Monday, October 22, 2007

Finishing out the tri season

Although I haven't written much lately, now's a good time to get the blog up to date on the rest of my triathlon racing season.

The Mountaineer Tri was a blast, and a good result for me. The next race was another Olympic distance event, the hometown C-ville International Distance Triathlon, on July 29 at Walnut Creek Park, south of Charlottesville.

C-ville International Tri

The C-ville Tri is notable because the run is almost entirely on technical single-track trail. As a result, run times tend to be kind of slow for this one. I'd had some good training leading into this, and felt ready to put down a good effort. And it was good -- up to a point.

The 1500 meter swim was barely wetsuit legal, and I opted to take that route. Since the swim takes two laps, traffic was an interesting issue, especially as I started around the second time. Despite some sighting difficulties, I got out of the water in pretty good shape -- 25:20, good for 8 out of 13 in my AG.

I smoked through T1 and got out quickly on the bike. The bike course is a challenge. It's hilly, with lots of rollers and a couple of lengthy climbs, and has a fair share of tight turns. Fortunately I'd ridden it before, so I know what to expect. From the beginning, the bike felt strong. I got passed by a couple of the faster riders in my AG, but got to return the favor to some others. Time was a solid 1:14:29, good for 6 out of 13. I was psyched!

I blasted through T2, feeling confident, and then the **** hit the fan. The first mile on the trails was tough, but I felt myself starting to get into a rhythm. Then on an uphill stretch, both legs seized up with cramps -- big time cramps. I stopped dead by the side of the trail, and thought for a few minutes that I'd have to DNF. But as I started hobbling up the hill, the cramps eased enough that I could continue, slowly.

The rest of the run was just an exercise in gutting it out. My time was 58:54, good for 8 of 13 in my AG. Overall, I came in at 2:41 -- disappointing, and 7/13 in my AG.

A tough race, and a tough age group field, as well.

Giant Acorn Tri (sprint)

I'd planned on doing the Culpeper Sprint in August, but missed it due to family business. By the time October rolled around I was itching to go. I felt strong, having done a local 10K in 43 minutes and change in early September -- the fastest I'd run in almost 10 years.

The Giant Acorn Tri is a classic sprint (750M, 20K, 5K). The weather was outstanding, warm and sunny, and the water was just wet-suit legal. SetUp Events puts the race on, and they pulled it off with their usual competence.

My swim wave was one of the last, and almost immediately I was overtaking slower swimmers from the earlier waves. I'd seeded myself near the front of the wave, and had a clear shot and view of the buoys. SetUp had yellow buoys at the turns, so sighting was easy. I got into a good rhythm right away and popped up for a sighting every 2nd or 3rd stroke. As a result, I stayed on course throughout. Running out of the water I spotted a fellow C-ville triathlete and master swimmer just in front of me. He's a solid swimmer, so I felt pretty good about that. 14:57 for the swim (course was a bit long) -- good for 7/33 in my AG.

Into and out of T1 and onto the bike. I was looking forward to this -- my cycling has really improved this year, and the course was fairly flat and short at 12.4 miles. Traffic was an issue throughout the ride. Lots of newbie triathletes it looked like, with a fair number cruising down the center of the road on hybrids and mountain bikes. I spent a lot of time shouting "on your left" and "keep right!" Hopefully nobody thought I was some sort of tri-nazi. But seriously folks -- read the rules and stay to the right!

Lots of passing by me, and a great bike leg -- 35:23. Over 21 mph, and good for 11 out of 33 in my AG. Best of all, I'm getting closer to the fast guys -- the 5th place bike in my AG was only 1 minute faster.

I made the bonehead mistake of running to the wrong rack during T2, so I lost a few seconds there. Got a pretty quick turnaround otherwise, and was on my way pretty quickly. I caught a cramp in my calf during the first 100 yards or so, but I've come to expect that. I kept my cadence quick, and it faded away.

The run course at Giant Acorn is a flat out-and-back, so you get a chance to see a lot of other racers. I got into a good rhythm and kept picking off runners from the earlier waves. I also got a chance to measure my distance from some of the other competitors in my AG. Coming back in, I got on the heels of a strong runner in the 55-59 AG and kept pace with him. As we turned for home, my coach Debi Bernardes shouted at me to catch up to him, and the extra incentive gave me enough boost to take it in strong. I finished the run in 22:42, good for 8 of 33 in my AG.

The totals: 1:15:55, 7 of 33 in 45-49, and 68th of 281 males overall. An excellent end to the season -- I progressed from a solid middle-of-the-packer to a position where I'm getting close to the guys who place. Or as I like to say, I've gone from MOP (Middle of the Pack) to BOFOP (Back Of the Front Of the Pack). The next step will take some work, but I'm ready to give it a shot!