Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DoubleMussel Race Report

I know, I know. It's about freakin' time. Another race report posted almost 10 days after the event. Settle in because it's a long one....and this is only the first race.

DoubleMussel Race Report

or the

“Oh Well” Weekend Report

This race report is going to be super long since it covers the entire four day weekend Aimee and I had getting to, spending time in and leaving Geneva, New York. While it was a fantastic weekend spent with Aimee, family and friends, it was quite an adventure.

Aimee and I took Friday and Monday as vacation days so that we could make a nice four day weekend of this race. I was racing the DoubleMussel which consisted of a sprint tri on Saturday then the Half IM on Sunday. Aimee was racing the Half IM as well. We loaded up the trusty Honda Pilot and left home around 10AM. It was a very nice day for a drive to the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

We were about 30 miles from our exit to Geneva when the Pilot started to make a high pitched squealing sound. Then the smoke started to appear with a pungent smell. I quickly pulled to the side of the road. Sitting on the side of the road I noticed a parking area, not a full rest area, less than a mile ahead. I drove to the parking area and shut down the car. I opened the hood and started to investigate the problem.

Aimee was calling her mom and dad who were coming out to watch the race. They were only 15 miles behind us and would join us at the parking area soon. Aimee started calling around to find the nearest Honda dealer. Once Tom and Liz arrived we looked at the belts again and had Aimee start the car. After about 30 seconds the smoke reappeared. Shutting off the A/C prevented the smoke. Looks like the A/C compressor was seized up and the moving belt was rubbing along the non-moving wheel of the compressor.

I decided that we could drive to the dealer 16 miles away and work things out from there. Aimee also found a car rental place right down the street from the dealer. Unfortunately the largest car they had was a Toyota Camry. Let’s see…..two tri bikes, spare set of wheels, water, food, clothes, bike tools and parts, etc. No way all of that stuff would fit into the Camry. This was our first “Oh Well” moment. We transferred some to the in-laws car and the rest into the rental. We would make do with what we had.

We drove the final 17 miles to Geneva and checked into our hotel around 5PM. After getting all of our stuff up to the room we had to pick up my race packet for the sprint tri. We all jumped in the rental since we were going to get dinner after I picked up my stuff. At the packet pickup I chatted with some other athletes. After I got my race number I stepped up to the volunteer standing behind the goodie table. He was a tall muscular guy with tattoos down both arms. I handed him my envelope and said, “I’m doin’ the Double.”

“That’s what I like to hear”, he responded. I smiled as he followed up with, “I want to see you on the podium for both races.” I kind of shook my head as he said it but he managed to plant a little seed in my head. This guy didn’t know me but his comment was said with such earnest that he made me believe it could be done. As he handed me the goodie bag….”for fifty bucks I’ll tackle someone in front of you to help with your race.” This guy was cracking me up. I thanked him and I made my way out the door….but a seed had already been planted.

We all had a nice dinner and got back to the hotel. I prepped my transition bag for the morning and lubed the drive train of my bike. It wasn’t going to be too early of a day because the sprint didn’t start until 9AM.

Saturday July 18, 2009 – Sprint Tri
750M swim – 16.1 mile bike – 3.1 mile run

We woke up Saturday morning with plenty of time to get ready. I took a shower to help wake up. Drank a protein Boost and ate some bread with peanut butter. I had two PowerGels, one before the swim and one near the end of the bike. I would also use a bottle of Gatorade on the bike. When I was happy with my status I kissed Aimee good-bye and rode my bike to transition. She was going to either walk or ride her bike to the race. The hotel we stayed at was 2 miles from the race.

I had a great warmup ride to the race. I got body marked and picked up my chip before heading to transition to lay out my stuff.

This was my rack space

I met some fellow DoubleMussel participants and we chatted while getting our gear ready. I met Kevin and Joella. Cleveland triathlete and friend Paul Lentini was there doing the Double. The tattoo guy from the night before walked by and I told him Paul would be my competition. Paul is a pretty “solid” guy and my new friend started to back off from the $50 I was offering him to tackle Paul. This type of exchange helped add to the relaxed atmosphere surrounding the race.

Here I am talking to Kevin.

My final preparation for the race would be a walk through of the entire transition. I want to be familiar with the path I would be taking. What is the ground like? What visual cues will I see in order to find my bike?

I walked over to the swim start then the swim exit. I pictured myself coming out of the water and did a walk through of what my transitions would be like. I walked through my swim-to-bike transition all the way to the bike mount line. Then I re-entered the transition area pretending to coming in from the bike course. Where is the dismount line? What is the area like? There were a couple of rough patches I would need to watch out for. Back to my transition spot and pretend to get my running gear on. Walk back out transition and follow the beginning of the run course.

It may take a while to get through transition several times but knowing where you are going is important. Making sure my gear is ready and in the order I expect it to be..crucial. I don’t have blazing transitions naturally; it takes practice and mental preparation.

I grabbed my swim gear and walked with Aimee over to the start area. I was in the fifth start wave behind two waves of women. We were able to watch the first wave from the bank of the canal. We watched as some people swam through floating seaweed…..mental note to stay right. Since my group was starting behind two waves of women I wasn’t sure what the extra traffic would mean in the water. Would I have to swim around a lot of bodies? As Aimee was putting it…a bunch of guys swimming over helpless women in the water. I’d try to be nice and avoid any contact with other swimmers unless they were wearing the same color cap as I. But the theme of the weekend surfaced again, “Oh Well”. We would just have to see what happens.

