Tuesday, May 21, 2013

American Triple-T Weekend Race Report - Part 1

Alternate Race Titles
4 Races in 3 Days
140.6+ miles of fun
Hills and more hills - bring your climbing gears
One of the few races you'll actually get to know the people in transition
It might sound like a 3rd Grader wrote this

The much anticipated weekend finally came and went. In short, I finished and had a great time. I left St. Louis, with the nurse and pup, around 6:30 am and made the 7 hour drive to Shawnee State Park in Portsmouth, Ohio. With the hour time change I was hoping to get there around 3 but, we didn't make it until about 3:50 due to various reasons. Registration ended at 4:30 so, I was pretty worried during the last 2-3 hours of the drive.

We had about 12 people from the tri club racing so, it was pretty easy to find everyone. I got my stuff ready for the first race which is somewhat of an annoyance given that it probably takes more time to get everything ready than it does to do the race. All the races are a TT start (supposedly by number) so, there is a lot of standing around on the beach waiting.

Race #1 - Super Sprint

Swim: 250m
Bike: 6k
Run: 1 mile

This race is like a 5k run. The majority of triathletes can do this race on a whim. As I did for all the races I stood around with the tri club until there were about 50 or so people left and blended into line with 2 other people. It turns out the numbering system wasn't really enforced after #50 probably. During the wait it was interesting to see the strategies for getting out to the first buoy. Some people did dolphin dives, some tried to dolphin dive but failed miserably, others swam and most just high stepped/walked.

Not many people wore wetsuits for this one. I wish I had because the water was very cold in some spots, maybe 10-15 degrees colder and it was a nice shock. The swim was over before I knew it and I was on my bike riding to the turn around, then up a big hill to the lodge and back down to transition. Then I threw on my shoes and ran to the start of the running trail and about 200 feet in just as a tease and then back to transition. Somehow this all managed to take me 33 minutes. I figured I would easily be sub 30.

The split times are all messed up right now for every race. I doubt any of the swim courses were accurate this weekend because there is no way I swam a 6:40 for 250 meters. I'm not the fastest swimmer but I can do a 5 minute 250 for a warm up. The 6:40 equates to 2:45/100 which is barely faster than my first triathlon. It also says I swam 32:40 for 1.2 miles which is too fast even considering I was in a wetsuit. I think I could do 35 or 36 tops for a half right now but not after already having swam nearly 2 miles the day before. Not to mention all the biking and running. Anyway, it was time to recover even though it was not needed. We ended up ordering food from the hotel restaurant and the pizza turned out to be a big mistake as you'll find out in a bit.

Race #2 - AM ~Olympic

Swim: 1.5k - 2 Loops
Bike: 25 Hilly miles; 1-Cat 4, 2-Cat 5
Run: 6.55 Hilly miles

Goals: Come off the bike feeling like I didn't do anything. Finish the race and not feel like I raced.

The first Oly is the first race most people probably cared about. It's the easiest of the three but it can easily ruin the rest of your weekend. The pup decided he didn't like his sleeping arrangement and had to sleep in our bed which made sleeping a bit difficult. Nevertheless, I was up at 5:15 and out the door at about 6:15.

Race prep was basically the same as the night before except I actually had to fill my water bottles, take some gels and put on my wetsuit. For this race, I just walked to the first buoy and started swimming. Not too much drafting going on since everyone either couldn't swim a straight line or they kept veering away when I would move over to get behind them. Nothing eventful in this swim.

The bike course was a blast. In the first mile or two there were several wooden bridges we had to cross with huge bumps on either end. I saw at least 3 or 4 ejected water bottles at each bridge. I lost one of mine at the first bridge and was going so slow I stopped to get it. I was not that concerned with time this weekend...to a point.

The top of the first climb came at mile 2.62. I don't really remember this hill but, I remember it being a gradual uphill until the top. After that it was downhill, some steep and some gradual with some very technical turns. The RD warned everyone that when you see paint, or a person telling you to slow down, you better do it. He also added that if people fly by you on the downhills to wish them luck. The next hill was the worst of the day. It was a slight uphill approaching almost a 180 degree turn. Zero chance for momentum and there was gravel on the turn. Volunteers were standing around yelling about the gravel, sharp turn and the steep hill. I managed to get in my easiest gear before I made the turn. Others weren't as lucky. When I made the turn there was a girl coming down the hill...I also heard some people fell over, some walked up and someone heard a girl mash through all her gears and drop her chain. After that it "flattened out" for a bit. (The whole weekend was full of false flats because all the steep hills screw with your perception of flat land. I don't know how many times I'd look down and wonder why the hell I'm going 15 or 16 mph at this effort when it's flat...it wasn't flat.) Then it was downhill with some more sharp turns.

