Friday, July 25, 2014

Stumpy Creek International 2014

Stumpy is a great race. Very little more needs to be said about the event itself; if you live in NC and haven't raced it AND you read this blog I would be very surprised. Why would I be surprised? Because it's a good race and if you know me chances are you've raced it too. At various points in time the best triathletes in NC have been there.

2010 (first year) - Scott Woodbury himself takes the W, beating out Tom Clifford, Frank Fawcett and myself at 2nd, 3rd and 4th place overall.

2011 - Matt Wisthoff proces again that he is the best short course triathlete in NC or any of the surrounding states, beating Tom and myself in 2nd and 3rd.  Somehow I have a run time of 35:52 that year. Knowing that the run course hasn't changed I am not sure where that came from (Tom's run time was 33:32 for reference...)

2012 - Doug Van Wie comes crashing into our little NC party and takes the W ahead of me. My memory of this race is riding as hard as I could on the bike and finally making contact with DVW coming into T2 and then - as a result - having no legs left to run.

2013 - Finally my year as I beat Matt for the first time ever and Derek comes in a close 3rd place.

This year felt, in many respects, like a revisit of 2013.

There would be no Wisty making a late, long-haired appearance. I knew Derek, a late sign-up, was going to be the main competition at this race.  Despite knowing Scott was back in good shape I was caught a little unawares at how close he was at the end of the swim, bike and run...

The only interesting story from this past week other than the race was my brief journey into hell (sliiiiight exaggeration) during a mountain bike ride on Monday.  I had just gotten my brand new bicycle (Specialized Epic Expert with 1 ride to that point) and figured on getting in a bonus ride on Monday afternoon after getting my day's workouts done prior to going into work. I headed to the Backyard Trails and was cruising along when I came upon a section I'd never attempted.  For some reason I felt like it would be a good time to try this and so I did and fell over immediately on the beginning (awkward, downhill, super slow narrow left hand turn).  I stood up, turned off my camera and started making my way back on my bike and on the trail. I then felt a slight, painful sting on my ankle.  I looked down and noticed a bunch of bees/yellow jackets sitting on my ankles, quads and wrist. At that point, the pain became an immense rush of "HOLY SH*% WHAT IS HAPPENING" and I began screaming like a little girl and sprinting with my bike down the trail.  I sprinted, all-out, for probably 20 or 30 seconds (in my bike shoes pushing my bike, mind you).  The pain was incredible.  I then started trying to swipe away the little devils still attached to me. Once I had gotten them all off and gotten on my bike and ridden even further from the scene I took the time to do an assessment. As best I could tell, I had two stings on my right wrist, one on my left wrist, one on my right hip, one on my right hammy, five or six on my right ankle and two or three on my left ankle. I got back to my car, took some benadryl and basically (after eating dinner) went home and went to bed, hoping that the sting pain would abate and there would be no swelling (or that I'd wake up in the middle of the night in anaphylatic shock).  I woke up Tuesday AM and felt TERRIBLE (but alive). I took more Benadryl (luckily, it would appear as though I have no allergic reaction to bees...).  It took a couple of days for the effects to wear off but by race day I felt back to normal (despite having black dots around my ankles...ew).

Anyway, back to the race.

Swim - 21:36 (2nd)

I figured the swim would go as it "normally" does when Derek and I race: Derek takes it out hard, I catch up and sit on his feet the rest of the swim.  Well, that was sooooort of what happened. Derek took it out slower than Scott and I did (I was in the middle with Derek on my left and Scott on my right), which was confusing at first. He was testing out wearing his short sleeved tri suit under his swim skin (so sleeves "out," which is perfectly legal according to USAT rules - not WTC mind you) so I was kinda thinking maybe this was slowing him down.

