Monday, September 29, 2008

Naylor's Beach Triathlon -- 9/28/08

Executive summary:

1500M swim, 26 mile bike, 10K run -- 2:34 (2:36 with penalty).
9/30, 45-49 AG

Long report:

This was my first time at Naylor's Beach. The race is situated on the north shore of the Rappahanock River, in quiet rural surroundings. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, and pitched my tent at the pleasant campground right across the street from the transition area, got out my gear, and enjoyed a short swim, bike, and run. After I cooked dinner, the weather changed for the worse, as thunderstorms rolled in, so I called it a night and dove into my tent at around 8:30 -- that's life in the country for you.

Race day dawned overcast, with occassional showers, but warm temps and light winds. For whatever reason, I'd woken up at 2 AM and couldn't get back to sleep until nearly 5, so I wasn't feeling too fresh as I crawled out of my tent. I rolled my bike across the street and racked it, then came back to get my gear together and have some breakfast. For whatever reason, it just wasn't my morning. I'm normally methodical (compulsive? anal?) about getting my gear together the night before a race, but this morning I couldn't get organized. I ended up making three trips back and forth to the transition area as I kept realizing I'd forgotten items. In retrospect I didn't get as good a breakfast as I needed and I skimped on my hydration. Live and learn!

Swim: 27:32, 12/30 AG

Water temperature (70 degrees) and conditions were very good for the swim. The Rappahanock is wide and brackish at this point, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay, really. I was in the second wave, a pretty large group of all the men 40 and older, plus the clydesdales. As we took off I tried, unsucessfully, to get some open water around me, but was hemmed in by a pack and played bumper boat all the way out the first leg. There was a steady current flowing right to left that pushed us left of the buoys, and by the first turn we'd already caught up to the stragglers from the first wave, which made for a pretty big scrum at the buoy. Now we were swimming the longest leg of the course, with the current mainly at our back. I finally got a bit of space around me and got into a good rhythm. I felt good and smooth, but had gulped down some water when I got dunked at the turn, which wasn't sitting too well on my stomach. As I rounded the second turn I had to fight back up against the current as I went towards the beach. Fortunately it was easy to get a sight on the exit and I kept swimming strong, kicking hard to loosen up my legs as I approached the shore. Onto the small sandy beach and over a small seawall, then up a grassy lawn, and I was into T1.

T1: 1:37, 3/30 AG

The usual blur -- toss down the goggles and cap, step out of my suit, slip into my shoes, grab the bike and start running. Wet and breathless, it's always sort of surreal, but I usually do a good job on these. No exception this time.

Bike: 1:16:40, 20.3 mph, 10/30 AG

I'd heard people talking about how tough the bike course was. They had to be kidding -- it's flat down there. Still, I gathered there were a couple of hills to be concerned with on the first half of the course. Traffic was tight as we came out of transition, but got myself into a rhythm and started concentrating on RPMs -- keep 'em at 90ish. While most of the course was pretty flat, there were a lot of fairly sharp turns throughout. Still, plenty of room to get down on the bars and roll through the countryside. Around 8 miles I hit the first of the hills. Fairly steep, but not too long. With my granny gear engaged I spun past a long line of riders and over the top. At mile 13ish we hit the second hill. This guy was steep -- I could look up it and watch cyclists tacking back and forth like drunken sailors after a night of shore leave. With a hearty "Hi-Ho Silver," it was "Granny Gear Away!" and I spun up and over.

I was cranking along at 90 RPM when the Coach Debi express went ripping by on my left. Good incentive. I picked it up just a notch to keep her in sight, and passed her on an uphill. She returned the favor on the next downhill, and I followed, gradually dropping back as we went round a corner and then up a short hill. Then I heard the motorcycle go by, and watched as the official jotted something down in his notebook. I had a bad feeling about that, which turned out to be correct. A 2-minute penalty for not dropping back fast enough. What can I say? We were going downhill, then slowing for a turn and starting a climb. Technically correct, but...disappointing -- I take a lot of pride in racing clean.

Back to business at hand, and I took advantage of the last few flat miles to pick up the pace -- I got my final revenge by passing Debi on a small rise, and then amused myself by jumping my bike over a series of speed bumps right before the transition area. Off the bike and done.

T2: 1:00, 3/30 AG

Rack, shoes off, shoes on, grab my race belt and go. Pretty fast.

Run: 47:11, 7:35 pace, 9/30 AG

Coming out of T2 I could see Debi about 10-15 yards ahead of me. Damm, that was a fast transition for her. Well, here's some incentive for me -- try to keep up with her.

