Rev3 Rush Richmond – Day 1

Doran | May 28th, 2014 - 2:33 pm

It’s been several months since my last post, and I have tons to share.  But I’ll make my blog comeback with a race report from my only triathlon of the season, Rev3 Rush Richmond.  As mentioned previously, I am basically taking the year off triathlon to focus on other things.  But when I saw Rev3 putting on a race with such a unique format, I had to participate.  And given my level of fitness, it’s just that, I’m participating, not RACING.  In the whole year of 2014 leading up to the race I only swam 7,000 meters, biked 101 miles, and run 60 miles.  That’s basically no training when spread out over 5 months, and the past few weeks haven’t been any different.  So yeah, I’m participating in this really cool event because I really wanted to share the experience with others in hopes the format catches on.  Rev3 Rush is a draft legal super-sprint distance race at Richmond International Raceway (think NASCAR).  They put a 15 lane, 25 meter pool in the infield of the race track and athletes swim 250 meters in the pool and bike 7 laps (5 miles) of the raceway and 2 laps (1.5 miles) of the infield on the run.  Preliminary heats are scheduled for Saturday, with Age Group Finals and Overall Finals on Sunday.  In each age group, the top 12 times from the preliminary heats advance to an Age Group Finals heat.  Then the top 8 times from the Age Group Finals advance to the Overall Finals Sunday evening.   Athletes can participate in up to 3 preliminary heats in attempt to ensure a top 12 age group placing to advance.  So if you have a bad swim, blow a tire on the bike, or just want to race again, you can.  This is a really cool concept and I give tons of credit to Rev3 for putting it on.  I imagined it would be quite a spectacle with draft packs forming on the bike while racing around the banked racetrack.  Strategy becomes a huge factor as obviously groups of cyclist can usually catch a stronger rider who might be off the front, and also a smart racer might just get towed around the course while drafting.  So when it was announced, I immediately signed up, despite my semi-disastrous experience with another first time race, Rev3 Williamsburg.  However, this time, I knew they wouldn’t be taking any of my gear hostage.

The pool & transition setup from above

The pool & transition setup from above

The pool, taken from the outside lane of the track

The pool, taken from the outside lane of the track

Raceday on Saturday morning was absolutely perfect, it was a chilly clear morning that warmed up nicely throughout the day.  Unfortunately, the turnout was less than I expected, with about 200 racers in all, and maybe 50 or more of them young kids and others in the elite race.  This left only 125 or 150 age groupers, meaning my age group (and probably all age groups) had less than 12 people, so in essence the preliminary heats weren’t really about competing to make the age group final – we’d all qualify for it.  The course setup was perfect and again had some very unique aspects in addition to the location.  When your heat was due up, you had a bin and a bike rack right next to the pool, rather than a huge transition area.  You could lay out your helmet and shoes, but had to make sure everything was placed back in your bin. It was very similar to the professional ITU Olympic-style racing and definitely a first for this age grouper.  After watching the kid’s races (from 5 yrs and older) and warming up (including 5 minutes or so in the pool), my heat was set to go off at 10:30am.

Getting in

Getting in

We did 250 meters or 10 lengths of the pool, all in our own lane.  As a former high school swimmer, this was great for me, as I have faster-than-most-triathletes flip turns and I’m used to keeping an eye on others in the pool.  My swim training has consisted of about seven 1,000 meter workouts in the past few weeks, so as with the other two sports, I am light-years away from my prime.  The swim was uneventful and I could see someone leading me by about a 1/3 of a length by the end.  I came out of the water and could hear CJ scream through the crowd “Hurry up you can be first out on the bike!”  I had my bike shoes already clipped in, so I ran down the ramp to my bike and quickly donned a helmet and sunglasses.  Just like that I was first out on the bike.

Coming out and into T1

Coming out and into T1

Exiting pit row I slipped into my bike shoes and started to pedal around the track.  For the first two laps I was holding about 21-22mph, just pedaling with my head down trying to stay aerodynamic on a roadbike with no aerobars.  Then, I looked back and noticed two other guys drafting behind me.  So I yelled back to them, “will you pull for a lap?”  Meaning, let’s take turns leading and breaking the wind for the other two.  Together the three of us could work together and build our lead or ensure nobody catches us.  One of the guys said “We have to do 7 laps”… clearly not getting my drift.  So after another half lap I decided I needed to drop these two if they wouldn’t work with me.  So I swerved high up on the embankment and put on a surge.  I could only manage a small gap of maybe 10 yards, which the guys closed over the next half lap.  Rather than risking an implosion on the run after a tough bike, I just got on the back of the other two and drafted for the second half of the bike.  We were being led around the track by a big guy who was actually a lap down and riding at about 19-20 miles per hour, but nobody was catching us from behind.  Soon, the lead motorcycle said last lap, so about halfway through I again broke away just before we entered pit row.  I wanted to get a few seconds gap into T2.

Drafting off my new friends

Drafting off my new friends.  The guy in middle led us around for most of it

Dropped off the bike and heading into T2 with the lead

Dropped off the bike and heading into T2 with the lead

The second transition was again lighting fast and the setup was really awesome for an age grouper.  We racked our bikes just after the dismount line in a row set up only for us with bike catchers.  Then we continued back to our box by the pool and I stuck my helmet in, laced up my running shoes and I was gone again.  I heard heavy breathing behind me, and only had a few steps on the guy in 2nd.   The run was really uneventful, with me trying pretty hard but moving fairly slow.  I had a lot of thoughts going through my head, mostly that I needed to win this heat, because I’ve never really won a race, and even if it was a heat with 10 or so guys, it was still a win.  I continued to think tactically like real racers and tried to really push it around curves and get a bigger gap on 2nd place.  After 2 laps and a mile and a half I extended my lead to about 20 seconds and won my heat.   This was pretty surprising given my current level of fitness, and I was happy to “win” something.  The timing was a little messed up, but I think I split 4:07 for swim (including T1), 14:02 on bike (20.9mph according to garmin), and 8:46 on the run (actually only 1.4m so 6:21 pace according to garmin) for a total of 27:38.

Shocked at how decent my form looks based on how badly it felt

Shocked at how decent my form looks based on how badly it felt

Coming down home stretch to win the heat

Coming down home stretch to win the heat

I initially thought I had placed first in my age group, but later found out (thanks to a kind tip from a fellow racer) a few guys in a later heat beat my time.  So I knew finals on Sunday would have a more competitive dynamic, and hopefully I could use drafting and race tactics to my advantage, because I really don’t have the out-right speed to win anything these days.  Saturday night I focused on recovery by eating healthy and wearing compression clothing in the form of my favorite 110% Play Harder ice-pants.  In a few days, I’ll post the story of how Sunday’s finals unfolded.  Until then, here’s a shot of me and the wifey… no dog this time but we have a pregnant belly instead.

My biggest fan carrying our future daughter in that bump.

My biggest fan carrying our future daughter in that bump.

The Win That Would Have Been

Doran | November 23rd, 2013 - 10:43 pm
CJ, Bear, & her BF Admiral at the neighborhood Turkey Trot

CJ, Bear, & her BF Admiral at the neighborhood Turkey Trot

Last weekend, our neighborhood had a little 5k Turkey Trot.  After triathlon season ended, I took a good solid month with no running whatsoever.  The past few weeks I’ve been doing several short runs per week (3 x 3 miles usually) and I’ve been feeling like crap.  Also, I’ve gained a little weight (probably equal parts muscle and fat).  So I was hoping that a 5k would jumpstart my run fitness and get me moving faster than just plodding along at 8 minute miles.   Of course, I was also very cognizant that this was a small, family friendly event (about 200 people, most of whom were running with strollers and/or dogs).  So I did not want to be the ultra-competitive jerk who took it too seriously.  With this in mind, my plan for the race was to just stay near the front and see how things unfolded.  I wanted to get a good workout in, while not doing anything to make my new neighbors hate me.

At the start line, I was muscled out of the front row by some over-zealous 10 year olds.  I reminded myself it was all for fun and so I just sort of tip toed around them during the first few hundred yards. As we got underway, there was a sizable group and I just tried to hang back a little but keep in contact with the leaders.  As the first mile ticked by in about 6:10, we were only left with about 4 or 5 of us in a front group.  This teenage kid who looked the part of a cross-country runner was setting the pace and a few of us were behind him.  I felt really comfortable and was happy to be running fast again without laboring too badly.  Amazing how different it feels when you haven’t swam and rode before the 5k.  Anyway, as we made a loop and headed back into the crowd of slower runners/walkers, people started shouting “go Ted!” as we went by.  An unusual amount of people were cheering for him.  Which got me started wondering, who was this Ted kid who knows everyone in the neighborhood?  The next mile ticked off and now there were only three of us.  After the next turnaround we had about a mile left to the finish-line.  We were always greeted with shouts to Ted.

About halfway through the race, staying near the front

About halfway through the race, staying near the front.  The older guy is a few steps behind me.

So here we were in the last mile, with Ted the teenage sensation still leading, followed closely by myself and an older guy who looked about 50.  So many scenarios were running through my mind during the race.  I told myself there was no way I was going to just sprint past Ted at the finish line, and since he lead the whole race he deserved to take the win.  I wasn’t going to take it from a kid.  But, if the old guy made a move and passed him, I definitely would try to beat the old guy.  Well, with about 2-300 yards left, the kid picked up the pace, we dropped the old guy, and I just cruised in and finished about 10 feet behind Ted.

1st & 2nd coming down the final stretch

1st & 2nd coming down the final stretch

One of my better running pics.  Lots of thigh though.

One of my better running pics. Lots of thigh though.

