ellensburg olympic triathlon

general.

Over the weekend, July 22nd, I competed in my second triathlon race in Ellensburg, WA, and my first olympic distance.  I knew going in that this race was going to be a rough one.  Having done a 2.4 mile swim race the night before (July 21st), and to drive over to eastern Washington the morning of the race.  So very little sleep, and sitting in a car for an under two hour drive to get to the race on time ... not a good setup for race day.  But, you do the best you can with the situation your dealt with.  

I was a little disappointed with the size of the field, only 14 women started the olympic distance compared to the 39 in the sprint.  I think it was this was the first year for the olympic distance, which makes sense for the low turn out.  Regardless, would love to see more women out there for these races!  Hopefully next year there will be more.

Let's jump right into things.


results.

Female overall:  12th
Age group:  2nd

Swim:  12th
Bike:  4th
Run:  12th

Another race, and another result showing exactly where my strengths are 😀.  I should have done better in the run, and that's what really killed my chances for a better overall result.


the swim.

Wasn't fully recovered from the swim race the night before, but with that I felt the swim was okay.  Overall felt better compared to last nights swim, but I still struggled to maintain a good, constant pace.  This issue is really hurting my swim times.  One thing I made sure to change in this swim versus previous ones, was when I needed to take a break, I didn't just stop and float.  I switched my stroke, and kept forward progress each time.  Did either a modified breast stroke, or the good old fashion frog style swim, haha!  Whatever, just needed to keep moving forward.

I did stop completely after the first lap.  The swimmer behind me, and a someone that stuck with me for pretty much the entire swim suddenly stopped, and was just floating there.  So out of concern I needed to make sure they were okay, and that one of the support kayakers saw what was going on.  As soon as I heard them yell out 'I'm okay', it was back to work.

One of the things I had issues with in last nights swim race was spotting, so in this race is tried to work on that, and saw improvement.  Still have some minor issues drifting side to side between buoys, and picking the fastest swim line ... which I really noticed on the swim straight to the finish.  I thought I picked the best line to the shore, but the person that was following me the entire race clearly picked a better one and passed me.  So, still need work on finding the right line and keeping to it.

Also, ran into the same issue I had the night before with getting really thirsty during the swim.  Happened again in this race, thankfully not as bad as the night before.  Not sure what's going on. I do get this way swimming in the pool, and it's only happened during these last two races.

Either way, pretty uneventful, and expected swim result.

first transition.

The Ellensburg Tri took a different approach to the transition area compare to the Lake Wilderness Tri.  Here they put athletes in order of their bib number.  So there was no fighting for prime bike rack spots.  It was nice and orderly, which was great and easy.  Lucky for me, my bib number put me right next to the transition exit 😁.

Had a little issue getting my wetsuit off ... the stupid leg of the wetsuit got caught on my ankle timing chip.  Other then that, it was a smooth transition.  Still a little slower then I would like.  Not easy getting socks on damp feet, and my cycling shoes aren't really ideal for tri.  I did order some new tri specific shoes today, that will allow for no socks, and much faster to tighten, so we'll see how those do.  Hopefully I'll be able to clip the shoes on the bike prior, and during transition exit, just slide my foot in as I get on the bike.  That would make walking/running out and into the transition easier.


the bike.

Not too much to report for the bike.  Felt really great.  The course really suited my skill set, first half up hill, second half downhill all the way to the finish line.  Loved it!

I was able to make up a ton of ground to the leaders, and made up a lot of time loss during the swim as well.  I believe at one point I got to about a mile or two from the leading women out of the swim.  But, they were a mile or two into the descent, and I still had a mile or two of climbing left.  Still is great to see how close to got to them.

Even with the bike being 24 miles or something, I decided to go with my Ironman nutrition plan.  Put that schedule into play, and felt like it worked.  With the first off the ride being a climb, there were times getting food or drink in was a little difficult ... I generally have a rule of thumb to not eat of drink anything while climbing, if at all possible.  On climbs, you're generally breathing pretty heavily, and your heart rate is extra elevated ... it's just not really the best time to be reaching for food or eating.  So I generally wait until the grade is a bit easier, or on false flats etc...  Stuff like that can easily throw off my schedule.  Just have to adjust accordingly.

