Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mountaineer 1/2 Ironman Race Report

The weekend started with a four hour drive from Harrisburg, PA to Morgantown, WV saturday morning. I arrived at the expo to pick up my race packet and tee shirt. The start/finish is at a park downtown so, in a college town, there were lots of bars. We decided to go to a bar for lunch but not before a quick dip in the river. I did a quick 12 min swim out to the first marker and back. Then went to the bar.

It was a microbrew pub so we got to sample some of the local beers. Had some apps and decided we should probably drive the bike course before checking into the hotel. Bad idea.

The bike course for the 1/2 Ironman was three loops of 9ish miles out and 9 back. The first mile or two was taking out out of town. Then the first hill came. "Not too bad", I thought. Then we turned off onto the back roads and we started heading down. At the bottom of the hill our friends in another car pulled off and stated that we should be almost there. I looked at my odometer and said we only went 3.3 miles. Then we started up the hill... and kept going, and going and going. Not even a false flat to catch your breath. The hill was just over 2 miles long. There was about a mile of flat and then the Olympic turn around sign. This is were things got shitty. It was up and down, up and down, up and down about 5 more times in 3 more miles. Not a good sign.

We found our hotel and checked in to our room before dinner. We were there for about 30 minutes before we drive the 5 miles back downtown to have some italian for dinner. Not a bad place. Went back to the hotel and set my alarm for 5am.

Woke up the next morning to several text messages that my twin sister had a baby! So the day started off on a good note. I had a quick breakfast of a honeybun and coffee from the hotel lobby. Drove over to the park and started setting up my transition. I went over and got body marked and got my timing chip.

There were four different races going on, five if you included the dualathon. The woman's only race was about 1/2 a sprint, the sprint, olympic and half iron. We started last.

Almost 8am came around and we were finally called down to the dock. Everyone started by jumping off the dock after walking over the timing mat two at a time. The course was two laps and with the water temp at 76, pretty warm for a wetsuit. I still wore one, though. Swimming smooth and long I came out of the water in 39 minutes. Ran to transition and got my bike. Then the fun started.

I've talked so much about the bike course to friends already that I'm tired of it. The first look took about 1:10, followed by the second around 1:20 and the third lap around 1:25. The two mile hill just kept getting harder and harder. I was either going up the hills at 5mph or screaming down them at 45mph.

I felt suprisingly fresh after the 4 hour bike and ready to run. I ran with two people for the first mile. My time was right about 8 minutes. The sun went away and the temp came down a few degrees. I was having some chafing issues on my arm so it felt like I was running with a chicken wing sticking out. The run course was again a 3 lap out and back of 4ish miles on a bike path. I really only saw one person that had a smile on her face.

Each mile kept getting slower and slower and I was averaging around 9:30 miles nearing the last lap. I hooked up with an runner who was walking and decided to walk with him. Not that he slowed me down but I really didn't have the motivation to run. I was getting bloated by all the water, coke, and infinit they had. They had pretzles but with a dry mouth, they were really hard to get down. I also had to make two stops at the port-o-pot to try and make some room for the liquid. I was on my third lap and he was only on his second. We ran/walked those four miles and I left him at the turn around. I ran another .25 miles and finished in 7:03. A terrible time but considering my 14 mph average speed on the bike, not too bad.

I checked my time and to my suprise I was actually 3rd place for clydesdale! But the bad news was they were all out of awards! I wrote my name down and they are going to ship it to me.

I went over to the post race food and was dissapointed. From what I can remember, they had carrots, grapes, trail mix, pretzles, oranges, apples, watermelon and PB&J sandwiches. I filled my plate but wasn't hungry. I had two slices of watermelon and a coke and threw everything else away. Nothing seemed good to me. We packed up our stuff and started to four hour drive home. About 20 minutes in we did stop at Wendys and that's where I got my hot, salty food that I craved.

My thoughts on the race? I knew it wasn't a big race but it fit my schedule so I did it. I understand WV is hilly but I wasn't expecting all the hills. The elevation map didn't do it justice. I guarantee I'm not going back to defend my 3rd place finish next year!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Black Bear Olympic Triathlon Race Report

It’s been awhile since I posted, so I figured I would get back into it since the racing season has begun with my race report from Black Bear Olympic Triathlon last weekend in the Pocono Mts.

