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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


Wes said...

Nice job on another stellar performance! Yea, you are going to win one of those suckers some day :-)

Kevin said...

Wow your fast, and even while puking. Great race. Congrats on your AG win

Tony Skrypek said...

OK man, time to move up to the Open division....whaddya think ;)...BTW, I led everyone to the first swim buoy, but I do appreciate that draft for the rest of the swim!

Mendy said...

That was a great race! I think I got a snapshot of you in the race. I'll have to send it to you. It was you finishing but you're so blazing fast that I caught you from behind.

I know I keep saying this, but GREAT JOB! That's super fast.

Nice of your wife to take pics of David. Very cool!

David said...

You had an awesome race, Nick. Man, I'd like to be up there with you, but I have some serious training to do. Good job, and I'll be looking forward to the next race!

Oh, and thanks for the pics!!

Bill Lawrence said...


I told you that you were going to have a great race and a fast ride!

I told you so!

Great race. The other commenter is right. You need to get in the open division, when you turn 35 :)