Sunday, June 24, 2012

Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon

Philadelphia, PA

SNR was very well represented at the Philly Tri.

On Saturday, June 23, Greg Kaplan, Adam Furlong, and Cody Lowry raced the Sprint Distance Tri, while Sharon Sloan raced the Sprint Aquabike. Cody finished 6th m30-34 in his 1st tri! Adam finished a solid 4th m25-29. Greg's time was good for the fastest Masters time, and good enough to rank 2nd in m40-44, but unfortunately, this was unofficial. Sharon finished 5th OA, and was the fastest female aquabiker!

On Sunday, June 24, Adam also raced the Olympic Distance Tri, finishing 9th m25-29. This was a very solid performance for Adam, just having raced the day before. Greg Kaplan was part of a 2nd place relay team, competing with SNR bike shop sponsor Breakaway Bikes. Shop owner, Glenn Krotic, came out of the water in 12th position for the relays. Greg rode the team into 4th, and running-coach and all-around-good-guy Todd Lippin, ran them up to a strong 2nd place finish.

Shannon Kaplan raced the Olympic Aquabike event on Sunday, as well. Starting well back of the pros, and having to fight through quite a few people on the swim, gave Shannon enough motivation to post the fastest AB swim time (male and female!) of the day. Shannon thenn hopped on her Kestrel 4000, expertly fit by Richie Cortez at Breakaway Bikes, and blew out the competition, again posting the fastest bike split--male and female--for the AB event. Shannon's respective times had her at pro speed for the respective disciplines.

Way to go SNR!

Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 Half Ironman

6th in AG, 32nd Overall
Total Time: 5:03

I can say going into this race I was really nervous about it becoming a test of survival because the previous year I heard stories about it being a race in an oven.  Late June weather in Texas? HOT.  Not ideal conditions for running a half marathon after swimming and biking.  Needless to say, I was more disappointed that USAir has not made it any easier for people taking bikes on planes.  Thanks to them for making me pay more for my bike to fly than me!  If you want to travel with a bike, DO NOT fly USAir...period.  I had never been to this part of the country, namely western Texas.  Not the most scenic or interesting place, mind you.  So the only thing to do there was basically prep for the race and then get down to business. 

I can't say I was feeling completely ready for this race as I raced a Half Ironman two weeks ago and, although I felt recovered, I didn't know if my legs would be ready for racing the bike and run on hilly terrain.  Yes, this bike and run had hills, despite the drive into Lubbock, Texas being the most flat-looking country I've ever experienced.  In any case, this race had a little more relaxed feeling than some of the east-coast races, which was nice.  In addition, having spent a day in town before the race, I noticed a couple things about Texas heat - one, that there was virtually no humidity (a good thing) and two, that it got considerably cooler at night and stayed cool in the morning (another bonus).  One downside of this town was the lack of good dining my friend and I ended up at the one Italian restaurant two nights in a row.

I read that the normal temperature for the lake was 70 degrees, but then I heard someone say the temp was close to it not being a wetsuit-legal swim.  When I got in, I could tell it was warmer than 70 degrees but I was happy to wear the suit (3 for 3 now for in the wet-suit legal races this year!).  Another thing about this race I wasn't exactly prepped for was the 'beach' start.  I watched the pros start and book into the water and was thinking that's one way to get your heart-rate to its max very quickly!  In any case, I started the race from the 'beach' and ended up run-wading for a bit to avoid getting knocked in the head.  This worked great and by the time I started swimming, I had avoided a lot of traffic.  This swim had a trapezoidal shape so I was wondering how well I'd be able to see the markers, but the sun was hidden by the canyon, so seeing buoys was not difficult.  Several times I came across body traffic around the buoys and had to pause to get my bearings, which was annoying, but I noticed that I was approaching and passing buoys pretty quickly.  Even the final stretch to the swim finish came pretty quickly despite it being basically the width of the lake.  At the swim exit, they had volunteers wading in to grab you and pull you over a concrete drop off - NICE!  I almost never look at my swim time, but I was thrilled to find out I again set a HIM swim PR!  Time - 30:28 (2nd in AG out of water)

