Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's catch up, shall we?

Alright so it's been at least two weeks.  Suffice it to say that from a training standpoint I have  It's been happening.

I did a bike race last weekend, which was fun.  To be honest, bike racing can be extremely frustrating but the flip-side of that is that it can be extremely rewarding.  Out smarting an entire field or timing your sprint perfectly or getting in the last attack that breaks your chasers and rides them off your wheel (as an aside, there is NO better feeling in triathlon-related activities than riding someone OFF your wheel) as you bring home the proverbial glory (as far as amateur bike racing goes).

I was frustrated at the SC State RR Champs because I felt as though I should've won.  On the third of four laps I started instigating a little bit just to try and get people "moving." One team had been on the front the whole time, doing what they described as "controlling the race" but what they were really doing was burning themselves out to no end goal. On the third lap we needed to get started with actually racing and weed out some of the weaker competitors where possible.  So I attacked several times just to try and get people "nervous."

The lap splits (15mi laps) went from 22.8 and 22.7 mph (for the first and second laps, respectively) to 24.9mph average for the third lap.  This burned the legs of some of the group and by the start of the fourth lap the pack had thinned a bit. We climbed the stair step section (harder part of the loop) and made out way to the first turn and somewhere on the back stretch I created a "break."  We ended up with about 5 guys total and a 10s gap on the pack.  10s is not a lot, but it is when you have a cohesive group consistently pulling and rotating.  Unfortunately this group was not that, at all.  I would pull, nobody would come around...I would drop back and they'd all surge and scatter.  After a couple of minutes of this I looked back and saw the pack sitting about 200 yards back.  At this point I decided the break was going to get swallowed up in a mile or two (maybe 10 miles to go at this point) so I dropped back to the pack.  While I was dropping back a member of Team Cyclus crossed the gap and got in the break.

As I got back in the pack I noticed that Team Cyclus had 4 guys near the front of the group...  I started working on the front trying to help them get organized but Cyclus was doing a great (and extremely frustrating) job of blocking for their teammate in the break that was now GAINING time on us.  I was getting more and more agitated as I kept trying to get to the front and have a rotation that didn't involve a Cyclus guy but it proved unfruitful.  With about 3 miles to go I attacked off the right side because I was so annoyed I was just gonna try and catch them myself.  While I didn't quite catch them, I did manage to make up a fair amount of space and put in a big gap on the pack.  I ended up coming in 6th place, behind the break finish but well ahead of the field sprint.  All in all, not too bad, albeit very frustrating. .

Now, moving on to this week.  I did some more training. It rained a good bit. Did some training. Did some work... etc. You know the drill. Got to go to the Wind Tunnel again and help with some demonstrations...that part was unique.

Then I went up to Williamsburg on Friday to race at the Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic.  I was excited about this race for several reasons:

1) It's in Williamsburg, a place very close to my...heart.
2) It was an olympic distance, which I enjoy
3) It offered a prize purse to the overall top 3
4) Many friends had signed up for the Half distance race

Now, regarding #3: Rev3 eliminated the pro waves of their races earlier in the spring.  Personally, I think it was a great and smart move on their part.  They really tried to help the pros for several years and paid out big money to them but Ironman still received more "support" from pros than Rev3 but they gave back FAR less. Chasing the almighty sponsorship dollar, because sponsors care more about WTC races than Rev3s despite the fact that many Rev3s were actually more competitive than Ironman counterparts.  Oh well.

So the prize purse was to the age group field.  So it was basically like doing a "local" race in the sense that yes, I have an elite card but I race in my age group.  They didn't even have an "open" field a la JRC races. My wave would start at 6:40 and I knew there were some ringers in the group.  Rudy Kahsar was on the list (but didn't start), John Kerry (swimmer extraordinaire), Nic Sterghos (former duathlon nat'l champ), etc.  I figured it would be a good race and that I should still be in the running for top 3.  Well, the day started and here's how it went!

Swim - 20:05 (6th in wave)

The swim started out aggressively, as usual.  200 meters in and there was still a pretty large group with one off the front and then a pack right in front of me.  The swim was against the current for 1/3 then with current for 2/3 (although the current did not "feel" very strong in either direction).  By the time we got to the first buoy the group of swimmers around me had diminished dramatically until there were only 3 in front of me and one behind me (and John way off the front).  I lost contact with the group of 3 after the first buoy and the guy behind me moved around me to take the lead by the second buoy.  From there it was a straight shot and I tucked in behind (ended up being Ian King) my leader and we had a merry little time getting to the final turn buoy.  The pace seemed a bit inconsistent, but it's always hard to tell exactly what's going on during the swim.  We rounded the last buoy and caught someone that had dropped out of the chase group as we lunged and dolphin dove the last 100 yards (very shallow exit).  Ian and I made our way onto the beach and up the long transition run.

