Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Vermilion Harbour Race Report

I guess it's just par for the course. A race report about 2 weeks post race.

Better late than never??? Right?

So if I go back and look at my calendar this race was on August 15th. Oooooo....that was last month now.

The Vermilion Harbour race is another great venue for HFP Racing. It's along the shores of Lake Erie between Cleveland and Toledo. The surrounding area is great for bike riding with some nice hills thrown in for some variety and best of all...the community completely supports this race.

I have been at many races where the volunteers are needed on race day. Not with this race. There was a great turnout of volunteers on race day. At one intersection on the bike course there were 5 volunteers AND a deputy sheriff. Yes the race is very well supported.

Despite being the third year for the race, I had never participated in prior years. Aimee has been at the race in the prior two year with me spectating in 2009. But this year I wanted to jump into the race as a final prep for the HalfRev on 9/12. The Olympic distance race would provide me valuable race training and allow for me to recover for the HalfRev.

Sunday morning rolled around and we began our normal pre-race prep. we loaded up the car and waited for our friend Mary to arrive at our house. We had been helping her train for her first sprint tri. To help her along she was going to come out early with us and get settled in for her first triathlon.

We drove to the race site and got all of our gear into the transition area. Body markings and timing chips were also taken care of. Being a local race I saw many friends and Snakebite teammates getting ready. I was able to chat with a majority of them. Tri Diesel also came by and we chatted for a bit before I had to do my warm-up.

After my warm-up run I ran through transition, made sure my gear was all set up and then got in the line for the port-o-potty. The line was long but I knew I would have plenty of time before the start of my wave.

I grabbed my wetsuit from transition and made my way towards the beach. I found a couple of teammates and we chatted while I put on my wetsuit. I tried to hold off as long as I could because it was already feeling hot at 8AM and I didn't want to overheat in my wetsuit.

But I also wanted to make sure I got in a decent warm-up swim. The water was a nice temperature and I managed to stayed cool. I chatted with more friends as we watched the sprint waves start.

Here I am cooling off

Eventually my wave was next up. I lined up at the front and waited for the green light to start. During the final few seconds of the countdown I started my watch and dug my feet into the sand. GO!!!! And we ran into the water.

Everyone with their fingers on the button


The water gets deep rather quickly so I took one dive and started swimming. The first turn buoy was only about 50 yards from shore so it was a mad dash to make the left turn ahead of the pack. Once we made the left turn were heading west against some wind. The swim course is a long rectangle that we had to do twice.

Heading west we were going into the wind and some chop. Heading east we had major sun glare.

On the first lap I was sighting very well and kept a great line along the buoys. The chop seemed pretty bad at times and I wasn't sure if it was being caused by other racers. As I sighted I could tell it was caused by the wake of a powerboat that had gone by. The rolling chop made it difficult to get into a good rhythm. The second time through the chop wasn't as bad.

On the second loop I got lazy and wasn't sighting as well. I looked up one time and saw a life guard pointing for me to swim right....I was starting to go into the middle of the swim course. Oops. I got my sighting under control and pushed for the swim exit.

As I was approaching the last buoy marker I saw someone swimming next to me. This person had not been there before and was actually passing me. As we reached the beach I looked over and commented on how she had a great swim. Yes.....SHE had a great swim. Having started 2 minutes behind me she was exiting the water WITH me.

My overall swim time was 24:09 and placed my 3rd in the age group.....only 7 seconds behind the guy in front of me. I felt I had another great swim, until I realized the girl who exited with me had an awesome swim. She would continue to chick me all the way to the finish line.

I ran up the beach and into transition hearing some friends cheer for me specifically JenC and her adorable son Will. I cruised into T1 and quickly changed to cycling mode. Toss the wetsuit aside and get my helmet, socks and shoes on. I grabbed my bike and headed to the mount line.

This is the second race where I have put my sunglasses on my bike. Once I get rolling I put my sunglasses on. It saves a few seconds in T1 so I go with it. My transition time was 1:14 which was fourth fastest for my AG.

On the bike we had to weave through Vermilion to avoid train tracks and some bad sections of road. The main road out of town is very choppy but you just have to push through it.

Getting started on the bike my legs were just not feeling it. They were sluggish and tight. They didn't want to release their energy. My prep up to this race may not have been optimal. I rode the course with my teammate Matt on Wednesday or Thursday prior to the race. Due to work I couldn't get in a shake down ride on Saturday. So the legs were a little too rested by Sunday.

I pushed on and tried to keep my spin high as well as my speed. In an Oly race you really do need to push more on the course. At times I was thinking to myself, "Man this hurts. My legs are killing me and I'm getting drained." Then I would remind myself that anything shorter than a Half is supposed to hurt.