After about 3 minutes one thing was clear -- that wasn't going to happen. Time to refocus on the task at hand. I got my running into a good rhythm and concentrated on my own race. Past the first water stop I picked off two guys in my AG, then a mile or so later I got by another one. As I got near mile 3 my right quad started screaming at me. My poor hydration and pre-race nutrition was catching up to me, most likely. I held back on the pace a bit, hoping I wouldn't push it over the cliff into a full-fledged cramp, and worked through it. We turned for home and I could see an AG competitor who'd passed me on the bike ahead and within striking distance. I slowly kept reeling him in and by mile 4 was within a few steps. As we hit a slight rise I passed him.

He wasn't going to give up easily. I could hear his footsteps right behind me, so I surged slighty, then relaxed, surged, relaxed, for several minutes. Sneaking a look back I could see I'd opened a gap. We turned to go down a short, final out-and-back leg and both quads started to tighten up on me. I had to slow somewhat. We turned and headed for home -- maybe a half mile to go. My rival saw his opportunity and came past me, opening up about a 10-yard gap. I almost mailed it in then, but the tightness in my muscles had eased a bit, and it was worth a final shot. I picked it up and drew even. He surged. I surged. With two short turns to go I drew ahead. Rounding the last turn, 10 yards to go -- there he goes, and I don't have an answer. He beats me by less than a yard.

We congratulate each other and I go sit down -- I'm cooked.

2:34 (2:36 w/ penalty) -- 9/30 AG, 41/154 men


My last tri of the year, and a pretty good result. My age group was stacked with strong athletes, so I'm pleased with the placement. A typical result for me -- even performances in all 3 disciplines, with quick transitions.

Looking ahead, next year I'll be the new kid in the 50-54 AG, and I know I've still got plenty of room to improve. In particular it's time to spring for an honest-to-gosh tri bike. I think I've earned it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pepsi 10K Race Report

Short report:

Pepsi 10K - Charlottesville,VA - 9/13/2008
33/416 overall, 4th in 45-49

This is a great local race. If you want a nice test of your running speed and stamina, 10Ks are an excellent way to go.

Long report:

I've got a soft spot in my heart for this race. It was the very first road race I ever did, back in the early 90s. I ran a 48:50 and then went home and slept the rest of the day (I wonder whatever happened to that shirt?)

Fast-forwarding to the present, I went into the race with two goals: 1. Get a good test of my marathon preparation for Richmond in November. 2. Beat my co-worker Tommy, who's 39, and has beat me by about 15 seconds in each of the two races we've both competed in this year.

The weather on Saturday was oppressive. Humid and hot, though the sky was overcast to start the race. Got in a good warmup and kibbitzed a bit with some of the guys, then it was time for business.

The course is a double out-and-back: out one mile, turn back past the start, then out to mile 4 where you turn around and head for home. It's a pretty run, on rolling country roads. I found some space in the insanity of the start, and weaved my way around the usual quick-starting flameouts, running downhill to the first turnaround. I hit the mile in 6:50 -- that felt about right, given the downhill.

As I came back up hill I settled into a good rhythm and counted my footfalls -- 90 for the minute -- good running tempo. Tommy and I traded spots a few times and I pulled ahead a bit as we came to the first waterstop. Mile 2 came at 14:06 -- OK, considering the hill.

Now was the time to really settle into a groove, as the course flattened a bit. I'd opened a little gap around me and kept motoring along. I knew Tommy was just a bit behind me, but I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me look back, so I focused in like a laser on the road. Mile 3 -- 21 flat.

A couple of stiff little rollers hit me hard as I moved into the fourth mile. I kept concentrating on my tempo as I climbed the hills trying not to bog down and lose time. I turned around and headed for home at mile 4 -- right on time at 28 and a couple of seconds.

This was starting to hurt. I started to pass more runners as they slowed. Picking them off was a nice distraction. I kept checking my watch and counting steps, striving for a fast turnover, thinking about keeping my form together. The sun was out now, and the humidity brutal. My singlet was stuck to my skin and I could feel water dropping off my shorts as I ran. Finally, mile 5 -- 35:00.

By now I just wanted to slow down and rest -- man, 10Ks hurt... As I closed towards the finish a young woman flew by me -- whoa, I can't catch her. Next it was my turn, as I passed a young 20 something guy. He tried to make a game of it, passing me back up, but I quickly dropped him.

Finally I turned down the road into the school where the finish is. I peeked over my shoulder. Tommy was hanging on, about 5 seconds back. Now or never -- I gave it everything I had left and went home hard. One more look -- I'm safe.

Done. Crap, I can't even breathe...well, that'll pass.

Felt pretty good about the race -- 43:20 in those conditions was a very good time for me. I'm right on track for Richmond, and I beat Tommy by 15 seconds. Life is good