Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017 Milton Sprint Triathlon Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

Triathlon season is underway!  I did my first race of the year on Sunday up in Milton at Kelso Conservation Area.  The course is beautiful and challenging as it is held at a little ski hill on the Escarpment, so the hills are plentiful…a good warm up for my Half Ironman in Syracuse in two weeks.  Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest as it rained all night and continued through the earlier Try-a-Tri race, but ultimately relenting about a half hour before we started at 9:45.

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The Milton race offers a Try-a-Tri for beginners and Juniors as well as the longer Sprint race that I took part in.  This race is a bit longer than a typical Sprint as we swim 750m, bike 30K (instead of the usual 20) and then run 7K (instead of the traditional 5), all on hilly terrain…a very good challenge to knock the rust off and kick start the season!

Swim - 750m
11:43 (1:33/100m), 3/55 AG

I was able to get out and swim the entire course for warmup and the water was just right (if you were wearing a wetsuit) at 68º.  My first impressions were, “Ew, this is weedy”.  Every stroke it seemed like you were grabbing huge swaths of seaweed…gross.  I was also getting seaweed stuck in my goggles and on my arms…I felt a little bit like swamp thing.  No matter though, start time was approaching.  I was in the second wave, going out 3 minutes after the elites and men & women under 30.  There was certainly a large crowd out in force for the first race of the season…

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The first wave went off and I made my way into the water, getting myself lined up right beside the start buoy.  The countdown was on and next thing I knew we were off.  I swam hard all the way to the first turn about 175m in and I was right on the feet of the lead pack.  I’ve never been able to swim with a pack in a race, I never seem to be able to find the right group, so this was exciting for me.  It didn’t last however, as we quickly came up on the back end of the wave that went off before us and there was a LOT of traffic.  I lost my pack and just did my best to try and weave my way through the field.  It likely slowed me down a little bit but I had a feeling that I was swimming really well.  There were no other red swim caps around me, only the blue caps from wave 1.  Eventually I came up beside another red cap as we were closing in on the swim finish and I stuck with him as he was clearing a nice path through the crowd.  I felt the lake bottom in my hands (instead of seaweed) and popped up out of the water to begin the run into transition…turns out the swim was good enough for third in my age group, I’ll certainly take that.

Bike - 30K
50:29 (35.6 kph), 5/55 AG

After I relatively quick T1 of 47 seconds I was out on my bike.  Frustration set in instantly as a moving truck decided it would be a great idea to pull out right in front of me and crawl along down the road for over a full kilometre.  I was yelling at the guy as I sat up on my bike, unable to even get going.  When he finally got to the stop sign he thankfully turned right as we all headed left on our bikes…I stomped down on the pedals and took out my frustration on the bike course.  It wasn’t long before I came upon the signature climb of the race, the Sixth Line Hill.  It is a tough hill that features nearly 100m of climbing in a little over one kilometre.  I spun fast and furious and made my way up, passing other cyclists along the way.  I dropped into my little ring about three quarters of the way up but never even got to the point where I needed the large cog on my cassette…it was a solid hill but nowhere near as hard as some people made it out to be.  I actually got to the Irish flag that marks the end of the climb and thought, “That’s it?”  I was expecting it to keep going, but wasn’t complaining that it was over!

The rest of the ride was rolling hills through the countryside and I was cruising along nicely.  It was my usual bike of passing guys on the flats and climbs, then spinning out on the descents while the same guys just coast by me.  The roads were wet throughout the ride but the sun started to creep out about 10K in, bringing the humidity with it.  I had stuffed a gel in my jersey pocket and wanted to get it in me with 10K or so to go on the bike, but I was having a tough time getting it out.  I eventually managed to get it out and ate it up, and then it was another struggle trying to get the empty wrapper back in my pocket.  I struggled but did get it back, and it was a good thing too because as soon as I got it in there the course marshal pulled up from behind me to ask if I was okay (I must have looked pretty bad with that wrapper!)…glad I didn’t just toss it away, I had no idea he was right there.

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I was a little anxious about the descent ahead of me on the Sixth Line Hill as today was the first time I was racing with my new carbon 3SIXTY5 wheels, but I was able to control my speed pretty well despite the wet pavement.  I was also racing with a power metre for the first time and was looking to hold around 220 watts…well I was closer to 250 watts for the ride so it would be interesting to see how my legs would fare for the hilly run that was in store.

Run - 7K
26:33 (3:47/km), 2/55 AG

I took a little bit longer than usual getting through T2 as I was chided by a race official for not wearing my bib on the bike…apparently that is a new rule this season.  I apologized, slipped on my shoes and visor and put on my race bib…in and out in 1:07.  The run goes all through Kelso park and consists of 3 turnarounds, lots of hills (you are pretty much climbing or descending the entire 7K), and paved surface for the first 5K with the last 2K on a gravel path that was now a mud slick.  My legs felt horrible from the get go, but my Garmin said I was cruising along nicely at a sub-4:00/km pace.  I was passing all kinds of people and just before the first turnaround at 1.5K I saw another M35-39 ahead of me.  I set him in my sights and went by him.  That was the last I would see of anyone from my age group.

I kept working the hills and chugged along, getting faster as I went…I was through 5K in under 20 minutes and hitting the mud slick.  It was a bit tougher running in the mud but my legs felt great and kept driving onward.  I came to the last descent and had one kilometre to go to the finish and gave it all I had, managing to clock my fastest kilometre of the day with a 3:26.  As I came through the finishing chute I saw 1:33:xx on the clock and I was pretty thrilled knowing that meant I was 1:30:xx, much quicker than I had anticipated for this “rust-buster”. Certainly nice to see that the winter of training was already paying off.  My official time was 1:30:39, good for 17th place overall and 2nd in my age group.  Really thrilled with my run, especially since I thought I pushed a bit harder than I should have on the bike…far and away my best triathlon run ever.

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Next on the schedule is Ironman 70.3 Syracuse on Father’s Day, where I try to punch my ticket for the 70.3 World Championship this September.  Milton was a great confidence booster for me and I know that if I race the way I am capable of racing I have a shot at my goal.

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