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!

Reflecting: What an Awesome Year 2011 Was!


On this New Year’s Eve, I can’t help but reflect on how much I’ve grown in 2011 and how awesome the year was.   While 2009 was the year of firsts and 2010 was the year of obsessive burnout, 2011 was the year of balance.  Here are some of my best, and not so best, moments.

September 2011 – Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint

The Carpinteria Triathlon is my favorite triathlon.  Period.  It was very fitting that this year was the first year that I swam the entire ocean swim freestyle.  No more side stroke and kicking with my legs.  This translated to more energy and a much improved run time.  While still not a PR, my finish time proved that swimming efficiently has a great impact on the other two sports!  Read my race report here.

Camarillo Duathlon – August 2011

The Camarillo Duathlon was the event that I’ve been eying since I set my goal to complete my first triathlon a few years ago.  Whether it was cancellations or my travel schedule, I was never able to make it to the event.  Feeling the need to reconnect with myself, I got myself down to Camarillo and had a great time.  Even though I did the sprint, this event drove home how much I love competing and no matter how busy the schedule gets, I must make time to compete and keep up with my training. Read my race report here.

Santa Barbara Triathlon – August 2011

The home town event was a wake up call.  Having come off the Camarillo Duathlon, it was time to get back in the water and finish my first tri of the season.  At the Santa Barbara Triathlon, wasn’t prepared for the embarrassment, a product of my lack of training (particularly ocean swims), poor dietary choices, and busy schedule.  Seeing the pictures of me with a farmer’s tan wearing a race jersey two sizes too small is highly motivating to get back to my 2009 level of fitness.  Read my race report here.

Next Generation Fitness Analytics: TrainingMetrix, LLC

2011 was also the year that I turned my passion for data, analytics, and fitness into a reality.  By forming an LLC dedicated to helping athletes of all types leverage workout data with analytics, I found my calling.  TrainingMetrix is the product of what I couldn’t find. Over the past few years I had struggled to find an analytic solution that worked for me, so I built one using Excel.  I am now in the process of turning this into a marketable Excel template and web app.  Check out TrainingMetrix.

2012 and Beyond

I am looking toward 2012 with great inspiration.  I see the next year as a blank slate for some pretty awesome things to happen on.  From expanding TrainingMetrix to completing my first long course triathlon (yep, I am going long!), to even holding my own duathlon as race director, I am planning to reach high and never look back.

I hope all of my readers can look back on 2011 and come away with some awesome moments.  If you have some less than awesome moments you can’t shake, leverage them for the better and look forward.

Happy New Year to all!  Let’s make 2012 the best year ever!

Triathlon Training Dashboard: Chart Two


In my first installment on the topic of creating a triathlon training dashboard, I discussed a few issues surrounding the data, some challenges with metrics such as tracking intensity and some feedback on a popular online workout tracking solution.

In the time since I published the last post, an entire triathlon season has gone by and I am a little more experienced on the fitness and triathlon analytics front.  So much so, I created TrainingMetrix, LLC, a company dedicated to producing simple, yet sophisticated, analytics for athletes, triathletes, beginners, and anyone interested in fitness analytics in general.

The Purpose

Now that the shameless plug for my company has been accomplished, let’s get back to our second installment of building a training dashboard in Excel. The concept behind chart two is simply a check to see if the amount of time you are investing per day to accomplish your goals is appropriate.  The question is, “How much time am I investing each day toward my triathlon goals?”

The Chart

Chart two for the triathlon training dashboard is “Average Workout Time Per Week” seen below:

Excel ChartAs you can see, the data shows that I only spend about 20 minutes per day training.   What does this mean?  Well, it means that my triathlon goal is only worth 20 minutes per day to me, at least according to my actual time since August 1.

Chart in Context

Of course, the question will come up regarding how much time should I spending working out per week?  For a full distance triathlon, such as an Olympic, about 12 hours per week is normal.  This translates to 1:42:51 per day.  Compare this to my 0:20:26 average and it is clear that I won’t be finishing any Olympic distance triathlons anytime soon and the goal is to start increasing the daily workout time to a minimum sprint distance of 8:00:00 per week or 1:08:34 per day.

Note that I have not created a stacked series by sport, I am only looking at overall time per week.   The high level metric wouldn’t show the same meaning broken down by sport, which make it difficult to conclude “yes” or “no” to the question of investment.   In the context of sport, the “Weekly Training Summary” chart I discussed in the first installment is appropriate for more detailed sport analysis.

But Wait…

But, you might asking yourself why the “Weekly Training Summary” chart I presented in the first part of this series wouldn’t accomplish the same task.  I thought about this as well and I think both charts deliver separate meaning.  The Weekly Training Summary chart gives perspective on where I am spending time and how it is trending over time against distance.  The “Average Workout Time Per Week” chart takes a simpler approach by asking “how much time am I investing in my training on a daily basis.” Both are similar, but they tell different stories.

The Next Installment Is…

With TrainingMetrix coming up to speed and I continue to experiment with fitness and workout analytics, there is a lot on this topic still to come.  In fact, I would like to address the issue of tracking workout intensity over time in a simple, yet sophisticated way that anyone can do without expensive software.

