Friday, August 01, 2008

Huntington Sprint Tri Race Report

Wait a minute......a race report? But I still haven't posted my race report from Morgantown. I know. But this will be a shorter read before I lay the monster on you. I hope you enjoy my race ramblings.

The Huntington Sprint Tri is one of the most popular races in the Cleveland area. The race draws seasoned athletes as well as those attempting their first triathlon. I haven’t been able to participate in this race since 2004 when I was training for my first half Ironman race…Great Buckeye Challenge. It was my best showing at the race with a top ten finish and winning my age group. The next three years would find me traveling to races and keeping me away from my favorite local race.

For 2008 I would be in town and I didn’t want to miss the race. The trick was figuring out how to incorporate the race into my Ironman training without deviating from the volume required for the weekend. Coach Angela and I figured out that the race would be a good test of speed endurance and mental toughness considering the weekend she had planned for me.

As a warm-up for the race I had a 5 hour bike and 40 minute run as my Saturday brick. The bike was flatter since I had attacked the hills the weekend prior. It was a difficult day with some mental challenges later in the ride but Aimee was waiting for me to ride her bike by my side during the 40 minute run.

Sunday originally called for a 2 hour run by Coach. Figuring that I would complete the sprint tri around 1 hour we opted for a 1 hour warm-up before the race. I managed to show up early third bike in transition and headed out for my run. With all of this long distance training I have been finding that it takes longer for my legs to get moving. Sunday was no exception due to the prior days ride.

I found my running pace within the first mile and was holding steady in Zone 2. It was a good seven miles by the time I made my way back to the event site. I finished setting up my transition area where my newly painted TT bike was making its debut. I had taken the Elite apart and found a guy who does powder coating. The bike was looking good hanging on the rack. I was able to chat with Aimee, Kim and my parents who all came out to watch me race. The hard part with racing the local events is that you get to know a lot of people and the chit-chat can sometimes take you out of your race preparation. I said my final hellos to friends and made my way down to the beach with my friend Jason who would be competing in his first tri.

At the beach I saw Sara and her four high school girls and told them they would have a great day today. I knew they were nervous but would be able to handle anything that came their way. I did get into the water for a small warm-up. The water was perfect temperature for swimming without a wetsuit.

As the race director made his final announcements I heard Coach Angela and Scott yelling to me from the stairs where they would be watching. I gave them a quick wave to acknowledge them and made my way to join my starting group.

The first several waves started then it was time for the 40 – 49 age group to start. I lined up right at the front determined to make the best of a quick start and swim. The horn went off and we ran into the water. I ran as far as I could then sank into the water for a couple of strokes. I then proceeded to execute a couple of dolphin dives in the shallow water to help propel me forwards. So far so good my goggles were still on my face and I felt good heading towards the first buoy marker.

As we approached the first marker I lost my rhythm and stroke. My breathing was erratic and out of control. I hadn’t raced a sprint in so long I wasn’t used to the quick start. I had to swim breast-stroke for approximately 50 yards to get things under control. Once I forced myself start swimming again things started to click. My stroke was back and I was starting to catch-up and pass people from my group. The remainder of the swim was perfect. My sighting kept me well on course and I could see one of the other top triathletes in my group not too far ahead of me exiting the water.

I swam as far as I could before standing up which is usually about one foot of water. I peeled off my swim cap and goggles as I ran across the beach hearing people cheer for me as I went by. The run to transition is about 200 yards with a road the takes us up to the bikes. I washed my feet quickly and ran to my bike.

With not much gear to worry about I dropped my swim cap and goggles and started to put on my helmet sunglasses socks and shoes. I also put a PowerGel in my back pocket for some quick energy. I grabbed my bike ran out of transition and jumped on my bike Cyclocross style.

Once on the road I started to pass people from the waves ahead of me but I was also getting passed by some of the other riders behind me. One person from the Spin team passed me and I kept him within reach trying not to draft behind him. I was holding a good speed but needed to keep the cadence high because the legs were not willing to provide any power due to the previous days ride. There was also a headwind as we headed west away from the park but I was hopeful for a nice tailwind on the return trip. I was very happy with the effort I was able to put into spinning the pedals.

The bike was uneventful as we continued to pass people from previous waves. The Spin rider had built a gap on me but I was bringing him back in as we approached the park. Once I saw the entrance I started to take my feet out of my shoes and prepare for the running dismount into transition.

While placing my bike back onto the rack I almost caused it to fall over. I took off my helmet and slipped on my shoes. I only had to grab my visor and race belt before heading out of transition. I was exiting to start the run at the same time as the Spin athlete. He glanced over at me and said he was a duathlete. I nodded and we made out way down and up the first of two hills on the course.
I managed to run with him for about a quarter mile and then he had more gas in his legs and pulled away. I was still maintaining a constant pace that was very sustainable. I was trying to redline the run and as far as the legs were concerned I was already there. I kept a mantra in my head that I read in a teammates race report “I can do anything for 20 minutes”. I knew I could keep this pace for 20 minutes during this 3 mile run.

During the out and back section I could see where some of my friends were and I gave them a quick word of encouragement. A quick word was about all I could provide in my anaerobic condition. Several times I could see people ahead of me and wondered if I could real them in. I kept my steady pace and if I did catch some more people that would be some nice icing on the cake.

At the aid station I grabbed some water and dumped some on my head. The humidity of the day was taking its toll and the heat I was generating was not leaving the body. I looked up and realized that I was gaining on several people ahead of me. One person I had my eyes on was Bill. We met each other several years ago at a Duathlon where we raced each other to a new friendship. I finally passed him right before we turned into the park where we would have to run the final down and up right before the finish line. He cheered me on as I passed and I pushed forward. The downhill was steady as I gained on more people and I pushed upwards to pass several more right before the final turn to the finish line.

I could hear Aimee, Coach, Kim plus my mom and dad cheering for me as I made my way to the finish line. I was completely spent when I crossed the timing mat and had to grab my knees to catch my breath. I had completed one of my hardest training weekends preparing for Ironman Wisconsin. Being able to race the sprint tri as part of my training helped with my fitness and confidence.

Game....pant, pant, pant.....On

1 comment:

triguyjt said...

great race report, big guy....

you are on course to kill it in the ironman...

cach you around