After about 2 or 300 meters he disabused me of that notion and accelerated HARD so I moved to the left and jumped on his feet.  We remained in this position to the first turn buoy, at which point I looked back and saw we had a very slight gap on someone who I assumed was Scott and a pretty big gap to the next person after that.  Another 100m on Derek's feet then another left turn.  At this point it was a long straight stretch back to the transition area. Derek would surge every 2-3 minutes which always sort of caught me by surprised so I had to play catch-up to get back on his feet.  At the second to last buoy we turned and I saw Scott was still back there, only 20-30 meters back so at this point I thought maybe I'd try and throw in an attack on Derek.  We got to the last little section and I came around Derek and put in a hard effort just to make him stress a little bit. He breathes to the right mostly so I passed him on the left and felt him slap my feet a couple of times as he moved over. I then slowed down and cruised in for a bit.  But then, for a reason unbeknownst to me or anyone else, I surged again and came into the finish with Derek right behind.

Photo courtesy Craig Carver via JRC Facebook

T1 - 0:42

I sprinted through T1 but had a bit of an issue getting my helmet on so lost a couple of seconds there.

Bike - 1:07:04 (2nd)

Ahhh, the bike. I have traditionally had very good bike splits at this race...

I made my way out of the venue and up the hill onto Perth Rd and Derek was right there with me. He let me lead for about 15-20 minutes until we turned off State Park Rd and started a climb. He came around me up the hill and once he was ahead to try and match his pace was requiring about 450 watts up the hill.  Once we crested it was still heavy on the gas pedal at 300+ and I just didn't have the gas.

Over the next 20-30 minutes I watched Derek get slowly further and further away until he was basically out of sight. I had a lot of trouble motivation myself to push so was basically rolling along at below half-ironman effort.

Once I got back to Perth Rd and endured the hellacious pavement chatter I looked back and could see a lone speck off in the distance that I assumed was Scott.  I came down the hill into transition at a high rate of speed, mostly chagrined by my (lack of) performance on the bicycle.

She allllmost beat me into T2. Thanks Luke Aitken for pic

T2 - 0:50

Unfortunately, given the rain I had no idea where the dismount line was (although you'd think having done this race EVERY SINGLE YEAR IT HAS HAPPENED I would have a pretty good idea of where the line was whether I could see it or not.


So I hopped off my bike wayyyy too late and going wayyyy too fast and was basically careening towards the transition "zone." I had two options:

1) Go under the arch and carry on until who knows where while I slowed down so I could turn to my area (my area was the first rack on the right immediately after going through the arch).

2) Run into the inflatable and stop quickly.

I chose option 2. I ran into the inflatable, which was filled with - you guessed it - air and as a consequence my slowing was done safely and quickly. I looked back at Jenny who was volunteering at the dismount line and just raised my arms, completely non-plussed by the ridiculous bike split capped off with running into the inflatable. I walked over to my bike rack...

Run - 37:22 (2nd)

Not much to say about the run as there was nobody I was chasing and nobody chasing me (that I could see). I thought I heard Scott coming into T2 as I was heading out onto the run course but I never saw him out there.  I managed to even split pretty well if I am not mistaken and given how difficult this run course is I'd wager a 37:20 10k split on "cruise control" is pretty sweet.

Dat stride! Thanks Luke, again.
OA - 2:07:32 (2nd)

I was definitely not happy with my race.  Not from a physical standpoint but my mental attitude was just terrible.  Last year I WANTED to win and my performance reflected that. This year I just didn't want to lose.  That is a huge difference in how one approaches competition. You can guess which is better...

Here is a fun little video I put together from some clips and images taken by volunteers (Jenny), spectators and adoring fans all over the world.

Stumpy Creek International 2014 from James Haycraft on Vimeo.

Anyway, it was only a matter of time before Derek moved me to the second step of the podium.  He is a great athlete who takes care of all the little details.  I only wish I had been less of a wuss! Next time...

Which happens to be 3 days from now at Challenge New Albany!  It's shaping up to be a super fun weekend of travel and "vacation" that happens to have a half-ironman packed in the middle.  The mini van rental is about to be loaded up and a sweet drive into the "heart of America" will be undertaken with great pleasure.

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