Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rev3 Florida!

I've had this race on my schedule for quite some time.  So long, in fact, that I had managed to get pretty gosh darn excited about it.  To me, this race represents the marriage between two of my favorite things: the beach and destroying myself.  I've gotten to do those two favs once already this year down in Alabama but I felt like another state of destruction (oh yes, that pun was intended) would not be a bad thing.  It'd be a good thing.  A real good thing.

Revolution3 puts on a great race.  If I had to describe the "vibe" of the race, I'd liken it a lot to Setup Events but with WAY more cash.  A very friendly, down-homey feel but with that pomp and production one normally associates with WTC events.  This course LOOKED as though it'd be super fun and crazy fast.  An ocean swim (awesome; despite being no way wetsuit legal for pros infinitely more fun than a gross lake swim), an insanely flat bike course, and a flat run course along various forms of water (the ocean AND the canal; a one-two punch of osmo-awesome).

In the middle of the week, however, my thinking took a turn towards the negatory.  As with other times in my life, a Hurricane decided to throw a proverbial wrench into my plans.  Growing up in New Orleans meant that every Gulf-targeted hurricane meant some hurrication mixed with a little panic.  There's nothing quite like living in a city below sea level in between a massively shallow lake and the biggest big muddy river on the continent.  That being said, it was unsure how Sandy would affect the western coast of Florida.

The plan was for myself and Mr Caamano to head south in the man-van on Thursday afternoon; spend the night in Jacksonville and make the rest of the drive on Friday morning.

Our travel was uneventful and we arrived in Venice, FL early on Friday afternoon.  A scoping out of the race site was down and it was obvious that mother nature was striking back this weekend.  The water was wavy, the wind was whipping, but the mood remained mild.  We rested easy and woke up Saturday ready to get all the pre-workout workouts and stuff all done up and dusted.  They were uneventful despite riding 28mph in one direction and 16 in the other.  Needless to say, the weather had not yet calmed.

Saturday evening brought a pre-race mandatory dinner of pizza and a [relatively] early bedtime with questions about the likelihood of a swim on race day and performance anxiety.  I was nervous for several reasons:

1) My bowels had not done their usual movements for 2.5 days. I felt...strange.
2) If the swim actually went forward for the pros (it was already determined the AG'ers would not be swimming) I was skeptical I'd actually be able to complete it.  It was honestly that bad.
3) It had been ridiculously windy the past two days.  Certainly the windiest race conditions I would experience so far (including NOLA '11, Myrtle Beach '11, and B2B '11).
4) Racing makes me nervous.  When it doesn't, I'll stop.
5) Just because a top 4 is less awesome than a top 5.

Race day itself dawned bright (but not too early, as the race didn't start until 7:50; awesome!!) and windy.  We headed over to the race site and prepared ourselves.  I found out the pros would do a simple out and back 1.5 mile run to start the day and the AG'ers would be lined up as we ran in before they started their races as a bike/run.

I knew that my chances at a high(er) overall placing just went up as I'm a better runner than swimmer and I thought the mass start would be pretty DANG cool so I warmed up and got ready to go!

Run 1.5 miles - 7:41

I'm not gonna lie; this was pretty awesome.  We headed out with a stiff tailwind so the pace came very easy. After about two minutes or so I had drifted back from the main pack (pretty big, and filled with some phenomenal runners) but I just held pace until Brian Fleischmann passed me.  I stuck right on his heels and hit the hard 180 turnaround and turned into the wind.  I stuck on his feet and eventually Joe Umphenour (sorry I'm sure that I am butchering the spelling but do not want to look them up out of sheer laziness) came up alongside me.  The two of them lost me a little bit around the final corner and we stormed into the cheers of basically every other athlete which, to put it mildly, was super ridiculously awesome.  It's good to feel like a rock star, even if you want to barf.  I had gone through the first mile in 5:02 (on the garmin and including a complete 180) so to say I had run pretty fast would be an understatement.  The main pack had about a 25ish second gap on me into transition.

men race start from REVOLUTION3 Triathlon on Vimeo.

