Today I competed in my second of three triathlons that I will do this year. This one was held at Scofield, Utah, in the Scofield Reservoir.
Scofield is an actual town of about 30 people, located just south of the reservoir itself. We saw it, but not very well. But based on what we saw of the reservoir, it looks like a beautiful place to live. If I were a billionaire, I’d have one of my 50 vacation homes built at this place, along with a big garage to house my solid-gold rocket car. The more I travel around Utah, the more I realize how beautiful the state is, and how much of a great place it is to live if you’re into triathlon.
At my last triathlon I went by myself and slept in my car, and I didn’t like it one bit. The car part was fine, I just felt like it was such a waste not having my wife and kids there. This time I didn’t repeat the mistake, although I did make another one by not reserving a proper camp spot ahead of time. By “proper” I mean there are two campgrounds at Scofield; Mountain View and Madsen Bay. The event itself is held at the Mountain View campground, and so camping there makes all the sense in the world, since everyone else who has a spot there is also there for the triathlon, which means everyone is trying to get to bed early and isn’t going to be up late partying, or at least one would assume, and when you wake up you don’t have to go anywhere. However, I didn’t know about this.
At the beginning of the week, it occurred to me I had no idea what we were doing about lodging. That is, I had planned on camping, but had made no more attempt to plan things out than to come up with that idea. Can’t someone else do the rest? I quickly found out that all the camp spots at Mountain View were taken, but that there were still some spots at Madsen Bay, a mere two miles away. No problem, I thought, we’ll camp there, and while my wife and the kids are still sleeping I’ll bike the two miles down to Mountain View, and then they can wake up an hour later, throw everything in the back of the mini-van, and arrive in time to see me start on the swim. I made reservations, feeling a bit lucky, and that was that.
Yesterday afternoon we arrived while the sun was still shining, found our reserved spot, and set up tent. The kids were excited, and so far I felt like things were working out quite well. Then night fell, and all became chaos. Babies crying (not ours), people yelling, pounding of some sort, cars pulling in and out at 2 am, etc. Oh, and despite the forecast of an overnight low of 44 degrees, it got to freezing, and perhaps a bit below it. At least I assume that if you wake up and there is thick frost all over your tent and car this means the temperature got to below freezing. We weren’t quite prepared for freezing temperatures, and so while we didn’t freeze, we weren’t completely comfortable. I was even less comfortable because I had decided, even though I think I swore that the last time would be the last time, to shave my arms and legs again, and that felt really weird in the sleeping bag. But sleep we did, somewhat fitfully, and we awoke mostly rested. The kids did great, and both my wife and I have had much worse night’s sleeps.
So I wake up, go to the restrooms, and realize there is no way I can ride my bike two miles without gloves, in shorts, to the race area. It’s freezing, and the 50 foot walk to the restrooms is enough to completely numb my flip-flop adorned feet. No, we’re going to need a new plan.
Luckily, I had visited the transition area the evening before to check it out and saw that we were assigned areas to rack our bikes. In other words, there’s not much of an advantage to arriving early in the transition area because you can’t stake out “the best spot”. You’re assigned a spot, and that’s all there is to it. I think I like things this way, and not just because it allowed us to all drive to the race area together and not leave me worrying about being “late”.
We packed up the kids, threw the frost-covered tent in the back of the mini-van, cranked up the heater, and drove the two miles to the race area. Upon arriving there, I noticed the temperature was 10-20 degrees warmer than at the other campground. I don’t know what aspect of the natural surroundings led to this phenomenon, but I was grateful for it.
I was able to see my old coach (old as in ex, not that he’s old) David Warden, whom I had never seen in action, let alone competed against. In this case we would be in the same age group and I thought maybe, just maybe I could pull off some sort of miracle, beat David, and really impress him. Well, not really. David has 0% body fat, drinks diesel fuel, and has Russian mafia connections who take out anyone in a race who appears as though they might give David any trouble. I decided it would be a better goal to merely try and be off my bike and starting the run by the time David finished the entire race.