Until later…  Happy Triathloning!

Triathlon Training Update – January 2011


It has been a while since I gave an update on my triathlon training.  Seems like after last year’s Carpinteria Triathlon, I went into hibernation.  For one reason or another, it was simply time to slow down, deal with life and do some regrouping.  So, the winter months were not exactly the most productive in terms of triathlon training.

But, it wasn’t like I spent the winter in bed.  In contrast to last winter where I spent quite a bit of time improving my physical side, this winter I focused more on the mental side.  I spent time reflecting on 2009 and 2010 triathlon seasons, studying “the mental edge” and positive visualization.  I learned a lot about what it meant to perform mentally whether during training or during a race.

Studying the Mental Edge

Two books helped me focus and provided some surprise inspiration.  Two of the books, “Zero Regrets” and “Spirit of the Dancing Warrior” are summarized in my post, Some Inspiration: Apolo and a Warrior.  The third book, Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior, is an interesting tale that parallels the other two.  Simply by being focused, in control, and breathing calmly, one can become a warrior at everything they do.

All three books have made me reconsider my approach to everything, but I am learning that becoming a warrior requires discipline, practice and even more discipline.  However, when I achieve the warrior state whether swimming, biking or running, the results are fantastic.  It is like I am transported to a land where gravity works with me, not against me and every step or stroke is pure bliss.  The hard part is getting to that state, which requires one’s mind to let go of all thoughts, step above any muscle pain and focus on breathing.  It takes practice.

C is for Consistency

Speaking of practice, my physical workouts have been sporadic.  Like I said before, life can be quite busy at times, especially during the holidays and end of year.

Daily workout score with moving average.

As you can see in the chart above, my triathlon training is rather inconsistent.  Each marker represents a workout with the value being a function of time and intensity.  Not only has the frequency of workouts dropped off, but also the intensity, starting in mid-January.  In fact, February has been dismal with more zero intensity days since I was an office potato.

The primary workout each week has been a cross training workout that combines strength with cardio training. The workout starts with intervals on the treadmill, then two circuits of strength and usually ending with more intervals on the bike or elliptical.

Weekends would include a long bike, run, swim or combination of the three.  I also started attending a group swim workout at the local pool, which proved to be highly beneficial.  Not only is it a longer pool, at 50m, but very motivational as swimming with other more competent athletes really makes me push harder.  My swim workouts have gone from 500-600 meters to well over 1 kilometer.

Going Forward

So, what’s next? Keep moving forward.  My first triathlon is the Ventura Triathlon at the end of June.  This gives me plenty of time to build my competitive spirit and get back into shape.  With the goal of completing the olympic course at the Carpinteria Triathlon in September, it is clearly time to come of hibernation and get going.  Bears can spend an entire year in their caves!

Mapping 2010 Workouts


One of the cool things about using a GPS enabled heart rate monitor, such as the Garmin 305, is that you can easily map your workouts.  Not only does this provide you with pace, distance, and elevation data, but it also gives you an entirely new source of motivation and inspiration.

Take the images below, for instance.  I took all of the data from Garmin Training Center and imported it into Google Earth.  Suddenly, in front of me was an entire year’s worth of workouts and races.   Wow…

Greater Santa Barbara and Goleta Area

You can see in the above map how concentrated my workouts are in certain areas of greater Santa Barbara/Goleta.  The waterfront of SB, to Goleta, the airport, and UCSB.  Included in this map are the UCSB Triathlon, Santa Barbara Triathlon Chardonnay 10-miler and my Jesusita Trail runs.

Looks I got around on foot and the bike, but one thing bugs me… how isolated the groups are. Perhaps, in 2011, I will have to bridge the gaps.

Carpinteria

I had some issues where Google Earth would not draw Carpinteria routes with Santa Barbara.  So, the above map is the area just off the right of the Santa Barbara/Goleta map.  Workouts in this area include the turn-around for long bike rides via the 150 and the Carpinteria Triathlon course.  Most of these workouts originated at East Beach in SB, but some started at the Carpinteria State Park.

Oxnard, Ventura and Points South

This area is where 2010 began, with the Boney Mountain Trail Run, which is mapped in the lower right of the map.  We also have the Ventura Triathlon, Strawberry Fields Triathlon and the Camarillo Duathlon (not as an official participant) mapped out as well.  Pretty exciting.

2011 Inspiration

Looking at these maps has already provided some inspiration for 2011.  As I noted before, I would love to start connecting the gaps between Goleta, Santa Barbara and Ventura.  This is going to mean climbing some gnarly hills, many, many more miles on foot and on the bike.  But then endurance athletes are known for their insane abilities.

I seriously can’t wait until next year, when I can review the 2011 maps and see where I have been.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get some training in outside of California!

The First Ride of 2011!


First, Happy New Year!  What better way to welcome the new year, than with an awesome bike ride through Goleta, Ca.  While the weather was a tad on the chilly side, the brilliant, bright sun and clear weather made for a refreshing ride.