T1 - :48

I transitioned quickly and headed out on the bike just behind Andrew Starky, ALLLMOOST making it into some sweet video coverage.  Dangit!

Bike 56 miles - 2:15:27

Well, Starky rode off like he wanted to mash his pedals through the earth's crust and I set about minding my own business and minding my watts.  The first thirty miles was basically a tailwind and I felt like I was absolutely FLYING.  It was actually kind of hard to hold watts (which I later decided was a combination of tailwind and massive stomach discomfort) as we blasted down the flat roads at 30mph.  The race was pretty uneventful to mile 30, where I passed through an aid station and replaced my bottle of water in between the aero extensions.  At mile 31 I crossed an intersection with a big bump and the bottle flew out at 25mph.  I had only this one bottle and no shot at replacement for another 35-40 minutes so I made the decision to turn around and pick it up.  There had been a couple of guys getting closer in front of me and no one in sight behind me so this decision was not reached lightly.  I turned around and found the bottle in the grass but it had emptied upon impact, leaving me with nothing.  I said a slightly exasperated word of exclamation and headed back on my way, water-less for the next 15ish miles.

It was warm and now it was a solid headwind for the rest of the ride.  I had mentally skipped a beat or two with the knowledge of what was to come the next 20+ miles.  I put my head down and tried to punch as small a hole as possible the rest of the way.  I managed to pass some more guys the last 15 miles despite feeling like I was crawling (and, according to my watts, I pretty much was) and while dealing with some cramps in my calf and hip flexor.

The last 5 miles were the worst as I KNEW that I was falling apart a little bit (I had gotten water and chugged as much as possible at mile 45 in addition to getting in as many calories as I'd originally planned) and the thought of running was starting to seem more far-fetched.  I rolled into T2 to the cheers of altogether too many people and in (what I think was) a good position.

T2 - :51

Getting off the bike and taking off helmet, putting on shoes, and grabbing stuff was an exercise in trying not to cramp fully.  I headed out and as I was running my calf was firing off it's displeasure at running.  Not awesome.

Run 13.1 - (or just 1 mile-ish) - 10ish minutes

I ran out of T2, grabbed some water from the volunteers to drink and some to pour over myself and tried to run away from my pain and misfortune.  Unfortunately, my pain and misfortune were much faster than me and less than 100meters into the run my calf locked up completely.  I stretched it out on the curb for a little while before heading further onto the run course.  I didn't make it far, however, before the ol' cramp monster reared it's fugly head again. To make a long story short, I wrestled with running and stopping for about a mile before I decided I didn't feel like doing that for 2+ hours.  I'd had my fill of that at Augusta last year.  I was proud to finish there, but the cramping was also less intense and it was more of a massive stomach baby that had grown inside of me.  This year, finishing was not in my cards.  I turned in my chip.  Boom.  For better or for worse.

Searchable Results HERE

Even though my race didn't go as expected/hoped, I loved seeing Chris have a great race and dealing with the altered course in a smooth stride.  He learned a lot in his first half in several years, stringing together a 2:18 with a 1:32 to set big PB's in both.  It was great seeing Tara gut out a really tough run to finish in second amateur female, continuing to place as one of the top female age groupers at every Rev3 race she attends.

I couldn't have asked for a better weekend and despite (sort of) ending my season on a sad note, I know that it was not a fitness issue.  I am a better swimmer than I was last year.  I am riding stronger, faster, and more awesomer than I was last year.  I am a far better looking runner than I was last year and MAY even be a lot faster.  Who knows.

Oh wait, I do.

Next week will be a fun little make-believe "race" at Shipwreck Sprinternational, the sight of many a catastrophic triathlon failure last year.  It'll be epic.  And somehow incredibly relaxing.  I may or may not have mentioned this, but I LOVE the beach!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Team Mt. AndDewMe B2B Full Relay!!

