Monday, July 29, 2013

Tomahawk Triathlon

S - 5800 yards
B - 106.1 miles
R - 32.2 miles
Time - 10.57 hours

So before I get into the race, I just need to get this off my chest: I am NOT loving swimming right now.  It's not necessarily the ACT of swimming itself that I am disliking, it is the getting up in the morning that is dragging me down.  Every single day I've had swimming on my schedule the past 3-4 weeks I have set my alarm for the appropriate time but my body has told me to take my early morning wake up calls and shove them somewhere as dark as my room.  And I have given in to my body.  I like not feeling alone so "luckily others have gone through this as well. That being said, it is time to stop being a b*tch. This weekend's race was an example of how important the swim is, both in a personal case and in an Ironman.

First, the example of the Ironman.  At Lake Placid, Andy Potts swam fast, biked fast, and ran fast to take the overall win.  An age grouper (pro duathlete) named Josh Beck swam very slow, biked extremely fast, and ran extremely fast to nudge his way into 7th overall.  He gave up 31 minutes to Potts in the swim.  Just let that one sink in for a bit.  Over a 2.4 mile course, he gave up over half an hour.  He then biked a 4:40 (fastest split of the day) then ran a 2:57 (~3rd fastest run), out splitting Potts on the bike and run by 13 minutes.  Anyway, that's just a little factoid for you.

Tomahawk Triathlon - 1k swim + 30k bike + 8k trail run

When money is on the line, everything gets a wee bit more pressurized.  For a while I was thinking I could sort of "coast" through this race and still win but then Tyler Jordan signed up race week and my plans changed.  I was hopeful that this venue would allow me to exercise my strengths over him a bit more than our previous races against each other at Over the Mountain and Lake Hickory.  OTM was a wetsuit legal swim and Hickory was a wetsuit legal 400m swim, both of which served to help the slower swimmers.  With Tomahawk being a 1000m non wetsuit (hot actually!) swim I knew that the swim would be where - if I won - I won the race.

Even more interestingly, the start was set up such that Tyler started 15s behind me (time trial start with "elites" going off every 15s) as the last elite racer.

Jenny and I headed up to the race at a not-too-early 6am and had ample time to set up bikes, hit the portos (as a sidenote, I am not sure how many others do this but I make it a rule to not look into the eyes of anybody that precedes me into the porto or goes in after me, it's almost forbidden; although sometimes I want to hold the door open for the next person, stare at them, and wink knowingly) and pick up the timing chips.  Managed to get in a short, but so sweet, swim warm up before we had to start lining up for the start of the race.

Swim - 15:00.05 - 1st

My goal during the swim was simply to put as much time into Tyler as I could.  So with that thought in mind I semi-dove off the ramp and promptly filled up my goggles with water. Instead of doing the whole swim like that I took a brief moment to empty them of their brown, sludgy contents before carrying on with the task at hand.  I passed the girl who started in front of me almost immediately then set my sights on the next set of splashes.  The water was pretty calm albeit warm and my high initial effort soon gave way to a slightly more realistic pace.  I caught up to Mark and Brian just before the first turn buoy and once turning left looked back to see if Tyler was in sight behind me.  To the next buoy my effort remained constant and I slowly reeled in another person and made the pass just after the second turn.  When scouting out the course I noticed that if you cut to close to the "point" in the last 150m you were likely to encounter some rocky ground but unfortunately while racing I forgot about my pre-race thoughts and promptly cut the corner too close, managing to pull myself along the bottom before exiting the swim.

T1 - 1:24.32

The run was long and mostly uphill...

Bike - 44:46.08  - 1st

I headed out on the bike close behind the second place girl and not as close as I wanted behind the first place girl.  I knew I had my work cut out for me on the bike as Tyler wasn't gonna just let me ride away from him so I put my head down and rode.