We ran the 5k in just about exactly 19:00, and I was really happy with the time considering how poorly I had been running and since I’d gained a little weight since triathlon season.  After the race, I started chatting with the older guy who took third.  He introduced himself as… TED!  He was the guy everyone was cheering for during the race!  He also told me that he had won the race a few times until last year he was beaten by…. THE KID IN FRONT WHO WON!!  So there I was, thinking I was being a nice guy to let this popular neighborhood kid win a race, when a) not everyone knew him like I thought and b) he had already won it last year!!

At the award ceremony.  Got a medal & Dick's Gift Card

At the award ceremony. Got a medal & Dick’s Gift Card

Obviously this isn’t a huge deal, but I learned a lesson, if it’s a race, I will race it.  If they keep time, I will try and do my best.  No more “gifts”.  If the idea of the race was to give someone new a chance to experience the sweet taste of victory, the winning kid should have “gifted” me MY first race win! Oh well, there’s always next year.

Neighbors hanging out after the race.

Neighbors hanging out after the race.

What would a blog entry be without post-race family pic?

What would a blog entry be without post-race family pic?

 

Lockhart’s Portage Lakes Triathlon Race Report

Doran | October 3rd, 2013 - 1:15 pm

Doran’s Note:  We’ve heard from Brian Lockhart after his first triathlon win and now he’s also shared a recap of his race at Portage Lakes Sprint Triathlon.  In his second year with a serious focus on the sport, he has definitely caught the triathlon bug and will now be a regular contributor to Qwickness.  We look forward to learning more about how Brian approaches the delicate balance of life’s commitments and how triathlon fits in.  Without further ado, here is his report!

Background

This race report isn’t going to be quite as much fun to write as the first one I did following my unlikely win at West Branch.  It turns out, that race AND the Cleveland Triathlon two weeks prior to it was the peak of my fitness and speed during the 2013 season.  (Should I go off track and start complaining or making excuses as I write this, please remember “I’m not making excuses, I anticipated this might happen.”) While I’ve been doing triathlons now for 2+ years, I still have a lot to learn and I’m getting used to training as much as is required.  This past offseason, I trained more than I had ever had for an extended period of time.  By the time I finished at West Branch, I was tired.  Physically and mentally, I was just about done.  My A race for the year was Cleveland and I did very well there.  I had a great build up and taper going into the race.  I pushed harder than I thought I could and the results were better than anticipated.  I signed up for the West Branch race last minute just to sneak another race in and continued to work hard up until almost race day.  My hard work was rewarded with the 1st place finish.

After that though, my training had fallen off.  I was tired.  It wasn’t like I sat around and didn’t train. I just didn’t train nearly as hard.  Weekend brick sessions were replaced with easy bike rides with my wife and my parents. Labor Day weekend is typically a good 3 day weekend to get solid training in.  This year it was spent with my Brother and Sister-In-Law who were in town from Kentucky.  I played some golf, but never touched my bike and went for just one easy 3.5 mile run.  I didn’t mind missing key workouts because I was enjoying spending time with family.

The weekend before the race, I was out of town on my yearly golf trip to Eastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania.  This is one of those weekends I look forward to all year.  Over the course of 4.5 days, a group of us play 117 holes.  The mornings are early, the nights are late and the food/drinks aren’t really ideal for someone that has a triathlon in a week…..

Monday of race week found me absolutely exhausted from the fun golf weekend. I swam at lunch and tried to muster a bike/run brick after work.  The rest of the week was spent trying to get the feeling back in the water and doing some easy riding/running with a little speed work just to get the feeling of going fast again. I finally started to feel stronger about Thursday but I knew I wouldn’t be able to gain any of the fitness I needed for the race.  I was hoping to get lucky and actually have a better than expected race, but wasn’t counting on it.

Even though my expectations weren’t real high for the race, I was REALLY looking forward to it! After the “long” swim at West Branch I started wondering how much faster I’d be with a wetsuit.  I’m a relatively strong swimmer and didn’t think it would help much.  To me, it always seemed like it wouldn’t really be worth the money.  I talked with Doran who assured me I could find one at a reasonable price and it WOULD be worth the investment.  I started looking online and found a “coupon” for 60% off the sleeveless Vortex from Xterra.  I decided it was time to try racing with a wetsuit and ordered it!  It came to the almost two weeks before the race.  I don’t want to get too much into a gear review here since I really can’t speak on the specifics of a wetsuit, yet.  I will say though, I swam in it one time prior to race day and was amazed how it felt. The suit was comfortable, didn’t let much water in, and it IS fast! I couldn’t wait to race in it.

Pre Race

Race morning was uneventful.  Check-in was easy because I had gone and picked up my packet the day before.  I got a really good spot in transition close to the bike exit so I didn’t have to run far in my bike shoes. After everything was setup, I went out for a little run to warm up.  Surprisingly I felt ok as I went through my routine.  When it was time to head to the water, I arranged my stuff in transition and grabbed my swim gear and headed down.  There was a mini sprint that was heading off before us, so I had some time to get in the water and warm up with the wetsuit on.  It’s always nice to get a couple hundred yards in prior to the race.  What I didn’t know then was that the mini sprint was going to take about 30 minutes for all of the swimmers to complete.  The organizers were sending them off in groups of 2 or 3 and our heat started about 30 minutes later than projected.  Ideally a good warm up should conclude about 10 minutes or so prior to the start of the race.  I was done with mine about 35-40 minutes early…..

Ready to go pre-race in the new wetsuit

Ready to go pre-race in the new wetsuit

Swim

Once it was time to start racing, I was ready.  My age group was the second sprint heat and I was excited to see how I did with the wetsuit.  For the first time at a race, I wasn’t at all nervous at the start of the swim, I was ready to go!  The horn went off and we ran out to the first buoy.  I had lined up in a good position at the beach start, so I knew I could try and hang with the leaders of the swim. The first 100 yards or so was the normal chaotic mess you would expect.  I stayed clear of most of it and kept my eye on a couple guys that were also swimming well.  At the first buoy, I had caught just about everyone from my heat and was now passing the stragglers from the first heat. Eventually I was just about clear of everyone I could see.  I felt strong and felt like I could swim all day. Turns out I had the fastest swim in my age group, second fastest in my heat, and 10 fastest overall. What a difference a wetsuit makes!  I got into transition after the long run up the hill (that thing isn’t fun….) in 12:30.  That was my goal time based on the swim last year which I did in 14:07.  Nice improvement.

I was in and out of T1 pretty quickly.  I didn’t have any significant hiccups.  It took me a couple extra seconds to get the wetsuit off, but it wasn’t much.  I grabbed my bike, ran out, hopped on, and started riding.

Starting up the hill into T1 after a surprisingly fast swim.

Starting up the hill into T1 after a surprisingly fast swim.

Bike

As I mentioned earlier, I did this race last year.  I must have been asleep because I don’t remember the hills being as tough as they were this year.    I knew the course wasn’t easy, but this year it seemed MUCH worse….my Garmin watch says there was just over 900 feet of climbing and I believe it!  For just about 14 miles, you’re either climbing up a hill or going down.  I can’t remember a flat part… I struggled to get my rhythm getting up all of these hills.  My strategy on the bike this year has been to attack up hills.  I’ve made a point to ride more hills over the past year and have gotten much stronger.  The first major climb we encountered I dropped into an easy gear and spun up the hill catching three people with ease.  I even heard one of them make a disappointed sound since he got passed so easily.  I was pretty happy with myself, but that didn’t last long…..They all passed me at the bottom of the hill.  I knew then, I didn’t have it that day.  As the race progressed I watched my average speed fall from 20 to 19 (my goal speed), to 18.5, to 18, to 17.8 (OH NO, UNDER 18!) before finally coming back just over 18.  I struggled for 10 of 14 miles and was really annoyed to get passed in the last 3 miles by a group of 4 riders, two of which were in my age group…..The last couple of miles were downhill so I decided to “take it easy” and try and save my legs.  My thought was to get off the bike and have a really fast run. My bike time was 46:34 which was a little more than a minute slower than last year…

Doing my best on a difficult bike day

Doing my best on a difficult bike day

I came into T2 with my feet out of my shoes and shoes still clipped in.  As I dismounted, one of the shoes fell off and I had to go back and pick it up. I got to my transition area and racked my bike and as I took my helmet off, my sunglasses fell off.  I only lost a few seconds dealing with the shoe and the glasses, but I was behind and didn’t like “wasting” time.  I put my shoes on and took off running.

Run

For the first quarter mile or so, I had a really strong pace going.  I felt good and was determined to keep it up. Well, it didn’t last long.  It turns out the first 1.5 or so of the run was mostly uphill.  I was fighting hard to keep the pace I wanted (7:30 for the first mile) but with the steady incline I just couldn’t keep it up.  I got passed by some really strong runners which I’m used to and but I was also able to catch a few, which I’m not used to.  After running uphill for about 10 minutes, we made our way into the woods. I was excited that the last 1.5 miles were going to be a trail run.  In middle school I ran cross-country and still would much rather run on a trail than on the road.  This trail we were running must have been really challenging for some people.  There were some hills, lots of trees and branches to duck under, streams to jump over and roots to avoid.  Even though at this point in the race I was exhausted, I felt great!  All I could think about was how much fun it was to do a trail run in a Triathlon.  While I was daydreaming, a guy in his 40’s passed me and “woke me up.”  I decided I was going to try and keep up. He kept running fast and I stayed about two steps behind.  I felt like I was in middle school again.  The thing about running on a trail is, you usually end of running slower than it feels like.  The trees are passing by and you feel like you’re flying.  That is exactly how I felt.  I was pushing harder than I had in a run all year and every time I looked at my watch, it said I was doing 7:45 miles. Eventually I decided I was going to do a little of the work and start leading my running partner.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep up and was left to run on his own again.  Just about the time I started to run out of gas I got a glimpse of the finish line through the trees.  I only had a couple minutes of running left and my season was over. I fought hard to keep my pace up and finish strong.  My overall time for the 3.2 mile run was 24:56. While it was not my best, it wasn’t the fastest course.

