Saturday, August 31, 2013

Changing Gears

Well as the triathlon season winds down (just have the Fort Riley Splash 'n Dash left), thoughts are on to cooler weather (currently over 100 for the third day), football, and the fall running "season".

I started to ramp up my run-centric training and all I can say is, ow!  But as I keep it up, it'll come a bit easier.  Later this nice long weekend I'll post my monthly roll up and some tips that I learned the hard way (so you don't have to!), because it is always good to learn from others mistakes.

Everyone have a great Labor Day weekend, and check out my Salina Race Report, I found some more pictures!

Take care all and leave some feedback on what you'd like to see here!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Salina "Sprint" Triathlon Race Report

Sorry all, not going to have any pictures for this one, the wife slept in and I made the hour trip west to Salina for this one!  Folks always ask me why I do triathlons and I just enjoy competing I guess.

Well, the reason I decided to race Salina just a week after my Manhattan race, was that due to timing and moving issues coming up, I wouldn't be able to dedicate the time I'd wanted to race the REV3 Branson 70.3 race, so instead of shelling out $275 bucks, plus travel, and not really being satisfied with my results, I'd save the money, continue to train until next year and ramp up with some Olys to get ready for this task next year.  So I'd decided to race local and get some more fitness under my belt for next year.

Well anyway, I got up for the second straight Sunday at the butt-crack of dawn (well, it was still dark until after I got to the race site), loaded up and headed out, rocking out with the road clear and loud music.  I arrived about an hour later, picked up my packet, got all marked up, set up the transition (which has been a nice change this year, they have been fast), and headed out in search of the potty.  This is always the thing that happens when I get set up, part of my routine, so I do it!

As it turns out, this was going to be a small race, since school had started, so no kids in the race, as well as this was the first year in a new spot.  The fact that the distance was very odd (300 yard swim, 22.5 mile bike, 4.5 mile run) placed it in the pseudo-sprint / short Olympic race, but I didn't mind too much.  This distance played a bit towards my strengths.

Whaaaaat!? Andrew can swim?
 Guess they had some photos of me!  Me getting ready to get wet

SWIM: 5:12 (1st in AG, 8th overall)

We started in a self-seeding, time trial start, and I think I nailed my seeding as I was about 15 people back, never got close to the guy in front of me and not letting the lady behind me catch up to me (I got a little scared in the middle of the swim!), but I think that I was thinking I would be about 5:30-6:00 for the swim, but again, there was a nice 200 meter run to the T1, so for all I know, I could have been about in the high 4:00, but either way, with minimal swimming, I am respectable at least and only loss about a minute to the top swimmer, so not shabby.

T1:  0:30 (1st in AG, 4th OA)

I have been hitting my transitions very well this year, and I think it helps keep my momentum going for the race.  I have been keeping it simple this entire year, and I think I can cut my T2 times down, I can make a little more bank.  But right now, I am happy with the T1

BIKE: 1:20:34 (1st in AG, 7th OA)

This was a lot longer than my usual bikes, but I had a good plan going into it.  Hammer the upwind portion, take it easy in the side / headwind, and on the last stretch, keep going hard.  Well it took me a bit to get going on the bike and picked off a few riders, and once we hit the northbound leg, it was with the wind and slightly down hill.  But since this was a nice long block route, you get the wind from all angles, but in the group that was all close together, about 5 of us that were within eyesight of each other, we all were about the same speed.  I was much better than 3 of them on the climbs and made up ground, only to give it away on the flats.  But I caught and lead the group of 5 for about half the race and I didn't see anyone else in front of me for the longest time, and I started to think that I might be in the lead.  I pushed that from my mind as I started to eat a bit on the bike and the 4 others caught back up with me and passed me, I hit a little lull, then picked it back up to chase mode, to try to get back in striking distance to them.  As we got back into town, I passed one other guy and the other three were just ahead of me as we rolled into T2 very closely packed.  I was happy to see that despite how close we all were on the bike course, I didn't see any drafting when I was towards the back, it was nicely spaced out.  But my legs felt a little toasted in the middle of the ride, but I knew the first 100 yards out of T2 would tell me how my legs were.

