Date: Saturday, May 22, 2010

Location: Fiesta Island

Course: ½ mile swim, 12.5 mile bike, 3.9 mile run

Bike course consisted of 5 laps around the south portion of the island.

Run course consisted of two laps around the north portion of the island.

The club races put on by the Triathlon Club of San Diego are some of my favorite races. They remind me of many of the races I did when I first started doing triathlons. Having a smaller field (around 200), there is a single start. Many of the races I did from 1986-1989 had about 300-350 people in them, and they would have single starts. The larger races, such as the Bud Light US Triathlon Series races would have wave starts for safety concerns during the swim and on the bike course. I did a lot of races during this time that opted for a swim-run-bike to reduce congestion (and drafting) on the bike. There was actually a fair amount of discussion for a few years on whether the triathlon, including Ironman, should switch to a swim-run-bike order. The argument for it was that it would be easier to complete the distance because with the run being the most stressful event on the body, you would have it done before the additional stress of biking. During the last hours of the triathlon you could continue to propel the bike forward with less effort than a slow run. One concern against the change was that if people collapse on the bike during the final miles they were much more likely to suffer traumatic injury than if they collapsed during the run. Then of course there was tradition, which was probably the biggest argument for not changing from swim-bike-run. Tradition is huge, and even now a lot of triathlon veterans are displeased with the ITU style of draft legal racing because.

It is great to see so many people take part in the club races. Unfortunately there are now fewer races than there used to be because they have become so large, which makes it more difficult to conduct a safe event.

One of the reasons why I enjoy these events so much is that you end up seeing a lot of familiar faces at the race. You get to race head to head with some of the same people at each race, and doing an event multiple times a year on the same course allows you to compare your progress easily. This time though I knew my fitness was still way down from where it should be, but it’s good to face reality and get on with it. I should probably write about other people’s performances than my own, but instead I’ll do a comparison of some of the more recent bike files I have of previous races on Fiesta Island.

9/27/2009: Although this wasn’t my best performance, it represents a pretty good baseline of where I was most of last year, and where I was at the first club race this year (3/20, see below). This is about where I should be getting back to within a month or so.

10/17/2009: This was my PR bike split on the island. I know, only a second faster from the one above, but a better performance overall with a higher average power and normalized power.

3/20/2010: First race this year, and pretty much where I was in the two races above.

5/22/2010: This past race. The power difference was only a little over 10 watts lower than the above races. This one I rode my road bike. I did stay in the drops with my elbows at or below knee level the entire way, and you can see the average speed was 2.3 mph slower than the 3/20 race, and 3.3 mph slower than my fastest on 10/17. Another interesting thing to note is my max speed and max power were considerably higher on this race. I find the road bike a lot easier than a tri-bike to surge to build momentum (max power) and to rip through turns (max speed). On the road bike I can hammer into the turn on the south-west corner of the island where you get the downhill section.

Overall, it is pretty clear the benefits of the tri-bike. Many people wonder how much benefit there is, and I’ve generally told people that it should increase their speed by about 1 mph, but in a fairly fast race such as this it can be 2-3 mph.

There is no need to analyze my run performance. It was pathetic, partially due to my recent training, and largely due to my weight being up. I’ve read a few coaches claim that for each pound of excess body weight you carry, your lose about 2 seconds per mile. Estimates like this are similar to the one I just made above regarding speed difference with an aerodynamic bike. They must be dependent on other things, such as the skill and fitness of the athlete. But I do find that the 2 sec/mile/pound is fairly accurate for me. I ran this race (and Encinitas last week) about 1 min/mile slower than normal. My weight is up about 30 lbs, so that is about right.

My exercise routine is pretty much getting back on track, as well as my eating. It is never easy getting the ball rolling, but once things get heading in the right direction I think I’ll be back to where I was pretty quickly.