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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tri the Midlands Race Report– Pleasant Surprise

Going into this race I kept telling everyone (family, friends, and sponsor) that this race did not setup well for me. My thought was that historically when I’ve won my division I’ve done it with this combo: good swim, great bike, decent run. This race was so short that it didn’t really setup well for that kind of a race. The swim is a short 500 meters, the bike is miniscule at 12 miles (advertised as 11), so the 5k run was proportionally bigger than any Sprint distance I’ve ever raced. In retrospect it was pretty lame of me to have made pre-excuses for a poor performance. Every time I would say it I could feel the Spirit of the Lord giving me that nudge that says “stop, don’t do that”. Of course I just kept running my mouth … one day maybe I’ll learn.

Getting to the race was a huge debacle. Even though it’s a local race it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to get there. I got lost, lost again, lost again, and then lost one more time before I found it. I stopped at 2 gas stations, one Days Inn and WalMart to get directions. Directionally challenged is an understatement. I’ve been debating upgrading my phone and getting the Garmin mapping service for it. Yeah, I think that’s a must have for me. Anyway, I finally arrived and immediately say David parked two cars behind me. After unloading my stuff we had what seemed to be a 2 mile walk to transition. After setting up transition and finding some poison ivy to water I got into the lake for a warm up swim and swam out to chat with my friend Bill on his kayak.

My plan for the swim was simple, swim fast, try to get a draft and stay close to the lead group. Mission pretty much accomplished. I swam pretty fast, my sighting was good, I didn’t have anyone to draft from as I was leading the second pack, and stayed within 20 seconds of the fish. A friend thanked me for the draft as we ran toward transition. The official swim time included a very long run to T1. My official time was 9:46, ranked 1 of 25 in my division, 24 of 240 overall. I still have some work to do on my swim; I need to be in that lead group.

Exiting the water

T1 was smooth and uneventful. Time: 0:53.

The bike course was awesome! Except for one very short section, the roads were very smooth. There were enough rollers to make it interesting. I passed the fish in the first mile before we made it out of the Lake Carolina development. Once out on the open roads I began catching the guys from the swim wave ahead of mine. At about 3 miles in I began to throw up again and had to back off a little. I’d been drinking a grape G2 during transition setup; not good the second time around. I hammered along passing guys and holding just above 26 mph on the flats, flying down the hills of course, and spinning up them. Then I passed a Go Tri Sports athlete on an Orbea that I fought it out with for nearly the rest of the bike. I say “fought it out with” but that wasn’t really the case. I pulled us (he legally drafted) for probably 90% of the time we were together. Every once in a while he would come past me and would last for about 10 seconds out front before I would have to pass him again. About a half of a mile before returning to the development I dropped him for good and didn’t see him again until after the race was over. I later found out he owns the Go Tri Sports store.

Once back in the development things got interesting as I was nearly run over by an ambulance on one of the traffic circles and nearly lost control of the bike on the turn shortly thereafter. Then I was coming into transition on the wrong side of the road and nearly ran across the wrong timing mat. They had setup a bunch of orange cones between the bike start and bike finish sections which I had to jump over with bike in hand knocking down several as I did. It was a very sloppy finish to a great bike. Total time: 30:11, average speed: 24 mph, division rank: 1 of 25, overall rank: 7 of 240.

Trying to regain compsure. You can see the volunteer going to pickup the cones I knocked over

This was a good bike split, but there is still another level that I believe is possible for me on the bike. There were two guys that did this bike in 28:xx and then there were a handful of us who did this around 30 minutes. I believe I can be one of the 28:xx guys. One of those guys is Chris Olson, the overall winner, and the other is Jay Charles. I’ve heard Jay was a pro cyclist with the John Deer team; I’m not sure if he still is or not.