I managed to hold pretty consistent (although not very high) watts throughout the race and they were, quite sadly, only a hair above my half-ironman effort.  That being said, I felt as though I was moving along at a fairly expedient pace and so didn't get too down on myself.  My position is slightly different versus the last time I raced, with 1cm lower and narrower on the aero bars and 1cm higher saddle my body could definitely tell there was a difference of some sort.  It felt rather warm out and I was sweating at a fairly prodigious rate and it took me quite a while to catch my first sight of Jenny and the lead vehicle.  I wanted that vehicle to myself so I took it upon myself to close the gap down sooner rather than later.

I will say that the one, singular negative thing I have to say about the race (which is completely unrelated to the race itself), was the action (or inaction rather) of one particular police officer.  At races, it is the JOB of a police officer to direct traffic.  They are not there to tell you which way to go or be supportive.  They are there to keep you - the participant - from getting your ass run over.  Now at one point the course took a left turn and then a quick right turn.  Shortly thereafter racers passed through a stop sign (traffic traveling perpendicular to our road did NOT have a stop sign) and a police car was parked at the intersection.  Now, the only people to have come before me were the lead vehicle and Jenny.  According to her, the cop was sitting in her car when the lead vehicle came up and that was no big deal because the first place racer had the "protection" of a car ahead of her.  I had no such protection.  I came up (slight uphill) to the intersection and noticed three things immediately:

1) stop sign (but no 4 way stop sign)
2) police car
3) cop in car on phone

Now, I'm not particularly vocal but as I looked both ways and crawled through the intersection I looked back at this police officer getting paid at LEAST double-time for an incredibly simple job, sitting in her car on the phone and I yelled at her to get out of her car and do her job.  I was pretty unhappy about that.  If I had been struck by a car of if ANYTHING had happened to be that liability would be fully in the lap of the Waxhaw Police Department and not only would I be injured and/or hurt, she'd probably be out of a job. For no. good. reason.


Once I passed Jenny (yelling triumphantly although it took way longer than I wanted it to) the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.  I looked back occasionally to see if anyone was back there but other than Jenny for a bit subsequently no one was visible.  I took that as a good sign and ended the bike feeling as though I had a good, solid lead over Tyler.

T2 - :26.63

Simple, and effective although I did have to do a double-take on one of my shoes.

Run - 31:46.63 - 3rd

I started running at a slightly slower pace than I "normally" do in an attempt to feel stronger at the end than I "normally" do.  Luckily I had Donny in front of me on the lead bike and the wind in my hair and so I carried on fairly expeditiously.  The run quickly turned to trail and I had memories in my head of rolling my right ankle last weekend on this very same course dancing through my head.  I was a little stressed out about this run because of it; I prefer road runs in general but ESPECIALLY in this particular instance considering my prior history with the course.

The course wound it's way around trees and up and down some hills before spitting out onto a long flat section along the dam.  At the end of the long straight section (maybe 45+ seconds of running?) I looked back and saw no one in pursuit and so carried on with the work.  Around a bend, over some roots, up a hill, across a stream and eventually got spit out onto a gravel parking lot with a second aid station.  There was a slight uphill before coming to the only paved section of the course and also the turnaround.  Once I turned around I'd be able to get a better feel for where I was in relation to Tyler and was slightly dismayed when I saw him earlier than I'd hoped to see him.  I had no watch so had no real time frame on where he was but it looked like he was closer and it looked like he was running a lot faster than me.

Donny led me on my merry way and we crossed paths with everyone going the other way; Jenny had a huge lead on the next girl (in fact, I never even saw the next girl I don't think?) and everyone looked to be running fairly quickly but I tried not to lose focus as I didn't want to break my ankle.  I eventually came to the last mile or so of the course and the long flat section again where I looked back and still saw no sign of Tyler so realized at that point I probably had this one in the bag.

The "back" section split from the "out" section with John Behme yelling at me to make sure I took the correct route (and playing videographer briefly)

The last 1/2 mile or so was the most technical of all what with all the roots and I nearly fell, barely catching myself at one point.  I emerged near swim start/finish and continued on the last 50m to cross the finish line.  I looked at the finish time for 15s before I started chugging on some water and kissing babies.

1:33:23 - 1st OA - fasted swim and bike

I was pleased with this race and hope to continue with good results next weekend at Stumpy Creek!

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