Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Muncie Endurathon Race Report

I have found yet another race that I highly recommend participating in. The 31st Endurathon is a top notch race. With so many years of experience they know exactly what they are doing and providing the athletes a first rate experience.

The race expo, packet pick-up and pre-race meeting were well attended and very informational. We got a group shot of some of the Cleveland athletes.

Martha, Aimee, Jen, Me, Adam and Brian

Aimee and I checked into our hotel and unpacked the car.

We then met the gang, Adam, Brian, Jen, Beth, Brandon, for dinner. We shared some stories and talked about the upcoming race.

After dinner Aimee and I drove out to the race site and checked out the bike and run course. I became bored driving the bike course because it is soooooo flat. Sure it will be fast but I was getting bored. We found some roads to get us to the run course and we drove that instead.

Aimee’s sprint duathlon would be biking on the same roads the run course would be on. So we both were able to scout the course for our respective races.

We made it back to the hotel and finished our prep for race day. Fortunately I had a great nights sleep Thursday because I didn’t fall asleep until 11:30, partially because of the Tour de France coverage on Versus.

I woke up before the 4:20AM alarm and was already fueling up when my watch chimed. It didn’t take long to get ready and pack up the car. We left the parking lot at 5AM and headed to the race site. We were able to get a good parking spot and started taking our gear to transition. A quick trip to get body marked and we headed back to the car. We put up the tent near the bike dismount line and proudly hung the SnakeBite banner.

I finished getting my transition area put together and did my run through of the transitions. The run from the beach to transition is uphill and about 200 meters. The bike/run out is a little tricky getting onto the road. The bike dismount and entrance into transition had a grass dip coming off the road you had to be careful of. I just need to know the little details of transition.

I was in line for the port-o-potty at the 7AM start time for the open wave approached. A volunteer was telling people who were in the first three waves should go to the front of the line. My start time wasn’t until 7:24 so I had some time to have a good final purge.

I got rid of my shirt and grabbed my swim goggles and cap. The water temperature was 80 degrees so no wetsuits allowed. I was fine with that since I have been doing my open water swims sans wetsuit anyways.

I joined Adam and Brian with some warm-up swimming in the reservoir. The water was very warm. There was absolutely no shock to the body. When I was happy with my warm-up I joined the other guys in my starting wave. We watched the waves ahead of us start. We eventually crossed the timing mats and entered the water.

We had barely entered the water and I had positioned my goggles when the starter said, “Okay guys, you are going in 5 seconds.” CRAP. Here I was standing just off the shoulder of Brian in the front row. I guess it’s go time.

I took two steps and dove into the water. I knew there were over 70 guys behind me so I had to start fast and stay ahead of the pack. For at least 500 yards I was breathing with every stroke to the right side. I could spot the buoy markers and the guy swimming next to me. A couple of times I felt a person to my left and was sandwiched between them. In the past I would panic and try to get out of there and find open water. But today I fought off the urge to flee and stayed where I was. I kept pushing hard and eventually the guy on my left was gone.

It took a while but I eventually was able to start breathing on both sides. During one of my sightings I put my head back into the water rather forcefully and that caused some water to seep into my left goggle. Now I had even more reason to only breathe to the right. If I breathed to the left the water would get into my eye.

After I while I had to clear out the water. I found a quiet patch of water between swim waves, we were catching some of the women in the wave ahead of us, and treaded water to release the water. I was able to get back into my rhythm quickly and didn’t lose any distance from my immediate competitors.

The traffic around the first turn buoy was light and I was able to swim close to it with no problems. The second stretch between turn buoys I tried to stay steady with my stroke and continue to pass people. I saw a variety of cap colors from previous waves.

Around the second turn buoy was clear of any traffic and it was a straight shot back to the beach. The markers were easy to see because a boat was usually close by. I also had a person from my wave nearby and I was sighting off of him at times. As I sighted to shore I could see two huge orange balloons that marked the exit point. These orange markers were actually inflatable tubes. Swimming into the sun I could spot them easily.