Finishing it strong on the run

Finishing it strong on the run

Overall

Overall, I’m happy with my race.  It was great to cap off another successful season. I had a good swim, the bike was hard and I struggled but I didn’t cave in, and pushed hard on a challenging run.  I missed several goals I had set for myself going in, but I didn’t do the work needed to reach those goals.  I learned that I need to continue pushing myself to get better but that when things get tough in a race, I don’t give up!

Portage Lakes Sprint Triathlon (link to results)

  • Swim – 750m: 12:36
  • T1: 1:24 
  • Bike – 22k (13.6 miles):  46:34 
  • T2: 1:02
  • Run – 5k: 24:56 
  • Total: 1:26:34  (26th overall of 242 and 5th in Age Group)
The finish line of the Portage Lakes Tri & 2013 Season

The finish line of the Portage Lakes Tri & 2013 Season

Sandman Triathlon – Race Review & Report

Doran | September 19th, 2013 - 12:12 pm

After getting my mojo going again at Patriot’s Sprint last weekend, I was really really looking forward to the Sandman Triathlon at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  It really plays to my strengths because of the ocean swim and flat fast course.  The tougher the swim, the better I’ll perform relative to the rest of the field.  Last year we had a really windy day with some serious waves, and I finished in 7th place overall and won my age group.  Plus, I trained on these roads for a year when I lived at the beach, so I knew the course well.  In the 2013 edition, I decided to race in the Open Division, in order to start in the first wave with all the fastest guys.  The week leading up to the race involved very minimal workouts, with Monday and Tuesday being an easy recover swim and ride.  Wednesday I had a long day, traveling to Richmond and back for work.  So Thursday was a brick workout with some speed work and Friday and Saturday were some easy workouts to freshen up before the race.  I knew I’ve been steadily losing fitness since Cleveland Triathlon in early August, but I was fresh and I excited to race.  My strategy was to take advantage of the swim, push the bike just a little harder than last week, and then hopefully put together a sub 19:00 5k on the fast flat run course, which was an out and back on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.

Pre-Race

Race morning was absolutely perfect.  A cold front had come in the day before, and the ocean front was calm and cool.  Air temperature was in the low 60s, but the ocean was warm, 76 degrees with small waves and little chop.  My swim would be less of an advantage, but it was setting up to be ideal conditions for fast racing.  After setting up in transition I went for a nice 10 minute ride and after walking 500 meters up the beach to the swim start, I got in and warmed up in the ocean.

A beautiful morning at Virginia Beach Oceanfront

A beautiful morning at Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Warming up... or just walking in the ocean.

Warming up… or just walking in the ocean.

Swim

About a minute after finishing my swim warm up, I found myself running back down the beach into the water.  The race was on!  I forgot to mention my other key strategy and distinct advantage… DOLPHIN DIVING!!!  I guess I was a porpoise in another life, because I am now pretty sure I could beat Michael Phelps in a swim race where the water in 1-1.5ft deep.  I hit the water running then sprung forward and started my patented dolphin diving.  And yet again I found myself right at the front of the race.  The first buoy was about 50 meters off-shore, at which point we hang a right and swim parallel to the shore line for 600 meters or so until the next and final buoy, where we make another right and head up into T1.

And we're off... the waves were much smaller than last year

And we’re off… the waves were much smaller than last year

Rounding the first buoy I was in third, and temporarily on the feet of two really fast swimmers.  I knew one of the guys was a stud swimmer/runner named Michael Sciabelli, and I knew I probably wouldn’t stay with him for long.  Anyway, the key to this swim is to stay far enough away from shore so that you don’t have waves breaking on you, it is far better to stay further out in the swells.  Breathing to my right (towards the shoreline), I was again amazed to see people fighting through the rougher waves.  Before long, this must have taken its toll, as I moved clearly into third place, again leading the first big pack of swimmers (similar to last week’s race).   And yet again I felt comfortable and relaxed, and did not have to push too hard.  Sighting was difficult, as this race had only two buoys.  That’s it.  600-650 meters away from each other.   Have the race organizers ever done a triathlon?  Or tried open water swimming in the ocean while sighting?   It’s hard enough with ocean swells to see 100 feet in front of you, let alone sight a buoy almost a half mile down the ocean.  Anyway, we knew where we were headed, so I just focused on staying out of the breaking waves and keeping it comfortable.  Similar to last week, as we neared the final buoy, the pack started to catch up with me.  The bouy was strangly far from shore, so I had to angle even further out to sea in order to circle it before returning to shore.  Just about the time I adjusted my course the buoy started moving… quickly.  I just happened to look up and sight to confirm my new course, when I saw the first two swimmers rounding the buoy, and a jet ski dragging it much closer to shore.  So I adjusted my course yet again, now angling back towards the shore.  I got a good head start on the others in my little group (who were still heading out to sea) and cutting this corner allowed me to gain significant ground on the first two swimmers, who unfortunately rounded the buoy when it was way out there.  So I exited the water in 3rd, with the first two guys in sight, and a little pack behind me.

Due to the magic of post-production, this is how we came out...

With the magic of post-production, this is how we came out…

Coming out of the water, I was a bit disoriented, as there was really no clear path to transition, just sort of open beach and a few volunteers.  It was CJ who got my attention and pointed me in the right direction.  It’s really not fun to run in sand after an ocean swim and prior to a bike ride.  So with a sky high heart rate, I got into T1 and prepared for my ride.  Grabbing my bike I headed towards the exit nearest me… only to be informed by a volunteer this was the wrong one… he pointed towards another in/out area.  Again I cursed the race organization.  Set Up Events would have had a clear path with cones up to T1 and clearly labeled Bike Out / Bike In / Run Out signs in transition.  How was I supposed to know?  While I’m on another little rant, there was no clear “mount” line either.

Running up the beach, generally in the right direction... I think

Running up the beach, generally in the right direction… I think

Bike

Now safely on my bike, I had a little trouble slipping into my shoes, but finally got going.  Up ahead I could see Sciabelli, so I focused on steadily reeling him in.  A few minutes in, I was passed by Navy SEAL Dan Hathorn, who was definitely doing some work on his P5 (a nice guy, we chatted afterwards).  I had beaten him very early in the year at Smithfield Sprint, so I thought maybe I could stay with him for a while, but I was wrong.  I had to let him go; I was really having trouble producing any power on the bike (and the dude is fast).  The past two weeks were the opposite of my Cleveland and Rev3 races, where I probably went too hard on the bike… I was struggling to keep my power at 200 watts (pathetic by most standards), which is about 10% lower than what I held at those two Olympic triathlons.  If it weren’t for the power meter, I would have though my brake was rubbing.  I just did not have the bike legs.  But I stayed steady and tried to minimize my losses and told myself a fast 5k could make up a lot of ground.  About 5 miles into the bike, near 80th street, I got a huge boost of energy when I saw my friends Hadder and Katelyn cheering for me in front of their house.

The next segment of the ride is my favorite, the freshly paved piece of Shore Drive through First Landing State Park.  I had trained on this road probably over 100 times in the year I lived there.  Just as I reached this segment, I also caught Sciabelli.  This would also be the section where I’d see my exact position in the race, the turnaround was a few miles up the road.  Since I wasn’t producing much power, I had to work on the other end of the equation, aerodynamics.  With this smooth road, I didn’t have to worry about all the bumps and cracks on Atlantic Ave, and so I literally put my head down and pedaled.  I didn’t even look where I was going, I just put my nose down to my water bottle between my arms, and used the yellow line, which I could see out of the corner of my eye, to stay on the road.  While maybe not the safest way to travel, it did help me eek out a little more speed; moved from 21-22mph to 23-24mph with this technique.   By the turnaround I was passed once more, and I knew I was solidly in 5th, with Sciabelli not too far behind; still well within striking distance to catch me on the run.  Emerging from the First Landing State Park section, I was again greeted by Katelyn and Hadder; their encouragement resulted in a little power increase and some great motivation.

Finishing up the ride

Finishing up the ride

I brought it home the rest of the way without much to note.  I took the other half of a gel I had started and began to think about running well.  With about two miles to go I was passed again, and decided it was too early to think about running and I needed to stay with this guy.  Just before transition, as I was taking my feet out of my shoes, I was passed again.  The race was suddenly getting more interesting.  I had a quick T2, in 50 frantic seconds I was out on the run.  Below is the summary data for my ride (and link to trainingpeaks file), which was slightly stronger than the week before.  However, I clearly worked for it, as shown by my average heart rate of 169, 6 beats higher than the week before.  This is likely a combination of the ocean swim with beach run and pushing harder overall.  For the early section of the ride, I really had trouble settling in to a heart rate below 170.