I felt I did a great job of scouting out this course and noticed a pretty steep, but short, hill on the bike immediately after transition, so I had set my bike in hill-climbing gear, which worked out perfect.  I'm really not sure how small things like this help you out in races, but its best to be prepared.  Right after this hill was a fast descent and another climb, which are basically parts of the canyon that the lake sits in.  After that it was flats until hills number 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.  Yep, I counted them and checked them off in my head.  Right after exiting the lake park, a girl came tearing past me tucked in behind a couple men.  I noticed a couple things about racing in Texas that were in contrast to east-coast races:  lost of people were drafting and lots of people were littering.  Arg.  In any case, I realized there was no way I could keep up with this pack, so I let them go.  The rest of the bike was one of two things - flying along a really nice pace or a duel with the wind.  Keeping pace in the headwind was difficult and then going the opposite way was cake.  It was love and hate the whole way.  In the end, the hills on the course provided a nice diversion whereas the wind was maybe my main challenge.  Overall, I felt I was sticking to my plan of a solid bike ride and saving my legs for the run. Time - 2:42 (4th in AG)

I felt like I was ready to have a great run...and in the early miles I felt good - settling into a nice rhythm and even feeling cool despite the intense sun.  The first part of the run was on a shady road that winds around the lake.  I was enjoying this.  I knew this course had 3 pretty substantial hills with flats in between and when the first hill came, I felt good going up but had to slow the pace a tad.  The usual cooling method of dumping water on yourself actually worked with the lower humidity.  After the 2nd hill which seemed to eat into my legs a lot more than the first, the course turned onto a flat unshaded road that seemed to go on forever.  I couldn't even see the turn-around, although I was still keeping good pace at this point I had to focus more and concentrate on running with good form.  I passed some men and a handful on women up to this point.  But what amazed me was about 6 miles gone, a girl came flying past me with a stride that seemed like she was running a 5K.  There was no keeping up with her.  At the turnaround, I saw a few more women ahead of me but I couldn't tell if they were pro or AG.  Some looked in good shape, others looked like they were hurting.  During the last hill, my legs became 3-fold trashed and I had to slow substantially and stabilize my back.  When I hit mile 11, I realized it was now a matter of just keeping going and I was hurting.  Others were equally in the same shape and I tried to concentrate on getting in front of whomever I came across.  It was a battle coming into the finish with one girl who tried to hold me off, but she faded in the last 100 yards.  Again I thought I did a good job of metering out my effort and energy over this course. Time - 1:46 (6th in AG)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Escape From Alcatraz

San Francisco, CA
Sunday, June 10, 2012
8th M40-44, 79 OA

Before I knew much about triathlon, I knew 3 things: 1) the sport was new in the Olympics in 2000, 2) some race takes place in Hawaii which takes people a day to complete, and, 3) there’s a race where people voluntarily swim in the San Francisco Bay, ride in the San Francisco hills, and do a beach run with some crazy sandcastle staircase.

To race at the the Olympics, one has to be one of the top 3 triathletes in the USA (for you rowers, that’s only half the number of possible lightweight seats that go to the Olympics). To race at Kona, one needs a long attention span. To race at the Escape From Alcatraz, one has to:
 - not be afraid of swimming with sharks (yes, there are great white sightings in SF Bay), nor afraid of 55°F water moving with a 5mph current
 - an excellent climber and descender and technically competent on the bike, and

 - able to run on virtually any surface.

One must qualify to race in each of these three events.

I qualified for the 2012 Escape From Alcatraz (of the nearly 2000 entrants, the majority were were qualifiers from one of four qualifying races worldwide, some were lottery-entrant winners, and some were corporate/charity entries). There, I raced against multi-time Olympic medalists, Kona top-10 finishers, and an international age-group field that was....competitive. So it was the next best thing to having to take a UK or Hawaii vacation.

