2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon – Initial Result Analysis


Being a Data Analyst and Triathlete mean race results are super exciting for me.  The results are almost as exciting as the real event… almost!  I find it interesting to see which Age Groups were fastest and how they compared between the Sprint and Olympic events. Data can tell you a lot about an event, its character and even help you make a smart decision in choosing an event to compete in. If you are a competitive triathlete, do you know how the top 10 stack up?

Overall Results

So, without further ado, here are some interesting insights from the preliminary 2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon results by SB Timing with analysis by TrainingMetrix:

Three distinct races and three distinct finish time patterns.

The blue line is the Sprint, the Green line is the Olympic and the Orange line is the Duathlon event.   What fascinates me the most about these lines are their long tails.  While there was one person who finished the Sprint in three hours, the Olympic course had a much shorter “long tail” of finish times.   The Duathlon was a tiny event and probably a great event for anyone who wanted to place in their Age Group and get a quick medal.

In each of the events, the top 10 stand out as you can see a steep slope from the y-axis, defining the “pro” or “competitive” athlete from a more recreational athlete.

Surprising Sexes

After looking at the counts of Male and Female athletes by event, I was shocked to see that while the Sprint and Duathlon had an equal distribution of M to F, the Olympic event was 2/3 male, 1/3 female.  In fact for every female, there were 2.33 men competing.

Very distinct distributions by event.

At the risk of offending someone, I will limit my inferences as to what the male domination of the Olympic means.   I will simply say further research and participant interviews will be needed.

What Does Age Have To Do With It?

Looking at the count of participants by Age Group, as well as the Average Age by event, we can see the Olympic event is favored by older athletes.  The Sprint histogram by Age Group trails off more steeply after the 40-44 Age Group, while the Olympic event has a sudden drop off at the 55-59 Age Group. (see charts in section above)

The averages by event indicate this as well, the average age of the Sprint triathlete is 36.1 vs 37.5 for the Olympic.  Given this insight, the Olympic is clearly dominated by more experienced Men.

So, Are The Old Guys Faster?

Well, yes.  This is where we see a major difference in the results between the Olympic and Sprint events.  The fastest Age Group for the Sprint is the 35-39 group, whereas the Olympic’s fastest Age Group was the 45-49 (the 65-69 group was fastest but only had one triathlete, so this is statistically insignificant result).

The older Age Groupers are faster in the Olympic event.

Likewise, in general the Sprint tended to have faster athletes in the younger age groups (<40), but the Olympic tended to have faster times in the older age groups (40+).  This makes sense as it takes time to build up the endurance to be a fast endurance athlete. Not to mention speed comes with experience, which comes with age.

What about those Top 10?

The top 10 is an interesting place to look and it certainly illustrates just how competitive each event really is.  For instance, the Sprint is the most popular and has the widest range of athletes and abilities, whereas the Olympic has the more seasoned athletes and is the tougher course.

And the results support this.  The top 10 for the Sprint had an average finish time of 0:48:10 and an 0:01:56 deviation (4.0% of the average).  Not only is this a really insanely fast time, but the top 10 finished closely.  Compare this to Olympic which had a finish time of 2:12:52 and an 0:03:40 deviation (just 2.7% of the average).  Wow, imagine bustin’ your butt for over two hours and have a top 10 finish come down to less than four minutes.   Those older, more experienced athletes know how to race!

One last word on the top 10.  The top 10 are both dominated by men (sorry ladies!), with 9 of the 10 Sprint finishers Men and all 10 Olympic being men.

Summary

Data is a fascinating that can help each athlete determine the best race for their goal.  The 2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon offers very distinct events for triathletes of all types. From a distinctly older Olympic event to the Sprint with its equal Sex mix and faster younger athletes, you can easily see he evolution of the triathlete in the data.  Makes me wonder how many of the triathletes in the top 25% of the Sprint will be competing in the Olympic in a few years?

Cheers!

On Becoming a Race Director…


Giving back to the community can take many forms.  From donations to local charities to adopting a highway, there is more than one way to give back.  How one gives back often depends on their beliefs and passions.

