Monday, August 26, 2013

North East Tri 8/25/13

This past weekend I completed triathlon #2.  Being another "sprint" distance, just like my first, the swim was double the distance, the bike was 10 miles longer, and the run was about .9 miles longer.  Apples to oranges.  I'm covering a lot more distance and the other triathletes with stronger bases of training most likely going to keep me from placing in my age group.

The weekend plans were to leave work around noon, pick up our camping gear and set up camp in Elk Neck State Park in Maryland, minutes from North East, MD.  The weather was pretty amazing for the entire weekend.  The downsides were the Arachnaphobia-like amounts of spiders we encountered on our Saturday morning hike and a large church group with some pretty loud Saturday night campfire revelry.  They did nothing wrong but I had hoped for some peaceful camping and an early night's sleep to get rested for race day.   I'm so needy.

This guy was one of billions and he was about a foot across.
Saturday was great, we completed aforementioned hike, relaxed on a beach, and I met Adam at early check-in to pick up our packets and scope the bike course.  The rolling hills were just that, nothing too intimidating.  The bike leg was what I assumed would be my weakest but knowing the "good" triathletes can maintain around 20-22 mph and the "elite guys" around 23-24.  The winner posted the fastest time on the bike leg at 43:31.  I have been steadily training around 18 mph always on a flat paved trail.  I have work to do. 

One thing about the winner: I think he's found his ideal mate to spawn amazing triathletes...

The Saunders family is here to destroy the field.
The second overall male, Saunders junior, embarrassed the field in the swim completing that leg in 11:11.  Hell, 18-year-old Aaron could have done that, too.  Next year's 32-year-old Aaron is determined to approach that pace.
The leader of the swim leg, and eventual 2nd overall, putting on a clinic.  I think this is only about 250 yds out into the swim.

My race goal was around 1:45:00.  That was estimating holding around a 1:30 pace for the swim and coming in at 12 minutes, somewhere between 1 and 1.5 min for T1, hoping under one hour for the 17.7 bike, changing my shoes in a few seconds and hobbling out a 30 min 5K run...

I felt strong, I  fueled well the days before, I prepped my bottles for the bike ride with Perpetuem and I thought I'd try out the best (and only) energy gels my grocer supplied.

I run on Dunkin'.  And swim.  And bike.

Note to self: go ahead and make that extra stop at REI or somewhere that sells decent energy gels.  PowerGel is the worst.  The.  Worst.
Just don't do it.
This field was a bit larger than my first Tri.  The nice part of the swim was a long straight shot from the starting line to the first turn so the wide, spread-out line didn't bother me and I surged out in the lead group of swimmers.  I was a little nervous about energy expenditure here but I fell into a good groove for the second half of the swim.  I think I finished the half mile (750m), based on my Garmin data, in 13:16, my official time was 15:20 with the additional run to T1.  Way off what I'd hoped for.  After climbing out of the water, I spotted Kristen, made a stupid face or something and ran off about .1 miles to the transition area.  I saw I was right behind Adam so I told him I was gunning for him and chased him out of T1 pretty quickly.  I guess Kristen kept up with us for more pictures...

The lesson learned here is: When I notice my girlfriend by my transition area taking pictures of me being awesome and I do something nice like blow her a kiss, she makes me look like a Jersey Shore moron.  Don't do nice things for your girlfriend when she has a camera.
Biking is my weakest tri leg.  I know already I plan to devote a lot of the offseason to building my cycling ability.  I conservatively thought I'd be able to finish around one hour.  One hour into the bike ride, I was dismounting and running into T2.  Pretty good guess.  But what was really cool was not falling on my ass during the dismount and run into transition this time.

I wasn't feeling great about the run.  I'd had a shin splint on my left leg that's been lingering around, fading, re-aggravating, and was probably at its worst this day.  I thought I'd be exhausted after the swim and bike and might just be able to put down some slow 10 min miles so after stringing together some quicker-than-expected miles and finishing with a 24 min run, I beat my expected finish time by almost 2.5 minutes, at 1:42:38, finishing 7th in my age group, just behind Adam (39th) and 47th overall (of 195).  I did get pretty excited when I passed this guy in the run right after T2:
The "awards ceremony" for my age group at Diamond in the Rough tri 6 weeks prior.
Yes, I passed the guy that beat me in my division in Diamond in the Rough.  Sweet revenge!... or so I thought.  My victory over him was the result of some unfortunate luck on his part; I'd learned he'd suffered a flat on the bike leg.  Not quite a boost to my ego but I know I can take him down in 2014, all in good sport, of course.
Right after the takedown.
Coming down the chute to the finish.
A 1:42:38 was a nice victory but I'm hungry for more.  I beat my goal and I saw my real weaknesses.  Considering I'd like to contend for top spots so starting small, I compared to 10th place.  I was 12.75 minutes behind 10th.  I'm certain I can knock off the bulk of that on the bike, about 1.5 more off transitions and 3-4 minutes off my 5K on top of a few minutes on the swim.  In my head this all sounds SO simple... I think time will tell if I stick to a training plan.  It might help if I develop that plan, too.  Adam and I discussed long-term triathlon plans and his goal is to qualify for Ironman Kona- none of that fundraising entry stuff.  Legitimately qualify. That means grabbing a spot at Eagleman half or another qualifying race at some insane pace.  I'll focus more on those thoughts later.  My focus now is being a better athlete than I was yesterday.

No age group medal this time but the conquest of a new, longer distance was very gratifying.  I am not sure about the rest of the 2013 season for tris.  If I'm feeling amazing for Marsh Man, I may sign up at the last minute but it may be time to focus on my swim base as I let my shin splint heal and prepare for some distance running events.  I am a little anxious to get an Olympic distance event in and if I can find a good one this year, I may be willing to travel to it.