A big thanks to my bro-in-law David and Jenna Yott for putting Shannon Kaplan and I up for a few days before and after the race. Staying at their place in Oakland, CA was awesome. This allowed me to preview the course in advance of the race. The
Escape bike course was as I had hoped: hilly and technical. 
Shortly after reviewing the bike course, I had a swim practice in Aquatic Park with tri veteran Midge Kerr. Although slightly intimidating, the sub-60°F water was not as cold as I had expected. I decided to save the run course preview, so I would be surprised...

Why would one--or two thousand--people jump off of a perfectly good boat into 55°F water, 1.5 miles from land, in strong tidal current, where occasional great white sharks come to feed? Money. 5-time Alcatraz champ Andy Potts keeps getting big payouts for his wins; for the rest of us, the idea of paying the highest entry-fee of any international-distance tri, and not racing, was motivation enough. The Hornblower took all 2000 of us from its dock, on a ride out to Alcatraz island. We did a loop around the island, to appreciate just how tough an actual escape from the prison would have been. After the loop, it was announced 5’ until race time, then 2’, 1’, 30”......and then in less than 7’, the entire boat was vacated of its 2000 passengers. Following close to the pros, I went in---ther was no turning back with 1900 people behind me. My long sleeve wetsuit and neoprene cap kept me warm, enough, but I could feel that the water was “cool”. The tidal current is so strong, we were instructed to swim directly to shore, and let the tide take us to the beach landing 1.5 miles out. Swimming directly towards the shore would result in missing the beach. I did not do this, however, I did not take a direct line out, and then head down. So my swim was a bit wandering and slow. At points, there was no one around me, or, at least while in the trough of 4’ swells, I could see no one. I finally made it to shore, a little anxious, knowing that I did not do a great job of spotting and steering. The run from the swim exit on the shore, to the entrance of transition was .75 mi. Although I was barefoot and still in my wetsuit, I passed a few people wearing running shoes and who had taken their suit off. Finally making my way into T1, my feet and hands were warm enough to get on the bike and get going really fast.

SWIM RANK: 444 OA (wtf!!)

After a good T1, I was on my Breakaway Bikes prepped Fuji SST1. The bike course started with about 2 miles of flat. Then, we climbed up under the Golden Gate Bridge, dropped down a bit, and then climbed up to the Legion of honor, and then dropped down a bit, and then did a little hill bombing around Lands End, onto the PCH, and into Golden Gate Park. A brief 3 miles in GG park, and back out to climb all the way back home. There were some nice 90° turns, and some great 45mph downhills to complement the 9mph climbing speeds. This was perfect. I was passed only once, on the big climb on the way in, by some dude with ITL on the back of his kit, riding a Cippolini or something like that. Although this was not a draft-legal race, I think he was kind enough to let me do a lot of the work on the climb... Back on the last flat, on the trip in, I continued to reel in a few more riders, but there were not that many I could see. Once into T2, I could see that almost every bike was still racked. Some fumbling w/ my shoes did not make for the fastest transition, but I had an 8mi hilly run ahead of me...and some time and distance to make up the few seconds.
BIKE RANK: 33 OA (boom!)

The only part of of the course which I had not previewed was the run. The 1st 1.5 mi were about the same as the bike: flat, and on concrete/asphalt. Then, we were on hard-pack dirt and gravel for half a mile. Then we climbed some concrete stairs, which turned into hard-pack dirt and wood stairs. And then Andy Potts blew by down the staircase, followed closely by the AUS Olympian, Courtney Atkinson, and then close behind him, NZL Bevan Docherty. All within 60” of each other. I had less then 5 mi to go...

