Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rev3 Knoxville Race Recap Part 2

I hope to follow this post up with a Part 3 (I know, I know, mouth meet gun) but that one will have limited text and will tell the story via photos. Until then, you will have to suffer through race day morning with me by reading. Old. School.

Alarm was set for 5:45 and I woke up on my own at 5:40. I don't know why, but I took this as a good sign as my body was in-sync for what I was asking it to do. I quickly downed a fiber bar (2 hours pre race) and hoped it would kickstart the metabolism. I hopped in the shower (like I do every morning, helps me wake up) and put my trishorts on. Not many peeps only wear tri shorts during the race, but I like the feel and don't waste time putting on a singlet for the bike/run. Tucked my swim cap in my shorts, put the goggles around my neck (a tip for any newbies reading so you always have them in the panic before the swim). Put my wetsuit over my shoulder and clutched my bodyglide. I was ready to go.

I was to be dropped off at transition (a parking garage) and gave myself 30 minutes. It's not a lot of time, but all I really had to do was turn my Garmin on and pump up my tires. Simple stuff.

Unfortunately, we hit some road blocks (unrelated to race day events) and my irascible side came out. DAMMIT! WE'RE NOT GONNA MAKE IT! AWWWW FUCK! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! That lasted about 5 minutes until we found an alternative route and I had my 26 minutes to do my thang.

Thankfully, tons of competitors had pumps and some dude nearby let me borrow his. I like my tires filled to capacity. Perhaps I'm pushing the limits here (as I do the same thing with my car tires), but I think it's a smoother/faster ride. Set up my helmet, visualized the exits, and got out with just a few minutes to spare.

I was one of the first ones in my wave to jump in. It was a treading start, which means you tread for 3-5 minutes before the gun goes off. It's the way a lot of races are done..and certainly not my fav. Since I didn't have any concrete goals for this race (and like I wrote about yesterday I was just happy to be out there) I wanted to crush the swim. I lined up at the very front..perfect position.


Most of my races I've been able to circumvent the mayhem either by distancing myself or immediately drafting off someone else. Not this time. Our wave was vicious. I was getting hit on both sides of my body. I tried to breathe more but got knocked in the head. I basically panicked. I stopped my smooth stroke and kept my head above water to catch my breath. My heart rate was pulsing like a hummingbird's wings. I swallowed some water. And then...I did the strangest thing I thought I would never do...

I swam backstroke. I NEVER swim backstroke...usually only 200 meters or so on my swim days just to loosen up. But I busted it out. I figured it would allow my mouth to breathe uninhibited and calm my pulse enough to flip back over and get the job done.

Eh. It sorta worked. I was fairly embarrassed at having to result to this (we're talking about the 200yard mark at this point). I was watching all the green caps (my wave) stare at me puzzled. I was looking backwards and they were looking up at me. It was odd, but somewhat fruitful as the sun was glaring behind me and sighting was REALLY hard anyway. So I just stayed with the green pack and let them sight for me.

My HR still too high, I made the turn for the out and back (1000 meters remaining) and wanted to start my freestyle. But I waited...just another 50 meters. I thought of Caroline and Reid and Jay. I reminded myself that I am strong and this swim is a cake walk for me. It's all downstream now.

Fuck this...time to kick it into gear. I flipped over and took off. Zoom. I was passing green caps with ease. 400m later I was passing mostly red caps (the previous wave) while a few greens remained comfortable ahead. I never swam a 1000m that fast. I felt invigorated. The race started for me then. I knew I had lost at least a couple minutes based on my silly backstroke so I figured I needed a strong bike split to get me back in contention.

Exited the swim and hustled over to T1 (a 1/4 mile away). Tons of fans cheering loudly so that was a real boost. Was happy to be on land and was feeling strong.

Busted out of transition and quickly clipped into my cleats. Some dude was riding on the far left (you can't legally pass on the right) slowing me down. But it was so early I felt stupid passing him. Finally after he continued to ride on the left I shouted, "on your left" and he moved about an inch. Whatever. Flew by him and never looked back. I started my Garmin, but the GPS didn't work (most likely cuz it was in a covered garage). Whatever, it would kick in soon enough (4 minutes later actually). The beginning is flat until you reach the tough hills of suburbia. Time to CRAAAAANNNKKKK!

I was flying. I quickly passed about 10 riders. I had to remind myself that this is a challenging course and my first Olympic race (25 miles) of the year. My previous speed races have been less than 12 miles. But I felt good so I kept up the pace.

5-6 miles in, a pack started to form. I had no idea what place I was in (exacerbated by the early wave times). I was peeking at the calves of riders as I rode to check for my AG. Our pack of 5 started and finished the first hill together with me riding at the front for most of it. At the descent a few guys passed me and I would pass them back on the next roller. At about 11 miles it was down to 3 of us.

One of the dudes was 34 and he finally says as he zooms by me on a downhill 'back and forth...back and forth'...little did he know the toughest climb of the day was approaching. Time for him to get lost.

Around this point I made the 1/2 way turn and saw Ryan McGrath on my tail. What?! How the fuck am I ahead of him I wondered. He musta had a rough swim too. His bike technique looked stellar however, and it appeared he was putting time into me. (I had what I guessed was 35 seconds at that point).

I turned on the jets on the hill and refused to look back for chasers. The descent afterward was amazing and I was sure backandforth dude would come cranking by. But he didn't. I was solo. So solo that I could see no one ahead and no one behind. No mans land as I call it.