Being a triathlete convert from an office potato, I understand the impact of fitness on improving one’s quality of life.  So, for my philanthropic project for 2012, I decided to do something so outside my box, that I downright frightened myself.

Combining my passion for competition and the local need for a new type of sporting event, I created the concept of the Goleta Duathlon.   A run-bike-run event that is structured as a “B” race, good for seasoned athletes as a warm-up, and a great first race for beginners, that will double as a fundraiser for the Foundation for Girsh Park.

For the first time in my life, I set the bar so high, it drowns me with fear.  Being Race Director is a huge responsibility as the success of the event and the safety of all participants lie on my shoulders.  This event will sink or swim because of me.

Luckily, some of the same principles I learned in triathlon competition apply to my Race Directorship.  In no particular order:

  • Perseverance – Just don’t give up.  Like a triathlon, the mind plays games and tries to get you to stop pushing the edge.  When you get a flat tire, you either continue riding or you change it fast and double your effort to make up time.  As a Race Director, you must keep moving toward the larger goal, even with “No” thrown at you.  If one thing doesn’t work, get feedback and try another angle.
  • Flexibility – Triathlon requires a large amount of flexibility, particularly when dealing with race day conditions.  You can’t let the snow stop you, just adjust your game.  As a Race Director, listening to my community leaders and peers has lead to a very different event that I envisioned last summer when I came up with the idea.   Instead of being stuck on the original event, I rode along for the ride and adjusted where I needed to.
  • Attitude is everything – Sure the rain sucks and makes you cold.  But the cool thing is that you are doing a triathlon in the rain!  Not a lot of people would be bragging about such a thing, but it makes a great story for the grandkids and your friends will respect you a lot more smiling as you cross the finish line in the rain.  Race Director’s have to smile a lot too.  During my first meeting with the city, my event was rejected.  As crushed as I was, I listened to why they rejected it and worked with them.  While the smile did disappear for a moment or two, when the smile came back, I knew this event was going to happen.
  • Enjoy the Journey – Life is not about the destination (death) and neither is the finish line.  In fact, I find finish lines quite boring.  The action is out on the course with every step.  So, every interaction, every sponsor I speak to, and every athlete that contacts me is going to make the journey what it is.  I will be focusing less on race day, and more on how to make race day hugely successful.  Of course, a week before race day, the Race Director seldom sleeps, something that sweetens the journey.

While the daunting task of making the Goleta Duathlon & Fitness Expo a huge success has just began, I know I will be learning a lot along the way.  I know I will also be doing a great thing for my local community.  If there is one thing that keeps me going on this project, is knowing that this event will have a positive impact on a lot of people and be the reason for their smiles at the finish.

Looking to be a Race Director yourself, checkout this inspiring post.

The New Year Brings New Goals!


Resolutions 5k Run kicks off 2012

As we begin flying through the new 2012 calendar and say “whew” after running my first event of the new year, it is time to outline my goals for the year.  Instead of doing a half dozen events, I feel like 2012 should be the year of simple and calculated performance.  Let’s focus on one or two larger goals and let the rest fall in as they come.

Choose Your Distance!

Recognizing the diversity of the triathlon sport, 2012 will be the year to step up.  First, I will complete my first “long” course triathlon.  This means swimming a mile in the ocean (really?), biking fives time longer than a sprint, and running more than 3x’s the distance.  But, that’s how we roll and continually improve our performance.

The event of choice for my first long course triathlon is none other than my home town event, the Santa Barbara Triathlon on August 25th.  Why travel when you can roll out of bed 45 minutes before start and still wait for horn?    To read more about the daunting 1-mile swim, 34-mile bike, and 10-mile run ahead, check out the course description.

After surviving my first long course, I thought it would be an excellent recovery opportunity to finish the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint in the fastest time possible on September 30th.  After going long, the shorter distances are going to be a breeze (I say that now!).   The Carp Tri is my favorite and I can’t think of any better way to end the season with a solid showing on a course that I love so much.