By this point, I was trading off places, and running with some big dude wearing Team USA kit. After some more climbing, although he was bigger than me, he moved away on a slight dirt incline. At the top of this path, the highest point of the run, we saw all the bikers headed up hill....and then we basically did a controlled fall for half a mile, onto the beach. The sand was every imaginable condition, except a good surface on which to run. Moving from the dry, grainy sand away from the water, I thought that the wet hardpack would be easier to navigate. Wrong. Near the water, the sand was wet and grainy, not like the hardpack of the South Jersey shore. So I tried my best to just move across it, instead of through it. about ¼ mi out, the a turn around, and back, and it was time for the “sand ladder”. This is actually more of a staircase then a ladder, with large pieces of wood for risers, and sand as the “stairs”. There was a cable handhold, which I found to be less helpful than I had hoped. I was passed by 2 runners. As I made my way up the 400 stairs--rising about 325ft in 1/10th mile--I re-passed one of the guys who had passed me. We kept on climbing at the top of the Sandladder, for about another .5 mi. Then, it was downhill for 1.5mi and flat for 1.5mi to the finish. I passed 2 more people, as I barrelled down the same staircase, past 100s of people, where I saw Potts and the lead pros go, not a few minutes before. Once down onto the last 1.5mi stretch, I just kept an even tempo, and tried to reel in the few runners I saw ahead. With half a mile to go, I saw the big guy in red/white/blue kit, who had moved away from me, earlier. I managed to get him right before we did a little left/right turns into the last straightaway. My run experience was better than I had planned.
RUN RANK: 103 OA (???)

Eagleman 70.3 4:54, 5th place in AG, 31st overall female

Another great day to be racing on the East Coast at the Eagleman 70.3 Half Ironman as this event attracted Ironman World Champs Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae.  As I got my transition area fixed up, I heard the pro mens' wave start and only a few minutes later they were out of the water! This was my first sighting of Crowie in action since I saw him on the Big Island winning his 1st Ironman World Championship in 2008.  With water temp at 75 degrees, wetsuits were allowed which meant fast swim times (hopefully).  My swim warm up started with an obstacle course since getting in meant crawling over wet algae-covered boulders without slipping and breaking a leg.  Having survived the slippery rock situation, my swim wave started fast with virtually no waiting.  I immediately tried to find a good draft, but found nothing solid and resolved to stick to swimming as straight as possible to the first turn buoy.  I have no idea why, but those buoys NEVER come as fast as I'd like.  Reaching the first orange turn buoy went well, I realized, because after the second turn, the water became choppy and much harder to sight in.  Luckily, I finally found a decent draft which canceled the choppiness but made the rest of the swim to shore like being in the proverbial open water washing machine. Coming out of the swim, I didn't feel great, but didn't feel terrible, so I was half-siked.  I debated about wearing my watch to check my swim time, but in the end I didn't, so I have no idea how good (or bad) that swim was.  Later, I was pretty happy: 32:22, which is now my fastest half IM swim split.

Getting on the bike, I was hoping to power out with all that a good taper brings to your legs.  Wrong!  The first 10 miles of the bike were not legs felt weak and I was having a hard time settling into a solid pace.  One thing that a half Ironman offers you is a chance to think because you've got time.  So there I was trying to figure out why my legs felt like mush.  Was it really THAT windy? Is my back brake rubbing? Did I bite off too much in the swim??   I determined later the steady wind on the course was making keeping race pace difficult.  After about mile 15, the course changed directions and then I was flying.  So much for all the mental analysis...with the wind at my back, 24-25mph felt easy.  Going back into town, the wind returned and my glutes started throbbing...I've NEVER had this pain before.  Stretching did nothing to get rid of this...but sitting seemed to make it worse, so the end of the ride couldn't come faster.  Bike time: 2:35:16