The last hill was featured in all three races...twice on Sunday. It has a gradual build to an out of the saddle climb for most people. Then it was a pretty fast downhill about 3 miles to T2. I took my time in T2 and slowly ran out to the course. All the runs were the same out and back with a gradual uphill then a steep downhill and back. The plan was to slowly run the uphill, walk the steeper parts and do whatever my body felt like on the downhills.

I finished in about 3:14 which turned out to be great considering I mostly felt like I hadn't raced. It should have been 3:11 or 3:12 but the pizza from the night before wouldn't wait 10 minutes and has to come out at the aid station at mile 5.5 on the run. The easy part was over, trying to figure out what to eat and how much in between races was going to be difficult. The nurse and I hung out under the tri club tent for a couple hours in between races and I tried to eat and rest.

Tune in tomorrow or someday in the near future for Part 2.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Triathlete Problems

How to keep track of your shoes...

My shoes are extinct so, I bought them all through daily deal websites for a pretty nice price. I would have a 4th pair but, the dog decided I had been running in them too long and turned them into clogs for me...he was right. Luckily they had already been retired.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spectating the Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC

The nurse and her friends decided back in December that they were going to take their chances and enter the lottery for the Nike Women's Half in DC. Luckily they got it. I haven't been back to DC in over a year and was dying to go back. This was the perfect opportunity.

We stayed in a gorgeous row house about a stones throw from the Capitol. I attempted to look up the property records to see how much it's worth but, the address doesn't actually exist...strange. Judging from the houses around it, I would guess between $1.2 and $1.3 Million.

We also got to do all the things we missed doing ever since we moved like Sticky Rice and Georgetown Cupcakes. Actually, those are really the only two reasons I wanted to go to DC. The nurse played tour guide for a little while with her friends and I went for a ride with the DC Tri Club.

Apparently the tri club in DC likes to do their rides "every man for themselves style..." Here is where we're stopping, keep up if you can.

Race Day came and I was pretty excited about this being the longest race I've ever spectated. Everyone made it to the start on time without any problems.

Old Post Office at the start, second highest view in DC.

I left the nurse at the entrance to the corral and headed out in front of the start line. I saw them introduce Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Joan is the only woman to run a sub 2:50 marathon in 5 different decades. I also so saw some people who did not belong at the front of the race. 

Then I was off to try and spot the nurse around mile 2. I didn't spot her but I got some decent pictures along the way. 

Still recovering from the earthquake. 

Then I headed out to one of the turn arounds where if you didn't turn you'd end up in Georgetown. Appropriately I had a sign that let people know they missed Georgetown Cupcakes. Sadly, I didn't think to get a picture of it. I missed the nurse again but she saw me. So far I'm 0 for 2. Along the way I saw these guys running and the Lincoln Memorial...

There were also Dragons at the race

Then it was off to the edge of Haines point for mile 10. At that point I held my "That's Not Sweat, It's Your Fat Cells Crying Sign." It's easy to love or hate Haines point in a race. It's flat but there is usually a very sparse crowd compared to the rest of the course. 

On the way back to the start I noticed the water stop at mile 11 was suffering. Seeing as I know very well what it's like to be on both sides of the water table I tried to help. I filled up about 50 cups and there was zero teamwork among most of the cup fillers. I decided it was a losing battle and figured I was just wasting my time. So, I headed to the finish. 

I managed to make an area of about 5 feet in front of me so I had a good view. You wouldn't believe how many people will come and stand directly in front of you without any thought. I probably missed the nurse because I was too busy telling people to stop standing in front of me. Anyway, after checking my text messages I realized I had been standing there for 10 minutes after she finished. 

If you didn't know, you're "served" a Tiffany necklace buy a guy in a tuxedo. I think they were ROTC guys this time. No clue who that woman is, just taking pictures. 

On the way home we saw this woman posing with all the kids in her family. The fronts of their shirts said "#GO (her name)" I couldn't get my camera out in time for that picture. I also have no idea what her name was given that it's a very uncommon name in the English language. It's probably more popular in Asia but, I'm not sure. 

