Monday, July 13, 2009

Hagg Lake Olympic Race Report

This weekend was my second tri of the season and my first Olympic ever. This was going to be a test of my fitness going into the final weeks of my Lake Stevens training and I was happy with the results.


We were up at 4:30 race morning to have our breakfast and get ready. Of course everything was packed and ready to go so after eating and getting dressed we put our bikes on the car and headed out to Hagg Lake.

One of the things I really love about getting to the race site early is getting a good parking space (or a parking space at all; they were turning people away eventually and having them park about a third of a mile away in another lot), getting a good spot on the rack, having time to set up in transition, hit up the rest-room, visit with other folks, and not having to rush.

At about 7:50 Jen and I walked down to the water so I could get in the water before my wave started.

The Swim:

I walked out into the water with the 63 other guys starting in the 39 and under category and after about thirty seconds of waiting we heard the countdown from five and we were off. After having my goggles knocked off in the last race I was again expecting fists and feet of fury so this time I swam the first 50 yards or so with my head above the surface. I would occasionally put my face under for a stroke or two but then it was back above the surface again for a few more strokes. By the time we were at the first buoy people were starting to thin out but there was the occasional physical contact as I would swim up into someone’s legs or someone would swim up onto mine.

After the first turn I would get onto a set of feet for a few strokes but then they would veer off (or I would), slow down, speed up, etc. etc. After about 500 yards I settled into a groove and focused on swimming strong but not hard.

Total Swim 1,500m (1,640y): 27:19 – 1:40/100y – 71/232 OA

I pulled down the top half of my wetsuit as soon as I was out of the water and began the long run up to transition. I’m always amazed that my feet keep moving forward and I am able to produce some sort of rational thought during this part of the race. Coming out of the water is strange – for me it’s sort of like having to answer a complicated question right when you wake up from an afternoon nap.

Once I made it to my transition area I followed my usual routine, goggles and cap on the ground, wetsuit off and on the rack next to my bike, helmet on, glasses on, shoes and socks on, and get going!

T1: 2:46

My plan for the bike was to ride strong on the first loop but not to push it too hard and burn myself out for the second loop. Having ridden Hagg in training I had a good idea of where the hard climbs and long downhill stretches would be which helped a lot. On the first loop I passed a few people and was passed by the 40+ guys that started in the wave after me – man, those guys can hammer. Almost every time I was passed it was on a climb and these guys just came cruising by me making me wonder if we were climbing the same hill. I played the passing game with these two nineteen year old guys that had on lifeguard shirts; eventually they pulled ahead of me but I just thought “see you on the run” and rode my own race.

The second loop was pretty much the same as the first only by this point my freakin ass, hamstrings, and other parts were on fire. Let’s just say I am in desperate need of some new tri shorts or my reproductive capabilities might be in serious jeopardy. The highlight of the second loop was seeing a weasel. He ran up to the side of the road saw me coming at him and decided it would be best to race back into the cover of the trees. I finished the ride wondering exactly how I was going to run a descent 10k with my hamstrings burning the way they were.

Total Bike (40 km): 1:19:29 – 18.76 mph – 103/227 OA (looks like we lost some folks on the swim)

I ran my bike to my rack and allowed muscle memory to take over again – shoes off, shoes on, helmet off, hat on, pick up race belt, start to run, race belt on, here we go!

T2: 1:25

I knew, er hoped, that if I ran smart in the first half of the run I could run a negative split on the second half. I started out at a comfortable strong pace and let myself settle into a groove; I backed off a bit on the uphill and picked up the pace but didn’t go all out on the downhill sections. I had just checked my mile split when my eyes settled on two red shirts about a hundred feet ahead of me; it was the lifeguard shirt guys from the bike. I passed by them and knew that unlike on the bike leg I would not be seeing them again anytime soon. A few minutes later I saw Emily ride by and about 70 seconds later Jen came zooming by sporting her beautiful smile. We shouted some encouragement to each other and I kept on running. I hit the 5k mark and turn around at 22:30 (7:14 AP).

After turning around we had about a half mile of uphill but I was ready to roll and I picked up the pace and started pushing myself. I passed a few more people in this section (I was only passed once by a 41 y.o. guy in the last mile) and at the four mile mark I saw Emily again. We high fived and about 30 seconds later I saw Jen sporting an even bigger smile than the last time I saw her! She gave me five and I told her she was doing great and that I would see her soon. When I felt like I was within a half mile of the finish I picked up the pace to almost puke level and pushed hard to the end. I crossed the line with a 10k time of 44:30 giving me a second 5k split of 22:00 (7:04 AP).

Total Run: 44:30 – 7:10 AP – 48/225 (looks like two more fell out on the bike).

When I was done I snagged a bottle of water and walked over to my transition area to grab the camera so I could get some pics of Jen and Emily coming in. After standing around in my wet tri top for a few minutes I ran back over and put on a dry shirt because I was getting cold.

Jen came in a few minutes later followed by Emily a couple minutes later. We hung out for a bit and talked before packing up our stuff and heading back into Portland for a great breakfast at Mother’s.

Total Time: 2:35:30 – 6th place in AG


the gazelle said...

Great race & great report. I can't WAIT for the 70.3 race report. You guys are MACHINES!

Congrats on a terrific day.

Dragonfly on the Water said...

Wow, good race all around. Nice job! Maybe seeing the weasel gave your spirit some energy too as "Weasel symbolizes quick movement, justice achieved, retribution, stealth, warrior energy, fierceness, curiosity, discernment, tenacity and cunning." Maybe you have a new nick-name. Nice pictures too, you look really great.

Alisa said...

Awesome job with those rocket shoes. What a performance by all three of you. I love that you noted Jen was smiling, poor Justin probably doesn't seem me smile too much during races I need to work on that!

You are going to rock your half iron!!!!

Thanks for letting me tag along on Wednesday for an OWS. I'm learning from the best =).

Emily said...

Great report - and I had totally forgotten about seeing you on your run while I was still on the bike. I also saw you on your bike while I was still on the bike too. Man, these things are whirlwinds...

Anyway, great job on your PR!

Justin said...

Sounds like a great race. Great placing too!

Kim said...

WOOHOOO AWESOME JOB!! 6th in a really tough age group! you really knocked it out, fantastic job speedypants!

Steven said...

Nicely done, Zach! My buddies and I were out there on our bikes during a 6-hour ride and did a loop around while the run was going on.
I've done that race and that is not an easy course so congrats on your time and AG place!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a great event! Competition in all ages - and you still ran your own race. Nice!

Definitely need to get new shorts. Junk is important to take care of - or so I've heard.

aron said...

CONGRATS!! you did awesome, you are going to rock the 70.3 coming up :)

Marathon Maritza said...


You kicked some major butt here! Whoooooo! I like your description on the transitions...that's exactly how I imagined it to be! Ha ha! Great race!

P.S. get some new tri shorts...I wanna see babiesssssss!

Emily said...

I just checked in to see if you updated the header and I love it! The white lines on the top are kind of bothering me so I think I'll tweak it tomorrow. I didn't see it on the white background in Word. I really like the way the center lines of the road come together on the bike+run photos. (I planned it that way.)

Mike G said...

Nice negative split on the 10k - and catching the young lifeguards. I love catching the young guns in a race and checking their egos a bit :)