Monday, December 07, 2009

Tinman Race Report: Solid, but unexceptional

First, go read Coach Paul's post about pushing yourself on his new blog, because it's good and it just rings So True. Then come back and read my race report.


I did a bit of thinking and talking about goals and so on leading up to Tinman. I did a bit of maths, figured out that 2:40 was about the best I could do (leaving a little for transitions), so decided 2:50 sounded about right. Then, after a fun brick workout on Wednesday (yes, getting progressively faster off the bike at 6:45 on a humid weekday morning is my idea of fun), I decided I could go sub:50 on the run. Then, as we discussed the race on Saturday afternoon, I decided I would like to at least get out on the run before the winner finished!

I achieved two out of those three goals, had a few disappointments, and learned a LOT about my strengths and weaknesses. All in all, the very model of a training race!

"Deep" water start; 2 laps, with a run around a gantry on the beach.
The water at Pilot Bay was calm but chilly. The shallows, where I'd warmed up with Phil, were pleasant enough, but once we were all up to our shoulders, waiting for the gun to go, it was a bit shivery! Still- nothing like that head splitting, ear hurting cold a couple of weeks ago in Rotorua.

The start was relaxed, but within 100m or so, I found myself sucked into the washing machine. It wasn't the biggest swim start I've done, though I'm sure it was close, but it was by far the most aggressive. It wasn't just your garden variety kicking, bumping and swimming over; there was a bit of extra grabbing, pulling and thumping thrown in too! My shoulders were aching, I felt pretty gammy, and I messed up a little bit of navigation during the first lap, butI was passing yellow capped men (fortunately none of them my husband) left, right and centre, which was nice for a change! However, I knew I hadn't swum well, so when I saw that the swim clock read 26:51 (24:51 in lady time), I knew that it was a short, rather than an awesome, swim!

I saw Kathy getting herself sorted in T1 as I ran to my bike, and correctly concluded that I'd be passing her on the run. If I'd beaten her onto the bike course, I like to think we could have played some leapfrog together, and that having her in sight would have kept me honest!

Two laps of a slightly long 20k course (10k out and back). Flat and fast.
My goal was to come in at over 30km/h. The plan for achieving that was getting into a big gear as quickly as possible, and hammering for dear life. I was a bit nervous about the size of the race and of being pinged for accidental "drafting"!

The bike went well, but I found it very difficult to push hard, partly, I think because of the voice inside my head saying that 30 km/h was "enough". My legs were spinning right round (like a record), but every time I upped the gear, they protested. My average cadence for the ride was 99 rpm, which is MUCH higher than I wanted it to be. I have the leg strength to push a bigger, harder gear, and I nail my legs on hills all the time, so I really need to focus on being able to really push it during flat races.

The other trouble I had on the bike was trying not to fall foul of the 7m rule, while surrounded by people who had NO sense of tri-etiquette whatsoever, and who were insistent on trampling the 7m rule whenever they could. Having people pass me in groups of 4 or 5, then take up the whole side of the road making it impossible to pass back was a pain in the nuts, especially trying to hang 7m back while the cheaters surged ahead. Number 348, in particular, deserves a brickbat. We leap frogged for awhile in a friendly sort of way, until she passed me, then proceeded to suck the wheel of the woman ahead of her for a few minutes, sitting just slightly to the right making it impossible to get past. When I did decide to go for it, I got told off by an old dude in fluoro gear for not being on the left!

I finished the bike at an average pace, by the Garmin, of 30.3km/h, but a disappointing split time of 1:22:50 (1:23:05 is the official time). I felt like I could do it again! My average HR for the ride was 171, which shows I was putting a decent effort in, but boy-oh-boy, those 3 minutes are falling next year!

Being a (comparatively) good runner is awesome. Sure- I come out of the swim to an empty bike rack, and come back from the bike to a full one, but I then get to spend the next 10km running everyone down.

I decided to use my Wednesday workout to my advantage, and to re-set my lap every 5 minutes or so, and focus on lap pace only. The workout taught me that sometimes I slow down because I'm relaxed or "bored", not really because I'm tired. Pushing hard for 5 minutes, and counting down til the next lap, then pushing harder shows just how hard you can work if you make it happen.

The strategy worked OK until I got to the Mount base track. My lap paces were a little uppy downy, but I was keeping them in the high 4:00s and low 5:00s. I had a bit of an "a-ha" moment where I realised that when I felt like I was sore and slow, it was actually because I was working hard, and when I felt "strong", I was actually slowing!

I really enjoyed being in a big field, and passed people pretty much non-stop, and as far as I am aware, only got passed by one lady. Only one of my passees (a dude) passed me back, and I think he was in a team, so massive props to me! Unfortunately, the problem with being an OK runner and a shite cyclist is that everyone I passed was someone I should have passed, so it wasn't enough to really keep me honest.

...Anyway, like I said, I was going well until I got to the Mount. I don't have my splits here, and I'm not sure quite where the Mount is in the greater scheme of things, but I was on pace for sub 50 for the run when I hit the track, though it would have been tight! As soon as I hit the undulating, gravel track, I watched my lap pace slow to a 5:30/km. Ouch! I changed my garmin display to HR. I don't normally do this in races, because I have a tendency to think "OK, it's 172, that's good enough", but this time I thought I could motivate myself to push my HR higher, rather than being glum about the slowing pace. There were a few Sunday strollers to dodge, and still plenty of people to pass, which was lucky. I think I'd have definitely slowed more if the track had been deserted. The views were absolutely stunning, but every time I rounded a corner, I could tell there was still a fair bit of Mount to go!

My one pass-back passed me as we came off the track, and I re-set my watch as I was nearly there. I got a real buzz from the spectators and drink stop ladies as I pushed towards the finish line, but I couldn't quite catch the guy who'd passed me. I crossed the finish line at 2:46:00 (2:48:00 on the clock) for a run time of 53:17, and a final run split (just under 1km) of 4:42, which I have to say is not too bad for a hot, undulating, and slightly long, run off the bike!


  • the fitness is there- well, getting there!
  • my endurance has definitely improved, so I can afford to go a little nuts!
  • flat should not mean "easy"- it should mean "different hard"
  • I need to be more confident using bigger gears
  • my race swimming still really sucks
  • I need to stop being limited by "what I'm capable of". In my early running days, I exceeded expectations, and pushed hard. Now, I set realistic goals, and either hit them bang on, or just miss them. I need a happy medium

Bring on Rotorua!


Britt said...

I love reading your race recaps! Well done on another great race! :)

Westy said...

Nice race report Kate... chicks often struggle more on the flats than the hills because their high power to weight ratios isn't an advantage on the flat. Also the CG plays a part. When we see a hill our CG percieves it as a difficult task and 'allows' us to make the extra effort. On the flats our CG percieves as only requiring a relatively easy amount of effort.

Rachel Harris said...

I've decided I'm going to get my CG surgically removed.

Great report Kate, so 'just' the Half to go now?