Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Philly Tri 2014

I have raced Philly Tri for the last three years and have never really had a performance where I was really proud of the whole race. I finally changed that this year and really felt like I put together a full race. Here's how it went.

It's great to be able to sleep at home before a race, and because of that and the short 45- minute drive to race site caused no nerves and I was pretty relaxed pre race.

Got to check out the swim course from both ends by looking up and down river. The swim has been a point of controversy the last few years with last year, many athletes taking a different path than me, and I was dropped. Two years ago, 17- women were misguided and accidentally cut the course. Because of these previous snafu's, I wanted to really understand the course. I wanted to swim with the main group, and if I accomplished that, I would be fairly happy for the day. I have been swimming 30+ km/week for the last few weeks to really try to take my swim to an elite level. I did not back off for this race because my main focus are the two Canadian continental cups in July, so I was not sure how I'd feel. I managed to feel really strong through the entire race, just need to rest up for some more top end speed.

The swim started pretty fast for a non drafting race and I immediately found myself at hip level with some of my competitors including super fish Cam Dye and John Kenny. I just tried to stay with the main bunch as these guys were heading off the front. I made a few surges to stay with the group but mostly was just sitting in the middle of a larger bunch of athletes. I noticed a sleeved athlete next to me, who I recognized as Mark Bowstead from New Zealand and I knew he was a solid swimmer- so I was content to stay there. We exited with a large group including myself, Jason West, David Thompson, Mark, and James Thorpe. Exited in 17:34- one minute off Dye, Potts, and Kenny.

Once on the bikes, I tried my hardest to stay within site of Thompson and Bowstead, but my legs were not having it. I was in a second group with an Aussie and a few others. We eventually caught Matty Reed and closed time on Paul Matthews. I hopped off the bike with Reed and felt pretty solid for the run. Bike split was 1:00:23- which is my best Philly split by 2:30. After the race, I told Matty that it was an honor to get off the bike with him as he is really a legend who I have looked up to for awhile.

I immediately got out hard on the run and gapped Matty quickly with my goals up the road. I did not pass anybody from 1/2 mile until 5.5 miles where I caught Paul Matthews, John Kenny, and Brooks Cowan. I was able to drop all but Brooks to finish 9th overall with the 4th best run split, 34:40- however I, and a few others, had it as closer to 6.45 miles. Overall time was 1:54:15, which would have been top 5 almost every other year, so I am pretty happy with how this race went and shows good signs for continental cups in 3 and 4 weeks.

I did have a pretty funny mishap with water, where I tried to drop some on my head but the centripetal force just carried the cup high into the air, and it was caught on video!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Black Bear Half Ironman- Win and Course Record

After deciding not to do Dallas continental cup because training had been hit or miss, especially in the pool, due to school and work obligations, I wanted to get a good long training block in. Team Philly Pro Tri had a team race up in the Pocono Mountains called Black Bear triathlon and I figured I would do the Olympic race there but was somehow talked into doing the half as a great training day. My last half, Savageman, did not end up so well as I did not have enough food to keep myself from bonking on the ride, so I was hoping to solve that issue and have a good day across the board. Mission was mostly accomplished. I will say, however, that the Monday before the race when I decided I should do a 50- mile ride on the TT bike to get used to the race distance on that bike, I was quietly cursing Brett for coaxing me into this! Sorry Brett, rescnded now.

My mom and girlfriend came up to watch the race too, which is nice to have everyone around since most ITU races are a good distance away, so this was a nice change. Melissa even tried on the aero helmet- maybe she will race one of these soon! Big shout out to her for breaking UD's school record in the steeplechase last week (we both used to be top 5 in school history.. guess she decided that it was time to move up).

The day before the race, we drove the course and I expected it to be hilly, but this was very hilly. I generally climb well and race well on hills, so that was encouraging, however it reminded me a little of Savageman (just consistent hills though, no 1.5 mile stretched over 10% like SM). Was pretty relaxed about the race as I figured my heart would never be pounding over 200 BPM like the REV3 Super sprint last weekend!

Swim: 24:51 (1st) with about 2:20 on the next athlete. Swim was nice to be in the ROKA wetsuit, and I have been swimming open water the last few weeks, so I really enjoyed it. I also have been swimming with Univ of Delaware's swim team for a few weeks, so the 30-40 km/ week i have been swimming has forced me to at least enjoy swimming a little. Was able to stay really relaxed and exit the water feeling pretty calm. Quite the difference from ITU racing where I am used to being pummeled trying to hold onto the pack. Took my first (of many) power bar gels in T1.

Bike: 2:43 (1st I think) the website has me listed as 3rd but nobody's times below are listed as 1 and 2 so we will go with this. As Tim said, the first lap was nice with so many athletes around, it did not really take much mental fortitude to stay focused. The only hold ups were on some descents where I wanted to pass but had to wait. Overall, I liked the course with the exception of an hour and back that only the half does. It is about 3- miles and on some really beaten up roads with trees shading the path, making it quite difficult to see the potholes. CGI does a good job of spray painting the potholes, but some parts of the road were covered in spray paint because you could not really avoid the holes! The second loop was definitely more mentally tough as I only passed a few half athletes that were on their first loop. I do not have a power meter on my bike so I just went with RPE and focused on staying within myself. Took a gel every 35 minutes on the ride plus 24 oz of perform. Only having a spot for one bottle on my bike shows my lack of long course racing/preparation. The 5- gels I took seemed to keep me at bay and did not have any real issues energy wise on the bike, although was more than happy to get off the bike at the end! I took 2- double latte gels (with 30 mg caffeine) and 3- kona punch gels with no caffeine.

Run (1:30 for 4th or 5th again with the timing anomalies). This was an interesting run as I really have never been racing for this long, so I did not know what to expect. I put on my shoes and figured I would just treat it as a long run at first and see how it went. My error here was not bringing 1 more gel, as that would probably have made the last 4- 5 miles easier. I went out and ran 6:00 and 5:24 (downhill) and ran the next 4 miles all around 6:00-6:20.. then around half way the bottom started to drop out and my quads were cramping up pretty badly. I timed the gap to second and I had 12- minutes, so I started walking the aid stations and relaxing the downhills. As Tim said, some were pretty gnarly so I did not want to get a full blown quad issue.An athlete that was on his first loop kept telling me how I could be running faster as I passed him and then again on an out/back part. I know he was trying to help but I was not really having any of it. I was just in survival mode. When I got to the finish, I found out that I broke Josh Beck's course record by 5- seconds, and I do not think I've been so happy to be done a race for awhile. Do not think i will become a long course guy for awhile, but this was a nice race and I am glad to almost got the whole race down successfully. Congrats to all the other Philly Pro Tri athletes that seemed like they had great races too!

I was mostly mustering enough energy to not walk the finishing shoot, however it was nice to break the tape in 4:42 for an 11- minute win and 5- second course record.

Now I am on a training block since school has ended. My big races are the two continental cups in Canada in July, but I will also be racing Philly Tri in 3- weeks. I am heading to Boulder before that for training/visiting CU for a potential PhD program so hopefully will have some nice new scenery for training.