When I found the nurse she was standing in a VERY long line for finisher gear. I waited with her for about 20 minutes. After estimating how long the line might take and how much the pullover she wanted costs, I took $80 and went to ask someone at the front of the line to buy the shirt. I found a couple who looked like they wouldn't rip me off and said they can keep the change if they buy the shirt. They agreed and even gave me the change back. Her friend in line said I was pretty trusting. I said, "well, I won't miss the money if she just walks off." Yeah, I'd be a little mad but, it really wasn't about trust. I did think through the confrontation scenario if they did just walk way with my money. It would be fairly easy for them to just deny everything unless I had signed the bills. 

People are right, race spectating is a sport. I ran 4.5 miles over the race course. It also made the race go by much faster. 

Oh, I forgot about the shoes...

Nike decided to make some limited edition shoes for the race and only make them available at several locations. We managed to be third in line for the shoes at Macy's. Since we were both in line we decided I would get a pair as well and sell them on ebay. 

Pretty schnazy. She ended up selling them for enough to cover the cost of both pairs. So, for sitting (we stole a chair and put it in the queue) for a couple hours she got a free pair of shoes. Now that I think about it, I didn't get anything out of that deal :-(

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wicked Fast Ride with the DC Tri Club

Last weekend I was in DC with the nurse so she could run the Nike Women's Half...More on that another day, hopefully soon.

Since I have the Vino Fondo and Triple-T coming up, I didn't want to skip a long ride. It seemed stupid to take my bike with me for one ride when:

A) I don't own a bike box.
B) I don't know how to put my bike together...safely.
C) I didn't want to risk spending $200 on baggage fees when I can rent a bike for less.

So, I rented a bike. I was going to rent one from an actual bike shop but the logistics of getting to the bike shop without a car made it a less than desirable option. Surprisingly, one of the tourist bike rental places has Trek 1.5s (carbon fiber frame) but with regular pedals...interesting. I figured I rode without shoes once this year, why not do it again. I could have brought my pedals but, I was feeling lazy the night before we left.

When I picked up the bike the rental people seemed shocked that I didn't have any questions. Nope, used to live here. Just need to ride tomorrow. I guess they don't get many people renting to train for races. I explained my other options to them and they sort of understood.

The next morning I headed from the house we rented on Capitol Hill to Georgetown, where they start. No one seemed to care that a new person was there. It may have had something to do with my lack of clipless pedals, my helmet with the rental company logo on it and the nurse's PURPLE camelbak. I guess I might be a bit skeptical if I saw someone ride up like that.

Then people started talking about groups and routes. I decided to not go with the "A" group given my equipment. (As I would later find out, even with the proper equipment that may have not been a good idea) So, I went with the woman who said she would be leading a B, B+ ride for 50 miles. She explained the route after getting to the first stop, I had no idea what she was talking about but I figured I would just follow people. That turned out to be harder than I thought.

Their Saturday rides are much different than what I'm used to. It was basically, we're riding this route and stopping here, here and here. Hang on if you can. This was the second fastest* group ride I've ever been on and I loved it. I hung on fairly easily for most of the ride and if you chop off the ride to and from Georgetown the average pace was about 19.6 mph with one Cat 5. Once we hit the rolling hills after the stop, I lost contact and thought I was going to get lost. Luckily they stopped at the end of the road we were on. I saw two people, who were cutting the ride short, still riding and decided to catch up to them. It took a couple miles but now I have some idea what it's like when pro riders try and catch up to the 3 or 4 people in the lead group. I eventually introduced myself at a stoplight, mainly to let them know I wasn't some a-hole trying to draft off them. I also explained the "every man for themselves" feeling I got from the ride. They seemed to feel bad but I reassured them I preferred it. Then they led me back to the start and I headed back to the house.

I like the idea of having 3 pace groups and keeping the stops to a minimum. I guess it's hard to do in St. Louis since we don't have a set Saturday ride and some routes have so many turns in them that you would easily get lost if you don't know where you're going.

*The fastest ride I've ever been on was last season where I rode with 4 guys who kept a 26 mph pace on the flats although, with a big tailwind. The return trip slowed to about 17 mph and I told them not to wait for me unless they couldn't see me after a turn. (It was all farmland so you could see about a mile or so back down the road.)

It's always disappointing to see how fast you ride and then realize there are people who do that faster than you and for twice as long.