Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday-evening quarterbacking and post-race thoughts about Michigan Titanium

Just going over the numbers.
It's two days after my aborted second 70.3 attempt, and of course I've been doing a lot of thinking about my performance.

First thing’s first: I solved the bike time mystery. I wrote last year’s splits on my thigh in permanent marker, covered by my shorts so I could check them if I was feeling good but ignore them if I wasn’t. Comparing last year’s time to this year’s time, I didn’t think I was on track for a PR. But when I looked at my Garmin, my average speed was 0.3 mph higher than last year. I was confused.

As it turns out, I’d had the wrong time for last year. I’d written 4:38 and change, which is very slow even for me! I assumed I was off by an hour and it should have been 3:38. But as it turns out, the 4:38 was the total race time to that point, not the bike time off by an hour. My bike time last year had actually been 3:46 and change. Since last year’s 48-minute swim and 5-minute transition adds up to less than an hour, I got the discrepancy when I subtracted an hour.

All that is a very long explanation to say that I WAS actually on pace for a PR. Assuming I could have held a pace of 15 mph, 4 minutes per mile, and with 3.11 miles to go, I probably would have come in right at 3:41. It’s still a long, long, LONG way from blazin’ fast, but five minutes off last year’s time is nothing to sneeze at. Hey! I feel much less depressed about it now.

I also compared swims from last year and this year. While my time was only 21 seconds faster (48:00 to 47:39), I had better placing across all categories:
Last year, I was 189/246 OA (top 77%), 68/97 women (top 70%), and 7/10 AG (top 70%).
This year, I was 198/293 OA (top 68%), 56/94 women (top 60%), and 7/12 AG (top 58%).
(I just divided my place by the number of finishers in each category for purpose of comparison.)

So there were more faster people than me this year, but there were even more slower people than me. I’m not sure if this means that more slow swimmers are doing triathlon, or if everyone was having trouble with sighting around the free-floating buoys and fighting through the waves on the final leg, and I just had less trouble compared to the rest of the field.

I do feel better about my performance after crunching the numbers. Maybe, just maybe, all that time in the water is giving me confidence to swim stronger even if I can’t swim in a straight line. If I keep moving up 10% in the standings each year, I’ll be first out of the water by 2020 or so. =)

Of course I'm still bummed about the race being canceled, but knowing that I was actually doing relatively well is a comfort. Maybe enough to sign up for another one some day. Some day far, far down the road.

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