Wednesday, June 24, 2015

More racing with more placing

I always like to include a clever tag-line in my blogs. Something to draw you in and maybe say "Wow, that guy - he is a clever one!" Just enough (but probably said to yourself, quietly) to get you to click and read.

Sometimes, in an even more devious fashion, I like to put something in at the end that makes you remark and potentially comment so I know people ARE actually reading the whole thing! It's very secretive of me but, in the end, it works quite well.

So as you read this blog, ask yourself: "I wonder what he's going to do this time...?"

Then BAM, it hits you, right in the face. And you comment.

Williamsburg was a bit of a letdown. The sense of "I could have done much better than this" was strong in my mind after the race. That's ok though, it can definitely make a positive influence on your overall motivation.

Like seeing someone brag about their overall win when you know you got off the bike almost 10 minutes ahead of them... (but admittedly failed to execute on the run). Oh well.

I will say, not that you asked me, that one of the BIGGEST differences I've noticed in my "approach" to age-group vs elite racing is that for the most part I assume that racing AG there is always a "weakness" in my competitors.

This is obviously not always true, but for the most part athletes competing in their age-group have a weakness. There are a LOT of good bikers, but a relatively few good bikers AND runners. There are a great many "weak" swimmers.

(by the way, I realize this isn't completely fair, but bear with me as it is simply a generalization)

In the elite field, there are NO weaknesses.  Even someone that is a weak swimmer...wait, I am actually a weak swimmer. Dammit. But you get my point, right? It is very, very rare to encounter someone (in the male professional field) who has a glaring weakness and is still "good."

Luckily, I am "good" at all 3 sports. I am not especially far above average in any of the three (over any of the others) and I am not weak in any of the three, relative to my age group peers.  It is interesting to feel that way after three years of racing at the back of some pro fields. In those races I always just assumed (after the swim) that I wouldn't catch anybody. Now I assume that I will catch anybody that was ahead of me out of the swim, if anyone is ahead of me out of the swim.

Before you go thinking that I'm all elitist or something, just realize that this is a pretty realistic assessment of my thinking. I am not saying it's right or that it's wrong, just that

So now that brings us to this past weekend. Andrew Lerner, Jenny, and myself got all loaded up in a pimpin' minivan and headed down to Charleston for the weekend. There were two events on our dance card:

CCA Time Trial (this was a combined NC/SC State Championship) on Saturday and race #2 of the Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series.

Jenny and I both won the overall race at the SC State TT back in 2013 (though neither of us are SC residents so we didn't get to call ourselves "state champs") so we were hoping to come in near the top again this time.  Andrew had never done a TT that wasn't multiple laps so he was hoping to find a reprieve from having to remember how many he had done...

Fast machines
Well, it was warm. Very warm. Relatively windless, flat course mostly exposed to sunlight. I suffered. I had a good ride, but not a perfect one. My time of 53:18 for the 23.4 mile course was good, but not great and netted me 3rd place Cat 3 (top 10ish OA).

I got my butt kicked but got in a good workout. Can't complain about that too much, eh?

I don't have a good picture of myself so I'll post this good picture I took instead:

The rest of the day was spent doing beach-y things: paddleboarding and going to the beach. I once again proved my prowess on the paddle and only fell off once, but it totally wasn't my fault.

We ate some delicious food courtesy of Jenny's memories of  Charleston and consumed a giant adult beverage, which - in this picture - appears to be larger than my face.

Early on Sunday morning we headed over to James Island (fitting, no?) to race the Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series.  This weekend marked the second race in the extremely long-running series (25 years?) and would be a perfect cap to a solid weekend.

After picking we picked up our packets I headed over on a little detour to the ol' porto. I had seen one kind of nestled in the trees that wasn't very crowded and although it was still dark outside I hoped to be able to see while inside.  Unfortunately, when I opened the door I discovered that I could not, in fact, see. At that precise moment - realizing I was helpless and blind, obviously - I felt an object land on my arm.  It was a slimy, wet object. It grasped my arm. It felt to have four appendages and was kind of sticky.