The run started much my like my bike....I was trying to get a good pace going but getting neutral responses from my legs.  After 1.5 miles, I started feeling better and was able to settle into a rhythm.  I stopped looking at my watch and focused on people ahead of me...and one by one was passing them.  At mile 2-3, many people were walking...and there is something psychological about seeing people walking that also makes you feel like you want to walk, so I tried to not look around at what was going on and focus on getting to the next water station.  This race offers the best run aid stations around, handing out shaved ice and ICE COLD water and Gatorade!  I tried to pick it up a couple times but got light-headed with those efforts, so I then focused on maintaining to avoid face-planting.  It was a relief that my stomach felt good since there were a couple people having not-so-great stomach days.  By the end, I just wanted to get to the finish and was happy I could hang on for a semi-decent run time of 1:42, definitely a strong improvement over last year's race.  Topping off the day was shaking hands with Crowie...and getting a 4th place award, even though I was 5th in my age group, since the 1st place finisher got a fastest amateur award.

Once again, SNR scaled the podium!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Philadelphia Amateur Time trial

Fairmount Park,
Philadelphia, PA

One of the longest-running organized cycling events in the country the West River Drive Time Trial is run as a USAC sanctioned race once a year. Historians speculate this even dates back over 60 years; the modern-day iteration of this race pits rider vs clock for 8.1 miles on a flat out-and-back course. Conditions were near-perfect: 63°F, sunny, low humidity, and a tailwind to help a little for the last 2 miles.

Team SNR had a fantastic showing: Chris Mesigian, Greg Kaplan, Adam Furlong, Dan Urevick-Acklesberg, Ann Holmes and Shannon Kaplan. Since this is a time trial over a short course, with starts close enough to compare times.

Chris, Adam and Dan all raced citizens/Cat 5.

With confidence and a realistic assessment, Dan went into the day with a "dream goal for this race was to win— not category 5, but, the whole thing. I know that was not actually realistic for a number of reasons, including a lack of riding, my first time using a disc wheel, my clip on aerobars, no time trials since 2010, and, of course, not being good enough. But, what good is participating in a competition if you can’t daydream about winning it all? My secondary goals were to win Cat 5, post the fastest times in as many categories as I could, and beat my friends." And that Dan did.

Dan won the Cat 5, with a 17:30--good enough to win the cat 4 and place him 3rd in the Cat 3. "The way out was windy. I thought I was going to fall over.  The disc did not help. I was pedaling hard, but, my speeds were too slow.  (OK, I couldn’t quite remember how fast I was supposed to go, so, I was just guessing on that.)  The way back was better as I got more used to the disc, and with the tail wind my speed increased and I saw myself creeping creeper-style on a Cat 1 that started a minute before me.   During the last mile, the tailwind kicked up, I went into the hardest gear I have (is that the right lingo for cyclists?  Who knows!) , and came in at 31 mph, with the Cat 1 rider in pretty close sight."

Adam Finished in 18:35, 2nd to Dan in the Cat 5, after he "warmed up on the run path along the Schuylkill River and earned one disapproving shout, but whatever, I'm wearing pink and [he] look good." This was Adam's first go at a USAC Individual Time Trial: "I was mildly nervous having never done a TT start before, so I watched Greg and a couple other people go off to figure out the key to it... which appears to be "don't fall over."  "I passed my first victim about halfway on the out, and then passed one more before turning around. I had been gaining on the Temple [Univ.] rider in front of me, and fully intended on catching and passing him. Once I came back around through the turn around, I mowed down one more, and then finally caught and passed 'Temple' somewhere between Columbia and Girard. I Passed one more guy, just for good measure, and then hammered my way home."

Greg was 5th in the m35+ with an 18:13, 7" slower than the previous year. Turning 40 only days before this event has taken its toll, obviously, on Greg.

Chris had a strong showing, with only few road miles under him for the year. "The TT was both my first ever race on wheels and first time getting to represent the pink, white & blue. I figured both would be fun things to accomplish and I could officially give myself a baseline West River time to build off in the future." "The first stretch from the start thru Girard was all killer head wind, immediately exploiting both my aero and mechanical disadvantages." "Despite the negative thoughts I gritted my teeth and muscled thru that stretch and once I cleared Girard and hit the newer pavement and the wind was less intrusive I got my cadence and 'speed' up and settled into a little groove." "In the end, I'm glad I did it. It was a good experience and perhaps I've caught a little of the TT bug and could get into it - much to [my wife] Jenna's chagrin. But come on, what's a seventh bike?"

