Crystal River 1 Revisited

I have been writing this blog and Race Reports since my first foray back in 2011’s Escape, so as I am entering my second season the fun thing is to look back at posts I did during that first season and compare them to the same races this year. The first opportunity I have had to do that was this past weekend with Crystal River 1, so what I thought I would do is report the portions from the blog entry last year and then write below it the way it was this year. I’ll put the previous one in BLUE ITALICS.

SWIM
As usual I was in the second to last wave of six (3 minutes between each) but for the first time Jennifer and I were in the same wave (they put Athena and Clydesdales together). A nice change of pace entering with a teammate, even though I knew she would pass me eventually. Gun went off at 7:42 and started comfortable and slow. Got to the first buoy quicker than I expected and had to switch quickly as I kept swimming. Corrected myself and headed to the turn back buoy with the current. When I turned back to the beach I should have sited better because the current got me and took me North. I had to completely turn around to get back on course which cost me at least a minute, but all in all was my best swim so far. Does wonders for my psyche. 🙂  (9:33)

This was interesting because I felt so nervous entering the weekend and couldn’t understand why. I rushed through setting up transition so that I could get in the water and hopefully calm my nerves, which worked immediately. I couldn’t understand why I was so nervous. I felt smooth swimming in this water, never felt like I couldn’t breath, and wasn’t caught by the group behind me (and actually caught and passed quite a few people in the wave before me).
So here’s the thing …. 
I was SLOWER this year than last year.
This was really perplexing me after I saw this. Last year my time was 9:33. This year it was 10:01.4. Somehow after a year of training and being stronger in the swim I lost 28 seconds. How did this happen??
After thinking on it I have come to this conclusion. Last year I used a snorkel, which meant my face was in the water the whole time and I could POWER through the race. Now I am looking up to breathe, which must have slowed me down. I have noticed my 100m pace has been slower, so it must be what happened. I need to breathe less and power through more. One more thing to work on.

T1
Relatively quick for me, so I am getting better. Starting to learn a few tricks in getting in and out faster. Then  saw a fellow racer we know from the Ironman Store, Jon Leino, whose time was 37 seconds. Cripes. How THE HELL does he do that??? (5:31)

HUGE improvement here. And I know I can get even faster if I could learn how to attached shoes to bike and go sockless. My time this year was 4:09. I think I can get this to 3:00.

BIKE
A nice flat course, out and back. A few inclines but not too bad. Expected to do A LOT better than I did, but as it was did the same as last week. I caught myself zoning out on the return trip when we started seeing the runners. Got lost in looking at them and the scenery and dropped to 15 mph pace without realizing it. That won’t happen on #2 in July, so learned my lesson. Also overloaded the gel carrier on bike and couldn’t get it opened. Another lesson learned. Drank well during the ride and paced for back stretch at 18-20 mph, so it was better, even if it didn’t show in the time. (59:48 / 15.2 mph pace)

This is where I expected to make the most improvement and I wasn’t disappointed. I went into the bike thinking “there is NO race for a month, so leave everything out there” along with “don’t let Jennifer catch you”. So I hit the bike HARD right from the first pedal, and felt pretty good through all of it. I can get better, as usual, and I will I know, but I was happy with this split. My time was 53:38 for a 16.8 pace (my watch actually had a 51:00 for a 17.2 pace) so that’s a good 6:00’s and 2 mph faster. On top of that, because she is so strong on the bike, I gauge progress on when Jenny catches me. At CR1 last year she caught me before the 7.5 turnaround. At CR2 last year she caught me right after the 7.5 turnaround. In this one she caught me with about 1.5 miles to go.
Progress 🙂

T2
Uneventful. In and out fast. Could still be faster. Legs felt better than they have in the last two coming off bike, but still not fully there. (3:15)

Another huge improvement. I was in and out VERY fast in this one. So fast I thought I had forgotten something. 1:57. Most of this is probably due to not feeling so DEAD after the bike. 

RUN
Same issue as the last two. It takes me half the race to get my legs back, then I am fine, but by that time my pace and time is so far gone I can’t make it up. I am entering the training phase with TNT for the Disney Half Marathon in October, so maybe the run’s while get easier. I also need to do more running off the bike in training. I have a month to work on it before next race. Overall time was better, but it was 1/10th shorter course. (48:13 / 16:04 pace)

This is my weakest point right now. The bike to run transition. My legs just HATE this, and it takes me forever to get going, and by the time I do I’ve lost so much time my targets are shot. Any hints as to how to correct this would be helpful. Suffice to say I will be doing a lot of runs after bike training the next 16 weeks to try to fix this.
Even with all of that, I felt stronger than normal, and I did improve. My time this year was 41:25 for a 13:48 pace. My goal going in was a 13:00 pace, so I am not that far off. I know I can improve here, and I know this is what is costing me in my total times. a 7:00 improvement is an improvement after all, and I should be happy with it. What makes me not is that I know I can be better.

Total Time 2:05:55

My goal was 1:45:00 and I finished in 1:51:10. My fastest so far for a sprint, and a good 15:00 improvement. What frustrates me is the group I race in, Clydesdales, especially in this race, are full of guys half my age that are BUILT. In contrast, when you look at the Athena group, it is really what it is meant for. I am competing with guys I will never be able to catch, so even with a vast improvement, I still finished last in the group. In order to break the top 5 (1:19:33) I would have to improve by another 33 minutes, and to crack the top 10 (1:33:00) another 18 minutes, so seeing the podium is remote. 
But for CR2 in 4 weeks I am going to shoot for the following times:
Swim 8:30 (cut off 1:30). I think this is VERY doable with some speed work in the pool.
T1 of 3:00 (cut off 1:09). Look at sock free move and water to rinse feet.
Bike 41:00 (cut off 12:00). Getting to a 18mph pace would do this.
T2 of 1:30 (cut of :30). I think this was a good time so improvement is minimal.
Run of 38:00 (cut off 3:25). This is a 12:30 pace. I would like this to be even better.
Total Time 1:41:30 (cut off 10:00). Still not enough to crack top ten but maybe enough to not be last.
Plus, the next race I will be riding this:
Let’s Rock and Roll!!!

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