I freaked the *** out, let out a little "yeeoooooOOOWWWw" and ran away from that porto. Obviously, it was merely a frog. But WHO KNOWS where that frog had been while inside the porto. It was obviously a "disgust" scream that I emitted and not an "I'm scared s*itless by a little froggie" scream.  Obviously.

Anyway, I made sure that nobody heard me and scooted off to set up my stuff for the race.  I had a small long-shot goal of holding onto Jenny's feet for the 600 yard swim so I needed to get amped up.  Luckily, the frog surprising me (note: not "scaring" me) had my adrenaline pumping through me like...

Well, I couldn't think of anything funny and/or witty.

Now here's where I tie in what I said above about weaknesses. My general assumption is that most age group triathletes are "weak" in the swim (relatively speaking). I had noticed the guy that won the Cat 5 TT on Saturday was racing so I figured he'd be a threat on the bike and, probably, on the run (since someone that's quite good at one aerobic sport is usually quite good at another aerobic sport).  BUT, until I'm proven otherwise, I figure I'll be the one being chased after the swim.

Swim - 7:54 (5th)

The swim was a very simple rectangle and we started out with a bang. Or as much of a bang as one can have when the water feels like it's ABOUT 90 degrees. I think this might take the cake as the warmest swim I've experienced.  Others in my memory are the Tuesday night JJF race last year at Cane Creek, Latta back in maybe 2011ish, and Stumpy Creek in 2012 I think.  Absolutely miserable.

Luckily, this swim was only 600 yards.  I lost the shot at Jenny's feet (plus one other guy was swimming "with" her) around the first buoy but found some feet to sit on most of the rest of the swim. The guy in front of me was not swimming a particularly straight line which made sitting on his feet pretty difficult and I lost them a bit towards the end of the swim. The swim was uneventful and I had a pretty big gap on anyone who I thought might be a contender (although to be honest I didn't know anybody at this race from a competitive standpoint).

Easily the best swim exit picture I've ever gotten (Brian Fancher Photography)

T1 - :54

Had a pretty quick transition to and came out in 3rd (after having gone in 4th) with just Jenny and one gentleman hot on her heels ahead of me.

Bike - 27:42 (1st)

The first part of the bike was pretty...interesting.  I'll call it sketchy because it kind of was. It's not a negative comment it is merely an observation on the array of stuff we could potentially encounter in the park itself. Sweeping turns and/or surprise turns, potentially debris in the road, and I myself encountered a car stopped in front of me in a median area which prompted me to swing to the left of the median.

Great photos from Brian Fancher (at a reasonable price even!)

I passed Jenny and the other guy during the park exit sequence and put my head down for the rest of the ride. There was a very short out and back  sort of triangle thingy at the other end of the course which allowed me to gauge my lead and Jenny was actually the first next athlete I saw so I figured I was doing alright against the male competition.

I held decent enough power (about in the middle of the range of what I was targeting last week at Williamsburg Half...) and maintained good miles per hour and got off the bike with a pretty strong lead on second place (who was still Jenny).

T2 - :25

I had a fast and efficient transition. Nothing to see here folks. Although I did not anticipate the bike dismount line and consequently only got one of my shoes off prior to bike dismount. D'oh!

Run - 19:23 (5th)

I headed out on the run feeling pretty smooth but ultimately slowed down pretty quickly for a few reasons:

1) I wasn't worried about being caught
2) It was stupid warm

That's pretty much all there is to say about the run. There was a brief out and back at the very end where I saw the second place guy was about 40-50 seconds behind me but I was not worried about him catching me and cruised into the finish comfortably in first.

Always good when nobody else is in the picture with you (Brian Fancher Photography)

OA - 56:16 (1st)

It was only when the second place guy crossed that I actually knew who he was: Nathan Buttrick. I remember his name because - well - it stands out and because he was 6th OA at IM Lake Placid last year, just in front of the guy who received the check from The Real Starky (and he won TryCharleston half this year very comfortably).

I was definitely pleased to take the W after a hard day prior and was even more pleased that everyone in the car made it onto the podium. Jenny barely won, coming in 8 minutes ahead, and Andrew narrowly missed edging out my run time to come in 2nd place in his AG.

A good trip all around!

5th, 2nd, 1st

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