I got set up in transition, got my wetsuit on (I forgot anti-chafe for my neck, ankles, and wrists, dang it! and that was after my new checklist system!), and made my way to the water. Expecting the water to be freezing based on the temperatures when I woke up, I was pleasantly surprised to find the water to be not cold at all. Maybe my feet were still frozen from walking around at the campground, but the water felt warmer than any outdoor water I’ve ever swam in.
I’ve decided I’m done holding back on the swim. I swam out a little bit to warm up, and then swam back and found a place at the front of the pack, treading water and waiting for the horn. I find my wife and kids and wave to them, they see me. Yes, it’s better with family. There’s the horn, and we’re off. Nothing too different than any other swim, other than at one point I got completely sandwiched between two guys for a few seconds. Not my idea of a good time, so I dropped back a bit to let them pass. I always feel horrible about how I swim at events. I feel as though I’m flailing about, about to drown, and have horrible form. All my training seems to go out the window. It’s only later when I look at my time that I think “Well gee, I must have been doing ok since I was swimming faster than I normally do in a pool where I feel great.” What I was not sure about on this swim was whether the measurements were correct or not. At the Park City triathlon I did a few weeks ago, my time was well over a minute faster, and I don’t think I swam as hard or as well there. I’m thinking one or the other was a tad bit off, but I could be wrong.
One thing I missed were the wetsuit strippers. It’s so nice to have someone else yank that wetsuit off you. Instead, I did the stomping game in the transition area, having a little trouble due to the lack of Body Glide or any similar product on my ankles. What I do know what that I didn’t almost pass out and fall against the bike rack, like I did at Park City. I felt quite a bit more stable. But I had neglected to set my Garmin to “bike” mode. Doh. Anyway, the first transition went smoothly for the most part.
Coming out of T1, you have a choice–get on your bike immediately, and crank up a fairly steep hill, or run up the short hill with your bike and mount at the top. I chose to get right on my bike. But my bike wasn’t quite in the right gear. Chain slips, and I’m worried it’s going to derail, but it doesn’t. I make it up the hill and I’m on my way.
As I get on the road, I’m soaking wet, and although the sun is out and things are warming up, it is the coldest ride I’ve ever had. Not too cold, but noticeably chilly compared to other events.
I’m feeling fine on the ride. Not excellent, nothing special, but good enough. The route is an out-and-back, so I’m waiting to see who is in first, and how far ahead of me they are. About 5 miles in, David Warden passes me going the opposite direction, followed closely by a guy in a BYU triathlon outfit. The bike is about 12 miles, so David is about 2 miles ahead of me at this point, and certainly pulling even further ahead. But I still feel pretty good about where I am compared to someone as experienced and in shape as David.
The ride is fairly flat, with false flats thrown in that you don’t realize aren’t flat until you turn around at the halfway point and you’re screaming past everyone else who is working hard and going slow that last mile or so before the turnaround.
I pass a rider or two, and 4-5 riders pass me. The steepest/longest uphill is a quarter of a mile or so at the end of the bike ride, and I’m feeling fine and ready for the run as I see my wife and kids again and wave. I get into T2, rack my bike the wrong way, but no biggie, struggle a little getting my shoes and belt on and switching my Garmin to “run” mode, and then jog out. Immediately there is a steep hill, and I decide to walk most of it rather than tire my muscles out immediately going up it. In retrospect, I probably should have jogged up it. Walking is so slow, and I could have easily recovered from it on the subsequent downhill.
As I started out on a mild downhill I’m feeling great, doing about 7:30 miles or so. There’s the wife and kids again–my 1 year old has trouble recognizing me in my outfit with everyone else in a similar one. I don’t just mean everyone is wearing tight spandex. I mean me and about 10 others guys all had the same exact outfits on. I got mine at David Warden’s recommendation, and he’s wearing the same one. I later find out his brother is in the race, and he’s wearing the same one too. I can’t help wondering if everyone else with a black, one piece DeSoto lifefoil is wearing it thanks to David. Back to the run.