I continued to swim steady and think about kicking to get some blood in my legs. I swam towards the orange markers until I touched sand and stood up. In five steps I was on the beach taking off my goggles and swim cap. At least I didn’t need to worry about my wetsuit this time. As I ran up the hill to transition, I saw I guy I was talking to in the port-o-potty line and told him good swim….he was in my age group. I also ran by my friend Eric Banks. I patted him on the shoulder and kept on jogging up the hill. Near the top I heard Aimee yelling for me and gave her thumbs up.

Swim time was 36:36 and that ranked me 77th overall. This was my best race swim….ever. I fought through a hard and fast start and kept my cool until I was clear of the washing machine. I could not have asked for a better swim.

Entering T1 I found my rack easily and started getting ready for the bike. I had to slip on my race top first since I did not wear it during the swim. Next was helmet and sunglasses. Socks and shoes were next. I grabbed my bike off the rack and headed towards the exit. As I felt my spot I glanced over and saw the Brian Stern’s bike was still racked. It made me feel good to see I had made it in and out of transition before he did. However, I knew I would see him pass me on the bike later.

I exited transition in 1:23 and found the road to be packed with people. I ran past a couple people before finding an open spot and jumped on my bike. I wobbled for a second and quickly regained control. I placed my feet on my pedals and started to get out of the congestion. Once I was clear I then clipped into my pedals.

The first two miles I rolled past people on the main road before the Cardinal Greenway. Brandon warned me that it could get crowded since it is a paved rail-to-trail. It is a nice shaded path that is quite flat of course. The traffic was fine and I passed several people before settling in. Passing was easy, especially for Adam Hunter as he caught me within 5 miles. I made it out of transition before him and was expecting him to pass me at some point.

The bike course was pretty much what I had expected; relatively flat and a little boring. I concentrated on keeping myself under control. I didn’t want to expend too much energy on the bike and have a difficult run. I would wait until the turn around to increase my efforts. I was also trying to pay attention to the wind and use it to my advantage.

Perhaps the best part about the bike course is that there is no traffic. All of the roads are closed to traffic on race day. It was great not worrying about cars passing you. If you heard the sound of a vehicle you knew it was a USAT referee on a motorcycle. Occasionally I would spot a car trying to cross the course, but they were never in a rush and accepted the race for what it was.
I was fueling well on the bike. I had three bottles of Perpetuem and some food. Near the turn-around I ate three Clif blocks. I saved the remaining three for the end of the bike before the run. I was well hydrated and peed twice while riding the bike.

Overall it was a very peaceful and quiet ride. I was by myself for a majority of the ride except when I was catching someone or being passed myself. For the sake of my brother I saw spiders, ants, and caterpillars on the road. It amazed me how many little critters I saw trying to cross the road. I wonder how many got squished by a bike tire. I didn’t run over the ones I saw.

On the final stretch of the bike I could see the transition area ahead. All of the spectators were on the road watching athletes dismount their bikes. Volunteers and signs were posted telling you how far to the dismount line. With about 100 yards remaining I unstrapped my shoes and placed my feet on top of my shoes. I slowed down and swung my leg over the saddle and prepared to dismount. My feet hit the ground and I made the right turn into transition.

Could hear Aimee yelling for me as I went passed her. My bike bounced severely as I went through the dip between the road and bike racks. Aimee told me later that a lot of people lost their shoes in the dip when they were jarred out of their clips.

I finished the bike in 2:29:12 with an average speed of 22.5 MPH. My 105th overall ranking continues to show that my cycling needs some improvement before the HalfRev at Cedar Point.
In transition I racked my bike and took off my helmet. I slipped on my shoes and grabbed my hat, race belt and PowerGels. I ran towards the exit while putting my gels in the side pockets of my race top. I hit the pavement and put on my hat and clipped my race belt around my waist. I was out of transition in 59 seconds. I tied another guy in my age group for fastest T2 time.

As I started the 13.1 mile run I held back for the first couple of miles. I wanted to get my running legs under me and not burn them out early. The sun was out and the shade was sparse, oh and no wind. I had two PowerGels with me. I had accidentally forgot to pack my other PowerGels and would be relying upon the Hammer gels provided on the course. I wasn’t happy with the change in nutrition but I had no choice. Of all the vendors at the race expo none of them had any PowerGels. As long as I had something to take in I should be okay.