Patriots Power File: Normalized Power 201w, Avg Speed: 22.3mph, HR 163 VI 1.03

Sandman Power File: Normalized Power 206w, Avg Speed: 21.8mph, HR 169 VI 1.04

Coming in with the group... didn't know there was a girl right behind me until I saw this pic

Coming in with the group… didn’t know there was a girl right behind me until I saw this pic

Run

I somehow came out of transition with a female racer, I have no idea where she came from but dang, she must have had a nice swim-bike.  I quickly passed her and was soon running on the boardwalk, which was crowded with tourists, other runners, families, surfers, etc, Given the congestion, I could only make out one of the guys who passed me at the end of the bike, so I must have transitioned faster than the others (several of us came in pretty tightly bunched).  In the first half mile I was feeling good and passed the guy in front of me.  It’s hard to start running fast early in the 5k; it takes awhile to shake the bike ride out of the legs.  But I didn’t want to start too slow to make up a 19:00 5k; I don’t exactly have the speed to make up for a slow first mile.  Well, sure enough, it ticked off in 6:10, exactly the same as the week before.  At just about the one mile mark I also saw the first guy sprinting by me in the other direction, absolutely flying, and not far behind was #2.  Hathorn passed in third and I was looking for the turnaround up in the distance.  I was ready to bring this run home.  During the middle section it took all my mental strength to keep pushing towards a really uncomfortable pace.  With nobody directly in front of me or directly behind (I snuck a peak back every once in awhile), I needed to stay motivated.  After the turnaround I saw the guy I passed early in the run, hanging on pretty close behind, and Sciabelli behind him.  He definitely had me running scared, because I know he can put over a minute into me during a 5k.  Not too long after that, it was easy to find the motivation to finish strong.  One reason why I run so well here is this race has the world’s longest finishing sprint.   Because it’s situated on the boardwalk, you can see the finish line from the two mile mark.  Seeing the finish always helps increase the pace and pain threshold, but in this case, you still have a solid mile of work to do!

The view from the finishline, which can be seen for over a mile

The view from the finishline, which can be seen for over a mile

I knew that I was really close to my goal time of 19:00, and thought if I brought it home with a sub-6:00 mile I could do it.  I tried to balance my finish-line enthusiasm with the fact I still had quite a ways left to run.  I pushed really hard over that last mile, and all the way to the finish I was scared of getting rundown from behind.  I managed to hold off everyone behind me, but fell just short of my goal, with a 19:04 5k and 6:00.89 last mile, according to my Garmin.

Not... quite... fast... enough...

Not… quite… fast… enough…

Overall

This race was really fun, and that’s the point right?  I’m sick of taking myself so seriously.  I don’t get paid to do triathlons; I enjoy the challenge and work really hard to keep progressing in the sport.  Yes, it feels good to do well at races, but I truly enjoy swimming, biking, and running, especially on a gorgeous day like we had for this race.  So I’m not going to overanalyze my results and go into agonizing detail comparing this race to last year’s (my bike and run were within SECONDS of last year… ANNOYING).  I had a good time, and while this wasn’t the best organized race, it’s still a great one to keep on the calendar due to the unique venue of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Boardwalk, and Atlantic Ave to Shore Drive bike route.

Sandman Triathlon (final results)

  • Swim  (750m): 9:54 (1:20 per 100 meter pace according to my Garmin, with run up beach removed)
  • T1: 1:28
  • Bike (14.5 miles):  – 39:52 – 60th overall (21.8mph avg)
  • T2: 0:50 – 80th overall
  • Run (5k or 3.1 miles): 19:04 – 35th overall (6:04 pace according to Garmin)
  • Total: 1:11:11 – 6th overall of 431

 

And of course, I have to share some pics of the family and friends who supported me.  Big thanks to the future Mr and Mrs Hadder for coming out so early in the morning!

The Future Mr. and Mrs. Hadder

The Future Mr. and Mrs. Hadder

My furry pup, beautiful wife.. and her favorite hat

My furry pup, beautiful wife.. and her favorite hat

Post wouldn't be complete without a glamour shot of Bear

Post wouldn’t be complete without a glamour shot of Bear

Patriots Sprint Race Report

Doran | September 10th, 2013 - 12:10 am

It’s been about a month since my really disappointing Cleveland Triathlon, and I’ve gone through a range of emotions.  Bottom line is my race wasn’t really that bad, but I took it really hard for some reason.  For the first two weeks afterwards I was basically “over” triathlon, truly thinking this would be my last season and I’d finish out the next two races and never take the sport seriously again.  Gradually, I got back into training and put in the bare minimum sessions to race at Patriots Sprint and Sandman Triathlon.  Going into the week before Patriots was really hectic with both a mini-vacation and some really important days of work.  My job is really interesting right now and I’ve had to focus on a diverse range of subjects, so triathlon has taken a backseat.   As you can see below, my preparation was far from ideal:

  • Fri-Sun – Lake House in Pennsylvania with CJ’s family – A little open water swimming, but mostly waterskiing and tubing on the lake.  Super fun mini-vacation.
  • Monday – A day in Old Town Alexandria with CJ (Easy 4 mile run)
  • Tuesday – Baltimore, MD and Alexandria, VA for work, important meetings and dinner with colleagues (no time to workout)
  • Wednesday – Richmond for really important work meetings (only mustered an easy 2 mile run and 1,000 meter swim with some fast stuff)
  • Thursday – Back home, organized and hosted a job fair with over 1,000 people, crazy day (short brick ride/run in morning)
  • Friday – My first day in the office in a week, lots of catching up to do, Happy Hour for Virginia Young Professionals Summit (no workout)
  • Saturday – Early morning and Virginia Young Professionals Summit, I was a panelist for “You Can Have It All” session on work/life balance… funny right?  (short easy swim, tuned up my bike and took it for a short ride)
  • Sunday – Race Day

So with a month of sporadic training and a re-shuffling of priorities, I had absolutely no expectations for this race.  I honestly didn’t even think about the race until Saturday afternoon, when the young professionals event was over.  My plan was to be very conservative, since my fitness level had slipped, and I had been blowing up early in my last few races.  I wanted to rely on my swim fitness, which was still high, by taking the swim easy (for me, which still puts me towards the front, but not swim like crazy to make the front pack), starting the bike very easy and keeping it steady throughout, and leaving a lot of energy for the run, so I could push hard and possibly make up ground at the end.

Pre-Race

CJ, Bear, and I were up at 4:20am and by 5:00am were out the door to make the now familiar 50 minute drive to Anniversary Park in Jamestown (basically Williamsburg, VA).  It was good to be back racing with Setup Events, so it was the usual pre-race routine.  Of note is that this event had a collegiate competition, so tri clubs from colleges across the region were there.  This meant some really fast dudes and dudettes, particularly from the Naval Academy, Virginia Tech, and other schools in the Mid-Atlantic.  For a sprint distance race, this field of 600 was very competitive.

Bearpup helping me set up in transition

Bearpup helping me set up in transition

Swim

The swim was in the same area as the Williamsburg Triathlon, so I was fairly familiar with it.   The water was particularly shallow, so I knew that my famous dolphin diving routine would be in effect again (much to Conor’s dismay).  I practiced it in warmups and felt very confident that it was faster and more efficient than swimming.  Also, it is SOOOO nice to get a swim warmup, it really is my key to a good race.   The Collegiate Wave started first, so I was in the second wave with all Men Under 50.  This was a sizeable wave with many of the top guys (though not as many as the Collegiate Wave).  The course was set up so after going out, we would turn left with the current and then make one more left back to shore.  I noticed the current pushing the first wave wayyy left, and many either cut the course by missing the buoy or had to double back to actually circle the buoy and legally complete the course.  So rather than making the same mistake I did at Rev 3, I moved towards the right-center of the pack so the current would naturally push me towards the left and the buoy.  When the horn went off I started dolphin diving.  And kept dolphin diving.  After about 50 meters there was nobody directly in front of me, so I kept at it.  At 75 meters I stole a look to the right and saw one person about 10 meters to my right swimming, looking left I saw the same thing.  I was basically all alone, dolphin diving my way straight up the middle, leading out the swim.  Cool.  At about halfway out to the buoy, after probably 100 meters of dolphin dives or more, I began swimming, angling slightly right of the buoy and I charted the perfect course.  I arrived at the buoy just behind the guy from my right and the guy from my left, and we made the left turn basically together, with me in 3rd pace.  Not wanting to make the same mistake as Cleveland Tri, I was taking this swim really easy.  So for the next 3-400 meters, I took it nice and easy, staying in my own rhythm and not worrying about the first two.  As it turned out, I was basically leading out the entire chase pack.  As we rounded the second and last turn buoy towards the shore, the pack began to engulf me and I picked up the pace a bit to stay with them.  Then I caught up to most of them by… wait for it… dolphin diving my way into shore while they were either swimming or wading through the awkwardly knee depth water while expending a ton of energy and not moving very quickly.  So I came out of the water very happy with my position, pacing, and effort.  Now it was time for the quarter mile run up to T1, which is never fun at this race site.  My bike was basically as far as possible from the “bike out”, so I had my shoes already clipped in the pedals and ran barefoot to the mount line and was soon on my way.  Not a blazing T1 by any means, but not horrible.

Pic of the swim, you can see people standing at first buoy

Pic of the swim, you can see people standing at first buoy

Interesting face... coming out of the water with the Collegiate Wave

Interesting face… coming out of the water with the Collegiate Wave

And out I go on a quarter mile wetsuit jog to T1

And out I go on a quarter mile wetsuit jog to T1

Bike

This bike course is awesome and extremely fast.  It’s an out and back on very smooth pavement.  The terrain is very flat with a few small rollers.  Definitely a good course for a fast time, and I noticed there was not much wind on race day.  I set out on the bike remembering how at Rev3 I had chased hard early when I saw Conor go by.  Not this time.  Rather than going for it early, I decided to basically try and sit on 200 watts for most of the ride, particularly early on.  This is in stark contrast to Rev3, when on a course twice as long, I started out the ride closer to 220-230watts and averaged 215.  Well, this ride felt awesome, I was moving along at a nice clip (22-23mph) and didn’t feel like I was riding too hard.  I had a steady stream of people to pass, as the Collegiate Wave had a four minute head start.  Also, I really wasn’t being passed by anyone, so I decided to keep the effort at this relatively moderate level.  At the turnaround I still hadn’t been passed and thought maybe I’d get a bit of a headwind, since my speed seemed fast given my low power output.  It never materialized, so I guess I’ll chalk it up to smooth pavement and flat roads.  Toward the last third of the bike ride I started to get overtaken by several age group athletes, so I picked up the effort a little bit to remain close and finish strong.  Soon I was slipping my feet out of my shoes and dismounting the bike, feeling great to be running through transition.  I had to lug my bike all the way to the other side, then I was out on the run course, ready to tear it up.

