Friday, May 23, 2008
Little Pepper Sprint Triathlon - May 18, 2008
Summary: (750 meter swim/15 mile bike/5K run) A great day for racing, and a good balanced effort.
1:28:20 -- 6/25 45-49 AG, 50/237 overall male.
I did my first triathlon at Culpeper in August of 2005, so doing this race was a homecoming of sorts for me. It's a great venue: the swim is in a small quiet lake, with the transition area in a large grassy swale just a few yards from the waters edge. The bike takes full advantage of smooth highways and rolling country roads in the surrounding countryside, and it's topped off with a run on a closed highway that pops in and out of a couple of suburban neighborhoods. As the morning sun comes up over the lake, I can't imagine a prettier place to have a race.
Thanks to an early start, I completed my 45 minute drive and was at the race site with plenty of time to spare. Checked in, got my packet and chip and snagged a primo spot right on the end of my rack. Plenty of time to set up, so I was even more fussy than usual in getting everything "just so" in my transition area. I keep it pretty simple anyway -- helmet and glasses on the bike; bike shoes, running shoes, race belt and hat on my towel. A full aerobottle on the bike and I'm ready to go. After a liberal application of BodyGlide I strolled to the lake and checked out the water with a quick swim. Cool, but not bad. No morning fog, so visibility is excellent. Kibbitz with Debi, who made some noise about not running (sure, Debi...), and talked to a few acquaintances from C-ville and the race got underway.
My wave was next to last, so I killed time trying to stay warm until it was my turn. The sunny morning had turned overcast, with a bit of a breeze picking up. Great weather for racing, but kind of cool for standing around in a damp sleeveless wetsuit. Finally, the Women 35-up took off on the swim, a big school of yellow swim caps spreading out across the water, and it was my turn to wade in. A short wait, and the horn blew.
I'd seeded myself near the front of my wave. I'm not super fast in the water, but I can hold my own. The strategy worked well, and I had a nice pocket of space to myself right away. I got into a good rhythm and concentrated on having an efficient swim. A quick flick of the head every 4th stroke or so kept me sighting and right on track. By the first buoy we started hitting traffic from the previous wave and I played bumper boats with a couple of guys from my wave. Soon enough I was back in clear water and moving nicely down the back leg of the triangular course. I rounded the second turn and pushed the tempo up on the home leg. It'd been a good swim -- in particular I'd sighted well and stayed right on course throughout. As I hit the shallow water I went hard up the ramp, shooting for a good T1.
Swim: 14:05, 10/25 AG
A straight shot into transition, and I pulled off my cap and googles and undid my wetsuit's zipper as I jogged along. No problems with the wetsuit (thanks, BodyGlide) -- shoes on, glasses and helmet on, grab bike and go. A run up a grassy slopt to the mount line and I hopped on and coasted down the road as I clipped in.
T1: 1:33, 3/25 AG
The bike is a real joy on this course. It's hilly and fairly technical, which keeps you thinking throughout. And the scenery is great. As we headed west towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, I would have stopped to take a picture if I'd had a camera. In the first few miles of the bike I played hopscotch with a few other racers from my AG, but soon the field shook out and I found myself in my own comfort zone, keeping the RPMs up, and taking advantage of the flats and downhills to put on some speed. There were a lot of short steep uphills, and I attacked them conservatively, gearing down to keep up my momentum and pedaling speed as I went over the top.
It seemed to be working -- I was picking off dozens of riders from the earlier waves, and holding off anybody behind me. At about mile 12 another racer in my AG caught me on a downhill. Good incentive. On the next uphill grade I stepped up the effort and pushed past then put the hammer down for the last few miles. I was feeing good --- it'd been a solid ride overall.
Bike: 49:38, 8/25 AG
T2 reversed the direction of T1 -- run down the hill from the dismount area, bike on the rack, helmet off, shoes on, grab hat and race belt and out the chute. Nice smooth transition.
T2: 1:02, 2/25 AG
I've been working on the run a lot this year, and I'm feeling the benefits in my racing. The first mile of so of the run course was mostly uphill, but I got settled in pretty well. I was breathing hard (a bit of a cold wasn't helping things), but my legs felt good. No cramping, and the muscles felt pretty fresh. The course was an out-and-back, with a couple of out-and-back spurs on the way out. It made it interesting, because you could see the field in front of you a couple of times. As I hit the first spur, I started to really get into a strong running rhythm. Jack Bernardes, Debi's husband whooshed by going the other way -- I wasn't going to catch him, it looked like. But there were plenty of other people in front of me. Just like on the bike, I was passing lots of other racers. Into the second spur -- there goes Jack again -- well, at least he's not any further ahead. Finishing the second spur, I turned for home. This had the potential to be fast -- it was mainly downhill, retracing the tough first part of the run course.
I zeroed in on a pack in front of me and tried to catch them. Then I saw the "45" on the leg of a guy in front of me. Yes -- I can pick up a spot. I tucked in behind, then made a hard break past, hoping he wouldn't try to latch on. The strategy worked and I cruised in over the last 1/4 mile by myself and gave it a good shot across the line.
Run: 22:03, 7/25 AG
Overall a good race for me -- interestingly enough, my overall AG finish was better than my swim/bike/run placements. I'll thank the fast transitions and a pretty balanced performance for that. I'm not exceptional in any of the disciplines, but I won't count any of them as weaknesses, either.