The run into the second to final turn, I got hit with some really heavy cross winds.  Wind is always an issue in eastern Washington, generally very windy and very strong gusts.  With my aero wheels, had a few heart bumping moments of getting a good gust, and almost blowing my bike out from under me.  With the cross winds, I knew instantly as soon as I made the second to last turn it's going to be heavy head winds all the way.  They were pretty heavy head winds.  Just tucked in and kept pushing ... slowed me down quite a bit.

Reflecting on the bike now, I could have / should have pushed harder on the climb.  Decided to keep things conservative knowing I have a 6 mile run coming up.  But, I could have gone much faster the entire first half of the course.  Oh well.  All knowledge for next year!

second transition.

Little annoyed with the distance between where they required you to dismount the bike and the transition open area.  Not much you can do in that situation but deal with it.

I don't think I did the transition to the run very well.  It was slower then Lake Wilderness, probably due to the distance from dismount to transition open.  Running in my road cycling shoes isn't ideal.  Hopefully my new shoes will make things a little easier.

Forgot my race number belt after I already exited transition, so I lost time there trying to get an understanding from the volunteers if I needed to go back and get it, or if I can just go.  Finally someone said to just go, my chip is linked to my number.

I need to do a better job setting up my area so I don't have to rely on memory to make sure I have what I need.  I should be able to look down, and the things in my vision is everything I need to take.  My setup is still pretty cluttered.


the run.

I've never been so embarrassed with a sporting activity in my life ... wow.  Single handily my worse "run" I've ever done.

Started the run, and my legs just didn't want to move.  Felt like I had fish for legs.  They didn't want to function normally.  I couldn't even get close to my Ironman pace.  It was just a struggle, and to be honest I was dumbfounded as to what exactly happened.  Everything just fell apart.

The run course was actually poorly designed.  First mile of the loop was jagged, uneven large rocks with areas of clear ground giving way to the lake.  Then switched to unpacked gravel, that made it feel like I was running bare foot in sand.  Then switched to what looked like the organizers just mowed a line through a tall field of weeds and grass.  This isn't a cross country race.

The heat become a factor as well, just trying to keep cool.  Not sure how many times I pulled off the trail to dunk my hat into the lake.  Probably should have stopped after the second time I did it, as it only gave a limited amount of relief.  With how hot it got, I wish they had more then one water station on the course.

Either way, regardless of the state of the course or the heat, there's no excuses ... I fucked up the run, and it pretty much killed my chances of a better result.  Live and learn, and run another day.


soap box.

Okay, I understand the need of body markings, your bib number on your bike, and your bib number for the run in an official Ironman.  The officials need that number to get your bags, bike, etc...  They give you everything.  I even understand needing your bib number on your bike for these small, local races, because you need to make sure the right person is leaving with the right bike.

I don't understand why you need body markings, and I really don't know what the point of having your age and gender marked on your calf (what purpose does it fill?  Why do people need to know my age and gender?), as well as a race number for the run.  You are responsible for your transition area, you have to go get your bike and your transition stuff.  Your timing chip is linked to your bib number, so I mean they are going to know your timing and placing from that.  I mean is it really only there so when you approach the finish line, someone can look it up and radio the announcer so they can call out your name as your cross the finish line?  That's dumb.

Okay ... I guess I can see a need for it if an athlete abandons during the race, and an official can inform the time keeps of who it is.

Speaking about race numbers on bikes in these triathlons.  Seriously, could they be any more hideous, large, and the most annoying thing to put on your bike?  I love my bike, and I want it looking badass at all times, haha!  Why can't local triathlons follow the approach of road cycling, the WSBA.  You're issued a race number for the entire season, you're given a number to pin on your kit, and a plastic race number to put on your bike.  You either buy a race number holder that attaches to your breaks, and holds it out like a flag.  Or you zip tie it to your seat post.  The number is clearly visible, and completely out of the way.  Seem simple enough, and it looks good.

For example:

Just seems funny to me ... anyway, off my soap box about silly race things.


photos.


takeaways.

  • To to decide when best to apply sunscreen.  Before the race and risk being washed off by the swim?  After the swim, but waste time drying off and rush to apply?  After the bike, but waste time wiping off sweat and rushing to apply?  I picked trying to put sunscreen one in the second transition, and with all the rushing around I did a poor job of coverage, haha.  Very burnt.
  • Continue work on improving spotting and picking the fastest line in the swim.
  • Declutter transition area.
  • Improve transition times overall ... hopefully new cycling shoes will help with this.