Coming in off the bike, clearly having an awesome time

Coming in off the bike, clearly having an awesome time

I decided to do a little comparison between this race and Rev3 with respect to my power output on the bike, and thanks to www.Trainingpeaks.com, got some great inside.  My average heart rate and average speed were exactly the same for both races (despite Rev3 being almost twice as long) and my normalized power (which takes into account spikes in power) was 14 watts higher (215 vs 201) at Rev3!  So I held a 7% higher power for basically twice as long at Rev3.  Wow, I must have been taking it really easy at Patriots!  Links to the TrainingPeaks Graphs and Data are below.  VI is variability index, which indicates how evenly paced the power is across the race.  Anything under 1.06 is generally pretty decent, but my Patriots effort was more steady than Rev3.  Part of the reason for the similar speed despite lower power output is probably that the Rev3 course included some hills and also it was a windier day.

Rev3 Power File: Normalized Power: 215w, Avg Speed: 22.3mph, HR 163, VI 1.05

Patriots Power File: Normalized Power 201w, Avg Speed: 22.3mph, HR 163 VI 1.03

Meanwhile, in CJ and Bearpup world, a photo shoot session was ongoing….

Bearpup, chillin.  We're growing her hair back out.  Very exciting.

Bearpup, chillin. We’re growing her hair back out. Very exciting.

Run

After a decent transition (48 seconds), I immediately felt like I was going to have a really good run.  This makes sense, given how I paced the swim and bike very conservatively.  At this point in the race, there was still a steady stream of collegiate athletes to catch, but I had my eye on a few of the age groupers who came by me late in the bike.  I quickly came upon one guy and tried to really pass quickly so he wouldn’t be tempted to follow.  Just as the one mile mark went past (in 6:10) I caught up with several other guys I recognized as those who passed me on the bike.  At this point we are really of similar ability so I hung back for a minute then tried to really pick up the pace.  It worked, and by the turnaround I had a decent gap on them.  The second mile ticked by at 6:09 and I was starting to wonder if the elusive sub-19:00 5k was within reach.  I tried to keep my stride rate high, and at times dipping down to 5:45 per mile pace.  I knew that once I got out of the path on through the fields, it was slightly downhill to the finish, so I hoped  that gravity would carry me home.  Right at the end I was passed by two collegiate guys, but by this point I knew I had done almost all I could do in the age group race and while it was close, my third mile came in at 6:08 and I missed out on sub-19 by a measly 16 seconds.  I was really happy with this run, as I paced it almost perfectly even (6:10, 6:09, 6:08 for each mile) and put in my second fastest triathlon 5k split.  My final opportunity of the year will come next week, on a super flat course where I ran 19:11 last year.   Of course, the age old question is should I hold back on the bike and break 19 or put more effort into the bike and hang on for a 19:30 and potentially have a faster overall race.  Clearly, I want to race fast, so I guess we’ll find out next week.

Bringing it home while in a bit of discomfort

Bringing it home while in a bit of discomfort

Bear was more thirsty than I was.  There sure are a lot of dog pics in this post, wtf?

Bear was more thirsty than I was. There sure are a lot of dog pics in this post, wtf?

 

Overall

Coming into this event after a long week of work and not a whole lot of specific race preparation, I had no expectations.  I was very conservative, but still had a pretty good performance.  I really, really enjoyed racing again and definitely still love the sport.  Maybe my talk of “retirement” was a bit premature…   So now I look ahead to Sandman Triathlon, and I plan on going in with a similar mindset.  Obviously, I can’t get in any more training to improve my fitness, so I’ll recover early in the week with some easy workouts and then do some short, race pace stuff towards the end of the week to sharpen up.  While I won’t have the level of fitness I had at Rev3 or Cleveland, I’ll try to push the bike a little bit harder and really give it my all on the run, since this will be my last race of the season.  Who knows what next year will bring, so I want to make it count.  Also, if you are looking for a fast race, I highly recommend these three VTS Races, all at different distances:  Jamestown Triathlon, Patriots Sprint, or Patriots Half.

Another dog picture, COME ON!  Am I gonna have to change the name to Bear's Blog?

Another dog picture, COME ON!?!?! Am I gonna have to change the website to Bear’s Blog?                          Wifey is looking good though.

Patriots Sprint Triathlon (final results)

  • Swim  (750m): 9:06 – 25th overall – (1:23 per 100 meter pace according to my Garmin, 1:16/100Y)
  • T1 (incl quarter mile run up to transition): 2:27 – 58th overall
  • Bike (20k or 13.0 miles):  – 35:21 – 60th overall (22.3mph avg)
  • T2: 0:48 – 80th overall
  • Run (5k or 3.1 miles): 19:16 – 35th overall (19:15 and 6:08 per mile pace based on my Garmin)
  • Total: 106:56 – 32nd overall of 600 (2nd of 28 in Age Group)
The prizes. WINE.  Finally, something we can use!

The prizes. WINE. Finally, something we can use!

Gotta love 30-34 men's age group, would have won most of them

Gotta love 30-34 men’s age group, would have won most of them

 

Guest Post: “The Art of Transitions”

Doran | August 21st, 2013 - 2:28 am

Doran’s Note:  The goal of Qwickness is really to share the experience of an every day age group endurance athlete, not necessarily MY life, but just topics that interest us all, with a little personal touch. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to get Brian Lockhart to write a guest post.  Well, after a very exciting race this past weekend, he finally caved and wrote this post, which is a really great read.  Hopefully we’ll be hearing more from Brian in the near future.  

Doran didn’t ask me to write a guest blog post because he thought I had some really great insight on what most triathletes consider the 4th discipline.  Rather, he wanted me to give a report of what it’s like to win a race.  Nearing my second “serious” year of competing in Sprint Distance Triathlons, and my 10th event, I actually won a race! While I’m extremely excited about my win, I am quick to admit/realize that my competition was not to the level most of my other races.   Still, I’m pumped about it!

A quick history on me.  I did my first Triathlon as an indoor race a few years ago with Pat Weiss.  I really enjoyed it and did the same race the following year.  That second year I decided it was time to do an outdoor race and signed up for one with my brother Nathan and Brian Goold.  It was cool to do a race that was about 10 minutes from home in Munroe Falls. I did the race on a mountain bike that is probably two sizes too small and I got before I was even in high school. Even though I was getting passed left and right on the bike, I had a blast.  That afternoon my wife asked me, “So, when are you going to get a road bike?”  There are two important things in that question that need to be acknowledged. 1. She immediately noticed that I was hooked on the sport and this wasn’t something I just wanted to do one time.  2. It was our 1 Year Wedding Anniversary and she couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and supportive.

I did another race that summer, and then started to get “serious” last year as I did four races and even won my age group in two of them.  While I don’t really enjoy it, my biggest “advantage” in a race is the swim.  I swam for three years in high school which helps. The reason I don’t enjoy it is that I was/am a sprinter.  50 yards as hard as you can go is my kind of race.  100 yards is pushing it and forget about anything longer.  Before every race, no matter the distance, I get most anxious before the swim.  The thought of swimming 400-900 yards for whatever reason gets me worked up…..

I’ve done four races at this point in the season, including Sunday’s race.  Despite “unseasonably cool weather” (62 degree water temp and 35 degree air temp to start the first race) and nagging foot/arm injuries, I’ve made some nice improvements this year.  It all came together at the beginning of August when I competed in the Cleveland Triathlon which was my “A” race for the year.  I had a strong swim, best bike ever on a hilly/windy course, and turned in a really solid run that was a half mile longer than they claimed it would be.

Given how hard I went during that race, I haven’t been feeling too strong in training the two weeks since and decided a good way to snap out of a funk would be to do another race.  I’d always had about 3-4 weeks between races so I didn’t know how I would perform two weeks out from my last race.  My plan for the race (Champ Racing’s Machine Head ) was to have a strong solid race and just see how I felt as the race progressed. If I felt good, I was going to push the run and see what happens. I didn’t taper for it and didn’t go through my normal race week routine.  I was almost thinking about it as a good long workout.  Nothing crazy hard.

Race morning started out well (even got to sleep until 5:30 which is a plus). We got to the course and got my area picked out in transition.  I try and get near the exit to the bike so I don’t have to run very far in my bike shoes. Once everything was setup, I went for a little warm up run and tried to figure out the run course which was quite confusing.  Surprisingly, I felt pretty good.  Soon after, it was time to head down to the water for the swim start.  Going on the same time was the Olympic race.  This is where more of the better athletes were.  They headed out on their first lap of the swim and I took some time to get a good swim warm up.  About 20 minutes after the Olympic start it was our turn.  By the time we started, we were mixed in pretty well with the main pack of Olympic swimmers. My plan was to get to the first buoy without working too hard and I actually followed my plan.  It was kind of fun to swim with a group and maneuver around. While I am by no means a great swimmer, in most races I end up swimming just behind the lead pack, all on my own (which is fine).  I knew once we were headed back to shore that there were at least two people that had broken away and I had no intentions of chasing them down.  I also knew there was another guy about two body lengths behind on my right.  I kept sighting to try and see if there was anyone else ahead of me, but with swimmers from the Olympic it was pretty hard to tell.  A couple times I flipped over and did backstroke just to see how many were close to me and I couldn’t find anyone else. I was in my usual spot, all alone.Swim

I finished the swim pretty strong and while it wasn’t easy swimming for almost 15 minutes straight, I didn’t feel horrible.  Running up to transition the other guy that was swimming with me caught up and his wife told him he was third or fourth out of the water.  I should have known then that I was in a good spot but I felt like there was no way she could be right.

