Monday, June 2, 2014

Black Bear Tri, 6/1/14, Olympic Race Report: Further Evidence I'm an Idiot

This morning was the Black Bear Tri, I appreciated the 2 weeks off from TTT but was not really amped up for this race.  I'd considered either just dropping out, but the no refund policy CGI Racing has put an end to that thought.  So I also thought about just making it an aquabike since I figured my IT band would be a huge limiter again but the time off to recover and be right back into some kind of "taper" (and I suppose I did some proper rehabbing) allowed it to heal, at least I'd hoped it was healed.  It felt good so game on.
The glorious swag we all strove for today.
I knew two other athletes racing this, a friend of a friend, Brendan and another triathlete from Conshohocken, Quoc.  Quoc sold me his old Kurt Trainer last fall and he's a pretty great athlete.  Today was his first Olypmic in few years.  I think he'd been doing more Ironman events so he's backing off the distance to focus on Olympics this year.  Brendan notified me prior to the race he was bailing with some swimming nerves.  In training swims, he said he was having mild panic attacks and it wasn't going to work this weekend to race.  I completely understand.  Wave starting can be and is, I assume for almost all racers, very stressful.  I have a ton of confidence in the swimming leg but I still get a little anxiety while treading in a mass of swimmers waiting to thrash our way out into the open water.  I suspect my days of water polo may provide me a bit of an edge over a lot of guys at the start.  Plus I'm still kinda quick so I can get out and into line pretty quickly.

I was prepped by Saturday afternoon and stayed in Harleysville at our friends', thinking it would save some time driving up early in the morning.  It really didn't wind up saving too much driving time but I had to drop by anyway.  At about 9pm, I realized I hadn't packed cycling shoes.  I considered driving home for them, about 25 minutes each way.  I didn't want to give up the sleep time so I let it go, I'd ride in my running shoes and sacrifice the added efficiency of clipless...  I'm scouring the web to find a few estimates on efficiency studies of platform pedaling vs. clipless; it's got to be pretty high.  So far, too much variance in the suspected benefit to consider it reliable.

I left for the race at 5am, arriving around 6:20 or so.  I bumped into Quoc, being a small world, we noticed we parked adjacent to each other in the giant lot and were in the same rack within 10 spots in transition.  and we headed down together to check in.  He asked if I'd paid the extra $18 for raceday pickup, I said no and that I'd noticed a note in my final race email that I did not elect to have raceday pickup which I ignored as some kind of nonsense.  So I was a little worried CGI Racing would have either given away my spot and tell me to pound sand or, less seriously, they'd leech another $18 from me.  Seriously, a surcharge to do packet pickup on race day?  Kinda weird, right?  It reminded me of HPI Racing at TTT booking the whole lodge and marking up the rates 75%.  Highway robbery, I say!

Thankfully, they had my packet, that was cool and didn't ask for the $18 surcharge (which I'mnow sure is just a scam).  I presented my USAT key fob for proof I was current then when asked for my picture ID, I had nothing to give them.  My wallet was not anywhere on me nor in my race bag.  I ran to the car to scour for it, still nothing.  I returned to check in seeking some leniency, still confounded by my missing wallet I knew was somewhere in the car- definitely bought a coffee in a drive thru so it had to be there.  I got no love; I'm sure ID requirement is a safety policy so if some bib trade occurs with a racer that is not a registered USAT athlete or just some guy and they drown on the swim or take a hard fall on the bike, CGI doesn't have to deal with any potential lawsuits.  I ran back to the car, noting my IT band pain was still non-existent.  Another scouring of the car and then a-ha, inside the center arm rest... off to a really bad start so far and I had one minute until transition was closed (at 7:05).  They made an exception for me, even though part of me was ready to throw in the towel after all this chaos.  Surely, these have been some ominous signs, struggling just to get to the starting line.  At least getting through this was great at diminishing any remaining pre-race nerves.    Not much more could go wrong so it was time to focus on the race and it was a picture perfect day, calm winds, 65 degree water, and very sunny.
Great day to do horrible things to our bodies
I made it to the beach in time for the Star Spangled Banner and to watch the first 2 waves of the Sprint race take off.  My wave hit the water and I lined up in the front with the elite guys.  I think it's a good strategy for me, I'm not going to catch the elite guys but I do think I can outswim the majority of the pack.  It worked and I was through the thrashing mess quickly with no problem.  Seriously, thanks a lot water polo!

I am still pretty sure I sighted my lines well and kept pretty straight right.  The course is one long loop and it seemed to drag on in the middle but I kept my tempo quick and was out pretty quickly.
Not too bad, I knew I might've wandered a bit to the left on the way out.
I exited the water the the 52nd best swim... I really wanted something better than that but it's not bad overall with 328 other athletes.  Transition wasn't too bad and I had most of the wetsuit off before getting to my station where I made quick work of the rest, forgot to give myself a Hammer gel before the bike ride and ran out.  Kinda big forgetfulness theme this weekend.

The bike course was beautiful, not a ton to note but there were a few steep hills but not quite as hilly as TTT so that was nice.  Without my shoes, I was 2 mph faster than my first Olympic 2 weeks ago.  I'll take it!  I downed a 2-hr bottle of Perpetuem during my 1.5 hr ride, chugging the remainders in the last 2 miles as tiny cramps started to pop up in my calves, hoping it might deliver some relief really quickly to my muscles.  The last bit of the bike leg was downhill of flat so they never really materialized into a problem at the end of the ride or during the run through transition 2 so I felt in the clear from cramping up but my legs were trashed from that ride.
Coming to T2.  Cool watermark!
I was 10th fastest in T2 because I already had my shoes on.  BOO-YA!  I took off feeling quick on the run but struggled to maintain a solid tempo after 2 miles and never really found my legs.  It was during my run that I noticed, again, I forgot how to use my Garmin 910.  So 26+ miles in and I'm still logging time in the water.  I was pissed I missed out on my ride data, I cycled through to the run and slugged it out, starting with a 7.5 min mile, the rest about 9 minutes.  Frustrating to feel no more strength to push out a quicker 10K.  
I think this was early in the run, feeling strong.
Later in the run, posing and pretending to look strong.
My finish time was 2:54:46, and for some reason, I'd hoped to be closer to 2:30.  16th of 42 in my group is actually far better than I'd expected and 111th of 328.  I found Quoc who'd done awesome, 20 minutes faster and 7th in our group. 
The finish
The course was awesome, well marked, well staffed with volunteers and with everything that went wrong, it still turned out to be a pretty good race.  I'm curious about the time added to my bike due to me forgetting my shoes... I'll do this race again.  I give it a 4.5 of 5 if I was to maintain a rating system.  CGI was awesome to accommodate me finally getting my stuff together late.  I'm happiest that I manned up and did the whole race when at times, even this morning, I was ready to just go home before the start.  

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