Monday, June 4, 2012

Rock Hall Triathlon Recap

I registered for this race merely hours before the deadline. With no race on the schedule between Naptown and Philly, I was anxious to compete again. After solid performances in Knoxville and Annapolis, I wanted a test to ensure I'm still training properly and making incremental gains.

Granted... I need to once again define what the fuck a 'local' race entails. 2+ hours one way is not exactly 'local'.Nor is Delware. But the start time was 9AM, so this meant a 5AM alarm (awful for me, but not too bad for the regular DC politicos). Plus, it was hosted at a location I hadn't been before (something I look for), the course was pretty flat, and the weather looked perfect. So fuck it, why not, right? I could do worse things on a Sunday morning (like go to Church or rob blind pedestrians).


Wake up and drive over was uneventful (aside from jamming out to BPM on XM radio). I managed to forget my Nuun water bottle which kinda sucked - but the fact that it was a sprint wasn't overly troubling. I had a backup bottle in my car that was smaller anyway (perhaps better for the shorter race). I drank some fruity green coffee Starbucks thing I bought the night before for a morning jolt that helped me stay awake. I had half a frozen banana and some fig newtons and that was all the food I required. Sidenote: I skipped dinner the night before in favor of 3 cupcakes...why??? Cuz I'm an idiot. With a huuuuuuge sweet tooth. That's why. Did I mention I'm an idiot?

I poured the remainder of the Starbucks drink into my water bottle (hoping to get a caffeine boost and maybe some flavor) and filled the rest with agua. Worked out fine for all the nutrition needed for a sprint.

The scenery was spectacular. It put me in such a good mood. The terrain was flat and the wind was howling. Fields of golden wheat gleaned in the early morning rays of the sun through the farmland. I passed through a couple of quaint towns beside the Chesapeake Bay that were charming and quiet (aside from my rolled down windows BPM blasting of course). It was perfect biking roads with wide shoulders and large lanes. Things were looking good.

I got a tad lost as I approached the race venue (followed the 'triathlon signs' on the road). I didn't realize these 'triahtlon signs' were the ACTUAL COURSE. If anything, this gave me an advantage as I new what to expect. Racked my bike, and debated the wetsuit issue with fellow competitors.

Race officials gave a reading as 77 degrees. That's the warmest it can be for legality. MANY folks nixed the idea because it was warm and perhaps because it takes so long to get off. Or because they didn't own one? My wetsuit, being a particularly thick one at that (yes...that's what she said), I almost decided to do without it, but changed my mind at the last minute. Why not? It's free speed. And if I'm 30 seconds to a minute faster because of it..then itt'l pay off even with a slow transition.

Swim (750 meters) 9:58 (4th place overall): 

Got in the water 15 minutes early for a thorough warm up. Glad I did. Body was totally acclimated to the water temperature and got a feel for the buoys and the turns.  Since the race had only 250 racers total..they lumped the 45 and under men all into the first wave. No problem. First thing I noticed was a young dude inching up in front..anxious for the gun. It was Zach Britton, a featured, decorated triathlete from D.C. When I first started triathlon last summer, I met him at a meet and greet where he was featured (and picked his brain annoyingly about training). He was training for the Olympic Team (or was at the time). Shiiiiit. This is gonna be a fuuuuuun race I thought. Instead of being upset at the competition (he brought some fit looking buddies along with him he was chatting with), I figured it would inspire me to push harder. So that was good. Fucker :).

Gun went off and got into a comfortable rhythym quickly. First turn about 250 meters in and only 5 guys ahead of me all clustered together. After the turn came a long straighaway through a tight channel. Sighting was practically unnecessary as the wooden channel barriers kept anyone from drifting. I rarely do much sighting anyhow. I drafted off a guy for a bit, but it seemed he wanted me to take a turn as his pace dropped. I pulled ahead and could tell he was struggling so charged on solo. The next turn I saw two swimmers ahead of me and one nearby to my left. Only 200 meters or so left, I pushed it an extra gear (I usually do this at the end of swims). I distanced myself from him but sighting was painful as it was RIGHT into the sun. Thankfully I was making up time on the dude ahead of me and used him (even though I saw him weaving). I exited the water with a strong hand to help me out. Thanks buff dude. Felt great. Breathing was under control and I knew I was in the thick of things. The guy in front of me was a mere 20 steps ahead. (it turns out it was Zach).

Transition 1 1:37 (14th fastest time):

Peeled the top of my wetsuit off (getting good at this) while running into transition and pulled it pretty low for easy off access (yes, that's what she said). Had to sit down to get the damn thing off when I got to my bike. For the life of me, I cannot seem to figure this out. It could be that my wetsuit is too small (I bought the size below me when I got it). Finally squirmed out of it, put my shoes on sockless, buckeled my aero-helmet and GOT THE FUCK OUTTA TRANSITION. HURRAY!! Finally.  I saw about 3 guys exit while I was doing all this, so I figured I was between 4th and 6th place.

Bike 36:02 (5th fastest overall) 15 miles:

Beginning of the bike was a series of turns. I set-up my Garmin before the swim but it took me 45 seconds to start it once cycling (I have it wrapped near my aero bars). I'll post the Garmin stats in a later post. There was one dude I passed pretty early on (within the first two miles).

The course was practically pancake flat. Good for a rider like me, but no downhills to haul ass on. Constant pedalling. Which is good, because I THRIVE off momentum. Something I've noticed - I'm quite delicate, kinda like I was in basketball (read: soft). If I get outta my rhythym and knoced around a bit... I crumble and fall apart. Gotta keep momentum going in whatever I'm doing (which is why I suck at transitions).

