Tuesday, May 31, 2011

OnionMan 2011

This race is one of my favorites. It's the first Olympic distance of the year in Eastern Washington and it always seems to draw a competitive field. This year was no different.

I elected to drive down the morning of the race again this year. I did this last year because I was too cheap to pay for a hotel. This year I was too cheap to pay for a hotel and I needed to stay and help with Amelia who just happened to come down with an allergic reaction to formula at about 7:30 the night before. So... after running around getting her liquid benedryl and talking to the pediatrician multiple times we got it all straightened out, but that meant I still had to pack everything up in a hurry at the end of night. When all was said and done I finished packing the car up at about 10:45 pm and headed off to bed.

The alarm sounded at 3:00 am and I rolled out of bed to hop in the shower and start my 3 hour trek down to Walla Walla. The drive down was beautiful as always, but about the time I hit Dusty, Washington it started to sprinkle a little. By the time I got to Dayton it was raining pretty steady. This was not good for me. I had only brought my Planet X race kit consisting of a singlet and shorts. Not exactly warm on the bike. Well, I pressed on checking the weather on my phone multiple times and it kept telling me it wasn't raining in Walla Walla and it wasn't going to all day. Great I thought. The forecast is always right. Right?
Wrong! I pulled into the parking lot at Bennington Lake and I could look out the window and see that it was raining.....and windy..... and 45 degrees. I actually contemplated turning around and going home, but I had driven all that way and I was super excited to see where I was fitness wise to start the tri season. Besides, a little rain never hurt anyone. I've always ran well in the rain. After all I'm a mudda! My mudda was mudda! (Seinfield quote those true fans out there)

The rest of morning consisted of the usual. Setting up my tranisition area and getting everything all ready to roll. (On a side note I did get quite a few compliments on my bike and how "stealthy" it looked. Stealthy was never a word used to describe my old yellow Cervelo.)

Anyway, the pre-race meeting started and they anounced that "due to the water temperature, the swim would be changed to a one loop swim instead of two." Normally a shorter swim would have me very excited. The problem is with this race I like to use it to see where I'm at for the season. A one loop swim doesn't help much as far as comparing from year to year. Oh well, it was out of my hands and actually probably helped me in the long run as I wouldn't be so far behind the fish.

Swim- 12:46
The swim started pretty uneventfully. I lined up directly in line with the first turn buoy and kind of at the front. When the race started I took 100 hard strokes and then hopped on some feet in front of me. I was able to draft for most of the swim and ended up coming out of the water 23rd overall. That's actually pretty good for me. I was quite happy with the swim as I saw fellow Spokanite Troy Nelson get out right in front of me. I was pretty sure he was usually one of the better swimmers. So far so good.

T1- 1:42
This is where things took a turn for the worse. I started running up the boat ramp to my bike and was doing great stripping my wetsuit when I heard someone yelling that I dropped my goggles. To be honest I really didn't care about them but I turned around and the guy was nice enough to toss them to me. From there I ran up to my bike and struggled with my wetsuit. It of course got stuck on my heels and it took me forever to pull it off. Finally I was running out of transition did a great flying mount and stuck my sunglasses on. From there all hell broke loose.

Bike-1:04:12- So my sunglasses go on, but they are covered in rain and I literally can't see 5 feet in front of me. I get my feet into my shoes and start pedaling but I still can't see and the road was in the worst condition I've ever seen it with speed bumps to boot. So there I am swerving back and forth trying to see and getting my shoes on. Oh... I forgot to mention that I wear my Garmin 305 on my wrist for the bike so I was also holding that and waiting for a good time to put it one. As if things weren't going badly enough my aero bottle was rattling so bad the velcro started to come loose and I was inches from losing it into my front tire. If you were behind me watching this I apologize for the complete lack of control I was showing. During this whole debacle I was passed by 3 or 4 riders. Not a good way to start!

After that whole debacle I get everything on and I can almost see 10 feet in front of me when I see the first corner coming up. No problem.. I'll just ease on my brakes. Well easing on the brakes yeilded me no stopping power. This was my first ride in the rain with carbon friendly brake pads. They don't work so well when they're wet. I had heard this before but it was really hitting home here. I made the turn but honestly I was not optomistic about the rest of the ride. I was freezing but so was everyone else so I can't really complain. I wish I could claim that my body temp was lower than everyone elses thus I was colder, but that's not the case. On a side note Ben and Jerry's has a new flavor with potato chips in the ice cream. This might be contributing to the extra body fat.
Back to the race. I finally settled in and started catching people pretty quickly. I passed 3 of the 4 that passed me almost immidatley and slowly started realing others in. By the time I hit the turn I was in 7th and only about 15 seconds down on 5th and 6th. I caught 6th right away and it took about 15 minutes to get 5th. The 4th place guys stayed just ahead of me and I followed right behind him into transition.
T2- Another comedy of errors. My first mistake was leaving my shoes on the bike. As soon as i hit the ground I felt the sharp gravel digging into my feet and looked up to see my T1 spot was a good 50 yards away. The only positive was my feet hurt so bad from being cold the gravel wasn't too bad.
I dropped my helmet and had to stop and pick it and ran my bike to it's spot. At that point I realized my hands were not working at all. I couldn't grab my shoes and I had to put socks on. I know this is a rookie move but I felt like I had no choice but to sit down and get to work. I could see out of the corned of my eye that 2 guys left transition while I was struggling, but I felt confident I could run them down. I finally made it out to the run and I knew at least I would warm up.

