Wallisellen is the first triathlon on the Swiss competition calendar, and it’s a friendly entry to the multisports season. After a 600 m indoor swim (single seeded every 15 seconds), there’s a 15 km three loop hilly bike course, and a one loop 4 km run.
While last year the weather was all sunny and friendly, it was really ugly this time around. The air was around 8 °C, and it was raining for the better part of the morning. At least I was still dry when I got into the transition zone. Here I am blowing my nose after having set up my stuff:
Yes, in the red jacket.
I had a few goals compared to last year. First of all, I wanted to properly do a dive start for the swim. Last year, I somehow flopped into the water and pushed off so hard that my glasses came off anyway and I had to stop and adjust them. Then, I wanted to do freestyle over all of the 600 metres. Last year, I employed the smart strategy “one length freestyle, one length breast stroke”. Which led to passing and being passed by the same guy about six times. Surely he loved me.
And finally, of course I wanted to be faster than last year overall.
There was quite a lot of time to kill and I spent most of it watching the people already swimming, drinking coffee, chatting with a guy I knew from the tri camp I did in 2011.
When my starting time drew closer, I left all I didn’t need in my transition spot and went to the pool. It was freezing outside; good thing I had my arm warmers ready for the bike. (My “backdoor brag NYC marathon arm warmers”, that is.) After a few minutes’ warm-up in the diving pool, I entered the queue and let the nervousness sink in.
3, 2, 1, go! Carefully avoiding slipping out before even being in the water, I climbed the edge of the pool and jumped. Didn’t smash into the ground, didn’t lose the goggles – success! I felt pretty good for the first length. The rest of my swim is best told by my Garmin (which I wore for the first time for a complete triathlon):
The first lap was spot on 2 min/100 m. That’s kind of a milestone I want to reach in my swimming (stop laughing). My pace then dropped constantly, until after half of the distance, where it stayed about constant. At something like 2:35 min/100 m. Yes, that’s pretty tragic.
More Garmin data:
“SWOLF” stands for “Swimming Golf” and is the sum of seconds plus strokes per length, so lower is better. Strokes are counted for one arm only. The “efficiency index” is the same, but normalised to 25 metres, so exactly half in this case. You might not have numbers to compare to, but let me assure you, they wouldn’t let me anywhere near a golf course with these skills.
But I kept swimming freestyle. If you want to consider my huff-puff-breathing-every-second-stroke-flopping-around “freestyle”. Since I seeded myself a little bit optimistically (but not too much, I hate it when people do that), I was passed a few times, but nothing out of the ordinary (I thought).
As usual, I was very happy to have the swim behind me. To get to the transition zone, we had to run about 80 metres outside. I felt like the contents of a bag of veggies, the moment they are quick-frozen. Horrible. Cold, windy and rainy.
The warmth of the transition hall wouldn’t last for long. Longer than I wanted, because I struggled to get on the arm warmers on my wet arms, but eventually I waddled off.
The hopping on the bike and getting into the shoes that were already clipped in worked pretty well, I’m quite sure I saved all of 15 seconds.
Since the swim start was staggered and the bike course consisted of three laps, there was no way to tell who was at what stage of the race. I knew the course well from last year, plus I’d gone there a few times before the race to get used to it again. I felt quite okay on the bike, despite the horrible weather. Here’s me during the downhill section of the course:
As you can see, I didn’t mount the carbon wheels. “Training race”, you know. (Or “too lazy”.)
There was a bit of back and forth with one guy, but after two laps he was done already and I had to go for my third. This is on the very fist bit of a lap, maybe the third:
While the cold was bearable, my feet were really numb. Those tri bike shoes have more holes than anything else. Coming into transition, I had a spectacular little accident: with my bare feet, I slipped on the stupid red rubber carpet they put between dismounting line and the entry to the hall. While I went down, at least my bike didn’t, but when I tried to stand up, my left calf cramped massively and I had to put all my weight on one leg to get my heel back on the ground. Fun! At least one spectator gasped.
Well, had I seen myself, I would have laughed out loud, I’m sure. So there. No hard feelings.
The rest of the transition was uneventful, racked the bike, put my shoes on, ran away. The “my legs are made of lead” feeling was even more pronounced than usually, probably due to the 10K race from the day before. Also, thanks to the cold, my feet felt like they were somebody else’s.
While the run was clearly much more passing than being passed, I never felt good during it. And the weather was still miserable.
After the finish, I didn’t stay out for long, it was too cold for that. A first glance on the rankings wasn’t very encouraging: my overall time was almost two minutes slower than last year. Parts of this can be put on the slower transitions (putting on arm warmers, slipping after the bike) and the bad conditions, I guess. My relative overall ranking was roughly the same, and my bike and run were better compared to my competitors than last year. My age group final ranking was worse than last year, so the age group was stronger compared to last year (stronger as in relative to the overall field).
I took away a pretty sore calf/achilles and a somewhat sour feeling; I don’t like racing in the rain. Also, those double race weekends are always less fun than what I think they’ll be when I sign up to do them: the run, my one strength in triathlon, is just a pain after a footrace the day before.
I stayed a little to watch the pro sprint race with quite some international names in it; Sven Riederer won, Florin Salvisberg placed second and Andi Böcherer finished third. At least the pros got wet and dirty, thanks to drafting.
Tri season start: check!
PS. The events described above took place on April 15th, 2012. I’ve decided to stop opening every race report with “It’s been forever and I’m way behind with all my reports, so here goes…” because a) it’s my blog and b) it’s an archive. As long as it’s complete, who cares about timeliness. Then again, I know that it’s much more interesting to read about recent events than ancient history, so I try to improve. Getting there, slowly.