Shannon won the womens Cat 4, posting the fastest womens time--for all categories--of the day. She also set the new course record at 18:41, at 26.1mph. Also racing in the women's cat4 was Ann Holmes, in her debut cycling race. Ann had a solid performance, besting several more experienced women.

"It was a good solid race. I had a good ride two weeks before on the course and knew that I would be able to give it more speed this time.  I had a pretty slow start - befitting my poor bike handling skills but was sent off with my phone happily ringing in my pocket the tune of 'I've got a good feeling'. Indeed I did.  I passed my 30 second person before the first bridge and from there proceeded to pass more people, aiming to keep my pace as close to 26mph (my goal) as possible. It was fast on the way back with a lot of 26-27 mph spots. I knew I was under 19 when I came in and I knew it was a good ride. I finished at an average od 26.01 mph - just making my goal.  "

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Columbia Triathlon

No, that's not my time--
I started 40' after the pros.

Columbia, MD
7th m40-44, 61st OA

Columbia, MD is sightly northwest of Baltimore. I was not officially in "The South" but the selection of radio stations I scanned as I drove from Philadelphia, seemed a bit..."twangy". To get a feel for the course, the day before the race I went to packet pickup, and then checked out some of the run course and some of the bike course.

This was the biggest and most challenging race I've done in my short 20-month career of triathlon. The pro field was deep with Olympians, Ironman-Kona-winners, and others who grace the covers of Triathlete, etc. WIth a deep pro field, comes a deep field of amateur and age group athletes, who filled out the remaining 1700+ spots.

The raceday weather was great: sun, light wind, and cool AM temps--which only went to the upper-70s by the end of the race--and warm water at 71°F.

The mens 40-44 field was the biggest field in the race, with 232 entries. So the in-water swim start was a bit "crowded". The swim was in a large pond, with a good bit of weed growth around the shore, as I found out. From the gun, I went from the "inside" of the course, to towards the shore to make a turn, and avoid a bit of traffic. This might have cost me upwards of a minute, going longer, but I was able to avoid a lot of traffic, flailing, etc. The swim in this direction was a bit tough, as we were going right into the sun, and spotting big orange turn buoys amongst the orange swim caps was challenging (race organizers: great joke!!) By the time I made the first turn, at about 500m, there were fewer orange caps with me. I started "finding feet", and was trying to draft from one person to the next, until the 2nd turn. At this point, there were even fewer caps. At this point, the orange caps were single file for the next 800m, and we had caught the wave starting 5' before us. Going into the final turn and straightaway, I pushed a bit to try to get clear going into T1. I came up the ramp and out of the water without slipping, like I watched others do, and went right into transition to search for my Kestrel Airfoil which was easy to find: black and orange, with a bright pink helmet on it, on top of a purple transition mat.

I ran with my Kestrel Airfoil Pro SL SE through the aisles in transition, and up a short and really steep, grassy hill to the T1 exit. The run from the swim exit, to the bike racks was LOOOONG, and the hill to the exit was STEEEEP, so my 1'35" T1 time was not slow for the course. Once on the road and navigating 1/10th mile to the park exit, I immediately got into traffic from my wave and the slower previous waves. This is the fun part: go! go! go! go! on the bike. Having started in the 6th wave, I had a lot of people to "chase"; I was not sure how many in my age group were ahead of me, but there were A LOT of people on the course. Constantly shouting, "ON YOUR LEFT!!", up hills, down hills and on the flats, I watched the miles tick off on my Garmin 500. The course was rolling hills, with a few turns: just enough climbing and just enough technical areas to make it fun, and weed out the weak cyclists. With 8 miles to go, on the way in, I was passed by a tall guy on a white Look tt bike. This was the only rider to pass me. But he did not stay away--I was able to reel him in 4 miles later. As the course wrapped back towards transition, on one downhill, I was passed by a car (this was not a closed course). Towards the bottom of the hill, with cyclists coming at us on the other side of the road, and a few slower cyclists being overtaken on our right, I re-passed the car, as we both came up on a biker right at the bottom of the hill, into a flat. This did not last long, and I quickly pulled behind the car for a bit, then when the car slowed up again, I swung right, and kept hammering along. With one last, but long, climb, I dug in. A left turn, 2 miles of gradual descending, and I was back in transition. A quick T2--after I located my "stall" amongst 2300 other stalls--and on the running shoes went.

