Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nation's Tri 9/7/14: Salvaging a Race

This weekend was my final race of 2014.  When I signed up for it, I knew it would be end the tri season for me for the year so I had a lot of ambitious plans for it in the year leading up to it.  I'd bike a million miles, establish a consistent sub 40 minute 10K in the books and get to an easy 20 minute mile swim.  I had BIG plans.  Much of which never materialized.

Anyhoo, I was not really that psyched leading up to the race.  I wasn't sleeping well (which I attribute to some anxiety that I'd race poorly) and since the last tri, North East, I only ran a few times.  There wasn't much to do anymore so what is it you really do in this case?

Drink beers.

I had lined up the weekend to stay with some of my best friends in Alexandria, VA.  So after swinging by the Etihad Airways sponsored Expo at the Hilton and dropping off my bike at transition Saturday morning, we headed over to our friends' Drew and Lisa's house.  We unloaded and started to unwind after the drive and catch up on everything.  Being friends of mine from Penn State, we cracked a few beers to start watching the Penn State football game.  As comes with being Nittany Lions, the beers kept flowing.

I kept the drinking in check and managed a bed time of 10pm with a 5:00 alarm.  Another light night of sleep but I was ready to rock at 5.  Drew dropped me and Kristen off at 6 and I said my goodbye to Kristen and made my way to transition to prep for the swim and leave my gear with my bike.

Adam and I ready to finish the season.
 Adam was racked 15 feet away.  Pretty impressive in a 2000+ person race.  We had our transition spots in order and we headed out making small talk.  I started to put on my pink swim cap and Adam asked if I was seriously wearing that.  Well, duh, yeah, we have to...

Not when the swim's canceled!

Adam asked if I was still drunk and explained to me that in the previous evening's rain, the Patomac got a little poopy so the swim leg was canceled and that he knew about it by 11:00 the previous night and texted me about it at 3:30.  Holy crap dude, at least try to sleep.  I didn't bother to check my phone for any messages or emails from the race regarding any news.  We had such a small amount of rain I couldn't imagine it would impact the race.

The ONLY leg of a race I have an advantage over most of the field and I don't get to do it.  That only meant one thing to me: Bloody Marys about 30 minutes earlier than previously planned.
Pre-Brunch post-race bloody with grilled cheese garnish.  Courtesy Evening Star in Alexandria.
So we lined up in our corrals and in time trial start, headed off in packs of 9 from the swim exit to T1 and onto our bikes.  Having counted on my swim as my warm up, I managed to keep a less "erratic" pace than I usually do in the first 5 miles before really getting into gear.  I wanted to not repeat North East tri and save my legs for the run still so I settled in and stayed fast but comfortable, sipping at my Hammer Perpetuem and focused on maintaining a solid ride.

Notable about the course: as I mentioned, 2000+ racers and a double loop course means it gets crowded.  With roads shut down, the course was mostly navigable and fun but a few pinch points and one could imagine a few fights break out due to some carelessness of some riders to not keep right.
Leaving for the bike
Finishing... behind some dude in a t-shirt.  
I felt great during the ride, hopped off the bike in a 1:13 and realized, "holy crap, if I could skip the swim, I might be able to compete with the pros!"  The great time and the ride itself were very lifting and I sailed through T2 and into a steady trot on a crazy flat run.  After the first half mile I saw Kristen and stopped to give her a kiss before going on the last 5.7 miles.
Finding Kristen in the crowd and headed in for the kill.
I really wanted a sub 50 run.  I pulled off one sub-8 mile and tried to hang in there for the rest of the race.  I hit 4 water stations, during the run,slowing momentarily at each for only a few seconds.  It really didn't add that much time but I just couldn't keep close enough to 8:00 miles.  Still, I felt great on the run.
I finished in 2:10 according to my chip and imagine if I'd swam it would have been around 2:47-2:49.  We'll never know.  I was roughly just ahead of mid-pack in my division which is OK, not great but I was very pleased with my race after starting it in a pretty down mood about the whole thing.
My fan base was pretty unimpressed with my race.
Just a badass you should see.
Adam giving it hell and finishing strong
Done for 2014!
I'm shifting my focus to running now for a few 10K's coming up.  It's a relief to be done with the triathlon season.  I'll work out next year's plan soon but I'm excited to think about going for my first half iron distance.

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