The 40 – 49 men entered the water for the open water start. We had to swim out to the start line between two buoys. We tread water until the final countdown. I positioned myself front row slightly to the right of center. Because of the floating stuff, I started right so I could avoid the gross stuff.

At the sound of the horn I was off like a bandit. I got into my race pace very quickly….I do best with open water starts. I was pushing hard from the start and finally settled in for the remainder of the swim. Actually my stroke and pace didn’t change much. I was pushing hard and getting as much air as possible with each breath.

I did start to catch some of the women but there was plenty of room to swim around them. After making a left hand turn I accidentally ran into a woman doing breast stroke. I popped my head up and she said “sorry”. I replied no problem and got back to business. I thought it was funny she said sorry to me since I ran into her because I wasn’t looking. But I know she felt sorry for being “in my way” or “slow”. In my mind there is no need to be sorry. I don’t mind sharing the water with my fellow triathletes… matter how fast or slow we are….because even I’m slow compared to others.

I swam the rest of the way to the boat ramp weaving around other swimmers. I swam all the way up the ramp before popping up and heading to transition. Someone in the crowd said “seventh” as I went by. Looking at the results I was indeed seventh in my swim wave of the 40 – 49 age groups. I knew I had a good swim and this was proof positive.

Swim – 12:08 3rd in AG

The swim to bike transition is always the toughest for me. I have been having problems this year with getting my wetsuit off quickly. The last part just won’t go over my calves or past my ankles. I’m still happy with the transition as I kept it moving forward. The scariest part was mounting the bike. I had already decided that I would run pretty far past the mount line before jumping on the bike. As I headed toward the mount line I watched a woman weave back and forth across the lane trying to clip in. I had to time where I ran with where she was swerving. That could have been a bad collision. Once I made it past her I jumped on the seat and headed out for a ride.

T1 – 1:34 9th in AG

How bad could a 16 mile bike ride? I do that in my sleep nowadays. After the first major uphill I settled into a good pace and kept within a reasonable distance to a good rider ahead. I figured to let him set the pace a little. About 5 or 6 miles into the course a guy passed me in my age group. I decided to keep him in my sights and increase my pace.

I kept a legal distance behind this new rider as we passed people from prior start waves. The guy in my age group slowly increased his lead but I wasn’t worried about it. I could still see him and I had to reserve some energy for the half IM on Sunday.

At the 10 mile mark I sucked down a PowerGel so that my legs would be ready for the run. The final mile back to transition is slightly downhill and I could maintain a fast pace continuing to pass more people.

During the final straight towards transition I pushed past several more riders so that I would have a clear shot at the dismount line. I slipped my feet out of the shoes and swung my right leg over the seat as I coasted to the mount line. I hopped off the bike and ran into transition.

Bike – 43:54 2nd in AG, 22.5 MPH Avg, the guy who passed me was 1st

As I approached my transition spot I noticed the guy who had passed me was still in transition. I racked my bike quickly and slipped on my running shoes. I grabbed my visor and race belt then headed towards the transition exit. The visor and belt would be put on while running.

Here we are both in transition after the bike....time to run.

T2 – 00:47 1st in AG, 5th overall

I wanted to get into a quick but easy pace. I needed to remember that there was a half IM waiting for me less than 24 hours away. As I reached the asphalt path that we would be running on, my competition came up behind me and started to pass. It was time to do or die. I latched onto his shoulder and kept pace with him.

We were running pretty fast and the pace was just on the edge of anaerobic. I was breathing heavy but tried to keep it under control so he wouldn’t hear me straining. I kept on him and he would glance over his shoulder to see me still right behind him. After about 1.5 miles we started chatting and eased up the pace just a little.

Paul was doing the DoubleMussel as well and wanted to conserve some energy for Sunday. Idle chit-chat for the next mile didn’t mean our pace dropped too much. We continued to pass other runners and push each other.

With approximately half a mile to go I pushed ahead of Paul. I wanted to achieve two things; gain what little time advantage I could over my DoubleMussel competition and beat Paul. We didn’t know our positions in the race but I didn’t want to cross the finish line behind him. In the past I have conceded position to competitors because I haven’t put much emphasis on being competitive. But this race was different. I was feeling great. I was racing smart and I deserved to cross the line first. I was willing to burn the extra matches despite the looming half IM Sunday morning.

Here I am finishing the run. Thanks for taking pictures Aimee.

Run – 21:09 4th in AG 6:37/mile pace

After crossing the finish line I waited for Paul and congratulated him on a great first race. We chatted and fueled up with fruit and drinks. The timing company was posting results occasionally and we had to wait a bit to get our finishing times. I wasn’t wearing a watch so I didn’t know my splits or final time. Once I saw the results I was very happy with my time and place. Paul and I finished 6 seconds apart taking the top two spots in our age group. I found Paul and told him our position. I apologized for having pushed ahead at the end and taking first. One of Paul’s friend replied, “someone has to win.” Damn straight and it was me.

The awards ceremony was cool because they had podium spots to stand on as we held our bottle of wine, Nuun electrolytes and Musselman socks. It was great to stand up there wearing my Snakebite jacket and congratulating the other two “old guys”.

On the podium....

Final time – 1:19:32 1st in AG, 20th Overall


Big Daddy Diesel said...

Wow, Congrats on your AG group victory.

Christi said...

Congratulations on a great race and podium finish!!

Dan said...

It seems you can only be fast at one -- fast on the course or fast at posting race reports... you're certainly tearing up the course, so I guess it's ok that we had to wait to read about it.

Great finish!