I headed into T1, put my shoes on, grabbed a couple gels, put my sunglasses and helmet on and I was outta there.  It was one of my fastest transitions at 50 seconds.

I got out on the bike course and settled in for the 13 mile ride. Soon after starting on the bike, another guy I hadn’t seen in transition came past me on the bike but he didn’t pull away.  I thought he was doing the Sprint and I decided to hang with him for a while and see what happens. I knew the back half was hilly so I didn’t want to go too hard and blow up.  I set a nice pace and was surprised to see I kept hanging around 20 mph which is right around my goal pace for a race.  I passed a guy that was just hammering away on his bike and knew I wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore.

bikeThe rest of the bike was pretty uneventful as there weren’t many riders in the part of the course I was in.  Just me and the guy 50 yards ahead.  As I kept riding, I looked down and noticed that my average speed was now above 20 mph and I REALLY didn’t feel like I was working hard at all.  There was one point on the course that was an out and back on the West Branch Dam. This gave me my first look at how many racers were ahead of me.  I counted 11, but I knew some of them were doing the Olympic so I figured I was in 5-6th place.

I got back into the park where the Sprint ended and the Olympic did another lap.  I was shocked to see the guy I was “racing” with was actually doing the Olympic as he went back out.  That was one less person I needed to worry about!  I got into T2 and quickly took my helmet off and got my running shoes on and ran out.  It was a really quick transition for me and only took 38 second.

runI headed out on the run and again felt pretty good. I didn’t feel like I worked real hard on the bike and my heart rate wasn’t sky high. The run was kind of confusing to start as we had to run up and down the lanes of the parking lot for the first ¾ of a mile.  I noticed while I was running, the race director was driving his Gator just ahead of me to help me figure out where to go.  This was really nice to have since I never was able to determine just how the run was setup.  I wasn’t too far into the run that I remembered him saying during pre-race instructions that he would be driving around the run course trying to help direct runners (in addition to the volunteers).  If he was leading me around, was it possible that I was leading?!  I looked around the parking lot and didn’t see anyone else running!  I knew from the tail end of the bike that the guys ahead of me weren’t THAT far ahead.  I saw Emily and her parents and she told me I was leading! I had two thoughts: 1. AWESOME! and 2. CRAP. I was going to be forced to try and win this thing.  I had planned to have a solid swim and bike and push the run some and see what I could hold for 3 miles.  I wasn’t going to be concerned at all with my place, originally.  I saw the guy that was in second and knew he was a bit behind me but didn’t try and figure out what my advantage was.  (That might have been a mistake because it would have been easy to do with the course setup OR it might have been good to not know.)

I’m not a strong runner, and haven’t been able to do the work needed to hold a fast pace, and that had me really worried about the guy behind me.  My fastest 5k had been two weeks prior for my “A” race and I held a 7:30 pace.  I looked at my gps watch and that was what I was holding and feeling strong.  I kept that pace for the first half of the run.  When we got to the part of the course and I passed the guy that was chasing me, I tried to pick up the pace a bit and look as strong as possible. I didn’t want to look at all like I was struggling.  I’m pretty sure he did the same thing as he looked really strong too. At this point I could tell I had given some time back to him. I didn’t want to look back and show him that I was getting nervous, but I peeked twice on the trip back home.  Each time, he looked MUCH closer.  We entered the parking lot and had two trips up and down the rows and I knew it was going to be close.  I started running as fast as I could hoped to hold on.  I saw him at the last stretch to the finish line and knew I had held him off.  I came across the line and still couldn’t believe I had actually won a race!   I ended up winning by 15 seconds!

Coming in for the win!

Coming in for the win!

Here’s where the title of this post comes in.  The “Other Guy” beat me by 20 seconds on the swim,  5 seconds on the bike, and 56 seconds on the run. I on other hand made up 1:10 in T1, 29 seconds in T2 and won by 15 seconds!

BL vs OG

People work REALLY hard and spend a TON of money to get faster by just a few seconds in each of the three disciplines and overlook transitions.  Don’t have time to train like others or unlimited funds to buy the fastest and most aero gear?  Work on your transitions and BOOM, you might just win the race!

Brian and his VERY supportive wife, Emily

Brian and his VERY supportive wife, Emily

Award

Taking home the “W” and some hardware

Race Review – Tidewater Triathlon

Doran | July 22nd, 2013 - 2:11 pm

Buckroe Beach provides the perfect setting for a race

Buckroe Beach provides the perfect setting for a race

It’s been about 4 weeks since my really solid Rev3 Triathlon.  After that race, my main focus shifted to the Cleveland Triathlon on August 4th.  However, I could not pass up a scenic and fast sprint race in nearby Hampton, VA.  This year the Tidewater Triathlon shortened it’s distances to be more of a traditional sprint triathlon. It features a 500 meter swim in the Chesapeake bay at beautiful Buckroe Beach, followed by a fast flat two loop out and back bike course of just over 10 miles, and finishes with a 5k, with a majority of it on a wide beachfront sidewalk.  I basically trained through this race, but did freshen on up a litte.  After a hard brick workout Wednesday morning, I was due for a day off on  Thursday  and Friday was just an easy swim and getting all my gear packed for the Saturday morning race.  This was a short race, so I’ll try to keep the report brief as well.

Pre-Race

CJ and Bear felt like sleeping in this Saturday, so I was on my own.  Since this was a sprint, I knew I needed a good warmup on race morning in order to be ready to swim fast, right from the start.  Generally speaking, the shorter the race, the longer and more intense the warmup should be, in order to prepare the body for fast racing.  When the alarm went of at 4am, I walked down the hall and woke up my legs with a quick 10 minutes on the trainer.  This was my first step in letting my body know it was time to wake up, its race day.  I quickly ate, packed up, and made it to the race site at 5am.  I was probably too early, but without Bear and CJ, things go much faster.  Packet pickup was easy, and even moving at a leisurely pace and making a pit stop at a port-o-potty, I was one of the first set up in transition. I love having my hydration up on the aerobars of the bike, which allows me to put my race number on the down tube, rather than have it flapping in the wind when I put it on the top tube.  It sounds minor but I HATE doing so much for aerodynamics only to ruin it with a race number just sloppily fluttering in the wind on race day.  As you can see from the picture I even did a little custom tripping and taping to get it positioned right and out of the wind (rant over).  At about 6:15 (race start at 7:00), I went for a 3 mile bike ride on the course, with some hard efforts to get my heart rate up.  At 6:30 I went for a mile or so run, again with some bursts of speed in there.  By 6:45 I was down at the swim start warming up in the bath-like water (84 degrees, no wetsuit today).  Looking around on race morning, there seemed to be an unusually high percentage of fit dudes with nice bikes, considering this was a local sprint race of about 400 people.

Very dark... I arrived WAY to early...

Very dark… I arrived WAY to early…

My trusty steed, note the placement of race number... no flapping!

My trusty steed, note the placement of race number… no flapping!

Finally everyone else shows up... sleepyheads

Finally everyone else shows up… sleepyheads

Swim

Down at the beach prior to the on-shore start, I tried to get in a pack with some good swimmers.  I started in a wave of about 100 or so Men 34 and Under.  The swim was set up so that we would go out about 100 meters to the first buoy, turn left to go down current for about 300 meters, then making a left to bring it back up to the beach.  At that point athletes have to run 300 or so meter back towards the start to get to transition.  Setup Events does a good job managing the currents, even though personally I’d rather swim up current to take advantage of my swimming background.   It’s almost like the down-current swim and long run to transition favors the fast runners, who are usually poor swimmers.  Anyway, I made a rookie mistake on this swim.  Ignoring the current, I lined up on the far left of everyone else, directly even with the first buoy thinking I’d have the inside line to make the first left.  Well, naturally the strong current pushed me to the left, meaning I had to swim back to the right, only to circle around the buoy and get moving left again.  I pushed really hard on the way out, almost in a full sprint, hoping to make the first pack of swimmers.  My thorough warmup paid off, it felt great to swim hard, not the usual shock to the system the first 2-300 meters which requires slowing down in the middle of the swim.  However, my mental error cost me some time, but I was still towards the front as we turned down current.  At this point I (almost literally) grabbed on to a pair of feet and followed them at a good pace the rest of the way.  As planned, I don’t think I’ve ever pushed a swim leg that hard.  So I came out of the water huffing and puffing as I made the run into transition.  Along the way I managed to pass the guy I was following, and saw a few more guys just ahead.  My new system of having the shoes already on the pedals made for a quick transition, and soon I was running out and mounting the bike.  In fact, I had the 6th fastest T1, in a personal best 36 seconds.