I saw a dude about 200 meters ahead of me who I figured I'd pass shortly...c'mon shortly....c'mon....COME. ON...I was making miniscule dents into him. He stayed about 150-200 meters ahead of me for the first 10 miles. During this time, a guy came zooming by me with a disc wheel (wooooommmppp....wooooommppppp). Drat! The way he passed me (like I was standing still) I figured he'd continue this pace. Looking back, I can tell he was trying to break my spirit. I decided to allow him to pace me. He built up a sizeable lead 75-100 meters, but it never got any bigger (much to my satisfaction). He came by me about mile 7, so he was in my sights the entire rest of the way. Around mile 9 dude who passed me, passed the dude I had been chasing the entire time. Sweet. In a way, we were working together to pick him off. Kinda like in a way Lebron James wins games for me.

At a false flat I saw the dude stand up and that's when I made my move. As I rode passed him I saw the USA jersey with BRITTON on it. Was pretty happily surprised to say the least. This guy is a hell of an athlete. I knew he's a stellar runner and I wanted to break him mentally so I kept up the high watts for another minute. Never looked back (I don't ever anyway). At mile 14, a young guy passed me. We were SOOO close to the end that the quick turns back to transition were less than half a mile away. So I said to myself, "Fuck this." And passed him back almost immediately. At this point the guy who had passed me earlier was slowing down to prepare for the run. By doing this I put easily 20 seconds into him. After a near perfect dismount (getting good at these) I was only 2 seconds behind him on the transition mats. And the young guy who passed me was probably a few seconds behind.

Transition 2: 0:52 (16th fastest time overall):

Dismount was great. Once again, decided to run with socks (see idiot remarks from before). Just don't want blisters on my feet. My skin is SUPER sensitive and if I lose ten seconds in transition...well...I should just be 10 seconds faster somehwere else. Aside from the socks/shoes deal (ran with brand new Nike 4.0 'em so far), made pretty good time. While my overall place was 16th in transition, 8th was only 7 seconds faster.

Run: 5k (9th best time overall) 18:57:

Back was obviously a little tight. Painful but about on par for normal. My heart rate was the thing that was troubling me. I exited transition with one guy about 20 steps ahead of me and the other about 2 steps ahead of me. I thought it was possible I was in 3rd place at this point, but first place dude was out in the abyss basking in his glory somewhere. I didn't see any other bikes in transition but granted I was kinda in a state of blur. Anyway, I'm running stride by stride with this kid for the first half mile when Britton comes from behind and zooms by both of us. Dude was flying. No staying with him. I let him go ;) and focused on beating the dude running with me. We literally were running side by side...silent.

One mile in I made a move at a water station and surged ahead of him. .25 mile later, I could hear him breathing and he passed me at the 1.55 mile turnaround. I think he tried to pull ahead, but I clinged on and we ran together again. 2 miles in..still neck and neck. Could see the other 2 dudes in front of me maybe a minute or so ahead of us. Recognizing that my quads might seize if it came down to a sprint I almost asked the guy if he was a good sprinter! HAHA! I didn't :(. Instead at the 2.25 mile mark I made a break for it. Picked up my pace to sub 6 min/mile. Kept waiting for his breathing to catch up but I never turned around and he never did. SURGE SUCCESS!

In fact, this buoyed me to the finish as I felt stronger as the run went on. No one was near me in the finish chute. I definitely negative split the 5k. Will post Garmin stats later...great run for me...easy course, but I'll take a sub 19:-- off the bike for sure.

Overall Time: 1:07:24. 4th overall.

As I crossed I congratulated the dude who finished 11 seconds behind me. Then I congratulated the other guys who beat me. I asked an official 'How many ahead (of me)??' He pointed to 'em and said "1-2-3" Dammit! I said with a smile. 4th overall AGAIN!

Was pleased with my performance. I'm racing equivalent to my training times. So nothing is out of the ordinary. Many blogs I read people are either perpetually frustrated/disappointed or jubilant based on their race results.It's surprising because ALMOST always their times are equivalent to their training sessions/blocks.

I've took the long-term incremental approach to my training. Hope to keep chipping away little by little. Hope to make small, barely noticeable gains week by week. But moreover, I want to finish in the vicinity of where I'm training. I'm not gonna employ false humility that I ran a 18:57...cuz that's about as fast I can run off the bike right now. I would love to go 18:30. But I'm not there yet, so I'm not gonna feign disappointment. I'm happy.

Now...time to go train :). Garmin info. to follow.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Great race. Nice that you recognize your competitors in the blog and acknowledge how their effort improves your own.
Incremental improvement will keep you more injury free and from getting stale with the demands of the sport.
You will get where you want to go if you follow this formula.

Anonymous said...

Is biking now your strongest event and if it is, why has your swimming positions stabilized? Can't you make up time in the 2 transition zones and practice this as though it is an event unto itself since it is, after all, timed. Right on!

ConArtist said...

THANKS!! the guys who beat me would beat me on any other day too i imagine. Wasn't like the one second difference like in Bumpass.

Ya, their effort definitely motivates to push even harder. I totally agree, incremental gains is where it's at. I hope i do..thanks for the tip.

Somehow, yes I think biking is. Which is odd because last year it was a HUGE liability. It's getting to the point where I need a better bike...I could make up 10 seconds or so, but not much more than that.

Anonymous said...

Actually a time trial bike designed for short or med distance will help you more than a tri bike. The geometry is vastly different and the wheels offer little resistance. Once you learn the aerodynamics of reducing body drag and maintaining tempo ( laws of H.S. physics) your power will increase a lot more than seconds. Check out the Dauphine time trial being run, precursor to the Tour de France and watch how smooth and comfortable the riders seem in the right pose on the right bike.

ConArtist said...

That's actually really interesting. As I think I'm gonna stay focused on shorter distances the next couple of years. Email me and elaborate please...I'm all ears.