- Date: May 27th, 2023
- Distance: Olympic
- Location: Clear Lake, IA
- Swim: 00:27:10.8
- T1: Swim-to-Bike: 00:01:42.4
- Bike: 01:02:17.4
- T2: Bike-to-Run: 00:01:45.6
- Run: 00:40:34.2
- Overall: 02:13:30.6
Division Rank: 2/18 | Gender Rank: 9/124 | Overall Rank: 11/185
TRI Clear Lake was my season opener for 2023 and I am really pleased with my performance. My fitness and race execution improved greatly since 2022, allowing me to PR by 9 minutes (09:03.2) over 2022.
Additionally, TRI Clear Lake Triathlon was selected by USA Triathlon to host the Iowa Age Group State Championships, which gives athletes the ability to race for a National Championships qualifying spot:
USA Triathlon State Championship races qualify the top 35% or top five (5) finishers in an age group (whichever is greater) for Age Group National Championships. You may only qualify for Olympic-distance Nationals by placing in the Olympic distance State Championship race or Sprint Nationals by placing in the Sprint distance State Championship race.
Given my podium position for the M30-34 category, my performance qualified me to race in the 2023 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
TRI Clear Lake takes place in Clear Lake, Iowa, a beautiful small town situated on a natural spring-fed lake in northern Iowa midway between Des Moines and Minneapolis. The event is well-organized and professional. The swim, bike, and run courses are consistent with the official Olympic distances (1500m, 40km, 10km), are well marked, and heavily volunteered. It is a great destination to host a triathlon event and the organizers do a fantastic job.
Initially, I was disappointed with my swim. A gain of ~16 seconds seemed rather low given the solid swim block I had completed with the Masters swim squad leading up to the race. However, after reviewing my FIT files from the previous year, I was able to better assess my performance. First off, my swim overall felt very comfortable. I was able to focus on my form and sighting and strategize around the dynamics of the race. Unfortunately, I ended up swimming alone, since I failed to bridge to one of the middle packs. I felt relaxed in the swim for the first time in my triathlon career, which is a psychological win for sure. I could certainly have pushed harder and will focus on arm speed and pacing for my next race.
My maturation as an athlete was demonstrated on the bike course. I didn’t necessarily bike any harder (229W average), but went ~4 minutes faster. This was due to better wheels (Zipp 808 Firecrest), better bike positioning, and generally being more cognizant of speed, rather than power. I definitely over-biked, but in an Olympic distance race, you can get away with being a little reckless and allowing adrenaline to push the pace.
My greatest improvement by far was on the run. I ran a 40:34.2 10K, which was a personal best of any 10K I had previously run. I could feel my quads cramping, which would have severely hurt my performance over anything but a 10K, but I was strong enough to run around ~3:50 min/k (6:10 min/mi) for the last 3km.
The 2023 season is off to a good start and I am happy with where my fitness is at. I am a faster, stronger, smarter athlete and my decreasing times year-over-year give me confidence that I will continue to improve.
My key takeaways from the race:
- I need to swim a little harder. Arm speed and strength is key here, since my stroke is a tad slow.
- For the half IRONMAN distance, I cannot allow my emotions to dictate the pace. I know what I can sustain for the swim, bike, and run. If I go beyond my ability, it will negatively impact my overall race.