Well, here is my recap of the relay.

Miles 1-15: Steady as she goes.  Watts are in range, temperature is great, wind is noticeable yet not strong, Bob is way out of sight and consequently out of mind.

Miles 16-50: Settling into pace as get caught by Felt-Guy, S5 kid, Peter Kotland.  Form a "group" of sorts.  Pace yo-yos a bit.  Two of those guys commit many drafting violations and neither were (ever) penalized.  We catch Mark Carey, S5 kid slams into a cone on interstate and goes down 20 yards in front of me; I narrowly avoid him. Finish up with 421 and turn off into the country.

Miles 51-70: Turn left onto small road and into a headwind for a while.  I go to the front as I seem to be the only one willing to hold a steady pace.  Maybe it's because me and S5 kid (who had caught back up, much to my surprise and relief, I felt incredibly guilty after he crashed for riding onwards; it's not like I was "racing" and I should've stopped to make sure he was ok) were the only ones riding with powermeters, but everyone else was very surge-tastic.  I felt good through this section but it was here where I ran out of calories.  Like an idiot, I had told myself "It's only a 4ish hour ride..." But then I thought to myself: "IT'S A FOUR PLUS HOUR RIDE AT 24ish MPH YOU MORON!!! WTF WERE YOU THINKING?!" Due to the long spacing between aid stations, I didn't grab anything other than water because I wasn't thinking about bonking.  

Miles 71-90: Finally at mile 90 I grabbed something, but it was too late at this point.  I was done.  I had made feeble attempts at sustaining watts and we had basically caught Patrick at this point but he (and everyone else still in the group), Peter and S5 subsequently rode away from me.  The pace had dropped Mark and Felt-Guy.  At mile 90ish aid station I was stopped and grabbing clif bars and pretzels when Felt Guy caught back up to me.  He also then proceeded to ride away from me.

Miles 91-112: The longest 21 miles EVER! The stretch coming back in on the highway was absolutely miserable.  Seriously.  I was glad to be done when transition finally arrived.  I was sad to have performed so (relatively) poorly compared to my expectations (and perceived abilities?) but ultimately this relay was just for run. 

112 miles in ~4:56 

The winning team of studs went 8:14 and change, which is amazing.  I'm happy with our team's performance though because it was composed of three friends who could all have done the race themselves and come in near the top of the field.  Triathletes are versatile.  I dig it.  The end result was 9:20 or so with Behme stoically running a 3:3X.  Having not run much recently, it was pretty darn impressive.  This was the result:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rev3 SC Recap

I signed up for Rev3 SC a month or so ago, knowing that it would be the start of a tough 4 weeks of racing. I had heard nothing but good things about the Rev3 series and wanted to see for myself what was up with all the hype...

Judging from reports on last year's race, this course would be tough.  Hillier than Augusta (which has the "toughest" bike course I've done yet in a half; admittedly that is not saying much at all) and a hilly run (nothing but ups and downs according to last year's racers).  I knew my training had been going well and saw no reason why I shouldn't be able to have a good race.  I knew going in that in the Pro field this would be an entirely different race.  I expected (but hoped to not be) to race by myself most of the way and I was not off on this thought...

On Saturday morning I drove to the Whitewater Center to meet up with the weekend's crew, Jeff Wise (president of everything at WWC), Chris Smith (doing his 3rd triathlon), and Mike Selle (old but with a courageously epic hairstyle).  As an aside, the WWC is an amazing facility.  Everytime I go there I wonder why I don't go there more often.  Seriously.  On Saturday the weather was absolutely PERFECT in Charlotte so the center had tons of visitors.  There had been a running race that morning, a dog race, and some form of adventure/obstacle race.  There was also some sort of "build your own boat then race it down the competition channel competition.  Someone had made a "boat" out of giant plastic "kegs" painted like PBR cans.  Awesome.  There are now 22 miles of trails for running and mountain biking (and walking).  New obstacle course, new ropes course additions, etc.

