Race report: Zeewolde Endurance (OD)

This weekend was all about the Zeewolde Endurance. The kick-off on friday hosted various events, including a school/kids triathlon. Saturday was packed with triathlons. The Olympic distance in which I would participate in the morning, and the sprint distance in the afternoon. Sunday included the running races, consisting of the 5, 10 and half marathon distances.

Back to saturday morning! As the race start was literally 500 meters from my doorstep, I could afford to take some extra sleep. Around 8.30 we got up and had breakfast. Then it was time to gather my gear. In between I went for a walk towards registration to pick-up my bib and swim-cap. A lot of volunteers were working on transition and made sure the entire pick-up process went smooth.

Back home I made the final preparations and did the final check to make sure I had everything. Then, it was time to set up transition. It was pretty straightforward, and as the guy across the fence didn’t show up, I had a bit of extra space. In transition I met my colleague, Dennis, who was doing his first Olympic distance triathlon.

It was time to put on my wetsuit, and do some warm-up laps. Below you see us entering the water.

 

After some minutes, everyone got summoned behind the starting line. The swim course consisted of two laps, counter clockwise before swimming back to transition. About 200 meters into the swim, the harbour exit would narrow. Therefore I decided to start at the far left, out of the biggest crowd. I started behind some of the fastest swimmers of the pack. The starting horn sounded and we were off!

As the faster swimmers got away, I was swimming in a nice gap, to get into rhythm. The volunteers and organization were great. They had alot of divers on standby, including several on boats along the course. At the end of the first lap, we had to swim through a canal. The second lap I got within a group. When we entered the canal for the first time, some elbow work was needed to get some space. But that’s what you get when attempting to swim 4 athletes wide through a small canal.

The second lap I created some more space and got back into my pace. A final time through the canal before making the turn right back towards transition. Great for all the people to watch, as you could get within a few meters of the triathletes. The video below is made by The Girl, which was, despite her pregnancy, running around to cheer as much as she could. Great support!

 

The swim was nice, but my pace was a bit on the low side. I took over Dennis just before the canal. You can see him swimming behind me at the start of the above video. T1 didn’t pose much of a problem. Within minutes I was on the bike. The organization put in a lot of effort. Other years we had to stick to bicycle path’s, but this year the entire road was closed off. Awesome! Within the first few kilometres I picked up the first few guys. After a few right turns, we rode out of town with a strong tailwind. I was flying! The bike leg consisted of 2 laps, totalling just under 40K. Ofcourse, the strong tailwind, would turn into a strong headwind the second part of the lap. I made sure I kept my cadence up to get through. I overtook a few guys, and on the second lap I got passed by a few locals, which were flying passed me. I couldn’t keep up with them, so I stuck to my own pace. The last few k’s had a nice tailwind back to transition.

I took my shoes off on the bike, and people watching already warned for the dismount girder, as it caused problems with a few other athletes already.

I took a bit more time in T2. As I had to put on my shoes and socks. While I exited T2, I took a quick gel. In the meantime the sun won it’s battle against the clouds and it got pretty warm. The 10K run consisted of 4 laps, with a single aid station each lap. My pace was good, and every time I came across the aid station I stuck to the following order:

1. Grab/drink energy drink
2. grab water to drink / flush the energy drink from my face
3. Grab a sponge to cool down.

A lap was basically a from/to circle, with the finish being one of the 2 turnaround points, so you had a lot of opportunity to see friends/family watching, or to check out your competition during the race. I was able to maintain my pace for the first two laps. Around this time, Guido, the leader of the race passed The Girl, closely followed by me (even though he was a couple of laps ahead).

  

The sun was bright and it became quite warm. I had to lower my pace a little but nothing too serious. A big thumbs up for the volunteers here as well. All the sponges and cups that were littering right after the aid station were collected right away. The last couple of hundred meters I sped up, across the line.

The finishline had all kinds of drinks, oranges, bananas and instead of a finisher t-shirt, a finisher cup. Great to see that the entire top 3 on the male podium were locals from my triathlon club. I finished on place 32/83, Dennis finished around 4 minutes behind me. A great performance for his first OD.

My times:

Swim:  00:24:41
T1:      00:01:06
Bike:   01:06:52
T2:     00:01:23
Run:   00:50:14
Total:  02:24:15

Compared to a couple of weeks ago, I shaved off some minutes again, and had a blast! Looking forward to next year.