T2: 1:00 (3rd in AG, 28th OA)

As usual, my T2 has been ugly and this time was no different.  I had a little issue with socks (note to self, get a pair of sockless shoes for next year), and I racked my bike backwards, so I had to rack it right because in a bigger race, I might get a penalty for that, so practice makes perfect.  But I got all my gear, and got out in 60 seconds, but it was still slow as three guys I was with on the bike, exited before me, so I went into chase mode right away.
Heading in to the finish line in my old kit

RUN: 31:06 (1st in AG, 4th OA)

I did chat with a guy as he passed me, stating that I couldn't wait for the run, and boy was I right.  The first few steps, my legs felt great and fresh and ready to race this different distance.  4.5 miles is border-line for me right now with my run fitness (endurance, not speed) and it would be redline the entire way!  It took me about 2/3 of a mile to catch the guy I thought was in first out of transition, and he jokingly asked if I wanted to run with him, but I wanted to get some distance in case I was in first and just go until I blow!  So I clocked my first mile in 6:22, so yeah I was feeling good.  We turned on to a nice long stretch down a levee, and it was hot.  I ended up skipping the first two (of three) waterpoints, which was a mistake as the temperature rose.  I continued to look ahead to see if anyone else was there, and there wasn't, so I began thinking I might actually win this thing, which was nice to keep my mind off of my legs and the heat.  But I maintained a nice pace the rest of the way, and caught a second wind and finished semi-hard, not close to puking.  I walked around and checked the results (Oz Endurance has an up-to-the-minute results tracker that scrolls, and is VERY cool) and that is when I noticed that I was third.  Those time trial starts always get me, but the winner beat me by almost 9 minutes and I missed 2nd by a minute, but overall, I was happy with my race, at an odd distance, but I think that it might be time to move up in distances.
Finishing it up at the line

OVERALL: 1:40:20 (1st in AG, 3rd OA)

I was happy for my results and my effort, but still in looking at the overall winner, I still have a bit of a ways to go.  But one more triathlon in this season for me, the Fort Riley Splash and Dash, where I hope that I'll have the home field advantage over the field.  But we will see I guess!  I guess I'd better get back to training then!

Monday, August 19, 2013

2013 Manhattan "Apple" Triathlon Race Report

It is NEVER a good sign when vultures are waiting in the trees before a race!  But that's what they were doing around the River Pond at Tuttle Creek State Park for Sunday's 2nd Annual Manhattan Apple Tri.

I was deployed last year so this will be my first time here, and since it was almost two months without a race, it felt like the start of the season all over again.  I was planning on using this for a "speed" day of training and not worry too much about the results, as long as I was Top-15 or so, which I think was doable.

Well I rolled out of bed at 0500 in the morning and let the dog out, ate a piece of cold pizza, banana and some water and gatorade and got on the road with my lovely wife, Jen, who hates early morning races (sorry, most all of them are!).  We got out the door at about 0545, and made the quick trip to Manhattan, the Little Apple, which is home of K-State (EMAW!) and lot's of good restaurants (why I haven't gained 20 pounds is beyond me!).  The course was at the Tuttle Creek State Park, just below the Tuttle Creek Reservoir at the campgrounds.  The park is below the dam, by about 200 feet or so, which means, you get to climb out of the park on the bike!  Nice.

I picked up my packet yesterday, so all I had to do is roll in and set up transition, which was getting packed more and more by the minute, so got my body marked, and headed on in.  Found a good rack on the main aisle headed towards the "bike out" (tip: I try to situate myself close to the bike out/bike in "gate" as it is easier to just run without the bike than with it).  It was nice in transition with about half or so of many first or second timers to tris.  They were asking questions and both myself and a nice guy I racked next to, Steve Klappa, were answering questions and chatting up with everyone, so all in all a good time.  I enjoy helping newer folks to tri with things, because I was once there and nice folks helped me out, so it's always great to return the favor.  The only thing I would say was this wasn't a good bike course for first timers (with a nice 3/4 mile hill right off the bat), but looks like many survived that.

Note the "barrier" in the water.  Had to negotiate that twice!
Just before the start of the swim, the race organizers change the start to a time trial start instead of a wave start (time trial went off every 3 seconds) because of the swim area barrier could not be removed, so you had to go over, under, or in some cases, through it.  Twice.  Luckily it was in shallow water for the first crossing, and a bit deeper for the 2nd.  While I swam, I almost slammed in to it, then went under it.  It was kind of fun watching the people go over or around it in different ways, one guy even went all "western roll" on it, high jumper style!  Lots of "oohs" and "ahhhs" from shore.

