we would swim.. uh oh. But some quick conversation with the people in line and I found a spot towards the front of the line. Second girl in line. I must have placed myself well because I didn't come in contact with anyone in front of me (almost caught the guy right in front of me, passed him in the run to the bikes), and no one caught me. There was a girl in line and my friend and Rachel told me to get in front of her. I noticed while I was swimming that a couple men passed her so I was really happy that I took Rachel's advice.

This swim is "interesting" in that we start in one pool and get in 175 yards, then hop out and run over to a second pool for another 275 yards.

There are two techniques for pool swim starts. No diving is allowed. One is to go in feet first right by the wall and then get your feet up on the wall and push off in a streamline, now this isn't a bad idea as long as you can do a really good streamline, a technique that eludes MOST triathletes. I read a lot of forums where triathletes say things like, "I don't need to learn to flipturn because we don't do that in open water". I'm pretty sure the rational for not doing a good streamline off the wall would get the same excuses. I believe that as a triathlete you should Swim Like a Swimmer, Ride Like a Cyclist, and Run Like a Runner. Don't become that guy or girl who thinks they only need to do the bare minimum in swimming to "get through" the swim. Learn techniques, learn different strokes, learn flipturns, learn to streamline. Go back and read this post -Swimming: Reducing Drag and Increasing Power.

This is what a good streamline looks like.

And here is what NOT to do!
The second start technique for a pool swim tri is to jump out as far as you possibly can, rebound off the bottom and start swimming. This is my preferred technique. I first saw this one when Denise and I did the Girl Power Triathlon in New Orleans last year. Denise and I watched the girls in front of us start and they took a HUGE jump, way out into the pool from a running start. Try it next time. Just watch your footing so you don't slip.

When you have a serpentine pool swim you have to go underneath the lane ropes at the end of the pool to switch lanes - here you also have two options. You can stop, stand up, duck under the lane rope, duck under, and then push off the wall - the slow technique. Or you can flip turn and streamline underneath the lane rope into the next lane - the faster technique. For some reason most every pool swim I've ever done has you swimming in the opposite direction that we "circle swim" in practice. In circle swimming you stay on the right hand side of the lane - down on the right and back on the right, counter clockwise. In this swim, the first pool had us going clockwise and the second pool was counter clockwise (see the diagram above). If you've spent much time in the pool you'll know that the first pool's swim feels really unnatural. I was happy to move to pool two! My swim was still not where I want it to be 6:45 - 1:30 average per 100 - not so good (this includes the run between pools and to the transition mat).

The bike course was an out and back, part of it was on cement with control joints - in other words - bump, bump, bump.. I tried my best to ignore them. Headwind going out which meant we would have a nice tailwind back to T2! At the turnaround on the bike I saw 5 or so men riding in a pack - geez... REALLY? It was a 14 mile bike! On the way back, B.E. Smith, one of the guys who rides with the Saturday Sunrise group passed me with another guy right on his wheel. The drafter said to me "have a good race", I replied "Thanks, get off his wheel." I spoke to Smith after the race, he said he was told that the guy drafted him pretty much the entire ride. I don't get it! Hallie, who I coach with at COSST and I chatted about the drafting after the race, we don't get how you can feel good about yourself when you cheat. I averaged 21.7 by my Garmin!

Quick transition after the bike 0:34. and onto the run. Passed several men just out of transition (2 of which were the drafters) and also B.E., who asked me the distance of the run (he passed me later in mile 2 and thanked me after the race for the pacing). I went through mile one in 7:32, really happy about that! This was the first flat run course I've done this season and it was nice to see that my speed is getting there. I lost a little focus on mile two and went 7:41 (didn't know the course - it would have helped if I did to keep my head in the game), but pulled it back together after I heard the buzz on my Garmin for the 2nd mile split and ran the last .63 at a 7:27 pace. Ended up averaging 7:34! My best of the season so far. "Quick Feet - Quick Feet - Quick Feet!"

After I finished I ran back out on the course to cheer on the finishers and look for my friend Hallie! She looked strong as I ran with her to the finish line! It was an overcast but incredibly humid morning and I had a great time!

Hanging out after the race waiting for the awards ceremony at the Town South pool you would NEVER guess that this is a small local event. The post race food and drink were AWESOME!! My favorite of course was a huge cooler full of ice cold chocolate milk (I think this should be at ever single race in the entire world!), such a perfect recovery drink. I guzzled mine and seriously considered going back for another bottle, the only thing that kept me from it was the fact that they were generous sized bottles and boasted almost 350 calories. There was beer, sodas, ice cold water, watermelon, cupcakes, and jambalaya! Woot!

Okay, so along with the really great post race food and drink is what Sunrise does for awards! Yowza!! The awards are really cool and they also give out prizes for the fastest swim, bike, and run for men and women. AND I won the women's fastest bike split!! Sweet! We got to pick from several designs and I picked this one!

Now a lot of my friends use these for their medals
but for me this is going to be an awesome leash holder!

I placed 2nd Overall Female and got this for my efforts!!

Oooooh.... what to buy with my $50??

My Cobb Mobb Teammate, Rachel Olsen (and COSST Swim Coach) won Overall Female as well as fastest swim and run splits! Allen England - 14 years old and COSST Swimmer, won Overall Male and won the fastest swim split! See a trend here?  SWIMMING and SWIMMERS! Oh... I do have to brag on this a little - Rachel is 30 years younger than me, she just graduated from Centenary College where she swam on the swim team and ran on the cross country team! I could be her Mom! A friend in Hattiesburg once said I should be on Team Genetic Freak. Sounds like a cool name for a tri team doesn't it?

City of Shreveport Swim Team - bringing home the hardware!

COSST Coach Hallie - 5th Overall Female, 1st Age Group
COSST Coach Ginger - 2nd Overall Female
COSST Coach Rachel - 1st Overall Female

Traditional Goofy Picture
Happy Happy Happy!
Team Cambridge!!

Next up is the Disco Triathlon just north of Dallas! I haven't been back to Texas since we moved back in 2008! Hoping to see some of my friends!! It's a Team Cambridge event so I will see a field of red, grey, and black, and a lot of teammates!