Host Your Own Event When You Can’t Find It

But, my biggest goal yet, which is not necessarily directly related to training, but is fitness oriented, is going to be awesomer.  I am directing the Goleta Duathlon, held on May 20, 2012 in the “Good Land” of Goleta, California. The best part about a duathlon (run-bike-run) is the lack of swimming with the sharks! I am still in the process of obtaining permits, I can’t wait to share a bit of California’s Central Coast with other athletes and allow them to share in this memorable event.  From now to May 21st, life is going to be interesting.

Cooking Paleo, Cover to Cover

Of course, an individual needs their “fun” goals as well.  Life can’t be all training and race directing.  This year I decided to get back in the kitchen and cook!  The goal is to make every recipe (minus recipes with allergies) in a paleo cookbook from cover to cover.

The book for 2012 is Paleo Comfort Food by the Mayfields. I’ve owned this book for a while, but haven’t had a chance to really dive into the scrumptious recipes inside.  By the end of this year, though, I will be a paleo comfort food master!

Wish me luck!  I set the bar extremely high, but I know I can achieve!

What are your goals for 2012?

Wet, Dreary, But Awesome: 2011 Carpinteria Triathlon


The Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint is the best triathlon on the central coast of California (at least according to me).  Despite heavy mist that slowly soaked everything to the core, cold air and an otherwise dreary day, the 2011 Carpinteria Triathlon is in the history books.  It is a triathlon I will be talking about for a while to come.

Here are the highlights:

Pre-Race

  • Arriving at 5:45am and getting stuck in the queue waiting for transition to open was a little insane given an 8:20 start time.
  • My transition was at the far end of the transition area, meaning I had a looonngg sprint with the bike to the bike out, but a brief sprint to the run out.
  • Despite the cold, wet weather everyone was in good spirits and I quickly setup my transition using my Gyst bag.
  • The practice went well with the water not too cold (around 62) and not very clear.
  • The GPS went dead. The old, data-geek Aric would have panicked, but the new Aric thought this was a sign from above to just trust the body and let go.

Swim (19:39)

  • Horn blew and I found myself in the pack!  Oh boy, I was actually keeping up with other athletes for a change.
  • Getting to the first buoy felt like swimming up a hill. What?
  • Rounding the first buoy, sighting was an issue, so I just followed the pack. You’d be amazed how far off course people swim, so don’t trust the legs in front of you!
  • Rounding the last buoy, the swim in took forever as my technique got so bad that I was swimming in circles.  I think I swam twice the distance.

T1 (03:21)

  • Finding transition was easy, just a few rows to the right.
  • It was hard getting the wetsuit off, it kept getting caught on my ankle and binding up.  Spent a little too much time fiddling with it.
  • The bike gear went on quickly, so off I went on my run to bike out.
  • Consistent, slow pace was the strategy running through transition.

Bike (32:22)

  • At the mount/dismount line, the first big problem.  I dropped my chain. It only took a second to get it back on, but I sliced open my thumb on the crank while doing so.  The first two miles was gushing blood.
  • Despite the blood and cold air, I settled into a pace behind another cyclist.
  • It was uphill for the first half of the course and the quads knew it.
  • I’ve mastered the art of opening sealed packages with my teeth and manipulating food one handed while cruising.  A Clif Bar was the fuel needed for the run.
  • It is amazing how much dirt one collects on their body riding down a dirty, wet road.
  • Do they make windshield wipers for sunglasses?
  • Getting passed was a regular thing, but I managed to pass a few people.
  • Getting back to T1, I felt great and was ready to take on the run.

T2 (02:26)

  • I have to run alllll the way down there?  Yep.
  • After arriving at my spot, it was a matter of racking the bike, switching shoes and grabbing the hat.
  • Out onto the run course I went.

Run (33:58)

  • I have no idea what pace I settled into, but it felt slow. Happy the GPS was dead!
  • Getting passed on both the right and left at the exact same time is a little psychologically messed up.
  • Consistent… be in the moment… the finish line isn’t going anywhere so why worry about it?
  • While I wanted to see my heart rate data and pace, I was glad the GPS died, because the body was feeling good.  I pushed it a little harder.
  • Whoa! Who put the run turn-around at City Hall?  I have to run 0.11 mile farther this year?  ugh!
  • Turning around, it was mostly down hill from here.
  • The residents are out in their lawn chairs, cheering us on! How cool is that?
  • Turning into the finish chute, I felt done.  Still, I picked up the pace for a modest finish.
  • I hope my gut isn’t hanging out in my finish line photo…  that jersey is like two sizes too small for me.

