For the first time, they were putting up an elite prize purse for both the olympic and sprint distances held on saturday and sunday, respectively. The break down was 600- 400- 250 for males and females.
I love when local races do this because it adds another dimension to the field- making it more competitive and really legitimizing the sport, as well as allowing local pros to connect with local racers. I held an open water swim clinic and transition clinic that help newer triathletes become fans of the sport and become more comfortable with the race. i had 40 people attend the transition clinic and many were first timers. When you can make first time racers feel more comfortable before race morning, it will allow them to relax, have a better experience, and get more into the sport. With a lot of talk recently discussing the value of professional triathletes- I think this is a good example of benefits of having pros.
Now to the race. Luray, Va is in a beautiful location nestled near Shenandoah National Park and provided a tough and hilly bike and run course.
|Beautiful Shenandoah pre race|
I initially had intended on racing in Kewlona, Canada for the ITU continental cup to chase some much needed ITU points, however, when this race popped up with the prize purse. I made a change about two weeks prior to race here instead. My rational was that I could drive there, make more money than in Kewlona and the race director was allowing me to run a transition clinic, which I enjoy doing. I was a bit leery prior to the race as I could not bike or run the monday- wednesday before the race due to hamstring and knee pain. I rested it, swam a couple double swims in the pool, and thankfully was feeling ok by Thursday to start riding again. I have chronically tight quads, so I just let stretching lapse and the pain came on pretty strong Sunday after a long run. I am very glad to have it taken care of quickly.
The Olympic race on Saturday started with 48 degree air temps and I was glad I whimsically brought my toe covers for my cycling shoes thinking there was a small chance of cold weather. The other cool thing about the Olympic race was my childhood friend, Travis Peck, was competing in his second ever triathlon, so I got to hang out with him as he got ready to go. That helped ease any nerves that may have been there.
|Racing with a friend is always fun|
Swim: 19:10 1500m (2nd 18 seconds behind leader) I had studied who was racing in the pro/elite wave and knew that John Kenny would be a tough swimmer (former national 25K OW champ and one of the fastest tri swimmers I know of), so I just planned to hold his feet as long as I could. It was a wetsuit swim in a pretty warm lake (magical 77* water temps) that made the swim quite hot, but I felt good in my Roka Maverick- I am continually amazed by how comfortable that suit is. I managed to hold John's line for 1k or so, and by the end of 1500m he got 18 seconds on me. I was stoked about this as this showed all my swimming work this summer has paid off. We got over one minute on the next swimmer and 3- minutes on Steve, who would end up third today. On the 500 meter run to transition, I made up some time on John and we set out biking about 10 second apart.
Bike: 1:06:08 for 26.5 miles (3rd best split): Here is a link to my bike file with HR data. http://www.strava.com/activities/181095131
As you can see from the elevation profile, the race has some very solid hills. To get an idea of how fast the downs and steep the ups could be, I hit 50 MPH on the first downhill and on the way up, it was 12-14% grade going up. The course is a lollypop style with two circles of about 14KM. I just tried to hold as close to John on the downhills as he gapped me on them, but I was able to get some time back uphills. John said that is from extra time at the buffet line and simple physics. Anyway, got back to T2 about 90 seconds down on John and had about 1:30-2' on 3rd place.
Run: 34:11 for 10K, fastest split in the race by 1:05. On the run, I set out fairly hard to catch John. The course is two laps with 2.5K being rolling but net downhill and the opposite coming back. I figured I could roll on the downs and not feel too beaten up. I ran 5:05 and 5:10 for my first two miles and caught John at 2.5 miles. At this point, I tried to get to the turn around well (5:44 for the uphill mile) and then run conservatively to maintain the lead but not be too beaten up for the next day's race. I crossed the line in 2:01:40- a new course record by about 3 minutes and happy that I had won $600 plus an engraved wine craft.
The next day, I lined up for the sprint race. It was going to be a harder race for me since the bike was on the long side (17.4 miles) compared to the swim and run- and I knew there were some bike specialists that were looking to capitalize. Because of this, my goal was to swim with John (or close) and hold everybody within striking distance on the run.
Swim: 9:38 (750m), 2nd 15 seconds behind John. This was pretty similar to day one except more pain chasing John around the lake. My arms immediately hurt and I knew I wasn't swimming much slower, it just hurt more. We exited and I looked back, relieved to see that we had a solid 90 second gap on the main players.
Bike: 44:01 for 17.4 miles (3rd best). The bike course is the same as the Olympic, but only one 14 KM loop. You still get 1200 ft climbing over this short distance, so it is not a fast overall course. I do have my bike computer split every 5 miles, and my second 5 miles was 10:30 or 29 mph average, giving an idea of how up AND down the course is. I again chased John around the course and managed to catch him at the top of the very last hill, 500 meters before transition. At this point, I noticed Matias had also bridged up and we were all entering T2 together. http://www.strava.com/activities/181657311
I got into T2 second but used the ITU skills to get out 1st. I got out onto the run pretty hard running 5:00 for the first mile
Run: 17:00 for fastest split- not really sure how long it was 3.2 or 3.3 mi probably. I just tried to carry a hard pace the whole first 3km and then let myself enjoy leading a bit. I came down the finish shoot and was relieved to be done two races in two days. 2250m swimming, 47 miles biking, and 9.5 miles running racing is a good weekend, plus another $600 helps tremendously.
I finished in 1:13:04- another course record by about 90 seconds!
I am really grateful to David Glover, the race director for putting the race on and putting up an elite purse. It was a great race that was immersed in the community and had lots of local support. I will certainly be back.
As always, thanks to Powerbar, Team Philly Pro Tri, Champ Sys, and Roka for supporting me and very importantly, my mom who came to support me at both races and volunteered as a body marker at the races. Time to finish a bigger training block before Princeton 70.3