A few miles later I looked again and it looked like Ryan had passed the other two I was riding with and was about 15-20 seconds behind. The flats were coming up back to transition so I pushed hard trying not to be caught. The cheers were raucous. As I said, no one ahead, no one behind so everyone was cheering for me. An incredible feeling. Had another successful dismount and ran into rack my bike.

First things first, my back was about the same as it usually is. Painful, but still allows me to run (as long as I don't stride out too far). I started my Garmin and was happy to see the pace sub 7 min/mile. It was slightly downhill the first two miles which is PERFECT after you bike. I think it should be standard for all courses :).

It was hot. Sun was beaming down and humidity was blanketing me. Luckily, there were MANY aid stations and I took a sip or two of water at each station and dumped the rest over my head. Was just what I needed. I figured Ryan would zoom by within the first mile or two, so I kept the pace around 6:15 to avoid that as long as possible. Still in no mans land, at the turnaround (mile 2.75) I passed the first (out of two) guys I would pass on the run. I checked the form of the guys gaining on me and most looked really strong. Fuck. Hope they don't catch me. Ryan was about 20 seconds back and I knew my lead was evaporating.

But I felt good. My pace slowed about 15-25 seconds the second half (slightly uphill), but I wasn't near bonk level. Two to three guys passed me around mile 4 and I reeled one more in at mile 5. Tried to pick up the pace, but it was an awkward time to do so, because it became tedious with a lot of turns and the ascent picking up. Took one last look back at mile 6 to see if I had anyone salivating over me and I didn't. Sweet. Coasted to the finish line and extended my arms above my head in elation. I turned my head back at the finish and Ryan was right there..just a few seconds behind me.

I congratulated him and tried to stop him but he gave me the 'okay, dude..get the fuck offa me' look so I said, "It's Conor, dude." Ohhhhhh. shit he said. What's up man. And that's how we met. (Really cool dude, and his girlfriend Allysa finished 3rd overall in the 1/2 Ironman!!!). He'd beat me on 99 days out of 100, but I felt particularly strong so I'll take what I can get!

The post race times were bungled for some reason. They had mat problems so I'm having a little trouble getting my splits. Here's what thay have...they have mostly everything except for my bike split. I hope they can fix this, b/c I'd like to know what speed I held compared to the other riders. Astonished at my swim time, but I pushed SUPER HARD for 1000m so that had something to do with it.

Athlete Information

Name:Conor ShapiroPenalty:00:00
Bib #:275
Home town:Washington DC - USA
Division:25-29 Male
Wave:Men 25-29, 30-34, 35-39


LocationArrival TimeTotal TimeSplitPlaceTime Behind Leader
Swim Finish5/6/2012 8:11:49 AM00:21:24.4530.90 mi21:2401:29 /100m4 / 3630 / 41226 / 29112 / 13501:2205:0505:0505:05


LocationArrival TimeTotal TimeSplitPlaceTime Behind Leader
Bike Start5/6/2012 8:15:43 AM00:25:18.2260.00 mi00:000.00 mph5 / 3627 / 41226 / 29112 / 13502:0943:2843:2803:17
Bike Split 15/6/2012 8:51:20 AM01:00:55.15012.80 mi35:3721.56 mph4 / 3622 / 41222 / 29111 / 13504:0404:3504:3504:07


LocationArrival TimeTotal TimeSplitPlaceTime Behind Leader
Run Start5/6/2012 9:22:32 AM01:32:07.0430.00 mi00:0000:00 /mi6 / 3625 / 41220 / 29113 / 1351:07:491:10:201:10:201:07:49
Run Split 15/6/2012 9:39:38 AM01:49:13.4562.74 mi17:0606:15 /mi4 / 3619 / 41219 / 29110 / 13508:4808:4808:4808:48
Run Finish5/6/2012 10:03:03 AM02:12:38.5203.46 mi23:2506:46 /mi4 / 3619 / 41219 / 29112 / 13513:0113:0113:0113:01


Anonymous said...

Hey man you really capture what it feels like to do a tri-the craziness of the pack, the intensity of the pack, the anxiety of the participants before the event. Great stats. Have to try the backstroke the next time.

Anonymous said...

Great job Conor. Lot's of formidable opponents in this event. So long as your times improve the training work you do must be helping..........

Anonymous said...

Great chronological recap. I have never raced at this level, so it is interesting to learn about all the different parts--And all the nerves!!! Looking forward to the pics.

RM said...

Shoot man, that's as fast as I swim! I'm much better over the longer distance in the water.

That's a really great race for you, especially this early in the season, and a very accurate recap of the day. I didn't realize you knew those folks helping Caroline to compete, that's such a sad story, but a terrific story too.

Looking forward to seeing what's up next for you!

Anonymous said...

So are there many women or older guys that do this kind of race? I am thinking that you must need at least a week to recoup afterwards. Do you get a massage or just sit in a hot tub for hours?

Anonymous said...

Good job,ol'man. Don't forget that the reason we exercise is so we can better enjoy our lives. Stay fast, lean, smart and healthy. That's your fortune cookie.

ConArtist said...

Haha, don't recommend it...well, maybe when swimming dead on into the sun.

Thanks. Ya, it was great competition.

Hope to post some soon.

Thanks Ryan. Awesome meeting you out there. Wish you lived closer so we could do some training sessions!

Ya, tons of people from all different age groups. Women too. Usually a few in their 70's! No, training resumes Monday!

Well said.