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.

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