Bike

I remembered this bike course from last year.  The pavement on the way out to the turnaround is a very poor and uneven concrete.  Added to that obstacle was a very strong headwind on this morning.  So I set out on the bike with a plan to really push hard into the headwind, and recover slightly on the way back with the tailwind.  So on the way out I gritted my teeth, held on to my water bottle a bit (due to all the bumps) and set out to go all out for a 10 mile time trial, and just take the run as it comes.  I could see a few guys far up in the distance, and during the first 2.5 miles on the way out, I reeled them in a little bit, but didn’t catch anyone.  Equally as important, I wasn’t passed myself (for a change).  There were times when the wind was so strong (particularly at a bridge near the turnaround) that I had to get out of the aero position and put both hands on the bull horns to control my bike.  I think this means I need the new Zipp Firecrest 808 wheels, which supposedly perform great in crosswinds…  (I’m accepting donations, I only need to reach $3,000 for these puppies).  Since I couldn’t get the wheels I needed at the time, I just kept pedaling and at the turnaround I counted the athletes in front of me, (1,2,3,4,5)… I was in 6th place with one guy I might be able to catch, and nobody was really breathing down my neck from behind.  We really flew on the way back, I was holding between 26 and 27mph, even when sitting up and taking a gel, it was almost like exposing my back to the wind just helped push me even faster.   It’s hard to really make up time with such tailwind, on the first loop I couldn’t catch him, and I also defended my 6th position.  The second loop was a very different dynamic, as now all 400 athletes were spread out over the 5 mile bike course.  We had a dedicated lane with no traffic, but really it could only safely accommodate two riders across, particularly with the wind battering us around a bit.  I kept my eyes on the guy actually in front of me in the race as we picked our way through the crowd.  Sure, there was a little unintentional drafting at times, but it really couldn’t be avoided.  It did help with the wind though.  I quickly caught the guy (I think) and just focused on moving up through the crowd safely and quickly.  This led to a few more power spikes and coasting than is ideal, but also made it more fun and interesting than just sitting in aerobars at the same pace the whole way.  On the way back, I was again flying, and midway through the backstretch I passed another guy I recognized as being ahead of me in the race.  Was I really getting off the bike in 4th place in the first wave (no doubt some 35 and older Men behind me would be faster) and having PASSED two people on the bike without getting overtaken myself???  Wow, that 4am ride on the trainer must have done wonders!  Looking at my data, I averaged 223 watts on the bike, with a normalized power of 232 watts.  Compared to 198 watts and 209 watts, respectively, at Richmond Tri three months ago, this represent a solid 12% improvement in power output.

Run

With another quick transition (42 seconds), I was out onto the run course, testing out how legs feel after riding 23mph for 10.5 miles.  I could feel one or two other guys right with me in transition, as I headed out on course for a very short out and back before getting into the meat of the out and back run course.  The first short out and back was probably less than a quarter of a mile, and the guy immediately behind me made up time very quickly.  After we turned and began running with the wind, he was up with me.  Naturally, I wasn’t planning to go down that easily.  I stayed with him for maybe 30 seconds before he got a gap on me.  For the next mile, I didn’t let the distance between us stretch to more than 5-10 yards, I was still right behind him, and feeling more confident by the minute that I would pass him.  Our first mile ticked over at 6:11, and I knew I had just run a 6:00 mile in training off the bike as part of my Wednesday brick.  I used this positive mantra “I ran a 6:00 minute mile in TRAINING this week” (or something like that) to keep the faith in my run.  I’ve seen two recent articles, one by Macca and another by Jesse Thomas recently about the importance of having a mantra when times get tough.  In sprint triathlons I think this is far less important than in long-distance racing, but nonetheless it did help me keep in contact with this guy.  Just as we got to the main turnaround, just past halfway in the run, the race for fourth (in our wave, anyway) suddenly got more crowded.  Just as I was catching the young guy in front of me (only 18!), I was passed by a tall 29 year old dude that I recognized from Richmond Sprint Tri (Mike Scibelli, my new nemesis – beat me by 10 seconds in Richmond).   We quickly dropped the younger guy who I had been following, and now I was using Mike’s taller frame to block the significant headwind we were running into.  Mile two went by in 6:15.  I told myself that I’d have a much better day if I followed this guy and drafted the rest of the way, and that running faster with him would probably be easier than losing him and fighting the wind on my own.  But with about three-quarters of a mile to go, the elastic broke and he started to pull away.  By this time the guy behind us was long gone, so now I just had to fight to make it home.  I knew in the back of my head I was still racing the older guys, and needed to keep running hard to the finish.  My last mile went by in 6:18 (not bad considering the wind) and I finished 14 seconds behind Mr. Scibelli.   At first I was slightly disappointed with my run split of 19:15 (by my time, the race time had me at 19:29), I still think I can go sub 19, but it will happen another day I guess.   The 19:29 split was good enough for 5th overall, so I couldn’t be too disappointed.  Also, I did not really dig too deep on the run.  I went really, really deep at Rev 3 and new I was planning to do the same thing in two weeks at Cleveland Triathlon.  So with my real goals in sight, I ran hard, but didn’t need to collapse at the finish line to have a good race.

The finish line is always a welcome sight

The finish line is always a welcome sight

Overall

With this being a low priority race that I used as a tuneup two weeks before Cleveland Tri, I am ecstatic with the results.  I placed well within a solid field and enjoyed being up towards the front of the race and knowing I was battling for 4th (ish) place.  My time of 58:15 was good enough for 7th place out of 368 people, can’t be too upset there.  However, I couldn’t help but notice that going a mere 15 seconds faster (which I definitely blew during the swim, by not respecting the current and having to swim against it to get around the buoy) would have moved me up to 5thplace.  As usual, my swim and run were strong, ranked 13th and 5th respectively, while I was a mere 19th in the bike leg.  I was pleasantly surprised with where my run split put me, however, I really think with my swimming background I should be swimming with the front group.  The first guy had me by over a minute, which is not good in such a short swim.  It may be too late now, but I’ll put in two more hard swims this week before tapering down next week.    My bike split wasn’t as horribly ranked as usual, so I think my work on the bike is paying off.  I feel comfortable and strong on the bike, I think my aerodynamics are the best ever, in terms of my position and the water bottle being mounted up front.

Tidewater Triathlon (final results)

  • Swim – 500m: 8:33 – 13th overall – (about 1:25ish per 100 meter pace + long run into transition)
  • T1: 0:36 – 6th overall – (by FAR my fastest ever… wow)
  • Bike – 10.5 miles:  – 29:06 – 19th overall (22.7mph avg)
  • T2: 0:42 – 26th overall
  • Run – 5k (3.1 miles): 19:29 – 5th overall (19:15 and 6:15 per mile pace based on my Garmin)
  • Total: 58:15 – 7th overall of 368 (1st of 19 in Age Group)

Setup Events

Before I conclude, I have to mention how great it is to be back racing a Setup Events race after that Rev3 Willamsburg debacle.  Setup Events consistently put on safe, quality races. I definitely won’t take them for granted again, and I was happy to be racing my third Virginia Triathlon Series race of the year.  A few things that stood out to me at this event are below.  Packet pickup is so quick and easy, with no lines and friendly volunteers.  The next thing I noticed was how many safety and rescue personnel were on scene at the swim.  They had 20 kayakers (I counted) and two boats in the water, as well as another 5-10 lifeguards on the beach.  All this for just a 500 meter swim, with 386 particpants!  That’s probably a ratio of about 1 safety person for every 10 or 15 competitors.  They also had at least one ambulance and one EMS truck in the vicinity of the swim and transition area.  This was a stark contrast to Rev3, which maybe had 10 kayaks to patrol over 1,000 people doing the Olympic and Half distances.  On the bike, Setup had the course well coned and a dedicated lane separated from traffic, as well as traffic attendants stationed at every single cross street, no matter how small.  And finally, the food was pretty good, a random buffet that included fruit, bagels, chips, and more.  At this race I found ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY THE BEST POST-RACE FOOD EVER… A BAGEL WITH PEANUT BUTTER AND NUTELLA!!!  I can’t tell you how good this tasted.  Obviously, Nutella is awesome, to the point where I know I cant ever buy it because I would eat the whole jar in a day.  But adding peanut butter and a bagel to the mix after a hard sprint race?  Incredible.  I was in absolute heaven eating this thing.  It was totally worth an hour of all-out effort.   New for this year Setup also has flat screen tv’s that scroll through results (which are ALWAYS accurate, by the way) and also a little multi-level podium for awards ceremonies.  Anyway, I swear they aren’t paying me or anything, but I thought it was worth mentioning the fantastic event production and attention to detail that goes into every Setup Events race.

Tent with results scrolling on the big screen

Tent with results scrolling on the big screen

Just a sampling of the spread... PB and Nutella GET IN MY BELLY!

Just a sampling of the spread… PB and Nutella GET IN MY BELLY!

Rev3 Williamsburg – Race Report

Doran | July 1st, 2013 - 5:15 pm

 

Rev3 Williamsburg Race Report... here we go!

Rev3 Williamsburg Race Report… here we go!

So, now that we have the good, bad, and ugly of the actual event production out of the way, I’ll share a little bit about my personal race.  As explained a little bit in a previous post, I had a less than ideal build-up with illness and international travel in the critical period two weeks before the race.  However, I had a very solid few months of training spring and was REALLY looking forward to testing myself at the Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic Triathlon.  I was also lucky enough to have Conor and his fiancé Ashley stay with us for the weekend, so I had a buddy out on course and some good motivation and competition on race day.  My goal for the race was pretty simple, I wanted to set a new PR, and go sub 2:15. To do this, I know I needed to have a decent swim (22 or 23min), hard bike (sub 1:08 for sure), and pretty fast run (sub-41).  What I didn’t want to do was have a slow swim or average bike, which would make it impossible to meet my goal.  Contrary to my conservative nature (and encouraged by CJ and Conor) I decided I’d rather blow up on the run having given it a real shot than just have another 2:17 Olympic triathlon on my Athlinks profile.  I mean, whats the point of waking up at 5:30 every day and going out training in the dark if you never get any better, right?  I haven’t lowered my Olympic distance PR since 2009, and even though I equaled it in 2011, it was on a significantly easier course.

Pre-Race

I won’t re-hash the details from last post, but Saturday wasn’t exactly my ideal day before a race, with schlepping up to Williamsburg and spending the whole day bouncing around town doing pre-race stuff.  But I woke up Sunday with my body feeling generally pretty good and I was definitely stoked to get out and crush it.  My enthusiasm was tempered slightly when we hit a torrential downpour during the 45 minute drive to Williamsburg.  Luckily, by the time we dropped our stuff in T2 and set up in T1, it had turned to a light drizzle which subsided prior to the race start.

