Monday, May 16, 2011

15.05.2011 - Triathlon-Frauenfeld Review & Race Report

Getting there, location and amenities

Frauenfeld is North East of Zürich and about 40 minutes by train from Zürich central train station.

The start/finish zone is slap bang in the middle of town, within walking distance of the train station and local parking, and as the swim is held at a local swimming pool, you also get the bonus of decent crappers (I’d give this a top 5 craps out of 5 rating when it comes to toilet provision), and also nice warm showers if you wish to use them are the event!

A word of warning, the changing area at the pool is communal, so when you step out of the men's showers, do so with a towel around your waist, not over your head, you might be faces by half a dozen women…ahem.

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Amenities wise, a big, massive thumbs up, lots of nice food, including burgers, sausages and the like, quality!

The race format

Frauenfeld  has “Short” and “Long Distance” triathlons on offer, the "Long Distance" is a shorter Olympic standard triathlon made up of an 800 metre swim, 34km bike (2 laps of 17.2km) and a 7.2km run ( 4 laps of 1.8km).

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Swimmers go off at 15 second intervals and starting times are posted near the start number pick up area
Swim

The swim is in a very nice heated outdoor 50 Metre pool, 16 laps (2 laps per lane). The lane dividers are pretty heavy duty so expect the occasional struggle moving from one lane to the next.
Swimmers start at 15 second intervals, and the start time order is based on your expected time for 800 Metres (which you submit when signing up for the event).
It's important you get this right, give a time too quick and you're likely to get over taken by the mass of faster swimmers, too slow and you're going to have to overtake a large number of swimmers in front of you, which i always find a right pain in the ass! Have a good think about this before signing up, else get ready to rumble and expect a few kicks and punches to the head, and yes..that's speaking from experience ;-)

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The Frauenfeld pool, the short course athletes in action,
note on the far side that the swimmers have grouped together, swim rage!
The Bike

The bike transition area is your standard affair, nothing out of the ordinary, security is good and it's well marshalled, and as you need to show give back a strip off your start number bid before you can take the bike from the transition area no one is going to walk off with your bike while you're out on the run.

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 I especially like these wooden bike racks, once you rack up the bike stays up straight, no wibble wobble

The course itself is a killer! well it was for me. Check out the profile below, straight onto the bike and then onto an insane climb, it's not for the faint hearted....remember, you have to do this twice...and at 17km you're going to have to start climbing again, luckily the downhill parts are a blast..expect speeds of over 65kmph.

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Elevation profile picked up by my garmin 310XT during the race..check out the climbs

Interestingly, I whacked the route into Bryton sports trip planner and it suggests the difficulty as category 2, the grading used by the Tour de France to rate courses in difficulty, see here for details. So, it's a tough one, enjoy it!

The Run

There’s nothing much to be said for the run, it’s a loop, up and down rolling course, and a lot of fun if you have some energy left, with the start times being staggered, by the time you get to the run there are plenty of athletes to race against/run with (including the Pros), there’s also one water/isotonic drink station just after the start handing out cups if you need them.

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It's loop Jim, but not as we know it

Overall Rating

Simply put, it's an absolute blast, well worth the entrance fee, well organised, tough and challenging. Highly recommended. If you're new to triathlon and are thinking of doing this as a first race then I would suggest the short course version, you might well be thankful of only having to make those climbs the once!

My Race Report

The first Tri of the season is always an odd one, normally I go into an event with a goal, it might be just to finish, it might be get my transition routine running smoothly, it might be to hit a target time, but to be honest I could just not make my mind up, even up to the last minute before getting into the water I was confused as to what I was expecting of myself.

However, about 60 metres into the swim that all changed, after starting at my normal relaxed pace, I was over taken, by not one, but two swimmers, suddenly I was feeling a bit more competitive, and worried that I would get swallowed up by the faster swimmers starting behind me I pushed on, soon I had caught and passed one of the guys who previously passed me. It soon became very crowded, it was like swimming in the old "washing machine" and at around 200 metres in someone strayed into my line, a fist came down and I got a full force punch in the head, which was nice.

I am by all accounts a pretty crappy swimmer and I was going at it as hard as I could, taking a breath every stroke, I was convinced I would blow up in the pool, which would have been pretty embarrassing, amazingly it didn't happen, and although some top quality swimmers raced past me I also managed to pick off a few more myself and finished with a decent 16:37 split for the 800 metres.

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Garmin GPS 310XT data in an outdoor pool....it gave a distance of 2KM ;)

As I've mentioned in the event review, the bike course is a killer, all I can say is I need to work on my bike strength, and having only been on the road once this year I can't complain with a 1 hour 13 mins split.

It could have been a lot worse, just before hitting the pool I double checked my bike racking and just happened to notice that the chain had come off the chain ring....doh...lucky, I only just avoided probably embarrassment when climbing onto the bike in T1.

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how did that happen? must have been one of the Pros, worried about my infamous bikes skillz
The run rocked, I managed to hit around 30 mins for the 7.2km which was decent for me, but what was really pleasing was that my Heart Rate stayed well within reasonable levels, in the past the profile below would have been 190 bmp for the whole 30 minutes....it just goes to show, training at low intensity can pay off, it's all about patience!

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No more 190bmp+ heart rate when running at 4:30 mins pkm pace
My final finishing time was 2 hours 4 minutes 21 seconds, placing me 125 out of 203 and 45th in my age group (out of 83), not bad considering two years ago I was trailing in amongst the last dozen or so. All in all a very satisfying Sunday morning, followed by a large MacDonald’s and a couple of beers, what more could you want ;)
Here's my data from bike portion for reference...someone even said it was harder than Rapperswil..I'm not sure about that ;)