My nutrition plan called for gels at every other aid station with water at every aid station. The good thing is that the aid stations were each mile. I had eaten three ClifBloks before getting off the bike so I would grab gels at the even miles. The aid stations were great with cold water, Gatorade, gels, cold towels, ice and energetic volunteers.

I was holding a good pace and happy with reeling in different people ahead of me. Unfortunately none of them were in my age group. Thinking back I was pretty much on auto pilot. I was waiting to see the leaders on their way back. I took what I needed at the aid stations.

I was averaging 7:45/mile pace for the first half of the run. I saw Brian running very strong and owning the run course. He wound up with the second fastest time for the day. I also saw Adam on his way back and I could tell he was beginning to slow down. The heat and his bike ride were beginning to take their toll.

As I made the turn for the trip to the finish I could feel my calves, and not in a good way. Apparently my nutrition was not up to par for the day and I was most likely low on electrolytes. My calves were starting to cramp on me. I still managed to keep a 7:50/mile pace through mile 11 but it was tough keeping the calves under control.

I kept telling my legs they were not allowed to cramp and I had conversations with each calf muscles. I convince one not to cramp and then I would have to talk to the other one. I hated to do it but I had to change my stride and foot strike to help avoid the cramping. Even going through the aid stations was painful. My stride would change just enough that my calves would start to seize up. Damnit, I wasn’t about to cramp up at an aid station.

I was watching all of the runners heading out towards the turn around. I saw Jen running very strong in her first Half Iron. I also saw Beth, John and Eric. I missed some other people partly because I didn’t know they were there and I was in deep negotiations with my calves. However I did notice a white caterpillar hanging from a string of silk on the side of the road. The tree branch was pretty high up and he was eye level with me. Maybe liked watching us suffer in the heat.

I made my way through the aid station at mile 11 with no issues. However, as I ran up a small incline immediately after the aid station my right calf finally won the battle and started to seize up on me. I stopped and watch my calf muscle literally turn itself inward. It was like a string was attached to the muscle and it was being pulled through my shin. I gave it a quick squeeze and had to start running again. I only stopped for a few seconds but the damage was done.

I resumed my running but my stride was permanently changed for the final two miles. I had to shorten my stride and strike with my heals to prevent my calves from shortening up and cramping. Somehow I still managed to pass some people who were struggling worse than I. But wouldn’t you know it, a guy passed me who was in my age group. I just couldn’t go with him.

Mile 12 was a 8:20 mile. Mile 13 was a 8:43 mile. I was slowing but I was still moving. I was better off than the guy on the side of the road. As I approached the final uphill to the finish I spotted Aimee on the side of the road. She was standing near a group of people kneeling next to a guy lying on the side of the road. Later Aimee would tell me that this guy was staggering and dropped to the ground. She was one of the first to reach him and he was foaming at the mouth, definitely not a good sign.

I pushed up the final grade and could hear the spectators cheering for everyone. I crossed the first set of timing mats and heard the announcer call out my name. I tried to give the photographers a good picture as I crossed the finish line.

My time to run 13.1 miles…..1:43:30…a 7:55/mile pace. My run split was 64th overall.

Overall race time….4:51:38 which placed me 17th in the age group and 46th overall male.

Post race was awesome. There was a misting tent, a wide selection of ice cream treats, grapes, pasta, and sandwich wraps. We also received finisher plaques. Aimee and I started putting our gear away and chatted with friends about the race. We cooled off in the reservoir and did a quick shower outside the bathhouse, just something to wash of the stink before the 4.5 hour drive home.

Beth, Me, Martha and Brandon

I went back to get my post race food and Aimee proved that she is the best support person I could ask for. She brought the car around to where we had set up the tent and was putting it all away when I returned. I constantly say that I could not do any of this without her. She makes racing/training so enjoyable and I love sharing the experience with her.

I put on my very stylish compression socks and thigh sleeves for the ride home. Once we got under way I called teammates Jason and Patty to check on them before their first Half Iron race at Mussleman the next day. Aimee and I had a good drive home together and dinner consisted of pizza and wings. Oh what a treat after a great race.

1 comment: