As far as race days go for triathlons, you couldn’t ask for a better day. Despite enough rain lately to consider building an ark, the sun decided to shine for just one day (in the middle of a 10-15 day streak of liquid sunshine). Luckily that day was Sunday.
We (the Girl, me and a friend who came up to watch/photograph) left the house fairly early and arrived at the race site pretty early as well. It appears that someone from Setup Events (the company that runs this race) read my post from last week about things I like at races. First off – they offered packet pickup on race day (for 700 athletes). In addition, they didn’t cram the bag with ANY garbage paper stuff. Just socks and a t-shirt. Nice!
Out front of packet pickup was a MASSIVE pile of water bottles from the prior day’s Half-Iron race (used to hand-off while on the bike). Though most were a bit dirty from being chucked by someone at 20MPH off their bikes, they were all…free! A sign was posted to take as many as you wanted. So the girl and I took a small handful of perhaps five each.
After that, we swung over to the transition area to get setup. Lake Anna is really a great place to have a tri, with easy parking, great open picnic areas, and the lake right next to transition. Perfect!
While getting setup in transition I ran into a ton of people. Or rather, a ton of people ran into me. Some were bloggers (like Lindsay, who placed in the Half-Iron the day before and was officiating today), but the vast majority were people who read me and don’t blog. I think some five different folks came up at various points before/after the race to say hi that I’ve never met before. Pretty cool! Plus, some of them even got to meet The Girl.
Anyway, I got setup in a fairly relaxed manner, though my cadence sensor was being a bit cranky at first (no PUN intended…). But overall no issues. I’m number #355 there in the middle.
I did notice this cute little map and race plan on the person’s bike next to me. Kinda interesting if you click on the picture (expand) and read all the details.
While I normally would write down a race plan as well on my frame somewhere, but I had actually spent a few minutes the night before an loaded it all into my 705, where it would beep and chirp at me during the race to let me know if I was screwing up. You can do this with any of the Garmin’s, though I only do it for the bike leg, as it’s too annoying to others on the run leg (since you’re often running with the same people for miles).
(On the below photo, you can see the last item titled ‘Kinetic Sprint’, and queuing the workout plan in transition.)
Moving along to the actual race…
My wave started first – Males 35 and below. As usual lately, I started on the front line. I’m in the middle on the front line slightly bent over in front of the guy with the sleeveless wetsuit.
There was a bit of joking around with some of the guys regarding which one of us would swim into the wooden pilings out in the water on the way to the first turn buoy. I took this photo after, and ‘re-enacted’ the buoys…
Anyway, soon we were off. You can see me about to dive into the water at the right side of the screen.
The swim was pretty much a non-event. I managed to avoid the first wooden pole without issue. But the second one caught me a bit off guard. Thankfully sighting every 8-10 strokes meant I had approximately six feet before I ran into it, just enough time to avoid it.
As it seems is the case lately, I get pummeled in the first 50-100 yards with lots of swimmers trying to swim like a bat out of hell. And then I re-pass the majority of them at around the 300-500 yard mark when they are demonstrating the doggy paddle. A relatively short time later I plopped out of the water – 10:48 (for 750M)
I quickly headed up the short distance to transition.
Though, despite my best efforts, this ended up being a fairly rough transition. I couldn’t get my helmet on as I kept on getting something stuck on my ear. So I wasted a solid 10 or so seconds with that and ended up with a so-so 1:55 transition (which would be the 48th/700ish for T1).
Swim – 10:48 (750M), 11th in AG, 36/700 (AG=Age Group)
T1 – 1:55, 10th in AG, 46/700
The bike is generally one of my stronger points, so I was looking forward to getting on it. You start the bike on an incline and continue up a short hill.
As the first few minutes on the bike is usually when you’ll record your highest heart rates of the day, I focused on getting back into zone as quickly as possible despite the hill. Because of said hill, it probably wasn’t until about a mile later that I was finally able to get into my shoes (as opposed to riding atop them). This is because putting on the shoes while riding requires coasting…which requires inertia. Going uphill without pedaling would equal fail.
You can see the high starting rate, which takes a few minutes to settle down. My target for the first 8.2 miles was 163-166bpm. Which wasn’t terribly difficult to maintain. There was a small group of about 5-6 of us that went out roughly together, so there was a lot of back and forth passing. At one point I decided that was getting annoying (as the risk of a drafting penalty/situation was high), so I made what amounted to a breakaway to try and get away from the pack and into the clear. You can see said breakaway about at the 13 minute marker above. I was flying – hit up to 30MPH on relatively flat ground.
But…it seemed to serve only to poke the hornets nest, as then everyone else countered. After deciding that re-attacking would be a poor race choice, I settled back down. And everyone else did as well, with us passing each other back and forth on our respective strengths (climbing, flats, downhills, etc…).