So I saved my legs on the bike, just a bit, after having been warned about this run. And I did not go too hard in the 1st 2 miles, and wanting to ABC--always be closing (thanks, Todd @ Breakaway Bikes). It was hilly. I gave up 4 spots on the run. At one point, I re-passed a guy who had stopped to empty the contents of his stomach. This was short-lived. He re-passed me about a mile later, with 2 to go. With only 2 years of running behind me, I am still impressed at how fast life-long runners can still move at 40+ years old. So, next time: harder on the bike.

This was a brutally hilly run course--probably harder than any course I've done. The bike was rolling hills, but not too bad. I am amazed at the winning pro time of 1hr 49mins. I was not thrilled at my individual splits, and I was 90" off the podium.

But I did qualify for the Hy-Vee 5150 Championship, in Des Moines.

Ironman Florida 70.3

Orlando, FL

Race Day
Up at 4:15, out the door at 4:30. Into Haines City by 5:15. Unload the bike, get in line to get into transition. Discover zoo of athletes crowding immediately upon entering transition because they wanted to snap photos of one of their competitors. Good grief, get out of my way! My rack happened to be filled with some amateurs who didn’t know how to alternate bikes, but luckily a volunteer came and fixed it. Got my bike set up, applied Body Glide, got changed into my pink battle suit (2 piece suit rather than 1), and did my best to be the last one in transition upon it closing at 6a. Down to the lake front beach, and then sit around for 40′ until my wave went off. Pro men went off at 6:30, and the first guys out of the water were out in ~24′. Kissed Kristen goodbye and made my way down to the starting platform. Lance sightings = 1.
Swim: The water was not wetsuit legal, which wasn’t too awesome for me, but with all the work I’ve been doing with Tori Mayer at Drexel, I felt a lot more relaxed. DPS – distance per stroke. Thats all I kept in my mind. I started about halfway in the pack, on the outside. The horn sounded and we all waded through the soft lake bed mud until we could dive in. I focused on getting very relaxed and doing my own thing, and not having a heart attack. After a couple minutes of bashing around, and having to stop to dump water out of my google, I got into a more comfortable groove. Slowly but surely I could feel myself working past swimmers, and eventually all I saw around me was royal blue and white caps – the colors of the wave in front of me. These guys (I believe 40-44) were in struggle city, and I wanted to avoid being clawed down by any of them. The course was basically a big “M,” so by the third line, it had calmed down a bit more, but I was still seeing more blue/white than I was baby blue (our colors). But I just kept on keepin on, and stayed relaxed and in my groove. Near the end I noticed my left hand going numb, which may be from my speedsuit, so that needs to be further investigated. Lance sightings = 1 (total of 2).
Out of the swim in 35:16, good for a 1:49/100m time (slower than I wanted, but again, no heart attack = main goal), 25/106 in my AG, 293/~2000 OA.
BikeOO WEEEE here we go. The course was a bunch of turns in the first 5 miles, and then opened up into really flat roads for the next ~30 miles or so, and then the last 20 were rolling hills into a headwind. I quickly got into my bars and pounded away, focusing on getting my HR down after a long T1 run. I quickly found a couple of fast riders that I would see for a good portion of the ride: “K-Swiss” (later named Elliot, in my AG), “IM 70.3 WC Shorts,” (also in my AG) “Sick Fuji D-6,” (again, my AG) and “a bunch of 40-44AG guys riding in a pack.” The Pack and SFD6 dropped me early on, but I let them go and figured that I’d reel them back in later. Somewhere around halfway I managed to lose my zip lock bag that had salt tablets, cliff bar, and