The competition channel.  It is fierce.  Especially in a rodeo boat

The "holding pond."  To the left of the picture are the huge pumps that make the whole thing work.
We all loaded our bikes and gear onto Jeff's car and proceeded to become a driving advertisement for the Whitewater Center.  I'm definitely ok with that.

 The drive to the race site was quick and easy (not quite 2.5hrs from the Center) and packet pickup and bike dropoff were also very easy.

Swim start, transition is through the trees on the left
Race night was pretty normal and we all woke up on Sunday morning (mostly) excited to race.  It would be the first half I've done since B2B/Augusta and I hoped that it would be a better race than both of those, since they both sucked.

Swim - 26:42

Can you see me? 
It's hard to describe the way it feels to be lined up next to some of the guys at this race.  It's a very interesting experiment in self-deprecation to be lumped in as part of a group with them.  When I was picking up my timing chip the guy asked what # I was to which I responded "number 14 please'' and his response was "Oh you're one of those fast guys!" I wish.  So to line up next to a former world champion, multiple Ironman winners, many 70.3 wins winners, etc was a bit surreal.  I am in no way at the same (or close) level to those guys.  I mean, somebody's gotta be at the back of the pack, right?!

On that note, I lined up at the back near the swim start and at the sound of the horn ran in and jumped in the water.  It was cold, but didn't feel like the advertised temperature of 67.5 degrees.  The water was churned up quite nicely through the first 100-200m before I lost close contact with the main "pack." I just focused on not going out too hard as I didn't want to induce any anxiety issues this early in a 4.5hr race.  I felt smooth and comfortable and at about halfway I latched onto a guy and ended up swimming most of the swim behind him.  One of us swam quite crookedly though, so that got a bit annoying towards the end.  I typically swim pretty straight, so I'm not pointing the finger at myself...

With about 200-300m to go the lead female caught us (and maybe there was another one) and ended up coming out of the water ahead.  I exited the water and saw the clock reading "26:40" so I was both pleased with that time but a little sad that such a time had resulted in a multiple minute deficit.  The main group of guys was about 3.5 minutes up already.

T1 - 1:34

I was pretty efficient through T1, didn't lose anything meaningful here.

Bike - 2:29:49

I knew this course was hilly, but I completely underestimated what that would do to my time on the bike.  I had a watt goal and so rode at that the whole way.  I came out onto the bike with a couple of the girls and another two guys.  I passed the girls and knew the guys would probably ride away from me up the hills.  'Twas true.  My plan for this ride was simply to hit the watts I'd been given and let the chips fall where they may.  If I ended up rolling up some peeps towards the end who got tired, that'd be cool.  If I didn't, that'd be cool too.  After a while Malaiko Homo caught me and we ended up riding "together" for a while.  The stagger rule was used at this race so it's tough to get any legal draft effect from a fellow racer.  After a while (40 miles or so), this got pretty boring so I decided to drop her.  Actually, I ended up just riding away as I continued to hold watts whereas she fell off.  (also, I realize the semi-ridiculousness of me talking about racing/riding with one of the pro females but you've gotta take the victories where you can!) My only real thoughts on this ride were:

1) Dang, this is kinda tough.
2) This pavement sucks
3) What are all these bumps in the road??
4) Lotta farms out here
5) Watts
6) A little drizzle, how nice!
7) I'm ready to get off this bike
8) What the HELL roads?!
9) That little town was cool
10) There musta been 100 turns on that bike course, and 90 of them were in a 1 mile section. (exaggeration, but the point remains...)

I was a bit surprised by how quickly the dismount line appeared as I guess I was unaware of where I was so I was not very smooth off the bike.

T2 - 1:06

I also got lost going into transition.  The pro's bikes were blocked off by a barrier that "blended" with the transition barrier so I was disoriented and subsequently looked like an idiot.  A bunch of people were lined up against the racks by the pro area so that was kinda cool.