There was one dude that I was set on catching up to. He had been lingering ahead a bit. And I deemed him “Name On Ass Dude” (NOAD – though at one point during the race I incorrectly pronounced it as NAD’s…like gonads). If you race ITU-elite, or the AG-World Championships, you get a slick uniform with your name on it, he had raced AG Worlds. I decided to simply make it a goal to pass NOAD.
At the first bridge (8.2M), I was ‘allowed’ per the race plan the coach sent to go to a higher HR (167-170). This gave me a ton of extra leeway to put away the pack for good. It was really amazing how much difference this made. I caught up to NOAD’s and we tango’d a bit. Though I would eventually let him go, primarily since he wasn’t in my AG and I was starting to hit the top of my zone keeping up with him. But I’ll see him later…
A nice and quick 18 miles later I cruised back into the park and past my friend photographing. He got these fairly cool shots.
From there I glided down the hill while removing my shoes and preparing for transition. This time transition went quite well, and I passed a number of folks in transition, and also posted a pretty solid T2 time.
Bike – 47:35 (18 Mile), 9th in AG, 29/700, 22.4MPH (rolling course, so not quite what I would have wanted) T2 – :48, 4th in AG, 16th/700 (the fasted was :34…pretty solid)
We ran directly out of T1 and up the same hill that we biked up initially. Not a terribly painful hill, just one that I focused on keeping in zone on. Here’s a few pics at the start of the run.
From there it was a short distance to the one mile marker where things flattened out. Though along the entire way I was passing people. I think I passed about 6-8 folks in total on the run (note, there was only about 15 people in front of me to pass as we were the first wave). Shortly after hitting that first mile marker, I finally had one of my favorite asses in sight (well, one of my real favorites in pork ass, for pulled pork).
NOAD was up ahead.
It was pretty clear I was going to be able to take him down since my closing rate was pretty high. Though unfortunately at about the same time I was taking down NOAD, another dude decided to take down me. His number had rubbed off, so I couldn’t pick out his age. Though my less than sharp brain put it at probably 30, it turns out he was actually in my age bracket. Which…sucks.
He slowly crept away from me (even after I passed NOAD). Though, even if I could have kept up with him for the run, I’m relatively certain I couldn’t have out sprinted him to the finish. I kept my HR up semi-high (around 175-178), which netted me a nice sub-6 pace for the second half of the run, but with the first mile being uphill, I was still over the 6/mile marker for the run as a whole.
In the end, I would cruise to the finish pretty much by myself, with NOAD’s 40 seconds behind me and and the other dude about 30 seconds in front of me.
Regrettably…this would only net me 4th in my AG, and thus no hardware was to be brought home today. So while I just missed the place I was hoping for (any place with hardware), it still was a solid effort. The recent travels and lack of taper likely played a part as pointed out by my coach – which is fine by me, as all the focus is on the Rhode Island 70.3 and the workouts being tuned for that.
Run:19:14 (5K), 3rd in AG, 8/700
Total: 1:20:18 – 4th in AG, 17th overall
A short while later, the Girl also came through the finish line, also finishing Top-10 in her AG as well. Though she had a pretty heavy week with a 56 mile hilly ride on Wednesday evening, she still did well – impressive!
Following her finish, we headed over to pack up before watching the awards. Somewhat disappointingly, someone decided they liked my swim cap and goggles better than I did. And took them. 🙁 Sad panda. Oh well, I got much better stuff a few minutes later.
On the way back to the car, we noticed the massive pile of water bottles was still there. Hundreds of bottles sitting around. And the sign was still begging for them to be taken away. So… we obliged. I think this was honestly the highlight of my day, seriously! It was awesome!
All in, I stuffed the side of my car with the bottles. Given how many bottles I go through in the summer – especially with the long 8-9 hour rides up on Skyline Drive in the mountains, I’d be great to get a ton of them and re-use them as opposed to wasting plastic ones.
After packing up all the bottles we headed on home. I was really excited that my car with the bikes on top fit under the clearance wire at Dairy Queen. Nothing better than a Blizzard on a hot day.
Upon arriving home, I had only one pressing manner – to clean all the bottles we got. Turns out, we got 25 bottles in total. Thanks to Setup Events for giving them away instead of trashing them, and to Hammer Nutrition for supplying them to Setup Events!
I used the nifty “Sanitize” button on the dishwasher. And while I didn’t get a post-cleaning shot since I had to bail to the airport, they did come out really nice and fresh, and shiny!
All in all – a pretty good day. The event was run really well – and the results were posted even before I got home (only a 90 minute drive away). Hope everyone had a good weekend! Oh, and thanks again for saying ‘Hi’ if you happened to stop by the race!