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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


Wes said...

Yea, I'd wear something that said third place :-) Little man is setting you up for some stiff competition in your future!! Nicely done!! This summer heat is getting brutal. Stay safe out there!!

Tri*22 said...

Aww... great photos. Your son is adorable! I also have a Caleb who is 7 years old and is my greatest supporter :) Aren't they the best? They make the finish line so much sweeter :)

Mendy said...

I see a triathlete in the making. Great race report! and especially considering those conditions with the heat. Keep it up!