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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bringing back the blog

in a big way … life update and 3 race reports all in a single post!

2012 got off to a late start after little break from sport where energy and attention was focused on getting the new homestead setup. 2011 was pretty much a total disaster from a triathlon perspective which left me wondering if my best days were behind me. After the DNF at Ironman St. George and then the 2 bike crashes, I knew it was time for a break.  The real estate transaction that had been in the works for nearly 2 years finally came to pass which gave and great outlet to focus on.

It also left me 10 lbs overweight and slow … but rested!

Winter Challenge Offroad Duathlon Race Report

So 2012 literally started with 30 minute runs, 30 minute trainer rides, and a couple of short easy swims a week. After a few weeks of that I decided to see where I stood from a fitness perspective and signed up for the Winter Challenge Offroad Duathlon in February. It’s a super-fun 2.5 mile trail run followed by an 8 mile offroad ride on a mix of dirt road, double and single track, followed by another 2.5 mile trail run. It was a first year event and there were only a handful of us competing, and with so few in the field I managed to win by 13 minutes. I really enjoyed this race and hope the multisport community around here embraces it next year. I wasn’t very fit at the time and it gave me just to boost mentally and physically that I needed to get me excited to try and get some speed going before the tri season started 6 weeks later.

Downtown Columbia Triathlon Race Report

So after a pretty good block of training with more consistent s/b/r came the Downtown Columbia Triathlon. It’s a time trial start, pool swim, sprint distance race in the heart of the city with plenty of action from hills, cars, pedestrians, and spectators to add to the excitement. In the past I’ve placed 4th, 1st, 4th, so naturally I was hoping for another 1st to keep the pattern going. One obstacle to overcome was the fact that I had yet to receive my race/tri bike from Harrell’s Bicycle World (the greatest bike shop on planet Earth). All my training this year up to that point had been done on my trusty cyclocross bike. My friend Chip did me a huge favor and lent me his Quintana Roo Caliente for the race.

The race went pretty well with the exception of a near head on collision with a Honda Civic. These short races just HURT ‘cause you go all out. Check out my facial expression in these run pictures and you’ll see what I mean:
My thought is that if you don’t look ugly in a sprint race you aren’t going hard enough!  I ended up in 3rd place and was happy to have made the podium in my season opener:

Try Charleston Half Ironman Race Report

That left me with a 3 week training block plus a taper week to get ready for Try Charleston Half ironman. And I got my new bike!

Some pictures of the new ride:

Unfortunately work reared its ugly head, rendering me some of the most stressful weeks ever. One week required that I work 82 hours! That’s the kind of PR I hope never to beat.  But somehow I was able to maintain a pretty good training load throughout that time and I felt pretty well prepared. You always wish you could’ve done more but that’s the plight of the weekend warrior I suppose.

Taper week went well and I came into the race quietly confident that I could beat my ½ ironman PR of 4hrs 19minutes set at the 2009 world championship race in Clearwater Beach, FL (a notoriously fast course). We brought our 3 kids down to Charleston hoping for a beach day after the race on Sunday and split a suite with our friend (and fellow competitor) Chris Olson, his wife Laura and their 2 youngest girls … the youngest of which is just 13 weeks old. Unfortunately the day after the race was rainy and we didn’t get to go to the beach but we had a fun time with the Olson’s nonetheless.

This race seems to have really gotten popular triathletes coming from North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia along with South Carolina natives.  It’s also become very competitive with the top 5 last year all going 4hr 18min and under. It seems like this is quickly becoming the unofficial regional long course champs!

Onto the race … the swim was uneventful for the post part. One kick to the face by a breast-stroker on the second lap as we ran into age groupers that had started after us. I didn’t have any feet to follow so I just set a steady pace and tried to stay on course. I came out of the water 27 minutes and change (28:10 with run to transition) just a few seconds behind Chris and Peter Kotland.

Chris was out of T1 first from our group then Peter then me. Chris set a high pace out of the gate and opened a massive gap. I pinned the HR at 165 and tried to drop Peter without digging too deep. I figured there were some fish up the road like Mike Wendt and David Hall that would need catching so I kept the effort pretty high for the first few miles. Soon I caught and passed those guys but then I was caught also by someone. I decided to stay with him and soon enough we brought back Chris as well. Peter evidently had the same idea as me when he was passed, as did Chris when we caught him. So now we had a group of 4 rolling along.  The pace was high but not too uncomfortable. Once we got to the turn-around we could see that there was just one guy ahead of us by a little bit … maybe a minute?

I sat second wheel (legally of course!) for almost the entire ride with Peter and Chris behind me.  The guy setting the pace wouldn’t let me take the lead and honestly he was stronger on the bike so I was happy to let him set the pace. I felt most comfortable turning a big gear (alternating between 53x11 and 53x12) at a cadence of 70 and my HR sitting in the high 140s. Eventually Chris dropped off and not too much later we hit a section of road where the surface had deteriorated and the traffic got really heavy with aggressive drivers. I let a gap open to the guy ahead of me and so Peter and I rode into T2 together in +-2hr 15min with an average speed for the 56 miles of around 25 mph! I wasn’t sure how I would run off such a hard effort on the bike. Certainly I haven’t been riding like that in training. I was ranked 3rd on the bike but I think I was 4th since the winner’s splits didn’t get recorded.

I had a crappy T2 and Peter made it out well ahead of me. Somehow though I managed to get out ahead of the guy that came in before me.  I didn’t grab my Garmin off the bike for the run so I was running with just a stopwatch. I went through the first mile comfortably at 6:30/mile and had cut Peter’s lead nearly in half. Soon I was caught and passed by the guy behind me who went on to pass Peter also.

So there we sat for a good long while just trying to run strong and keep moving toward the finish. I developed a major hot spot on the bottom of my foot and after trying to tolerate it for a few miles I had to stop and remove the sock. By then the damage was done and so every step was pain. I wasn’t passed by anyone else nor did I pass anyone (other than age groupers on their first lap of the double out and back course). Peter managed to repass the guy ahead of him with just a ½ left to go to finish 2nd. I came in 4th in a time of 4hours 14minutes setting a new PR for the distance!!



I really enjoyed racing here and hope to come back next year and move up a few places and see if I can go under 4hrs 10min ... that would be nice!


Richard Hambrick said...

What an awesome effort at the half iron distance! Great job, and welcome back!

Carolina John said...

Fantastic Nick! Great job in charleston. I've always wanted to do that half. It's supposed to be a really fun course.

teresa bowen said...

Lots of people love sports and me as well. Since I was 12 years old, I really want to join different kind of sports but due of hectic schedule in my studies, sad to say that I never been in any interesting sports.

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