This is my second year participating in this race and both times with Team in Training. You can check out my website here. Saturday was a travel day consisting of 1.5 hours. First I had to mow the lawn and run some errands. We left for the Poconos around 11am. We hit some traffic because of an overturned tractor trailer and got to Beltzville State park just shy of 1pm. My wife, son and I headed over to packet pickup and got our stuff. Nothing too exciting. We were on our way back to check in to the hotel when I came upon Coach Joe in the parking lot getting his bike ready to ride the course. We said our hellos and got back into the car for the four mile drive to the hotel.

There were open water swim clinics at 2pm and 3pm and a few of us were planning on attending to check the water temp and get acclimated to the water. We all drove over around 3pm and swam for about 20 minutes. They had some smaller boys set up to practice sighting, but they were only about 50 yards apart.

We went back to the hotel to get ready for our prerace dinner in Jim Thorpe. We had a beer or two at the hotel, then a beer or two at dinner, then came back to the hotel and had another one. Just something to help us sleep.

Race morning started at 4:30am with the alarm going off. Nothing too out of the ordinary since I hit the gym most days at 5am. The hotel was serving a hot breakfast so mine consisted of French toast, sausage, a hard-boiled egg and a toasted bagel. Carbo loading (plus I love breakfast). We headed over to the park around 5:45 and got transition all set up and just hung out until 7:15 till the race was starting. I took a few strokes in the water to warm up. My wave started at 8:04ish.

The swim was a 1500m out and almost back. Sighting was easy since we were going away from the sun and the water was calm. There might have been 30 people in my wave so we were pretty spread out by the first sight boys. I took the swim nice and easy, nothing too fast. My HR was anywhere from 140-145. My swim time was 22:52. 64th out of 269 finishers. T1 was 2:30, about average.

Running out of transition to the bike was uphill for about 1/8 mile. We hop on our bikes and out of the park. The bike portion is rolling hills for the first seven miles. Fast downhills and slow uphills. Coach Blob and I were going back and forth the entire time. After the sprint people cut off the course gets fast. There was a stretch of about three miles where we could just open it up. I got down in aero and cranked. The extension for the Olympic course was a lollipop and my tire felt mushy as soon as I got back to the lollipop stick.

The tires seem inflated so I kept pushing. There was a long downhill followed by a very long uphill. We were probably averaging around 7 mph going up the hill. About 50 yards from the top my tire felt very low. I stopped and checked it and there was a nice spring sticking out of it. I stood there for about 30 seconds debating on whether or not to change it or just pump it up and see if it holds air. I decided to change it. Ripped the old tube out and jammed the new tube in and inflated it with the CO2 and I was off. I estimated from the time I stopped to check till the time I was off was about 5:30-6 minutes.

I was pissed and lost all motivation to place in my division. Plus there were still more uphills. After cresting the last uphill and starting on the downhills, I gained confidence and started pushing again. Coming back into T2 my bike time was 1:32.45. The Garmin with auto-pause had me at 1:26.

T2 was fast. Shoes, helmet off, running shoes on and gone. 54 seconds. The run was two loops all on trails of crushed gravel and dirt. I managed to strain my calf a few weeks ago and hadn’t fully recovered. My goal was to take it easy and kick it up at the end. The weather started heating up but I managed to put together a decent run of 51:04 or 8:14/ mile. If my calf was 100%, I could have run at least a minute faster, maybe more. Coming up to the finish I was able to pass coach Blob with 100 yards to go.

My final time was 2:50.05, about 2 minutes worse than the previous year, but when you add in the tire change, it was a PR. I figured I didn’t place because of the slow bike so we just hung out for a while and then headed back home.

I checked the results online a few days and I was right, I was 4th in my division. (Clydesdale over 200lbs) The first place Clydesdale had a finishing time of 2:44.30, so without the tire change, I would have had a real good shot at winning my division. Next year for sure!

Up next I have the Mountaineer Man ½ Ironman in Morgantown, WV on June 24th then it’s full on Ironman training (not that I’m not already training) for Chesapeake Man on September 29th.