Time: 2:20:27 – Swim 29:01, Bike 1:05:16, Run 42:38
I wasn’t going to write anything about this race – but they took such a great photo I had to!
I’m going through a period of race-malaise. Races are neither inspiring me, nor scaring me. I’m going into races without goals or expectations – just looking to compete and enjoy myself. I’m not training as hard as I need to in order to get PBs, so PBs aren’t coming. So I race, I have fun. Without all of the performance-based rock-turning and analysing, there’s not a lot to be said.
In fact, the averageness of this performance has led me to analyse just how average this performance is! Over the years I’ve amassed 8 Olympic distance results. Rather than comparing times (which differ depending on the course, the conditions, and whether transition times are included), I’ve compared my relative position within my Age Group. For example, if my result was the 30th fastest out of 300 in my Age Group, that would give me a top 10%; whereas 270th out of 300 would be a top 90% (a nice way of saying bottom 10%!).
The graph above shows all of my Olympic-distance race results; the black dotted line is my overall race position; the blue, green and red are my position in the swim, bike and run. The leftmost is my first race in 2008, the rightmost is my just-completed Mooloolaba race.
Clearly, when I started triathlon, I had a weak swim and bike, but my run was OK. Combined, this meant my overall results were below average. Over the years, all three disciplines have improved, leading to overall results near the top 10% of my age group.
This year, my 29 min swim was better than I expected, especially given that they’d moved the swim from the beautiful ocean to the skanky canal. You could barely see your own arms under the poo-brown water, and every now and then you’d grab a handful of something soft and squishy. URGGH! Looking at the graph, I came out of the water right in the middle of the field. Three of my previous four swims had been closer to the top third of the field, but given my limited amount of swim training this time around, mid-field was actually pretty good. But it did mean that, with 310 athletes in my age group, there were already 175 bikes up the road ahead of me.
My bike split was top 25% for my Age Group – better than my average, but slower than my previous two rides which were closer to top 10%. This feels about right. I didn’t go as hard as I did last year (when I absolutely went for it on the bike, thinking I wouldn’t be able to run). This year, I just didn’t feel it. I was unmotivated. I wasn’t nervous enough before the race. I didn’t put enough eggs in the basket. During the ride, when I started to feel my now customary hamstring/glute twinges, instead of sucking it up and pushing through, I immediately backed off. Last year my average power output was 253 watts (normalised); this year I only averaged 240 watts – a drop of 5%. I gave less, so I got less.
The graph clearly shows that both my bike and swim have improved over the last few years. Initially my swim improved at the same rate as my bike – just through steady training from a completely unskilled state. But over the last few years my bike has continued to improve, whereas my swim has not. I put this down to consistent, hard bike-riding with the Surfers Paradise Tri Club, which I kicked-off in late 2011. Clearly my swim needs the same kind of attention if it’s to stop being my big weakness!
My run was very strong this year – inside the top 5% for my age group. This surprised me a little because my time of 42:38 is slower than I’ve done before, and I felt sluggish during the first half of the run. I only really got going in the last 3km when someone in my age group tried to pass me. But looking at everyone’s times, it appears that the T2 times have been lumped into the run split, making them appear about a minute slower. Also, after talking with other competitors, many found the run extremely hot. I didn’t notice the heat on the run (and I don’t perform well in heat), so perhaps my slightly conservative ride kept me cool and allowed me to run faster?
Overall, this years result put me just outside the top 10% for my age group. The top 10% is a great target, and right now I need some motivation to push me harder. Next race, I want to be back inside that top 10%!
As a side note, this year we brought our tent and camped at Mooloolaba. The kids had a ball but I’m not sure it was ideal preparation for a race. Temperatures were high (33C on race-day) and it was hard to stay cool. I somehow managed to stuff up my neck (not sure if it was the punch to the head I took in the swim, or just sleeping on an air mattress) and two weeks later it’s still giving me headaches. But on the plus side, it was bloody cheap, the location was very handy to the race start (200m), and we were down boogie-boarding and body-surfing at the beach every few hours. Bliss!!
Next time? Well, if I care about my race-time, it’ll be back to the air-conditioned room!