Hell....even a half is supposed to hurt when you race.

What am I saying? When you race....It'

So I soldiered on and kept pushing myself. After about 10 miles of riding my legs finally woke up. This was nice because I could use the tailwind to my advantage and some hills were coming up that I needed my legs for.

During the out portion of the bike I was passed by my friend Rob R. He's on the "other" team, Spin/Second Sole. I was surprised to see him since he is a much faster swimmer than I and he is usually in front of me for a majority of a race. Looking at the results I was only 25 seconds behind him AND he was in T1 30 seconds longer than I.

So we exchanged a few words and I watched him ride ahead. My legs weren't "awake" yet.

The second half of the bike was much better. I had great speed heading back to transition. Entering the park area there were a lot of spectators and volunteers cheering for everyone. The final straight away to transition was lined with people cheering. I didn't disappoint as I slipped my feet from my shoes and had a perfect running dismount into T2.

My bike time was 1:12:00 which was a 20.7 MPH average. Good enough for 5th fastest in the AG.

In transition I racked my bike, took off my helmet. Slip the shoes on, grab my visor and gels, exit transition. Thirty....five....seconds. Yeah...that was the fastest T2 time in the AG. I don't lolly gag around in transition.

I held back during the start of the run just a little until my legs came around. I didn't want to hold back like I did at the Maumee Race, but I didn't need to blow up either. I grabbed some water at the first aid station out of transition.

It was getting really hot by now and the run was going to be brutal.

I had two gels with me and I started to take the first one after the aid station. There was another aid station not far away and I would chase the gel with some water. I avoided the nice people with hoses because I didn't want to get my shoes all wet.

The 10k run course is an out and back. So you get to see those in front of you and gauge your competition. I wasn't too dialed into my competition just yet. It was early in the run and I didn't know who was in my age group around me. Pushing forward was not a priority.

There was a slight breeze coming from the west providing a slight cooling as we ran into the breeze. I started seeing some of my teammates coming back from the turn around. They had all started in waves ahead of me. Mark was hurting in particular since he had been out of town for work and didn't have any workouts for 3 weeks. But he was still moving forward quite well.

Right before the turn around there was an aid station. I slugged down my second gel and grabbed some water as I passed through the aid station. Now I was ready to finish strong for the return trip to the finish line.

The wind was now at our backs. The breeze wasn't strong enough to provide any additional "push" but it sure did feel hotter without the breeze in our faces. Inside I was feeling strong and together. After the race one friend said she was worried about the run because of what she saw on our faces during our return. I may have felt okay on the inside but apparently my face was showing something different. Suffering? Pain? Agony?

I say yes to all three. It was definitely becoming a suffer fest. No shade. No breeze. High temps.


I was able to keep my mind in the game though. I was watching the guys in front of me and gauging their performance. How strong did they look? Was I gaining on them? How realistic is it for me to catch them?

I was feeling good so I picked up the pace a little. And I began to close the gaps. At one aid station I was very close to the guy in front of me when all of a sudden he stopped to get his drinks. I couldn't believe my eyes. I grabbed my waters and kept motoring along. In fact I picked up the pace a little to pass him with authority. Might as well build the gap when I can.

At the next aid station I caught one of the guys from Spin/Second Sole, Kevin, and encouraged him along since we were very close to the finish line. Through another aid station and up a little hill to the final two straights towards the finish line.

There was some young kid in front of me, 16 years old, and I just couldn't close the gap on him. But I was still finishing strong.

The young punk in front of me

Kevin from Spin/Second Sole behind me

A quick right turn. A quick left turn and I see the finish line. I focus in on the finish line and I hear Aimee, Mary, Jen, Gina and several other voices cheering for me. I cross the finish line 2:25:12 after entering the water. My final run was 47:12 which was the fourth fastest in the AG.

As they take the timing chip off my leg I try to regain myself and begin the cool down process. I grabbed a chair under the event tent and plopped my sweaty ass down. I spotted a large tub filled with drinks, water and ice. I grabbed a large chunk of ice and started rubbing my chest with it. I looked around and saw the same torture on everyone's face. Also relief that the race was over.

We watched more friends finish. Talked about our races. Waited for the race results to be posted. Team Snakebite had a good day. We had 5 people who placed in their age groups. I won my old guys age group by less than a minute. It was very cool to take the win on a hot day.

HalfRev coming soon.

Game On.


Christi said...

Great job! I wish you the best of luck at your Half Rev!

Matty O said...

Nice job man! We did the MS150 pedal to the point or we would have been there too!

T2 35 seconds... wow, do you even take a breath in there?!