Once I made it across the mat and into T2 things went smoothly. T2 time: 0:51


Running out of T2

I went with a no-hydration-on-the-bike plan for this race since it’s so short. Thankfully there were some volunteers just outside the run start line handing out small cups of water. I took one and tried to get a little in my mouth. I think I managed a drop or two; enough to get rid of the cotton mouth at least. I felt good off the bike. I opened up my stride a little and just mentally prepared for the oxygen deprivation that would soon set in. The course was very nice until I got to the walking path section. The path was slanted, very curvy and had many undulations that were not present on the road beside it. It was like trail running without the roots, rocks and wildlife. The path wound along for a while and then went uphill and a pretty darn steep grade for about a quarter of a mile to the turn around. It was at the base of the hill that I caught and passed two Cycle Center guys that I’d been hunting down since the beginning. Once I turned I just opened it up and flew back down the hill. I was glad when I made it back to the road. I began seeing other FCA-Eers going out and we high fived along the way as I was upping my tempo to an all-out pace at the end. Run time: 20:11, Pace: 6:28, division rank: 2 (actually tied for 1) of 25, overall rank: 15 of 240.

Finish Line

Total Time: 1:01:50, 1st place 30-34 division, 8th place overall.

After the turn around of the run I had a good idea that I would win my age group but I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw my overall result. There was less than a minute of time between the 4th spot and my 8th place time. I know I have another minute in each discipline that I, with the help of my coach, can coax out of this mind and body. One of these days I’m going to win one of these races.

Thank you David for updating your blog! He may be somewhat disappointed with his results so far this season, but regardless, he's always a factor in the race and always someone I'm looking to get a time-check on after the turn around on the run. Here are some pictures of David in action that my wife took at the race:

David in T1

I'm sure my wife was actually taking a picture of my bike and happened to get David in the background :-)

David in T2

David at the finish catching his breath

David and I making sure our thumbs still work

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thirsty anyone?

Here's the Plasma in long course training mode. I should be able to go 4-5 hours without needing to stop to resupply. The best part about this setup is that I can carry 80 ounces of fluid without any sacrifice to the aerodynamics of the bike. I never understood why people would purposely buy a bike with aero tubes and then stick a big round water bottle on the downtube.

Here's a picture of the rear mounted dual water bottle cage. I'm especially happy with the way my spare fit snugly beneath the cage arm between the seatpost and cages. It's not wider, nor does it hang any lower than the cages and therefore should not add any additional drag.

This is a picture of the Profile Design Razor water bottle and cage. It will mount to the downtube or seattube and is super slim. I should have taken a picture from the front of the bike because this bottle simply disappears.

Last but not least is the AeroDrink that I used some last season and have being racing with all year this season. My friend Bob showed me a little trick of putting a bottle top over the big hole to prevent getting sloshed when you hit a bump in the road. It works nicely. It fits snugly but you can get it off and on with one hand to refill while riding.

For racing the IM, I'm thinking that the two in the rear will be feeder bottles with 3 hour mixtures (6 hours worth) of nutrition (Sustained Energy, Perpetum, Infinite ??) that I can mix in the aerobottle with water from aid stations to make a 1 hour mixture and the Razor will have something different for a little variation. I'm not worried about weight for the IM because the course is extremely flat. Less climbing than my 15 mile commute home from work in fact.

For training I guess I'll just fill them all up with 1 hour mixtures of whatever nutrition I go with and that'll be starting point for experimentation.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Festival of Flowers Triathlon

Here's what the race director said about the event: "To say it was hot at today's Wachovia Festival of Flowers Triathlon would be like saying Daniel Moss was fast - perhaps the understatement of the season." ~ On a side note, y'all remember that name, "Daniel Moss", that guy is super fast. And yes, it was hot.

I got up 4:00 am and finished packing everything in the truck. At 4:45 I woke my son up and got him dressed to go. Shortly after that my father-in-law arrived on his mountain bike at my house and we left. We arrived at the state park in Ninety Six at 6:00 AM and got a killer parking spot in the little lot next to the Drummond Center. I topped off the tires, threw on the backpack and helmet and rode my bike over to transition to setup. After I finished I did a warm up swim while my son waded in the water.

coming out of the water after the warm up

Caleb was anxious to go swimming also

The water was nice and warm, 84 degrees, and I felt really relaxed during the warm up which was great because my main goals for the swim portion of the race were to try to stay really relaxed and smooth, stay on course, and keep my form in check.

After the warm up we headed over to the swim start area for the announcements, national anthem, and prayer. I was in the second swim wave so I had a few minutes to mull around waiting to get in the water. During this time I was having some really negative thoughts creep into my head like "you're going to have a terrible swim", "you're not going to place in your age group" that I had to force myself to shake off. Once I got my mind back in a good place the first wave was sent off and it was time to get in the water. This year's course was changed a little to prevent cheating which occurred last year when a group cut a corner and knocked a few hundred meters off their swim, but we still headed out directly into the sun.

wave 1 - men 35-44 swim start

Some swimmers from my wave treading water, waiting to start

Once the swim was underway I quickly settled into a good rhythm. I felt very comfortable. There was some initial jockeying for position, and once that was settled I started sighting on the first and second buoys. The second buoy was 300 meters out and signaled a slight left slant toward and eventual left turn another 400 meters out. I noticed right away that I was swimming pretty straight and didn't need to make much directional correction each time I would sight, which was about every 3 to 5 stokes ~ too much perhaps. By the time we reached to buoy at the 300 meter mark I was already catching swimmers from the first wave. I continued catching swimmers from the previous wave for the rest of the swim, sometimes having to navigate through small packs of them. I think all that passing gave me a false sense of security regarding my swim pace. Looking back at my split, I should have pushed a bit harder and sighted a bit less. Swim time: 27:48 which includes the run to transition, 2:04 faster than last year.

running from the lake to transition

it was a long run

Once in T1 I was quick with my transition. I changed my normal routine and put my helmet and glasses on before my cycling shoes to give myself a few extra seconds to acclimate to being vertical before trying to stand on one foot. I should note that I put on my shoes in T1 because I've found that the fastest way for me to get out of transition and up to speed on the bike is to have a hybrid transition style where I run in my cycling shoes and do a running/jumping mount onto the bike. A bit odd, I know, but it works well with Shimano cleats. It allows me to simply clip in while rolling instead of having to get my feet into the shoes and pull the strap. T1 time: 0:54

Once on the bike it was time for me to win the race. I know I don't have all that much in the way of top-end speed on the run, which is a big part of short-course racing, so I have to make enough gains on the bike to hold off the real runners that will be hunting me down later. About 3 miles into the ride I started to dry heave a few times and backed it off a bit to let my stomach settle some; too much lake water I guess. The course is mostly rough road surfaces with a lot of climbing in the first 14 miles, some of which are optionally out of the saddle climbs. The effort it took in the first 12 miles made me second guess my pacing. I'm glad I decided to keep the pace up because it gets easier the closer you get to the end. The whole ride was the same story as at Lake Murray, pure carnage. I passed way too many riders to count and dueled it out with a guy toward the end of the course that I eventually dropped. I was passed by one rider with about a mile to go as I was easing off to get ready for the run. Bike time: 1:00:23 / 23.85 mph ~ includes run to/from mount/dismount lines.

coming off the bike and running to the timing mat

T2 went by really quickly, but judging from the time it wasn't all that efficient. My rack was located in a pretty bad spot away from the lane through the transition area, but almost 1 minute in T2 is not very good regardless. T2 time: 0:52

running out of t2 clicking my race number belt

Coming out T2 my stomach started acting up a little but settled down after about 1/8th of a mile. About that time one of the TYB team guys came past me a put about a 5 second lead on me. I held him at that lead through the 1 mile mark. At about 1.25 miles I could hear someone coming alongside me and decided to match his pace. Together we passed the TYB guy within a quarter of a mile. We ran together and talked on and off about different races, our goals for this run, etc. Just before the mile 3 turn around he pulled ahead. After I made the turn around I saw that Kris wasn't very far behind me and I knew he'd catch me. At that time I thought I was in first place for our age group. I didn't realize that the team Zoot Go guy was up the road getting ready to finish 4th overall and win the AG. It didn't take too long for Kris to catch me, at about mile 3.5 he came past me and I couldn't match his pace. I had to either do something heroic or let 1st place (in my mind) slip away. I tried to keep him close in hopes that I'd feel stronger later and be able to mount a surge, but just couldn't do it for very long. Eventually he got away from me and would finish 2 minutes ahead of me. I was by myself for the remainder of the run. It was a constant mental struggle against the heat to keep my pace up. With about a half mile to go someone alongside the road told me I had 2 runners coming about 50 meters back so I opened it up to a low 6 minute pace. I rounded a corner, waited about 30 seconds and looked back to see if I could see anyone coming around the corner behind me and there was no one there. When I finally entered the finishing area in front of the Drummond Center which is several hundred yards and one steep hill away from the finish line, my son was waiting for me and jumped out in a dead sprint to match my pace just ahead of me. That was awesome, I had no idea he could run that fast. Here he was at 6 years old running a low 6 minute pace ahead of his old man in sandals and no shirt. The crowd along the lake and on the hill went totally crazy for him. They were yelling and cheering. It was the best moment of the day. When we got to the hill he slowed down and I took his hand and we crossed the line together. They handed us both water bottles when we crossed. Total run time: 43:54 / 7:04 avg pace :-(

I see my son

running to the finish (the time on the clock has to be offset by 4 minutes for my wave 2 start)

Total time: 2:13:47 - 3rd place 30-34 division - 19th overall - new Oly PR discounting the 2:03 at Langley because of the shortened bike course. Overall I was satisfied with this race but not ecstatic. The competition was stiff and I'm glad I made the podium, even if it was the bottom of the podium, since it was the Regional Championship race. I'm pretty happy about another top 20 overall finish as well. Also I'm happy with the fact this I knocked 15 minutes off my time from last year. I know I keep saying this ... I not where I want to be but I'm headed in the right direction.

picking up the award

the award (would you really want to wear something that says 3rd place?)

Afterwards, Caleb and I cooled off under the showers, got our massages, went for a swim in the lake, ate some lunch, picked up the award and hung out with friends. He crashed HARD in the truck on the ride back to Lexington.

cooling off

getting our massages

swimming in the lake

more swimming in the lake

more swimming in the lake

hanging out and eating lunch

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I love the summer

Okay, so it's not officially summer yet, but my neighborhood pool is warm enough for my wimpy self to swim in before dawn. It must've been 76 degrees this morning and I haven't enjoyed a swim as much as I did today in a while. The best part about this pool is that it's a plain rectangular 25 meter pool, and I have it all to myself and all I have to do is stumble a few house down to get there.

The one drawback is that it doesn't have lane lines or the line at each end to tell you when to take that last big breath before your flip turn. I improvise at one end by throwing this pole that I found into the pool to let me know when to do my flip turn.

I didn't have anything for the other end so I just practice my ows sighting techniques and try not to run into the end with my head or flip too early. I don't mind not having the lane line because it forces me to try to swim straight on my own which I don't do so well, currently.

I'm looking forward to countless hours this summer watching the color of the morning sky change as I take a breath while knocking out the meters getting ready for the big races.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Its race week

So it’s Monday of race week. For me, the anticipation will build more and more each day until finally the weekend will arrive and I’ll be able to unload it all on the race course.

I’ve been kind of quiet lately and in the words of JonnyO, I’ve been “getting the word done” (getting the work done). I just completed a training block that lasted 21 days without a rest day. During that time I had what I consider to be break-though workouts in each discipline. The bike break-though came at the Lake Murray Triathlon with a 24 mph average speed, the swim came in the midst of a pulled neck/back muscle debacle which refined my stroke a little and resulted in an effortless 1:32 per 100 meter average pace, and the run came early last week with the 6 mile tempo run at a 6:25 pace on a route with 350 ft of climbing. I would be a kid at Christmas if all these came together on race day.

In other news, I’m back to commuting by bike to work and loving it! I’m hoping to park the V8 Silverado for the summer and mainly ride to and from work. I also see commuting as key to my Ironman build-up. It basically gets me 2 hours a day in the saddle for almost zero family time sacrifice. Can’t beat that! Combine that with a 1 hour session at lunch and 1.5 – 2 hours before the morning commute and you have 5 hours of training 5 days a week plus a weekend session. That should allow me to train about as much as a pro triathlete without any evening training and very little weekend training (family time). I may also take two Friday mornings off a month so I can get my long runs or long 60-100 mile rides/bricks in. I love training and, in a way, can’t wait for June, with its short course racing, to be over so I can start grinding out the miles and meters.