Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2009 National Senior Games Association (NSGA) Triathlon is now complete

Wow! A year of training and anxiousness for the National Senior Games triathlon is now no more. On Sunday August 2, 2009 in San Francisco, I was the sole male representative for New Hampshire to do the Senior Games triathlon (1/4 mile ocean swim, 12-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run). I believe I did New Hampshire proud with a strong race in my age group.

Click NSGA triathlon results to see all results.

To qualify to compete in the 2009 Senior Games triathlon an athlete has to be over age fifty, and do two certified triathlons, or finish a State Senior Games triathlon in 2008. I finished second in my age group at the 2008 Maine Senior Games Kennebunk Fireman Triathlon.

Here are my 2009 Senior Games triathlon race highlights

• My wife Cathy was my support team and ardent fan.
• Coincidently, the Senior Games race director was Terri Davis, the same race director for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, mentioned in my July 21 post. I introduced myself to Terri at the triathlon orientation session and encouraged him to visit this Outdoor Enthusiast blog.
• Elizabeth Bunce was the sole female triathlete from New Hampshire.

The Swim

  • The swim was in very salty 60 degree bay water of Port of Redwood City. I wore my shortie wet suit and was very comfortable.
    • We did a deep-water swim start - meaning we jumped from a dock, and swam to a channel where a start rope waited for our wave. All my previous triathlons had started ankle deep in water, or from shore.

    • My swim was comfortable with low waves and tasted very salty. Ugh. However, I had no effects of the few times I inadvertently swallowed the water.
    • I lost about 30 seconds in the swim to bike transition as I had mistakenly locked my suit's pull string. I did a Houdini type move to remove my wet suit.

    The Bike
    Rather than pay $125 to fly my own triathlon bike to San Francisco, I decided to rent one in Menlo, CA for $50. Overall, this was a very good financial move. When I called to rent the bike two months earlier, I was assured by the sales clerk the shop could match my bike shoes - so I did not bother to bring my own pedals. This was a mistake. With not being able to pedal in my own bike shoes, I used the bike shop's toe straps and my running sneakers. I had not used toe straps for years, and I did not feel comfortable pedaling.

    In addition to the pedal issues, the bike’s seat and handlebars were not perfectly aligned for me, and I could not efficiently pedal.

    No excuses here, as my closest competitor was way ahead of my time, and even with proper shoes and bike fitting, I could not have made up this time spread.

  • The bike route was three laps around a circled industrial park plus a straight roadway. The whole route was flat and for the first two laps no wind. In the final lap there were strong headlong winds. Of course, the wind was the same for all competitors.

    • During the bike component I saw three fellow bicyclists on the roadside with an ambulance by their side. One cyclist had hit a road divider, whereas the others I could not determine how they spilled.
    • I did get frustrated a few times, as cyclists passed me on the left without saying “On your left”. “On your left” is a warning that you are being passed. Once I was ready to pull out to pass a competitor, and nearly hit a cyclist passing me. I reminded them with a yell, “Remember to say “On your left!!” when you pass.

    The Run

    • The 3.1-mile run was four laps around a flat quadrangle. Before the race, I thought this method might have been too confusing and have count problems, but as I made my laps, I found it nice to look forward to see my support team, Cathy.

    • The age of each runner was on the left calf of each runner, so knowing the age of my fellow athlete got my competitive juices up whenever I passed or approached a runner in my age category. I dared not ask which lap they were completing.

    • As I neared my final lap my thoughts turned to watching each stride to be sure I did not fall. I wanted to make sure the sole New Hampshire male finished the race!

    • Unorthodox Training Schedule

      Two months before a triathlon I usually begin a mixture of a .8-mile weekly swim in Perkins Pond in Sunapee; two days per week of twenty mile bike rides immediately followed by one to two mile runs; and three to four five-mile weekly runs.

      My regular training regimen was not followed for this Senior Games tri. Due to other commitments, my training consisted mainly of hikes, white water canoeing, and distance paddling. These certainly are cardio-vascular workouts, but my concern was did I train the muscles needed for this tri.

      In case you crave more detail on my pre-race training
    • I spent the third week in June in northern New Hampshire with three friends hiking the 4th Connecticut Lake, camping, and paddling five lakes in the Connecticut Lakes region. A week of zero running, biking and swimming.

    • The 4th week in June in Standish, ME at Saint Joseph’s College teaching two classes six hours each day. I managed one five-mile run, and zero bike and swim.
    • During the July 4th week I managed one swim on Perkins Pond and ran five miles twice. Zero biking.

    • The 2nd week in July I spent eight days paddling lakes and white water in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (see July 31st post). A week of zero running, biking and swimming.
    • 3rd week in July my grandkids joined us and we spent lots of time in canoes and kayaks. I did manage one swim on Perkins Pond and two five-mile runs. Zero bike.

    • 4th week in July my two sons, grandson, nephew, brother-in-law, and two friends climbed Mount Washington (an exhaustive cardio workout!), and then spent two days canoeing Lake Umbagog and the Magalloway River. A week of zero running, biking and swimming.

    • Four days before I left for California, I did one five-mile run, road my bike ten miles with my nephew, and mowed my lawn!

    • Yes, I was concerned with my upcoming event.

      My Outcome in the National Senior Games Triathlon

      I felt strong the whole race, enjoyed it, and would not recommend my training schedule to anyone.

      I never have to say, “I wish I had done the National Senior Games Triathlon!"