Run- 37:35

I couldn't feel my feet for quite a while. Like 2 miles actually. It ended up taking me about 2 miles to catch the first guy that passed me in transition and I caught the next guy right after the 5k mark. This put me in fourth. The problem was I could see there were a few people coming on strong behind me and I could tell one in particular was running really well. I managed to hold him off until there was about 1.5 miles left but I was feeling some cramp like twinges in my inner quads. I guess that's what I get for running beyond my current run fitness. He passed me and I was able to hang with him for about 100 yards at which point I decided I needed some water at the last stop. I ended up missing the water and getting gatorade and losing contact with my man. We were both putting in serious time on the guy in third place as I noted I was about 2 minutes behind at the 5k mark. I just tried to stay as close to 4th place as I could. I ended up about 10 seconds behind 4th and 18 seconds behind 3rd place. I found out after that 3rd place got cash so I was a little bummed I wasn't able to catch him.
Finish Time- 1:57:13

All in all I'm very happy with this race. The swim is what it is. I don't have anything to compare it to but I did come out of the water about 10 places better than last year. The bike was a 3 minute PR in poor conditions so I gotta be happy with that. As far as the run goes I think this is what I'm most proud of. I was only 7 seconds off a run PR and I haven't put in the mileage to be there yet. The one thing I need to work on is the free speed in transitions. Hopefully it all comes together in Boise.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bloomsday race report

It feels really good to finally be writing about a race. It's even a running race! After quite a few DNS races this spring I was cautiously optimistic that Bloomsday would be my debut. It wasn't easy, but I finally made it to the starting line.

In the months leading up to this race I had sufferers numerous setbacks with my IT band and calf injuries. I made the decision in February that I would do no speed work this spring and would really take my time building the distance back up. This meant that I was coming into Bloomsday having two weeks over 15 miles while only exceeding the 7.47 mile distance of Bloomsday 3 times on pancake flat Centenial Trail runs. To say I was a little nervous about getting hurt again would be an understatement. I decided 2 weeks ago that I would do zero taper for this and not let myself get sucked into running it too hard. So the day before I did a pretty hard loop on the Ironman Coeur d Alene bike course with Derek Garcia (he was into his taper for Ironman St. George, but that didn't stop him from putting the hurt on me). We finished up an easy 4 miles brick run. The run felt surprisingly good.

I woke up on race morning without the typical butterflies I get on race day. (My life has changed a bit since last year so my morning race routines now include hanging out with Amelia and helping a little with her morning routines.). My legs felt a little dead after the Ride and run yesterday, but I figured would come around if I asked really nicely so I wasn't too worried about it. I got dressed had some breakfast and headed off to downtown Spokane.

Now, I'm not positive but I think this was my 18th Bloomsday. I have everything from where park, warm and make port a potty pit stops down to a science. Everything went well but my legs still felt dead in my warm ups. There was nothing I could do about it at that point so I went and lined up. I was racing second seed but my pre-race goal was to break 50 minutes. That would be 7:30 slower than my last years time. It also meant that I really didn't belong in 2nd seed. Oh well. I still lined up at the front out of habit and ran into fellow tri-fusion teammate Nate Duncan. We chatted for the few minutes before the gun went off and it sounded like we had a similar strategy and goal for the race. He was also coming off an injury and didn't want to aggravate it. He said he was just going to try and stay with me to keep himself from going out too fast. Well the gun went off and he was instantly about 10 seconds ahead of me. I was getting passed like crazy, and I'm actually proud of myself for not trying to stay with people. Pretty much to the college or about mile 4 I ran my own race and didn't worry about anyone around me. When I hit mile 4 I started to feel good and was actually passing quite a few people. That lasted until Doomsday hill. This hill has never been that bad to me before, but this year was a different story. Doomsday pretty much chewed me up and spit me out. I struggled all the way up the hill! In the past hills have always been a strength for me. I've never enjoyed them but I think I've always hated them less than everyone else. Like I said, this year this was not the case. As I crested the hill I could tell I was not going to recover well.
For those that don't the course it really flattens put for the last 2 miles and you should be able to pick up the pace and finish strong. It took me way too long this year to get back on track. As soon as I made the first turn into the neighborhoods I had to stop and adjust the IT band strap I have been wearing lately. It seemed to not like the water I was dumping over my head at the prior water station. I later found out my nipples didn't appreciate the water I had been dumping on my head either. Anyway.... The stop only cost me about ten seconds and it seemed to satisfy the need I had to walk. From that point on I was able to bring my pace back down to fairly descent run.
I wasn't doing a ton of passing, but I wasn't getting passed either. We then turned the corner onto Broadway. From there it's about 1.5 miles to the finish it's completely flat and you can see all the way to the corner you turn at to finish the race. This is a horrible way to finish. You run for a couple minutes and look up and the corner doesn't seem to get any closer until you're right on it. I turned the corner and made the downhill run to the finish. This year I knew I wasn't going to be in the 100 so I didn't really give much of a finishing kick. I think I passed one guy and got passed by one, but it really didn't matter. I was just happy to break 45 minutes.
Final finish time- 44:50.
In the end it's hard to get excited about running slower than I did last year, but it is encouraging to know that I can still turn the legs over with some speed after not having put the work I truly needed to into it. So...all in all I would rate this as a success.

Next up for me is Onion Man down in Walla Walla followed by Boise 70.3 on June 11th. Things are finally starting to come together. I'm hoping I can string together a couple of "long" runs around 10-12 miles in the coming weeks and be ready to hammer out the 13.1 in Boise.
Happy training everyone.
PS- I published a race report on this about a week ago but it disappeared into the interwebs. I think the previous one was better written but it seems to be gone forever.