Seafair Sprint Triathlon 2010 Race Report

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So, I completed the Seafair Sprint Triathlon for the second time. It has been five years since I completed this race as my first triathlon following a weight loss contest in 2005. I was excited to get to race in this event again because I knew that the last 5 years of training have helped me make huge gains in speed and endurance and I wanted to do a real comparison of my current fitness level to my first triathlon performance. This blog post is intended to give a general race report on the Seafair Sprint Triathlon (which is a great race), a little history on how I got into triathlon, a comparison of my times from 2005 and 2010, and also an evaluation of what parts of my training over the last 5 years have helped me the most in increasing my speed and endurance. Hopefully, you will be able to get some entertainment as well as some good training tips from this post. If you don’t get either….well, then I will give you your money back…oh wait…this is free….never mind.

My triathlon history:

As of February of 2004, I weighed in at about 275 pounds (I am 5’-10” on my tip toes). I was a fairly active person for my weight and played a lot of racquetball…but, I was obviously in serious need of a nutritional and fitness overhaul. So, after a snow skiing trip with my folks and a conversation with my Dad, I began a weight loss journey that is still in effect today. Through healthier eating, counting calories, and racquetball, I lost a good chunk of weight. Then in 2005, just before I got married, I started a weight loss contest with a buddy of mine from work and went from 239 lbs to 190.5 lbs. During the middle of this contest, he told me that he was going to do a triathlon. My first thought is that he was crazy, but for some reason I signed up for the Seafair Sprint Triathlon too. I jumped in the water in March or April of 2005 having never swum laps and just started swimming. I had never really run any distance to speak of either…but I built up to being able to run 4-5 miles. Following my honeymoon in June of 2005, I toed the starting line at Seafair at about 200 lbs (it was a cruise in Europe…had a tough time keeping the weight down…give me a break). My time in the triathlon was 1:40:41 for a ½ mile swim, 12 mile bike, and a 5K run.
Since 2005, I have run about a dozen more triathlons (up to the half ironman level), completed P90X, and run a dozen or so running races up to the half marathon level. It has never worked out to run Seafair again until this year.

Race Report and Comparison:
The Seafair Sprint Triathlon is a standard sprint distance triathlon (1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5K run) held at Seward Park on the west side of Lake Washington in Seattle. The course is fairly flat with a few hills on the bike and one steep hill on the run. It is definitely a great sprint triathlon to do as your first triathlon but also serves as a great triathlon to crank up the speed and go all out.

The Swim:

The ½ mile swim course is a triangle shaped course that starts and finishes in the same spot at Seward Park right by the transition area. In 2005, the course was done in a clockwise direction but this year it was done in a counterclockwise direction. I can’t say that really made any difference to me whatsoever. The water temperature was moderate (mid 60’s) for Lake Washington in July.

The comparison:

2005 Swim Split: 22:28
2010 Swim Split: 12:56

What made the difference:

TOTAL IMMERSION SWIMMING – Without a doubt, the biggest change in my swimming from 2005 to 2010 was the incorporation of Total Immersion technique in 2006. When I started using Total Immersion training, my swimming improved by leaps and bounds. If you have not tried TI, you need to. This is not just for bad swimmers…it can help everyone be a more efficient swimmer. Obviously, a 10 minute difference in swim time over a half mile speaks for itself. In addition, in 2006 (just a few months after starting TI) I swam 1000 meters in 17 min. In 2008, after more TI drills and training, I swam the same 1000 meters in 13:57. TI works. www.totalimmersion.net

WETSUIT – I can credit a small part of my faster time to the fact that I wore a wetsuit this year whereas I did not in 2005. However, this is (in my educated opinion) insignificant compared to the technique changes.

T1:

I need to work on my T1 times. I probably lost a full minute trying to get my socks onto wet feet. That is just too much time in a sprint triathlon. I need to either sit down or learn to run the shorter races without socks.

The Comparison:

2005 T1: 4:31 (I didn’t even try to be fast)
2010 T1: 2:33

The Bike:

The 12 mile bike course starts at Seward Park and goes north on mostly flat roads toward the I-90 bridge across Lake Washington where you climb a few small hills and come out right onto the express lanes of the I-90 bridge (this is a closed course…no worries). You continue on the express lanes all the way to the other end of the tunnel on Mercer Island and turn around and come back the same way. This year there was a pretty good head and cross wind coming back on the bridge across the lake. I don’t remember how much of that was there in 2005.

The Comparison:

2005 Bike Split: 43:58
2010 Bike Split: 35:43

What made the difference:

THE BIKE – In 2005 I rode this on a 38 pound mountain bike with road tires. This year I rode it on a 20 pound triathlon bike with aerobars and aero wheels. Huge difference there.

Just overall fitness – I don’t even think that I am in the best biking shape of my life right now. I was in better biking shape in 2008 when I was in San Diego and had no kids and was putting 150 miles a week on my bike. With my time constraints, I rarely ride more than 1 hr at a time and it has hurt by bike fitness a little but I am pretty happy with this result given the situation. I am definitely just plain more fit than I was in 2005….obviously.

T2:
I am pretty happy with how T2 went. Not much to say here. Switched the shoes, put the hat on, and I was off. I use Yankz! Laces so that I don’t have to tie my shoes…that helps.

The Comparison:

2005 T2: 1:17
2010 T2: 1:12

What made the difference:

Well, there is not much difference it seems…but what is not evident is that I did not have to change shoes in 2005 because I rode my bike in my running shoes (with cages). So, I am happy that I was able to beat that time even with having to change shoes. As I said before, the Yankz! Laces help with that.

The Run:

The 5K run does a loop around Seward park with one small out and back section that goes up a fairly steep hill. In 2005, I had to walk part of the hill and remember thinking that it seemed impossible that anyone could even keep a running pace at all up a hill like that. It is amazing how perspectives change because I have run much steeper hills in the last 5 years and was relieved to find that it was not nearly as bad as I remembered. The rest of the course is pretty much flat or at least no noticeable hills.

The Comparison:

2005 Run Split: 29:14
2010 Run Split: 21:44

What made the difference:

STRENGTH TRAINING – Seriously! Since I have started doing P90X plyometrics, legs, core work, and yoga, I have become a much faster runner. Now, certainly, I have gained speed over the last 5 years without P90X as well but nothing like the speed gains that I have seen over the last year with P90X training. If you aren’t doing strength training with your triathlon training…you should be. I could have put this in the swim and bike sections of this blog too because it has helped there but I notice it the most in my running.

BABIES – Running the hills of Kitsap County with a double jogging stroller with the twins in it has been one heck of a way to increase my speed and muscular endurance. It is basically running and strength training at the same time. Amazing workouts and amazing results come from these little baby coaches that I have.

Nutrition:

In 2005, I basically didn’t do anything but drink water on the bike (and not much of it). No gels, no bars, no nothin’. This year, I drank Shakeology and had a banana before we left the hotel in the morning, had a whole wheat bagel while setting up transition (1 hour before race start), had some shot bloks (basically equivalent to a gel) about 25 minutes before race start, 1 gel on the bike around the halfway point, and about 20 oz of water on the bike. This was about the perfect nutrition plan for me and I felt great throughout the race.

Checkout the video below for some pics and highlights of the race. Enjoy.

Seafair Sprint Triathlon 2010 from Ryan Chapman on Vimeo.

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