extra GU in it (uh oh), so that sucked. Once I got into the rollers, I found all of the players previously introduced. WC Shorts was out in front, and a couple hundred yards behind him was the Pack. K Swiss, myself, and SFD6 all took turns trying to break through the group, but as there were now two packs of 40-44 “teams,” it was fairly hard. Any time one of the three of us would try and sprint ahead out on our own, the pack would eventually reel us back in as we were going into a headwind and breaking it by ourselves was obviously more challenging that riding it together. Somewhere in the last 10 miles we seemed to have lost them, and we all spaced out a bit. At about that time a marshall came around, and I know at least one pack got a yellow-card and had to stop in the penalty tent. Lance sightings = zero.
Bike: @ 38.5mile marker = 24.00mph, @ 56 mile marker = 21.47mph, total time: 2:25:08 at 23.15mph. 14/106 AG, 97/~2k OA.
Run: Immediately out of transition K-Swiss came flying past me, and I never saw him again (he ended up 5th in the AG), The loop was a footpath for a 1/2 mile, and then two big (relative for FL) hill climbs, and then running through developments on somewhat flat land for the last 3 miles… and then do it two more times. As I ran along the footpath, I saw Kristen and told her I needed salt tabs on the next time I came around. Thank God for her and for this looped course. I felt decent for the first 3/4 of the first lap, and then I started feeling a bit sluggish. My HR wouldn’t come up any higher (mid 170s, normally I can run around 180bpm). I did manage to see WC Shorts, who seemed to be struggling pretty bad with cramps. I passed him, and after one more spirited attempt by him to catch up to me, his cramps got the worst of him and he dropped back. I promised myself not to make any deals on the first lap, and I had a decent enough first lap that even as I slowed down on the second lap, I was still sitting right on my “worst case scenario target pace” (8:00/mi). The last lap, however, was struggle city – with the combination of the heat rising and more and more people coming onto the course, I could tell that I had nothing left in the tank. I was still going to beat the main goal I set for myself — sub 5 hours — and the limited brain capacity that I had left told me that I may be able to make it into the 4:40s. As I came around the last turn, I at least made myself look not so disheveled (I ran most of the run with my top pulled up to my HRM strap and unzipped), and crossed the finish line, with no one either in front or behind me. Lance sightings = zero.
Run time: 1:45:52 (8:04/mi). 4.4miles = 33:24 (7:35′/mi), 8.8miles = 34:48 (8:00′/mi), 13.1miles = 37:40 (8:39′/mi). 13/106 AG, 128/2000 OA.
TT: 4:50:57, 13/106 AG, 128/2000 OA.
Post Race: Well, my time in this race was the same as Poconos 70.3, except there was no swim in Poconos. So, thats good. I was relaxed on my swim, fast on the bike, but slightly off where I wanted to be for the run. I’d say overall it was a good first start to the season. Gives me a real foundation and point of reference to build from. For my first race in a new sport, I think it would be unrealistic to say that I wanted to do better. That being said, I always want to do better. In the swim, I can improve my sighting, my ability to draft, and having conquered the general fear of OWS, I can now try and actually push myself a bit. On the bike, I can just get more efficient, and I can still get faster and more comfortable on the bars. And on the run… I can work on better pacing, improving efficiency at any given HR output, better form, getting lighter… the possibilities are endless. I’m excited to see try and reach them.

Post race-post race: Went out for dinner in Downtown Disney at a Cuban restaurant, got really drunk, and then went and day drank at Epcot while doing an “around the world” tour. Baller!