Race Report: Oostermeent Triathlon Huizen (OD)

Sunday the 14th it was that time of the year again. My first triathlon of the season. As previous years, my opening race will be kept in Huizen. The evening before I gathered my gear, to be sure I didn’t miss anything. With packing done, it was time for race day. Despite knowing the course, having started several triathlons/distances, I was nervous.

This morning me and The Girl made our way to the race. First, it was registration or packet pickup. Like other years it contained the bib, swimcap, bib sticker for your bike, and a trash bag, also labelled with your bib number.

After I setup T2, I would head towards T1 on my bike, The Girl went by car, together with my dad and his girlfriend, which just arrived as well.T1 had a surprise. As there was virtually no wind, which is very rare in this area, the water didn’t even ripple. Great racing conditions!

A few minutes before the start everyone did their warm-up.

Until the announcer called us back to the beach. The race would be a dry start.

After Carmina Burana played it’s final notes, the horn sounded, and we were off!

The  swim went ok. I tried to stay out of trouble, but couldn’t, taking and giving some punches or kicks. After the first lap I noticed my watch stopped tracking my time/distance. As the turnaround is quite shallow, you can walk a bit. Enabling me to restart the timer. It took me around 27 minutes to complete the 1500 meter swim.

T1 went smooth. Goggles and swim cap stayed inside my wetsuits sleeve, quickly strip down and stash it in my trash bag.

Belt and helmet on and a dash towards the mounting line. In the process I overtook several that completed the swim before me. My shoes were on the bike already, and unlike last year, I had no issues to put them on, despite the slight uphill.

A few weeks before, me and my Physiotherapist / trainer decided that the focus would be on the bike leg, as this is my weakest part of the race. There was barely any wind, and I was loving it! The lack of wind meant you were able to stayer, without entering the passing zone of the one in front of you. I actually started overtaking some guys. I can tell you it feels great to pass guys wearing aero helmets or disc back wheels on my “budget” TT bike. A few gambled on stayering illegally, but got separated by the officials. Eventually I completed the 40K just over an hour.

However, as I pushed the bike, the run would be tough. I changed to my running shoes. As always lost a bit of time for my socks and pushed on. I took the energy gel I stored here right at the start of the run leg. The first lap went smooth, but as the field was spread out, I didn’t pass / get passed by alot of people.

Here I am a bit into the 2nd run lap.

From this point on things got harder. I kept on trucking, but had to drop my pace a little. As there was a big gap behind me, I could afford to do so without losing any places. I won’t be near any podium finishes, but it’s still a race. Due the lap setup The Girl and family could cheer for me several times. Which always is a nice boost.

Eventually I ended finishing in 2.27 hours. Shaved several minutes of my time from last year! The bike went better, but dropped a bit more on the run. Overall I am quite happy, as I always struggle on my first race of the season.

Race Report: Zeewolde Endurance (1/6th)

As this race is taking place as close to my house as it can possibly get, it is more then obvious I take part in it. When I went to sleep the evening before I already noticed. I was nervous. I slept light and woke up early, but falling asleep every now and then. It got worse as hours progressed, even felt a bit noxious. After breakfast, around 9am I made my way towards the packet pick-up.

The content wasn’t that much. A few stickers containing my racing number, a swim cap, my bib, a flyer, and an ankle bracelet to put your timing chip on. As I have my own ChampionChip, it was just the bracelet.

All my gear was packed, so it was time for some relaxing, as the start would be around 12. When it was time to make my way to T1, gathered everything and checked my bike. When we set out, the tape from my handlebars snapped. What a timing!

Glad I have the advantage of living in the centre, as 50 meters from my place there is a bike shop. A few minutes later, and everything was sorted out.

In T1 everything was setup quickly.

T1 and T2 are the same zone, so it was pretty straightforward. I made it a habit to scope out the transition zones to make sure where I enter, and leave. This time, I clearly noticed where we would enter T1, and the bike exit/entrance would be the same. But the exit for T2, to start the run, let straight to the water….This couldn’t be right. So I asked someone from the organization. It turns out, the run course would be dynamic. As soon as everyone was out of the water, they would move a floating bridge, effectively closing the harbour, so we could run to the other side, to start the run loop. How cool is that!

The image below shows you the swim lap, transition and the bridge.