I probably should have been pushing it harder, but again, live and learn. I’m still not used to these short races where endurance is not the name of the game, so I’m still holding back a bit and being careful. I at least have the presence of mind to know that I should go faster on the downhill portions where it’s easy to do so, I just should have gone even faster than I did.
One nice thing about this run is you can see the whole thing the whole time. You know where you are, and where you’re going. I’m not passing anyone, and nobody seems to be passing me. I’m running somewhat by myself. Not sure how much I like that. I think I do better when there is someone I can try to keep up with. That worked out well at Park City.
As I enter the home stretch, a guy blazes past me on the uphill portion. “Ok,” I think, “I’ll just keep up with this guy and then sprint past him at the finish.” There’s just one problem–I can’t keep up with him. I start trying to sprint, and I still can’t keep up with him. I run as fast as I can up the hill, and when it flattens out towards the finish I’m sprinting as hard as I can, but I end up behind the guy by 20 seconds. And darn it, he’s in my age group, so he pushes me one notch down in the rankings. But at least it’s not as bad as at Park City where the guy snuck up on me and passed me right at the finish line to beat me by 2 seconds.
Final Times & Standings
ib number: 291
overall place: 23 out of 133
division place: 7 out of 14
gender place: 22 out of 82
As it turns out, David Warden took 1st, without any help from his Russian friends. Just for fun, let’s compare our times. Here are his:
Now, overall he beat me by 16:34, which seems like an insurmountable lead. How could I ever get that fast? But then I start looking at the individual portions.
Swim – He was ahead of me by 1:32, but I think I could get there. I’m not swimming at my fastest right now, nor doing anything special to train. I just go and swim twice a week for 1,500 meters, without much else to it. I’m sure I could improve by 1:30 or more.
t1 – His transition time was half mine, a full minute faster. Don’t get me wrong, it takes skill to do a quick transition, but skills can be learned. It doesn’t take strength or stamina. It’s more a matter of planning and technique. There’s another minute I could pick up.
Bike – David was 7:03 faster on the bike, and that means about 20% faster in this case. That would be tough, but I could certainly improve. Dropping another 20 lbs would help quite a bit even if I did nothing else, and trust me, I’ve got 20 lbs of stuff hanging on me that isn’t doing me any good. Add to that the fact that I haven’t been doing anything special with my bike training, merely going out and riding three times a week for an hour, and while improving by 20% might be a multi-year effort, it doesn’t feel impossible.
t2 – Wow! 51 seconds is amazing. Seriously, I wish I had video of Dave’s transitions to see how he does it. But there’s another minute I could pick up.
Run – The run is by far where I have the most room for improvement. Again, dropping 20 lbs would help quite a bit. I am actually following a training plan pretty strictly here, and I have gotten a bit faster in the past year. I probably could have run a minute faster today without killing myself or bonking. If I really focused could I get my 8:20 minute mile down to David’s 6:27? That seems like a bit of a stretch. 7:20 seems somewhat realistic, and that would take 3 minutes off my time.
Add it up, and shaving a minute off the swim, t1, and t2 seems realistic and pretty easy. With some effort maybe 3 minutes off the bike and run for a total of perhaps 9 minutes. That would have taken me down to a bit over 1:11 in this case, which is hardly close to David’s 1:03, but that would have put me in the top 10 overall, and in third place for my age group, and I’d feel pretty good about that. Something to shoot for, perhaps?
Many thanks to BBSC for putting on the event. I think they do a great job. And I love that they had a kids triathlon as well. I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough to participate.
Oh, and the free showers at the Mountain View campground are great. I was able to get cleaned up before driving home, as well as rinse off my wetsuit there rather than packing it wet and dirty in the back of the car.