My goal for this ride was simply to take it easy, go the distance and feel my muscles out for what they can put out.  I was nervous that I lost some strength over the past few weeks since I haven’t been riding near as much as I’ve been running.

What I discovered is that my muscles are doing just fine.  While I did feel drained earlier than expected, I am quite happy with the outcome.  The ride lasted 01:08:34 and covered 17.8 miles at an average speed of 15.6 mph.  Not my fastest performance for the Goleta Loop, but I’ll take it.

Averages per Mile

The above chart shows the mile split times for average speed (column: blue), average cadence (line: red), and average heart rate (line: tan).   The reason why I built this chart was to see what cycling looks like compared to running.  Here are some highlights:

  1. It took me about four miles before I got warmed up.
  2. I have no idea why I don’t have data for miles 6 and 8.
  3. The cadence and heart rate remains fairly consistent, with speed having the most deviation.  I think this means I maintaining effort on hills and letting the speed slow down, where I should be trying harder to maintain speed with more effort.
  4. You can see that I cranked it up for the last two miles as the heart rate climbed steadily.
  5. Mile 16 is the fastest at nearly 20mph average thanks to a steady, downward slope.  You can see the cadence is significantly lower as well since I didn’t maintain effort during this split.

The point of this is to say that as I continue to train in 2011, I need to be fully aware of my body, my effort and what is happening around me.  It is fine tuning the “mental edge” and putting mind over body (to a point!).

The first ride of 2011 is in the history books.  Not only did I get to enjoy some beautiful weather, but I learned a lot about how I ride…  something to improve upon in 2011.

Building a Triathlon Training Dashboard


A number of posts back, I talked about the creation of a triathlon training dashboard that would help me track my workouts and training status. I viewed the creation of this dashboard as an essential part of my training, after all keeping logs and journals during any fitness journey can provide inspiration and help identify key areas of focus. Keeping track of your workouts, goals, and performance is a very important part of triathlon training.

As an Analyst by day, I understand the importance of tracking metrics that drive success as well as drilling down into the meaning behind them.  Just like when I drill down into Sales to understand a change in pattern, drilling down into my own life and training is just as important to help me do my best at the next triathlon.

The original goal of the dashboard was to summarize all of the different components that drive performance in a triathlon or workout and track them as I worked toward my goals. My thought was to take these key metrics of workout intensity, duration, nutritional intake, and even life components like stress and sleep quality, record them in Excel and have them automatically roll-up into a series of charts.  The training dashboard would then be a combination of nutrition and workouts in a single view that helped me understand how I was tracking toward goals.  And, if I was off pace for goals, a drill down capability to figure out where I was going wrong… was it nutrition?  was it lack of sleep?  what was causing my lack of true performance?

While the dashboard I was building in Excel was always considered to be a work in progress, it never developed much beyond helping me understand:

  1. how much time was spending on training by sport
  2. how my running pace and cycling speed was improving
  3. what my focus was for the week
  4. when my next race occurred

The bulk of my nutrition and workout data was still being analyzed in Training Peaks as Premium subscriber. While the Training Peaks solution offers a great way to summarize and share workouts and nutrition data, it does not do a very good job of putting it all together.  Each area of focus still reside in their respective charts and it is very difficult to correlate a poor diet back to a decrease in performance.

As I continue to develop my personal Excel training dashboard, I must recognize where I have been struggling and why it is not easy to create a brilliant dashboard for triathletes or any other athlete for that matter. Here is why:

  1. Capturing workout intensity is a mathematical formula that is very difficult to capture.  In fact, Training Peaks developed their own proprietary formula that uses a number of data points to calculate a Training Stress Score (TSS) that rates the workout.   The best I have come up with is a factor of time and heart rate.  This is the biggest obstacle.
  2. Capturing life variables such as stress, sleep quality and positive visualization in an objective manner is difficult.  While I can easily record a point score for each variable in Excel and average them in my dashboard, the score I assign is based on a relative feeling against yesterday or the day before.  Since I have never experienced “worst” stress, how do I know what it really is?
  3. Normalizing component scores so they roll up into a single score.  My life metrics, nutritional scoring, and workout intensity scoring are all on scales.  To roll them up, I need to make sure each metric is weighted correctly.

Solving these issues will help me cross some major hurdles and reinvigorate life into my existing dashboard.  I hope to, in the future, automate and possibly market the dashboard to my readers.  I really think that Training Peaks and other solutions have yet to truly deliver on triathlon training analytics, let alone deliver a meaningful triathlon training dashboard.  After all, Training Peaks was built for cyclists, not triathletes.

*Update, 10/24/2011 – After working on various training dashboards in Excel, I decided it was time to share them with the public.  I founded a company called TrainingMetrix, LLC, with the purpose of bringing simple, yet sophisticated training analysis to athletes of all types, include triathletes.  Check out our community for more information.

If you are interested in helping me out with this project and/or interested in testing a beta dashboard, please email me at:  aricrmh ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com.

For more posts on triathlon training dashboard, please click here.

Stay tuned for more exciting things to come!