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Monday, May 19, 2008

Lake Murray Triathlon - Validation

This year’s Lake Murray Triathlon ranks as one of the most fun races that I’ve raced. It was awesome seeing all my friends and meeting new people. And although I had a great time, it wasn’t an easy race by any means. The wind was up at the lake which made for some pretty good chop on the swim and little head wind at times on the bike. The cloud cover made for cool run and then the sun came out for the post race activities. But once the race began, it was all business for me. I intended to suffer and that's what I got.

The water looks deceivingly calm in this picture.

This was one of the most difficult swims I’ve ever gone through, mentally. I had to stop four or five times on the first 250 meter leg to regroup, tug on the neck of my wetsuit, and try to get a deep breath. Each time I had to watch the lead group in my wave get farther away. I was thinking that the race was slipping away from me right there in the first five minutes and that I had to get this swim under control if I wanted any shot at the podium. After finally reaching the first turn, I was then able to settle in a bit and start making gains on the lead group. I never was able to totally make up the deficit that my problems in the first 250 meters caused, but I closed the gap a little I think. Total swim time was 13:35

Now I've got my work cut out for me

I’ve come to the realization that I seriously dislike swimming in a wetsuit. About half the time I wear one I get panicky because I feel like it’s choking me. And although it may make me faster, it seems to exaggerate my zip-zag open water swimming and the time it takes in T1 to get out of it negates any speed advantages it gives me. I’m thinking of getting a two piece suit and wearing only the bottom half in these swims that are wetsuit legal but still warm enough to go without one. I’m just thankful that the next several races will be too warm to use one legally.


I was fairly disoriented coming into T1 and almost fell over while getting my suit off. Other than that it was uneventful and fairly smooth. T1 time: 1:07.

Once on the bike I knew I had to go hard from the start to close the gap left by the swim. This is not a position I’m used to being in and one I hope not to be in very often in the future. This was only my third ride on the Plasma but knew without a doubt that she suited me as I started flying past people like they were standing still. Coming into the race I’d put some pressure on myself to post a great bike split because of the new sponsorship deal that got me the Plasma and the fact that this was a local race. I need to represent my sponsor well on the bike and I was willing to totally sacrifice my run to do it, I was committed to risking it all on the bike. I never let up the pace; I just prayed that the Lord would give me the strength to run a decent 5k.

The carnage continued as I picked off riders one after another from the swim wave that went off 4 minutes ahead of mine. Eventually, about halfway through the bike segment I was passed by someone on a nice P3C with a full rear disk. I hung with him for a little while and then decided that I better back off a little if I don’t want to toss my cookies. Not long after this I spotted my friend and training partner Bill up ahead who been in the swim wave ahead of mine. A car had passed me on the left and was cruising just behind Bill as I was closing the gap. The car still hadn’t passed him when I caught them and so I was forced to pass the car on the right and Bill on the left at just about the same time. I was caught by a Cycle Center sponsor rider within the last quarter mile and we exchanged leads all the way into transition. After the race I looked at my computer which didn’t include the run with the bike to the mount line and the mounting of the bike. It said a distance of 16.03 and a time of 40:07 for an average speed of 24.01. The official time was 40:29.

Another good looking t2, no bikes on the racks means I'm in a good position

T2 was pretty smooth. I quickly got off my helmet and cycling shoes and put on my Zoots and grabbed my race number belt to put on as I ran out of transition. T2 time: 0:48.

The Cycle Center guy made it out of transition just ahead of me but I passed him within 1/8th of a mile as we crossed a little bridge. As I passed by he said, “Good job” which I appreciated; it shows a lot of class since we’d just been fighting it out on the bikes. I passed two more runners and reached a stretch without any very close. From here it was pretty much just a continual prayer for the Lord to give me legs to do this well. I could see someone very far ahead and could tell that I was eating into his lead and would pass him eventually. Just past the mile 1 mark there is an off-shoot turnaround where you get to take a look at who’s chasing you. It was in this section that I saw my friend Bill again and large contingent of other racers. I couldn’t tell who was in my wave and who wasn’t, so I had to assume that some folks from my age group were in the pack that was about a half mile behind me. I knew the next 2 miles were going to be painful as I couldn’t let up the pace without the risk of getting caught. With about a mile to go I was passed by a 25 yr old guy that I passed in that first quarter mile. He was flying at a sub 6 minute pace. I guess he found his legs. As I reached the bridge again I could hear the applause of the crowd, the music and the announcer. I took a quick look over my shoulder to see if there was anyone near, which there wasn’t, and then opened it up coming into the race area to about a 5:40 pace I’d guess. I hadn’t felt as good on the whole run as I did on the that sprint coming into the finishing chute, I wish I’d opened it up much sooner. As I passed by my son saw me and came running across the line behind me. As soon as I crossed I scooped him up for a big hug and kiss. Total run: 20:29, 6:34 average pace.

Hammering the home stretch

Happiest moment of the day

In the end my run and bike where enough to overcome my bad swim and secure the age group win. The fact that this was a local race with tons of friends and my wife and son there to cheer me on made it very special. And winning was somewhat a validation of the recent sponsorship deal. What a relief! This race was also a validation of my goal to race competitively at the Elite/Open level. If I can swim like I do in training, shave another minute or two off my bike split, and get the 5k time down below 19, I’ll be ready to toe the line with the best of the best. I’ve got more work to do to get there, but this year’s time is almost 5 minutes less than my time last year, which is a good indication that I’m on the way there.

Total time: 1:16:26, 1st place in the 30-34 division, 20th of 259 overall.

On the podium

Numero Uno in his eyes

After the race we had some fun hanging out with friends, eating, enjoying the afternoon.

Post-race activities

Bill, me and Caleb hanging out after the race

Caleb makes some friends

Great race and a fun day


Kevin said...

Wow what a great race. You really rocked it. Congrats on the A/G win.

Wes said...

Dude! Congratluations! You are freakin awesome! Damn straight that picture of you and your son is the best part of the day. You must be such an inspiration for him! Being on the podium is icing on the cake, bro! Well done!!!

xcmtnbikeracer said...

Great Job Man! I wish I was in your kind of shape.

Kim said...

you are speedy!!!! congrats on a great race! your son is adorable!

Mendy said...

Nick, Awesome RR! You did terrific and pulled a podium finish. Way to go out there!! Congrats.