When everything was set-up another wait session began. I spoke with some triathletes from my club. Even others with way more experience were feeling nervous. After a while it was time to get into the water. Wetsuit on and do some warming up. Hopefully to calm the nerves down. In the meantime some friends found The Girl, who will be supporting me. After a bit of a warm-up, the announcer said everyone had to form a line, to have their swim caps marked with their race number. Something they forgot to do before packing them. When everyone was marked, it was time to get things on the way. I picked a spot on the far left. Close to my friends and The Girl. Hoping to stay away from the washing machine that was about to start. The horn sounded and the starting rope was lifted from the water. We were off, and all the nerves were gone!

Quite fast I managed to create a “free” spot to swim, without arms or legs hitting me, or people swimming against me. I stuck to the far left, as the lap was counter clockwise. Only on the last meters I would sneak in to the right, to round the buoy, and continue. This strategy worked well, as I saw various people switching to breaststroke instead of freestyle. Even a girl kicking in place to empty her goggles. I continued this strategy for the second buoy, and made my way into transition. The swim went good. I was a bit out of breath and slightly dizzy when I came out. But no complains! As the previous race I had issues putting on my shoes while cycling, I chose to put them on while standing next to my bike.

It worked well, as shortly after the bike start, a guy in full TT gear, was standing still on the course. Later I heard his shoe fell off the bike because of a speed bump. He would pass me around 10-15K into the race. Me on the other hand? I started flying! Which caused me some trouble too. Within the first 5K, there are a few intersections, all taken by volunteers to manage traffic, so we wouldn’t have to care about that. However, on the second intersection, the volunteer wasn’t exactly clear to a driver on what to do. The result being a car stopping in the middle of the course. As I was in TT position, I barely made it to avoid him, giving the driver an earful. I pushed on and passed several people. A few passed me. A part of the course we had to do as two laps. The final stretch of a lap had a strong headwind. In this place I tried eating one of my energy bars. This proved to be quite a struggle, as the thing was really dry, barely possible to swallow. In the same time I got passed by a group of riders, including the guy I saw standing at the start of the bike course. Sadly there was only a single motorcycle with a judge on it, to rule against drafting.

They pulled a gap on me for about 100-200 meters, but that was as far as it got. I pushed on towards transition, to start my favourite part of the race. The run! Despite putting them on next to the bike. I took off my shoes during the bike, hence why I arrived at T2 looking like this:

What a relief to put on my shoes. I flew over the bridge onto the course. Within the first 2K I caught the entire group that was riding in front of me, and pushed on. One after another I picked up. Then the heat set in.  I managed to maintain my pace and stuck running with another guy. Every now and then we would pass each other, but continued ticking off others. In the last few K I had to let him go, I couldn’t maintain my pace, or he increased his, not even sure which of the two it is. I kept pushing, and saw some more guys in front of me on the last long straight. I tried to increase my pace, and slowly but surely decreased the distance. A few more corners to turn into the harbour, during the corners I started putting serious effort towards a sprint, as a guy was closing in on me as well. A left turn, over a bridge, to pass another two guys, hanging for the final right turn, over the finish line! If you look closely at the finish photo below, there are actually two guys close behind me.

I was really satisfied with how the race went and got some things to work on.

The results:

Overall: Rank 35 / 145
Age group: 16 / 50

Swim: 00:11:10
T1: 00:01:30
Bike: 00:54:36
Subtotal: 01:07:15
T2: 00:01:22
Run: 00:36:32

Total: 01:45:08

This is a 15 minute improvement compared to last year!

Race Report: Oostermeent Triathlon Huizen (Olympic Distance)

My triathlon career began at this race. You can read all about my first ever triathlon attempt here: http://www.dennismijer.com/?p=99 Two years later, I am back at the same beach. But first things first, preparation!

As this is my first triathlon of the season, I started gathering my stuff the evening before, to be sure I had everything. This saved me the searching for my championchip on race day.

Just before 10 AM my dad and his GF arrived. With the four of us we would head down to the starting area, which is a 30 minute drive from here. Packet pick-up was smooth as a whistle. Even though it was crowded, there was no line. I simply had to tell my bib and show my NTB license (Dutch Triathlon Association). With that I received my packet, containing a swim cap, stickers with my bib to label my bike, of course my bib, and some flyers to promote clothing and gadgets.