Overall, it was a really fun, exciting race.   It reminded me why I speak so fondly of the Carpinteria Triathlon.  With a final result of 1:31:46, I was pleased.  (results are posted here) From a numbers perspective, that is roughly five minutes faster than last year’s result, but still about 45 seconds away from a PR.

So, did my strategy work?  Once the GPS died and I decided to focus on relaxation and being in the moment, I think it payed off with dividends.  Not having the distraction of the data and not having to fiddle with the GPS during T1/T2 freed my mind and let me focus on what mattered.  It took me three years to figure this out, but it is a strategy to use going forward.

I am also going to spend a little time developing my tan for the next triathlon.  The combination of a pale farmer’s tan with a two sizes too small tri club jersey makes me a candidate for a triathlete make over.   In order to save myself the embarrassment of laughing grandkids, I’ll put this one near the top.

Since the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint was my last scheduled tri of the season, I will start focusing on what my 2012 goals should be.  While I hope to better my time at both Santa Barbara and Carpinteria next year, I am also hoping to be a race director and hold a duathlon or two in 2012.

Stay tuned… things are just starting to get exciting.

2011 Santa Barbara Triathlon: Awesomely Done!


2011 Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint Finished!

1:07:29 –  22 of 24 <results available here>

Given my crazy training year and the lack of ocean swimming practice I’ll take it! It was just fun to get out there on a beautiful Santa Barbara morning and race, support friends, and enjoy the wonderful sport of triathlon.

I wasn't last. Thank goodness! (unofficial results)

The swim was longer than last year (again!), the bike was more competitive, but the run felt consistently slow.  I feel like I am progressing, but at a slow rate.  Can’t wait to see what happens when I can put in a full 6 to 8 weeks of training before.

Line represents my split times

More coming later and a full race report!

Camarillo Duathlon: A Race to Never Forget


For the past three years, since the very first Camarillo Duathlon was publicized, I have had the goal of completing the course. Due to cancellations, scheduling conflicts, and even injury, I couldn’t quite get my butt down to Camarillo at the right time to get it done!  This race turned into one of those long-term achievements that happen later for a reason.

Back in early 2009 when I set the goal, the race was just an Olympic event (5k run, 20mi bike, 5k run), but today it offers a sprint (1.5mi run, 10mi bike, 1.5mi run).   So, when I arrived at Freedom Park in the wee hours of August 14, 2011, I was feeling a little like I had taken the easy road with the sprint.  Little did I know that in a matter hours, I would be on cloud 9.

Before I go too much further, I would like to commend Bill Escobar for creating this awesome event for us.  Hearing his announcements that morning, watching him interact with the public and volunteers, he demonstrated a passion for multi-sport and a level of hospitality that I haven’t seen before.  Clearly he loves what he does and I am honored to be a participant in his events.

Without further ado, here are my highlights from the event.  I will spare you the novel that I wrote earlier (you know that blow by blow narrative that is a tad long to post here, but if you want a copy of it, please email me armh31″at”gmail.com).

Run #1

Of course the start was pretty melodramatic.  We lined up and the horn blew.  The pack ran off ahead and instead of following the speedy types, I settled into my groove.  By the first turn, I was at the back of the pack, but I didn’t care.  There were plenty of aircraft to admire along the route. As long as I wasn’t last, I was doing well…. observing, strategizing, and plane spotting!

T1 & Bike

Heading into transition I felt winded and one glance at my heart rate said I had pushed the run a tad hard.  Mounting the bike, I sailed out onto the streets amongst the fields of Camarillo.  With authorities keeping those pesky cars at bay, I settled into a decent pace for the 10 mile loop.

That is until the dude in the yellow jersey passed me.  I don’t know why, but having HIM pass me turned a switch and the game was on! As hard as I tried to keep up with him, I couldn’t quite catch him… until nearly the end of the course.  Things got really interesting as I saw him up ahead and slowing down.  I easily passed him and we exchanged glances.