Me heading to the water
Swim: 9:39 (12th overall) 500 meters
Well I seeded myself poorly, it seemed as I passed three people in front of me in the first 25-50 yards of the swim.  The swim was a bit tough as I was good sighting the whole way, even after the first turn buoy, which then went right in to the sun, and I wore clear goggles, oops!  But I was nice and straight in my lines, but a few times I got swam over, at a 90 degree angle.  Not sure where they were going but it wasn't the way I was.  It really didn't bother me at all, but with the time trial start, I really didn't find any feet to draft off of, but despite not swimming for almost two months, didn't really affect me much.  I think my time would have been very good out of the water, but there was a long 200 meter run on hard sand and gravel to transition. Ouch!

Passed 2 guys at the mount line, the other guy was like "Wow, that was a cool mount!"
T1: 0:36 (11th overall)
T1 was nice and quick, could have been a bit better as I had to wipe the gravel off my feet from the long run in.  I did pass two guys who stopped at the mount line to get on the bike, but I did my "flying squirrel" mount and was off and rolling, picking up two spots with less work.
Passed 2 guys at the mount line, the other guy was like "Wow, that was a cool mount!"
Bike: 34:06 (21.8 mph / 6th overall) 12.4 miles
As I stated, the first 1.4 miles of the route was uphill to get out of the park proper, with a little 200 foot of climbing, right off the bat.  Luckily, I could climb and I ended up passing about 7 folks on that first climb, including my buddy, Trevor Woods, who I ride with on post a few times.  It was a long way to the top (if you want to rock n' roll!  Sorry had to slide in some AC/DC in there), but once you turned onto Hwy 13, it was on like donkey kong, jack!  Nice flat and semi smooth road with a slight uphill towards the turn around point.  About a mile and a half later after passing him, Trevor blows back by me (on his way to 3rd fastest bike split, he may not climb well, but on the flats, watch out!).  The top 6 splits were between 31:48 and my 34:06, then the times started to drop off quick, but I know if I want to contend better, need to put more speed on the bike.  Might mean upgrades like wheels and a helmet.  Will have to see. 

Coming in for my "landing".  "Call the ball, Mav!"
T2: 0:45 (62nd overall)
Well T2 bit me in the butt again, because I put on socks, then shoes and apparently take a coffee break, but overall, it isn't a bad time, but can be better.
Rolling out of T2, looking to track down a few folks.

Run: 20:09 (9th overall) 5 km

On to my bread and butter, the run.  Again, I have been so bike focused lately, my run I thought would be really bad, but coming out of T2, I felt good and fresh, ready to chase down a few folks.  My legs felt great and I really have been running good off the bike this year, and that is what it is all about.  I did have some technical difficulties with the Garmin, as you can see below:

"Come on you stupid thing, start already!"
Since the bike was drafting clean and I wasn't mad at anyone, I didn't "run angry" like at Gull Lake, but I still ran strong.  The course was a nice flat-ish "lollipop" out and back course, and you could see all the folks in front of you and chasing (once you turned around).  Didn't have too much problems on the run, didn't need any water as it was still nice and cool, felt like fall to me.  I did catch and pass about 5 guys or so, with no one passing me and really brought it on home to the finish.  No gasping for air, wanting to puke or anything, a nice metered effort.  I was just behind Trevor and he crossed before me and we got our medals and some gatorade and chatted for a bit.  Then, I was told results were already up, which was very fast, so I headed over to the trailer and sure enough, they had a print out with your swim split, and a monitor (flat screen TV) with a scrolling list of finishers, in real time!  That is so very cool!  I have never seen that in a race yet, but the guys at Oz Endurance Timing really have there stuff wired tight!  The only downside is then I started to monitor watch, since we started in a time trial, you really didn't know where you stood, because a really fast guy could have started towards the back, but my 4th place and 1st military placing held up.

Trucking towards the line, pirate style!
Overall: 1:05:14 (4th overall, 1st in AG)
I went and cleaned up a bit and cleaned up my transition area, and waited on the awards.  I just missed getting on the overall podium by about 50 seconds, but I left a bit of time out on the course, but I met my goal of making it a good training race, and got a top-5 finish to boot!  And I'm glad they pull the top 3 out, since the winner was the 2012 USAT Sprint National Championship runner-up for my age group.  Yikes!!!  I was about 7 minutes back, powered by his 17:12 run split, I really need to get some speed work in to compete with that!

Me and my 1st AG win! (I liked the finisher medal better!)
Well, I have more training the next few weeks, with another race coming up, the Fort Riley Splash 'n Dash, which I am hoping to have a good showing at as it is my "hometown" race and would LOVE to win it, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, as there are a lot of fast folks who could pop in.  But I can always dream!  And as far as doing this race again, I would do another Oz Endurance race again, with the timing being up so quick and the overall results posted the same day, doesn't get much better than that!
Thanks for reading!