I sorted out my stuff, and set up my T2 area. Just like two years ago, T2 would be on the 400mtr track. T1 and the race start was a 3km walk/bike ride to the beach. I was short on time, so I quickly racked my bike, and put on my wetsuit. Even though the water was around 19-20 degrees according to the sign, I, together with around 95% of the competitors in the OD race, opted to put it on. Just as I entered the water for a warm-up swim, the announcer kindly requested everyone to leave the water, and prepare for the start, as we had less then 5 minutes before we were released.

In traditional fashion at this triathlon they played Carmina Burana, to get everyone pumped up. You could literally see everyone getting into their zone, mentally preparing for the 2-3 hours of agony they were going to put themselves through. As the last notes played, the horn sounded, (no cannon this year, as you can be seen here: Huizen 2012 

 

Talking about motivational music!

They say the swim leg of a triathlon is a contact sport. If you doubt this, you should’ve been here. Arms and legs where flying everywhere, tapping your feet, hitting your legs or back, or even kicking your arms and face. No damage was done to me, although I did spot someone’s timing chip flow around within 50 meters of the swim. Besides this there was the occasional weed bush to wrestle through. All together this gave me a hard time on the first lap. The second lap went a bit better, but my time said everything. Around 31 minutes to complete the 1500 meter swim.

Onto the bike it was. In T1 I probably had the best spot you can be in. Here are my paint skills to proof it. The green line represents my bike.
image

This was my first race where I practiced with my shoes on my bike, to put them on while cycling. The first shoe went very well, the second…didn’t. As straight out of T1 we started on a slight incline of the bridge, it made things a bit worst, but eventually I got my shoe on, and was off.

In the bike leg things were going well, I felt really good and my pacing was better then ever (as cycling isn’t exactly my best leg).
Below is a short video impression of the bike leg. (Hint, I am in the video as well, you see me getting passed within the first 6 seconds). I would be cycling a few 100 meters behind him for the remainder of the bike leg).

An hour and 13 minutes later I arrived at the dismount line. However, this line was earlier then a few years ago, surprising me. As I already took my shoes of I was braking hard and tried to swing my right leg over my bike (mistake #1: I never practiced dismounting like this)  to dismount. Now things went quickly, my leg got stuck behind my water bottles (mistake #2), knowing this wasn’t going well, I firmly grabbed my steering wheel, (mistake #3) as I was still breaking, the tightening of my grip == harder breaking. My front wheel decided to lock, launching me in a summersault straight into the bushes. My second official crash in three years. (The first one being in training: Lost & Crashed) A guy behind me rated me a 6 for my first ever summersault, let alone one performed from my bike! I quickly got up, gathered my bike. One of the water bottles got handed to me by the crowd. I picked up my shoe, and off I was. The only proof of this is me running into T2, with a shoe in my hand. As you can see below.

T2 went well. Racked my bike and helmet. Socks and shoes on, and go!

Right from the point I started running, I felt this would be a though run. My legs were burning. In the first K I had the time to assess the damage of my crash. My left elbow had minor skin damage, barely worth mentioning. My right shoulder took a blow, but seemed muscle related, no collarbone issues. The biggest problem was my left thigh. No skin damage, but it was cramping. They changed the course compared to the previous time, but the main part was the same, it was basically a massive figure of 8, so the brick of the run was a straight few k’s.

Below you can see I wasn’t in a happy place.

Things were hurting and my heart rate was off the charts. In the second lap I took a few seconds to let my heart rate drop. Then things went better.

Eventually I finished in 2.33.00. A mere 25 minutes faster then two years ago!

Swim: 00:31:54
Bike: 01:13:46 (01:45:40)
Run: 00:47:21
Total: 02:33:01

Ranking:
AG: 23 / 30,
Overall: 98/170

Satisfied!

Then, it was time for the best part! Feeding Frenzy! They had all sorts of things: Currant buns, bananas, oranges, various types of energy drinks. So I grabbed a couple of each and went to collect my reward. Here I am with part of my loot

With races in The Netherlands it is common to get a finisher t-shirt afterwards. Your bib gets checked when they give it to you, so you can retrieve only one. Here you can see what the finisher shirt looks like:

Thanks for reading, and see you at the next race!

Bikearound: Flevoland – Lost & Crashed

Even though the title gives most of it away, I will start at the  beginning. Today should be a fairly straightforward day. Another bike training, long distance, lower pace. I figured I would do a big lap of: Zeewolde  – Almere – Lelystad – Zeewolde. Below you can see the actual lap I rode.