Run - 1:24:06

I headed out on the run feeling fairly good and consequently my first several miles were pretty fast.  There isn't much to say about the run.  It was constantly up or down, sometimes the pavement was a bit rough, and there were a TON of people out on the course.  There was both an olympic race (1 loop of out/back) and a half (2 loops of out/back) going on at the same time so it was very crowded.  The aid stations were very well volunteered and I never had any problems getting what I wanted.  Although, what I really wanted was to be 20 minutes up the road! But you can't always get what you want...

I held pace fairly well from miles 4-9 but slowed a bit the last 5k+.  My legs were getting pretty tired and I felt the nagging closeness of some potential cramping problems and I was just ready to be done.  I crossed the line, DFL for male pros but ahead of the chicks! Yessss...

Eventually, I discovered that 2 age groupers beat me, one by a lot (4:10) and the other by not as much (4:23).  I can't complain.  I raced by myself, they had people around.  These things happen.

Overall - 4:23:16 (16th Pro, 18th OA)

I'm a little sad that my time was slow, but I'm happy at how much I've improved over the past couple of years.  I had a fast swim, good bike (most watts I've held for a half-iron) on a hilly course, and a fast run on a hilly course (actually the fastest run I've had with a full swim/bike/run).  I know that a 2:29 is in no way representative of my abilities as a cyclist, but only time will tell whether or not that's true...

Another bonus to the weekend was despite me being there, I was awarded 3rd place overall in the Inside Out Sports North Carolina Series, behind Matt Wistoff and Doug Van Wie.  Both are stellar athletes and seems like swell dudes, so - despite wanting to be on top (obviously) - I'm content to have placed somewhat close to them.  With that came a sweet check and the knowledge that we'll go head to head again next year.

I have 5 days of light recovery and then it's a 112 mile TT at Beach 2 Battleship Full (relay).  I have no idea whether I'll feel good or not, but I'd like to ride somewhat fast if my legs allow me to do so.  GAME ON!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Race week!

S - 14,400 yards
B - 188.7 miles
R - 47.5 miles
Time - 19.64 hours

Not much to report this week.  I was pretty tired all week and Sunday involved a missed workout and 3-4 hours of sleeping in the afternoon.  It was both awesome and terrible at the same time.  Mixed feelings of guilt and refreshing-ness warred within my poor mind.

Big deal of the week is going to be Rev3 SC, which will be my second attempt at embarrassing myself in a professional field.  The race looks to be very competitive, the weather looks to be chilly, and it will hopefully be a lot of awesome.  I don't really have any expectations other than to do my best.  That may sound cheesy and contrived but it's really true; I have NO idea what to expect from this race.

Am I fast? Yea, sure.  Have I trained more these past two years than most elite AGers and some pros?  Yea, probably.  Do I have a smart coach?  I think so, but he sure can talk yer ear off sometimes.  Is my equipment sufficient? I have the best wetsuit money can buy, one of the most aerodynamic bikes and positions out there, and my running shoes are just as good as anyone else's.  Am I smart? Mixed responses on that one.

Anyway, on paper I should do just fine.  No, I won't win (gasp!).  But I think I can duke it out with some of the back of the top 10-15 guys at the race.  I haven't raced a hilly half ever (Augusta doesn't count) and I haven't raced a half in very close to a year, so it'll be an interesting experience!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Consistency pays the bills

S - 15,100 yards
B - 194.8 miles
R - 47.5 miles

Time - 20.4 hours

This week was both good and bad.  Bad because I was a bad boy and skipped a workout on Saturday (3hr ride), but good because I only ended up missing out in ~2hrs or so of total volume.  This week has marked -mentally at least - the beginning of the end in terms of 2012 training.  It was, in effect, the second to last week of real working out before the three weeks of racing hits.

I'm just about out of anecdotes and stories (that aren't race reports) so I will keep this one short and simple.