Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rev3 Quassy June 1: Alex's Race Report

Hilary hit many of the high points about the race, but I'll throw my two cents in.

As Hilary mentioned, given the close proximity of the race course to her parents' place, we had easy access to do some reconnaissance. About a month prior, I had (with Hilary) practiced the run course on a Saturday morning. The following morning we practiced the bike course, then bricked into the run. That prep was definitely to my advantage, because although I like hills, the hilliness of this particular course would have thrown me off base if I didn't know what was coming. This was especially true for the run course, which has a killer hill starting at the 3-mile mark. During the second dry run, after doing the bike, I was rather pleased with myself to doing the run at around a 7:30/mile pace. This all boded well for race day.

Race Day
Swim: 1500 meters, 23:48

I do moderately well in my own age group overall. In the swim is where I really excel. Oftentimes if I end up in the top third for a race overall, I'll end up in the top 10% for the swim. So, you would think that by now I would have the confidence to really toe the line and put myself in the front line for the swim start. But no, I'm either too polite or don't like the notion of getting run over. So, instead, I started off towards the back of my wave, which sucked. For the first few hundred meters I would have to pull up short every 10 strokes, lest I end up with someone's feet in my face. At one point a nearby swimming managed to dislodge my goggles. So by the time I hit the first turn about 500 meters in, I was very glad that things had thinned out in my vicinity and I could just cruise. In spite of the frustrating start, I ended up with a pretty sweet time for myself - my fastest at the Olympic distance by nearly one minute.

Having now done almost twenty triathlons, I also do very well in transition. I can whip that wetsuit off and get on the bike pretty quick. (I could probably go faster if I didn't stop to put socks on.) Rev3's race results show that I actually moved up a few positions, from 8th to 5th in my division of about 70, due my fast T1.

Bike: 25.68 mi, 1:21:39, 18.9 mph avg
Having done recon some weeks before, it was handy to know where the long descents on the bike were, so that I could really open it up (I topped out around 42 mph at one point), but also know where to pull up in preparation for turns, and to not get frustrated during the many ascents.

Because of the hilly nature of the course, I knew that my average pace wouldn't be so hot. Still, I'd call ~19 pretty good. It is tough for me to gauge what my best sustained pace could be, because there aren't any long rides or races near home that would qualify as "flat". Maybe I should go do a race in Florida or Iowa just to find out.

I don't know what I was concentrating on so hard in this picture, but it must have been pretty important.

Run: 6.2 mi, 52:14, 8:24/mi avg
I've been having some good run training lately. We've got hills around here, and I like to push on them. I knew what the course looked like, and I felt good coming off the bike. My split for the first gradual-downhill mile of the course was 7:40 (based on a $25 Timex). I thought that I could sustain that effort, maybe make some moves on the uphills, and move up a few places in my age group. Alas, it didn't quite go as planned. The first two miles were good. I made solid passes of two people in my age group during the first sustained rise between miles 2 and 3. Although there were many walkers during the awful hill just past mile 3, I was not one of them. It wasn't a fast climb, but you could call it running.

But upon reaching the top, my quads started to cramp up. The run along the ridge for the next half mile quieted them down a bit, but the pounding descent to the 4-mi marker made things worse. I backed off the pace a bit (to about 8:15), then a bit more (to 8:45), hoping for some relief. Cursing quite audibly, I slowed to a walk at the aid station at mile 5, guzzled, splashed, then started up again. The climb in the last half mile did not go well. Halfway up I realized that my shuffling was no faster than the guy walking next to me, so I walked for a few paces before self-recrimination got me going again. My split for that final mile was about 10:00. Thankfully I did not stumble while coming down the finish chute, and even managed to strike a pose that, at the time, seemed pretty cool.

Jesse Thomas does it better:

Overall, I ended up 20th in my age group, in the top third or so. I had been eyeballing the 2:30:00 mark, something I've come very close two in my other two Olympic distance races. But this was a hilly course, and it got to be pretty hot (this was a month ago, remember, back when it was blazing hot every day, instead of raining every day), so I abandoned that goal time long before going down to the start.

Still, my performance on the run was personally disappointing. I've put in a lot of miles since last season, and can sustain faster paces for longer than ever before. To have the run fall apart like that, even allowing for the heat, makes me wonder what I still need to do. (The fact that I lost my sunglasses in the middle portion of the run didn't improve my outlook.) With a month to go until my next race, I resolved to just keep working at it, get used to the heat, experiment with nutrition (esp. electrolytes), and have another go. On the whole, I did have a good time. Rev3 put on a fine event. I had a good performance in 2 out of 3 disciplines. I now have my sights on returning next year to see if I can do better.

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