I live at Zeewolde, the bottom right, and I would bike clockwise towards Almere. From there I would follow along the highway towards lelystad. With the option to cut the lap short and head towards my hometown again. The picture below shows how most of the paths would look like.

This particular picture is taken on a cycling path, about 3/4 on my way towards Almere.

Up till that point, everything was fine. A few kilometres later is when things started to take a turn for the worse. First of all it started with unclear cycling direction signs, which indicate how many km’s and which direction to head to for a certain city.

After I took a right turn to head towards lelystad, I encountered one of the following:
– A dead end. The road simply stopped
– A dead end, but only for cyclists. It was prohibited to continue, as cars would be driving 80-100 km/h on those roads.
– Missing indicators of where to go next, leaving you stuck in a small neighbourhood.
– Indicators pointing in the direction you came from.
– The destination city (in my case Lelystad), disappearing all together from the road signs, instead naming another city (Amsterdam), which is in the opposite direction

I would say this explains the lost part. After backtracking a few times and progressing further through Almere in the right direction, I came across some road works. This involved the cycling path as well. You got redirected around it through some smaller alleyways and cobblestone streets. Normally I have no issue with either of them. However, due to the rainy weather from the past couple of days and the construction works on the road. My tires and the roads where filled with sand. Combined with slippery cobblestones and tight corners…you guess it. I crashed on a tight right hand turn, my bike simply slipped away under me.

As my feet unclicked the second I hit the stones, I got up quickly and gave my bike and me a quick checkup. My bike had no damage, as for myself:

This pic shows my left hand just after I got home and cleaned all the mud off. The entire part going to my thumb would turn a nice dark blue/purple colour, making people wonder if I didn’t bruise/break it.

This picture is while riding towards Lelystad. As you can see, only really minor damage.

In the last few kilometres towards home, I started to notice my hip took quite a hit, but as my tri-suit was perfectly fine, I figured it was just sore. I was wrong
When I went to take a shower the real damage showed. A massive area on my hip got it’s skin taken off. To save everyone’s stomach I won’t show any pictures of it. : )

Something that should have been an easy day became way more eventful then I would have thought.

Next bike/run around posts will be with a happier note! I promise you that!

Race Report: 1km open water swim.

Every season my triathlon club has 4 swim competitions. The races are over 4 different distances, indoor and outdoor, to check your improvement. How is this done? Simply said, you race each of the races, and all your time/distances are calculated to one specific distance. This particular race would be the last of the 4 races, but my first.

Around 6.45 PM I went to the starting area to check things out. Without any transitions to set up, it was really relaxing for a change. Slowly more and more people gathered, while I was watching a small zodiac in the distance. Putting the turnaround buoy in the water. As the race would simply be 1 lap. Swim to the buoy 500 meters ahead, turnaround, and swim back.

When more and more people changed in their wetsuit, it turned out their was some confusion around the starting time. Some thought it would be 7pm, others went for 7.15 or even 7.30 pm. Apparently they put up different times on the website, the club magazine etc.
Either way, most of the people already entered the water, including one without a wetsuit. They decided to postpone the start by a 5-10 minutes or so, to give the last people who just arrived the possibility to change and quickly make their way to the start line.

Before we knew it, a small horn sounded, and we were off!
Here is some footage of the start. I am wearing number 6.

The one with the white goggles starting just in front of me would turn out to be the male’s winner. He is too fast for me to keep drafting of him though.
The first few 100 meters I had some troubles getting my breathing down, but eventually things started to even out.
Somewhere halfway I got a bit of a surprise. As their was a small ramp to drive your boat into the water, water got really shallow for a moment, so I was dolphin diving for a bit, gaining some distance.

Before I knew it, I was at the turnaround:

As there weren’t that many people competing, positions were pretty much settled at the time. Personally, I didn’t really care about the positions, as I know the fastest few guys racing, and know I can’t beat them. (The winner would swim 13.24 that day).  So for me it was all about my time. In the pool I would swim around 20 min/km in general.

On the way back I started to enjoy it more. Here you can see the last part and my finish time.

As you can see in the video above, my final time would be noted as 19.10. Not too bad given I expected to swim around 20 minutes. I finished 10/17 in my category. Happy overall, but enough room to improve!