Alright, on to the important stuff. This week basically had two races: Lowe's TT on Wednesday night and Hickory sprint on Saturday morning. Which one was more important to me? Well, probably Lowe's honestly. That's such a good fitness barometer that a triathlon can't really compete. Especially one where - when I signed up at least - I figured I could walk across the line for the win.
Now, before I get into what a fallacy that idea was, I'd like to delve into the Lowe's TT. What makes this "race" so attractive beforehand and so utterly disgusting during? I guess some would liken it to a 5k road race but I would probably equate it more to the mile effort level. At almost no point does it not suck.
Anyway, I had some high goals for this particular Lowe's experience. I was coming in off a lot more biking than I'd done Jan-April so I was feeling fit but tired (as usual, see my last blog post). I was on better equipment than last year (P5-6, Zipp disc, Hincapie Signature skinsuit) and the only variable was a different powermeter (Quarq vs 2012 Powertap, so therefore the watts aren't the exact same) and I had a different helmet (Bambino vs Louis Garneau).
|The view most will see ;)|
|Hair is not aero|
|Narrow is Aero. Preach it|
Jenny and I drove up and got in a decent warmup and she headed off to do her thing while I made final prep to do mine. I headed up to the start line and made ready...
Lap 1 - far too much power
Lap 2 - still too much power and now it has started raining, hard.
Lap 3 - holy mother this hurts, but it has stopped raining.
Lap 4 - I am almost halfway done, but it is really windy and looks like the heavens are going to unleash
Lap 5 - still 2 more laps?? why the F did I sign up for this?
Lap 6 - ok, almost there
Lap 7 - look cool through the finish line
Time - 20:49, with a BIG 20' power personal best (with tired legs, no big deal) on the TT bike and only 4s off my category record from last year (which was set under much faster conditions, in my opinion) and 4th Overall on the night (I believe 2nd OA listed is actually a tandem). Tyler Jordan was only 3s behind me so I know I need to bring my A game to these TT's so as not to lose my stranglehold on fastest triathlete TTers!! (just kidding I don't care...but actually really I do care).
Now, moving on to Thursday. I got a chance to help out with an IOS Cary store customer who was spending some time at the A2 Wind Tunnel. While I was sad to not be going for myself it was very, very cool to see the process in action. I got to talk to Dave Salazar a little bit (GM of the tunnel and who runs all the tests) and honed in on what I'd actually test myself if I ever get the opportunity to book tunnel time.
And now, moving on to Saturday and the Lake Hickory sprint. This was a first year race for the NCTS (although it has been hosted for several years by a different event production company). I signed up for this race several weeks ago when nobody fast was signed up with the goal of "poaching" some series points by (hopefully) beating 5th place by a large margin. Now, as race day approached Andrej Helleig (German Pro), Mike Selle (oldie fastie), Andrew Fletcher (the Fletch-wound) and Donny Forsyth (no cool nickname that is printable) all signed up; woe is me. There went that plan.
Anyway, race day setup went fine and as we were getting into the water I noticed Tyler Jordan in the open wave. Well, there REALLY went that plan.
The race was technically wetsuit legal but with a 400m swim I figured I'd lose more time taking it off than I'd gain. Very few people wore wetsuits, Tyler was one of the only athletes in the open wave that did...Smart move by him especially considering his T1 was quicker than mine...dammit. (another area in which to improve)
Swim - 5:24 (1st...holy crap!)
The swim was very simple and only had two turns; with the first buoy being very close I figured it would get a little crazy. I therefore took the swim out very hard and was actually the first around and out of the buoy. Soon thereafter, however, Jenny made her presence known and passed me on the right a little over halfway through the swim. I stayed on her feet for a bit (no one else was on hers) to the last buoy where she gapped me a bit into the finish. I came out of the water roughly 5s down on her and ran into T1.
T1 - :47 (18th...holy crap again...)
Not a very good T1 for me, oops.
Bike - 39:09 (2nd)
Heading out on the bike was an uphill for the first bit and the realization that my legs felt like utter dog-poo was disturbing. I was in the "lead" at this point and just hoped that I could warm into the effort. My watts were pathetically low at this point and Andrej came blazing by at high speed and I had nothing for him. He went ahead and the gap grew before at about 15' into the bike Tyler came by; at this point my legs felt a bit better so I stayed with him through the end of the first loop. The second loop started and it was immediately clear that it was going to be a much sketchier loop with all the athletes, cars and motorcycles. There were a couple of times where some questionable maneuvers were made (me too) but there really wasn't another option. The last 10 minutes I rode pretty hard and came around Tyler with a couple of miles to go and we caught Andrej coming into transition. My peak 5' power was actually at the end of the bike (normally, most people experience it at the beginning).
T2 - :38 (8th)
We all got into T2 at virtually the same time and I had an efficient switch and headed out roughly 5s behind Andrej and 5s ahead of Tyler.
Run - 17:57 (4th)
Heading out on the run was basically all uphill for a half mile. Andrej was making a lot of noise but running fast and my legs felt pretty good so I was kinda hoping we could experience some sort of sprint finish (have yet to do that in a triathlon...). Tyler caught me about halfway up the hill but never really increased his lead and we continued on past the first mile marker with Andrej in the lead, Tyler about 5-7s behind him and me about 5s behind Tyler (maybe a bit more, perspectives can be distorted while running 5k pace). We made it to the first turnaround and headed back up the slight incline the way we came. On the flat upper section of the course there was a road off to the left with a "Setup" sign and an arrow pointing left. There were also (somewhat faded) arrows pointing left. Andrej went past this intersection without looking left then Tyler seemed hesitant upon getting to it. I knew, based on looking at the course maps, that there was another out/back so was pretty sure of where it was... I told Tyler I was pretty sure we turned left here and we ended up taking the turn together since he slow-jogged while I was telling him to turn. We headed down the hill to the turnaround then headed back up and Tyler gapped me a bit there. This basically held to the finish where I crossed the line some seconds back from TJ. Andrej was already at the finish line and was fairly annoyed that he had missed the turn. One cannot say for sure whether he would've won regardless but given that neither Tyler nor myself were closing down the gap on him it's not an unsafe assumption that the German Pro would've taken the W. Be that as it may, Tyler won and I got second. Not my favorite position to be.
OA - 1:03:53 - 2nd
I'm happy with the result of this race. My power on the bike was well below what it "should" be for this distance so to have a good result in spite of a less than stellar bike ride is always pleasing. It's ironic to me now that this race felt like a disadvantage compared to Andrej and Tyler. My swim has improved so much that I actually WANT a longer swim against those guys. Against Van Wie and Wistoff I'd prefer a shorter swim, however (I'm so needy). Anyway, it was a good race and it ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day to be out racing!