Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Belews International + NODA GPX

Number of races: 3
Calories expended: a great many
Mountain Dew weekend consumption: 150oz (appx)
Fun had: Yes

Since my last report/blog/whatever I've experienced some more racing.   Some more hard racing.  Some tough racing.  A little fast racing.  Anyway, herein lies its tale.

I'm sitting here on Sunday evening pretty exhausted.  My Thursday and Friday were pretty low key in preparation for the weekend's festivities, which began extremely early on Saturday morning when I hopped in my man van to head to Jenny's house so we could carpool up to Stokesdale NC for the Belews Lake "International" Triathlon (I insert the quotes there because Setup likes to call races International despite courses that are varying lengths, admittedly only with the bike; which is usually longer).

We arrived at the race site with plenty of time to prepare and began our preparation for race day.  Water temperature was apparently 66 degrees.  I think that's cold.  There are some who shall remain nameless that live in a small but well known city on the west coast that is about two hours north of LA who would disagree but my opinion is actually fact.  A fact as indisputable as the fact that minivans are awesome.  Blah blah blah, it got to be 7:55 am and I was excited to test out the new Blue Seventy Helix (easily the most expensive, nicest wetsuit I have yet to wear) in the TT start at Belews.  I was seeded 30th (self seeding based on submitted swim time) so had 2:20 to wait after the first starters (Matt Wistoff and Jenny).  I was excited and anxious.

Swim 1.5k - 21:53 (13th)

I started next to a guy named Keith and immediately set a smooth tempo towards the first buoy.  The water was a bit chilly but not overly so; I had double capped so felt comfortable.  The shoulder flexibility made this my most favoritest wetsuit legal swim ever.  Last year I was absolutely HATING wetsuit swims (AG Nats, BOUS, Augusta, B2B) but maybe this year I'll actually learn to enjoy them.  Anyway, I started out strong and knew Mark Carey was starting just behind me so I was hoping to see him pass and latch on to his pace.  Unfortunately, I breathe to my left and he passed me on the right; it's not likely I could have stuck to his feet anyway as his swim was a good bit faster than mine. Beyond that, I passed a fair number of people seeded ahead of me and had a generally uneventful swim.  I sighted well, made no mistakes and came out of the water just ahead of some racers that had started way in front.  I exited the water and made my way into transition.

T1 - 1:22 (27th)

I got to my bike with my wetsuit halfway off and put on my helmet but had some trouble getting the wetsuit all the way off the ol' legs.  Once done, I put on my shoes and headed out of T2

Bike 27mi - 1:06:56 (5th)

Heading out on the bike there was a steep hill and I had trouble clipping in (noob!) so it took a bit to get going.  I quickly passed a couple of people with better transitions than myself and settled in on the machine.  It seemed as though the first half of the course was generally uphill with a headwind and the back half net downhill with a tailwind (2 loop course).  This may or may not be true, but those were my impressions. After a while I passed another and from then on I didn't see anyone for quite some time.  It took until almost the end of the first loop before I saw another group ahead.  There may have been one racer or another in there that I can't remember specifically but eventually I got to the second loop and other participants that had started later were now in the mix.  This was somewhat annoying because many of them were riding all over the road and they also obscured the people I had seen up ahead.

Regardless, I kept making my way up the road and eventually FINALLY passed Jenny at mile 17 or so (finally making up for her 4.5 minute lead after the swim) and then soon thereafter saw Sebastien, gutting it out on his road bike.  I was a little jealous because I sort of wished I had been on my S5, but not jealous enough to actually be on mine.  As we got to the turn off for the bike finish I saw Mark Carey up ahead and I knew he had started 10s behind me so I knew I'd have to run him down and put some time on him to actually beat him.

T2 - :44 (3rd)

I had a good T2 and didn't waste any time putting on my shoes (trying out new shoes and new laces, Asics Hyperspeeds and XTENEX laces, both of which were amazing), grabbing my sunglasses and number and heading out just behind Mark who had been a bit slower in T2.

Run 10k - 36:11 (4th)

The run headed out of the middle of transition and back around then up the big hill we had also passed twice on the bike. I had caught up to Mark at this point and jumped in front of him to push the pace up the fairly steep and surprisingly long hill.  I could tell he was working hard so knew that this was the time to press my advantage and hope he stayed with me just long enough to really hurt.  I got some separation and reached the top of the hill to turn left and head downhill for the next mile (maybe?), passing aid stations manned with cheerful and a little forceful volunteers.  No, I do not want any water thank you! I saw Matt at the second and knew that he was too far ahead to catch so I tried to focus on pushing the pace and catching whoever I could.  We eventually hit an uphill then a steep uphill followed by a gradual uphill to the turnaround.  Before turning around I had seen Doug Van Wie a bit in front and Greg Thompson a little closer so after turning around and grabbing my bracelet I chugged along after them.

Mark Carey and Sebastien weren't too far behind so I worried about them catching me if I blew up but I felt comfortable and knew that wasn't going to happen (soon anyway...).  I continued to press on the net uphill all the way back to the turnaround and after grabbing my second bracelet I focused on catching Greg who was only a short ways in front of me at this point.  It took until about mile 5 to do so but once there I pressed again to make sure that he couldn't stick on my pace.  Eventually I made my way to the right turn which marked the last 2/3 mile downhill to the finish and I tried to push the pace all the way down to make sure I didn't give up any free time and crossed the line fairly sure I was still stuck in 3rd place behind Matt and Doug.

OA - 2:07:04 (3rd)

Overall I was very pleased with this race.  I didn't make any mistakes and the only downside was my rather poor bike ride.  Mah watts were lower than I'd want but I managed to have a very good run time.  No one else in the top 10 ran faster except Matt Wistoff and he seems to be in great shape right now so I'm definitely pleased with that.  Hopefully this race galvanizes me to be more diligent about my swimming as it's obvious I'm not in quite as far behind as I thought I was...

That wrapped up the Saturday morning festivities so Jenny and I hopped in the man-van and made our way back to Charlotte where I sat around, drank a lot of water while compressing then went downtown to watch the Presby Crit for a while.  I crashed pretty hard into bed and woke up nice and late on Sunday to set up my S5 for the bike race(s, although I only did one I signed up for 2) that afternoon in NODA.

NODA Grand Prix Cat 3/4 2:30pm

I rode to the Booty Loop around 12:30 to get in a nice long, easy warm up before heading further north into the "hipster" area of Charlotte.  While warming up I almost got destroyed by a car so that was a nice way to get the HR up a bit... I got to the race site around 2:00 and got my number and then sat around waiting for the race to start.  As the field began to line up I realized how big it was.  90 starters for a crit course is ridiculous on the relatively narrow roads we would be on; it was certainly the biggest race I've ever done.  I was in the back and at the gun the leaders basically sprinted to the first corner, meaning that the field strung out immediately.  I spent the first 15-20 minutes of the race basically playing catch up as people around me were getting dropped left and right.  Eventually I got into a more coalesced group and the race got a little "easier" until with about 5 laps to go a group of four got off the front and stayed away.  They were always within sight and as the laps left dwindled I kept thinking we'd catch them but I didn't have the horsepower left to do it myself and nobody else seemed to want to either soo...we didn't! On the last lap I moved up into the top 10 on the back stretch and coming into the corner I tried to sprint but just didn't have any matches left in my legs.  I came across the line 11th OA, 7th in the field sprint. It turns out a former masters world champion was in the break and ended up winning so that's small consolation.

I decided not to do the second race as it would have been a bit much I think; thus ended my week! Whew.

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