I thought I had him when, all of the sudden, a half mile later he goes whizzing passed me.  I turn up the speed and start chasing him down, but the zigzags back to dismount kept me from catching him.

Then he made a mistake.  He stopped a good 15 feet from the actual dismount line and I went sailing passed him again only to brake hard and stop right on the dismount line itself (a little trick I learned from an experienced triathlete).  I had 15 feet on him and I ran hard with the bike to the transition.  I still had him!

Run #2 & Finish

The Author Following the Race

With a quick switch of gear, I headed out on the run, not even looking back to see where the mister yellow jersey was. I didn’t care, I had a lead to maintain, so I kept a fast (for me) but steady pace that I was certain I could handle all the way back to the finish.  Since I had just run the same course, I knew what to expect and knew that once I was half way down the dirt road, turn on the sprint to finish.

But at the turn around, I saw that my competition had ditched the yellow jersey and wasn’t that far behind me.  I was nervous so I picked up the pace just a bit more.  Passing him, I could see in his eye that he already gave it his all.  I had won… unless I screwed up.

Hitting the dirt road was when the legs seriously started to protest. Just as I considered my options, I was passed by an older guy whom I knew was a sprint participant.  He was moving fast for his build and age, so I wasn’t about to give up my spot to him.  A little earlier than I wanted, I went into sprint mode and ran him down.

Luckily, there was a curb to run around to the finish chute, which he negotiated rather slowly compared to my more flexible maneuver.  Then it was a sprint to the finish and I beat him by two seconds.

And that was the end of a race I will never forget.

Sprint Results Plotted (courtesy TrainingMetrix)

With my overall time of 1:09:31, I was happy to see myself just ahead of the Sprint race average of 1:10:33.   That was good for 32nd place of 69 competitors.  Camarillo Duathlon Sprint Race results were plotted by TrainingMetrix (graph above is reproduced with their permission) and you can see I am just ahead of average (the red dot).

So, have I achieved that goal I set years ago?  As much as I want to say yes, I still have to finish the Olympic course and we might save that for 2012.  But with the third race of 2011 coming up on Sept. 4th, I might just give the sprint one more try in 2011!

Note: I am working compiling some video of the race (the Olympic start) and will post a video post here when it is complete.

A Brilliant August It Will Be


Goleta Beach Triathlon2011 is sprinting by faster than any other year of my life.  Perhaps I am having way too much fun, or my life is full of activities, hobbies, and other responsibilities.  Regardless, when I look at the calendar and realize that 2011 is far more than half way through, I have to look back and realize that I have not competed once so far this year.

Since I am now feeling the benefit of focusing on stress relief in my life, I am now able to look competition as say, “bring it on!”  It just so happens that August has some awesome events for me to compete in!  (It is amazing how these things happen!)

Camarillo Duathlon – August 14

First up, the Camarillo Duathlon on August 14th.  The Camarillo Duathlon and I go way back to the beginning of my journey for the CamDua as I call it because it was going to be one of my first events. Unfortunately, the event kept getting rescheduled to dates that conflicted with other events and I never got to do it.  Well, on August 14th, rain or shine, nothing will stop me from completing the sprint.

McConnell’s 5k/10k – August 21

Second, a good old fashion 5k.  And a local favorite event at that, the McConnell’s 5k on August 21st.  With a simple out and back sprint along the bike path between Goleta Beach Park and Patterson Avenue, this is going to be a fast, but fun event that will test my ability to control pace.

Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint – August 28

Third, ending August with an event close to home, the Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint on August 28th.  The year was 2008 and this was going to be my first triathlon sprint ever, but I never made it that morning.  It wasn’t until a full year later that I kicked my trainer’s butt on the sprint (he had some issues with the swim) and finished this course.  With 2011 being my third year for this event, I am looking to just have fun and maybe better my time from last year.

If you are in Camarillo or Santa Barbara on the respective dates, please come on out and cheer me and the other athletes on.  While athletes are great to compete against, it is the cheering spectators that take the event to a new level.

I am seriously looking forward to these events and can’t wait to redeem myself and have one brilliant August.  Sadly, it will likely go by fast, but I know I will enjoy every minute of it!