Here's a bit of what the finish of the swim looked like...

Fancy a stroll?

T1 - 2:32 

I had a pretty clean transition but unfortunately I took my bike the wrong direction (I went the way we went last year) but luckily I had a loud crew of Behme and Lisa to steer me in the right direction (thanks...!).  I got on the bike having lost Ian and the other guy (Ben Williams) due to my poor sense of direction.

Bike (25mi) - 1:00:15 (4th maybe? It's kinda hard to decipher)

I caught up to Ian and Ben within about 5-7 minutes and passed Ian after about 10.  I didn't know who Ben was, not that it really mattered, and figured that John and Nic must've been off the front.  On Centreville Rd I accelerated past Ben and then just before Jolly Pond Rd he passed me again.  Jolly Pond is kind of a fun road to race on, although it is a bit sketchy.  We would do two loops of this road (JP to Centerville back to JP) so it was important to not crash on the first loop.  Or really on the second I supposed...

Ben ended up pulling away from me a bit on this road once we caught sight of Nic and I really just didn't have any power to go with him.  My quads were burning something fierce so I tried to keep the effort level high but had mostly lost sight of them by the time we turned off JP onto Centerville.  Once on the second loop of JP there were lots of other olympic distance racers so it became a game of not wrecking anybody and not getting wrecked myself. Towards the end of the second loop of JP a group of three guys came rolling past me.  They were very close together...and all three had the fastest bike splits...

Anyway, I ended up 4th in their train but it looked like the guy in 3rd was really struggling.  As we turned back onto Centerville I accelerated past the group to see if it would break him as the others increased their pace to match mine.  Fortunately, it did. He was drafting pretty hard anyway so I didn't feel too bad. A big guy in red ended up passing me back in the last mile or two and we rolled into transition a group of three.  

T2 - :35

I had a pretty good transition and made my way out onto the run ahead of the others.

Run - 37:51 (I have no idea honestly)

I pushed the first mile of the run pretty hard to be out of sight and out of mind.  This mile consistent of entirely shaded and very rolling gravel trails.  It was both great and frustrating at the same time as it felt difficult to establish a solid rhythm and pace but it was nice and shaded.  The course popped out of the woods and onto a greenway/path/sidewalk after about 1.5 miles and we headed up a short out and back section.  As I popped out Kerry ran by on the roads in the other direction and I soon saw Nic and Ben giving chase.  I made it to the turnaround and got about 20 seconds down the road before I saw the nearest chaser.  The next 1.5 miles were all on this path and relatively flat so I was able to get my pace back down before heading back into the woods.

The second loop started much like the first although this time there were plenty of other races on the course so it became a bit more entertaining.  Blah blah blah I made it out of the woods again to see Ben immediately (so I assumed Nic had already passed) and it took me a bit of running before I got to John.  I felt at this point that I had a very small shot to catch him as I had made up quite a bit of time on him in the first lap and a half.  Once to the turnaround point I put my head down and pushed the last 1.25 miles pretty good (mile splits of 5:41 and 5:35 avg pace) to the finish but unfortunately didn't have enough time to catch anybody other than myself.  Womp womp.

Must. Get. OXYGEN!

I then got to spectate everyone else racing for the next 3+ hours, which was great fun.  Overall, I'd say I was pleased with my race. It was a good solid effort and while nothing was great, everything was good. I'd have liked a few more watts on the bike and I *think* if I had really put my head down I could've stayed with the faster swimmers (only ~30 seconds up) but that would've taken some good suffering. My run time itself was not impressive but the course did not feel especially fast and my road-going splits were all in the 5:40s so I am happy with the effort level.  

It felt good to do my first road triathlon since being hit by the car.  I think I am mostly back to where I was, fitness wise, but I am still unsure health-wise.  My back was bothering me a bit during the bike and it's just frustrating feeling like you're SO close to having all the elements put back together but not being quite there.

Oh well! Time heals all, as they say. Or maybe they don't, but that's what I'm sticking to!

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