Setting up T2 in the morning during a light drizzle

Setting up T2 in the morning during a light drizzle

Bear and CJ helping me set up T1

Bear and CJ helping me set up T1

Pre-race with my two helpers

Pre-race with my two helpers

Swim
At the swim practice on Saturday, the tide was moving to the right, in the direction of the long stretch of the swim course, which would be perfect conditions for a fast swim.  I had made a plan with Conor to start on the outside left and let the tide carry us toward the right-turn buoy.  However, on race day I watched the pro’s drift WAY left on the way out, with age groupers in the Half race going even further left.  Time for a quick change of plan.  Conor and I positioned ourselves on the inside, to the far right.

The red is the Rev3 course map, the other marks are mine

The red is the Rev3 course map, the other marks are mine

 

Getting focused pre-race

Getting focused pre-race

When the gun went off on our wave (Olympic Distance Race, Men Under 40), we entered the water and were faced with an issue not encountered the day before.  The tides had clearly changed (as I already knew), and the water was much shallower than the day before.  So there we were, in water that was about 1-2 feet deep.  People basically had three options: keep running, swim, or dolphin dive.  I have heard that dolphin diving is the quickest and most efficient way to move through shallow water, so that’s what I did (funny enough, Triathlete Magazine posted this instructional video the week after the race).  It must have been a hilarious scene, because each of us was basically doing one of the three or some weird hybrid.  Apparently Conor was walking/running right behind me just watching me dolphin dive, he said it was funny.  After about 150 meters of this, I found myself a few feet behind the front pack, which seemed to be drifting left, just like the prior waves.  At this point I had a decision to make: do I put in a big effort to catch the lead pack, who was headed in a slightly wrong direction, or set my course for the turn buoy and go it alone.  I chose to go alone.  I also spotted a lone swimmer about 10 feet to my right who was staying perfectly in line with the turn buoy.  I settled into a pace that I deemed firm but not all out, and kept within reasonable distance of the front pack (from what I could tell).  At the buoy I met up with Mr. Straight Swimmer, and thought it would be good to draft off this guy the rest of the race.  After all, he was about my speed and would keep us on course; I could conserve energy in his wake and not worry about sighting either.   This worked for approximately 150-200meters, but then he started zig-zagging slightly to avoid Half Distance athletes who had started well before us, and were also probably horribly off course at that point.  Either way, I lost him and spent the second half of the swim just in my own world.

The swim start, I'm towards the top left near the front/center of the race

The swim start, I’m towards the top left near the front/center of the race

My wave, making its way out

My wave, making its way out

I noticed that the swimming wasn’t easy and we were going against the current, but it wasn’t until I later spoke to others and read slowtwitch, I guess it was a fairly significant current and many athletes didn’t make it out of the swim course (they didn’t drown, I mean they just were either removed from the race for missing swim cutoff times or chose to drop out due to difficulty).  As I made my way around the second and final turn buoy the water got a little choppy, but progress was a bit quicker and I was soon in shallow water.  More dolphin dives!  Hahaha actually from some distance out I could see people beginning to walk slowly out of the water (likely Half Distance racers) and I must have gained tons of time on anyone who did that, because I basically caught them.   Exiting the water I surprised CJ with a hello as I ran by and glanced down at my watch and saw 23:XX, not great, but not too bad.  Next was the long uphill run to T1, while simultaneously pulling down the top half of my wetsuit.  On the jog up I saw Ashley and asked if Conor had come through yet, she said he hadn’t.  Perfect, I was hoping to have a little time on him to limit my losses on the bike.  Finally arriving, I stripped off my wetsuit and stuff it and my goggles into the now infamous T1 bag.  I’ve really been working on faster transitions this year, and going with the “shoes on pedals, put the feet in later” approach is definitely quicker.  So I put on my helmet and glasses and ran barefoot out of transition to the street.  Within 100 yards my shoes were on and it was time to test my bike legs!

A shot of the swimmers coming back to shore

A shot of the swimmers coming back to shore

 

Bike setup for quick T1; rubberbands holding my shoes/pedals parallel

Bike setup for quick T1; rubberbands holding my shoes/pedals parallel

Bike

Now that I’ve been working with a power meter for a few months (including two sprint distance races), I have a pretty good idea of the effort I can sustain for a 40k TT (roughly and hour, which is basically my Functional Threshold Power [ftp]).  With a current FTP of about 223 watts, I was hoping to average about 210 watts (gotta save a few % for the run).  Well, Conor might have been behind me coming out of the swim, but he sure wasn’t too far away.  Apparently he could see me in the run up to T1 and within a half mile, he zoomed past.  I yelled something, but the jerk just kept riding by me.  At this point my competitive nature / ego started to take over (and my race goal of a PR or bust), and my carefully constructed plan of riding a steady race based on power zones quickly fell by the wayside.  I was going for it.  So I started passing Half athletes and trying to keep up with Conor.  That didn’t last too long (the guy ended up splitting 59:xx on the bike), but I was making really good time over the early section of the course.  The first third of the bike was very flat and fast on some pretty good roads, we must have had a tailwind (which of course I didn’t notice at the time) because my speeds were consistently up around 24/25 mph.  Things stayed interesting on the first half of the bike because we were mixed in with Half distance athletes (some of which passed me… embarrassing).  The middle few miles of the course had some decent little hills, contrary to what we were led to believe, “mostly flat and fast with a few rollers”.  These were a bit steeper than what I’d call rollers, and unfortunately the descents generally involved blind curves and rough, wet pavement.  I hate it when that happens.  I don’t mind climbing a little hill during a race if I get to enjoy some free speed on the way down, but I hate to be riding my brakes and just scrubbing speed that I worked so hard to gain.  My cautious bike handling is also a huge weakness and I knew I’d lose time to more aggressive and skilled riders.  By this time we had also separated from the Half athletes so it was pretty lonely out there.

Race photographer got a great one on the bike

Race photographer got a great one on the bike

Approaching the last third I was passed by two or three guys and I convinced myself that I needed to stay with them, they would be the perfect carrot to keep me moving towards T2 at a good speed.  By this time my legs were already upset with me, and I knew the run would not be fun.  But I fell in behind them at a legal draft distance as we again got onto flat, fast roads.  This time we had a bit of a headwind.  This was about the time I had my biggest scare of the race.  As we were crossing a bridge, a huge semi truck came by us, forcing us to the right of the white line.  At the point where the bridge deck ended and regular pavement began, there was a 2-3 in lip on the shoulder.  We had no choice but to hit it at a pretty decent rate of speed.  The guy directly in front of me hit it pretty violently and immediately pulled over, his day was done thanks to a bent rim and snapped spoke.  Luckily, my SRAM S80 wheels were a bit more resilient.  After a quick check of everything (water bottle and computer still on board, fork ok, tire pressure), I realized I survived quite a jolt and got back to pedaling.  I was beginning to pay the price for my quick start and efforts on the hills, but I focused on keeping the power up during this last section.  While the power meter didn’t succeed in gauging and evening my effort as much as it could have (my fault, obviously), it did help me keep up my effort during the last section as I fatigued, faced a slight headwind, and started to worry about the run.  For that reason alone, it is worth it.  I snuck my feet out of my shoes as I approached T2 and hoped that my legs were sturdy enough to at least make it through transition.  Arriving at T2 I was greeted by CJ and Ashley, who were stationed near my rack and pointing where to put my bike.  Despite their guidance, I still somehow managed to run by it and waste a few minutes.  It was difficult to see the numbers on the ground the numbers on opposite sides of the same rack were not adjacent numbers.  Bottom line, I lost a few seconds wandering around like a dummy instead of listening to my wife, who was pointing at my spot (men….).  After racking my bike and removing my helmet (unlike Richmond Triathlon), I dumped my shoes out of the bag I had put them in to keep them dry and was quickly out of T2.  Not a great transition but nothing to worry about.

Coming in hot to T2... legs already wobbly

Coming in hot to T2… legs already wobbly

This is what I was looking for, hard to find during race

This is what I was looking for, hard to find during race

 

Getting the shoes on... without sitting down now

Getting the shoes on… without sitting down now

Buckling up the race belt and stuffing gel in the back

Buckling up the race belt and stuffing gel in the back

Run

Starting the run, I knew I was in for a tough 10k.  However, I was happy with my swim and bike split, and I needed to keep up the pace to have a chance to run my goal time of 40:00 (6:27 per mile pace).  Despite the tightness in my quads and hamstrings, the flat terrain was allowing me to run at a solid clip.  The first two miles each ticked off in 6:16.  There were not many athletes around me at this time, the only guy I saw I managed to pass around mile 1.  This was definitely an ideal start, but soon the course provided an unpleasant surprise, a decent sized hill with a narrow winding road up to the top.  This hill was just after the 2 mile mark; around the time I began to expect the race leaders coming the other way on this out-and-back course.  Going up this ascent was like hitting a wall, as I slowly traversed the face of the hill, my quads were absolutely screaming at me to stop, even with my pace down to about 8:00, this hurt.  Just as the elevation leveled off, I began to see runners coming the other way.  As the first, second, and third place men ran past in the other direction, I began to count, so that I could tell Conor what place he was in, and ascertain where I was in the race as well.  I saw the fourth place athlete up in the distance, and lifted my sunglasses up onto my head so I could get a better look.  It was Conor!  Not far behind 3rd place and looking very very strong.  Looking like he belonged there, up at the front of the race.  I yelled to him, “you’re in fourth, kill it man, you are in fourth!”  He acknowledged me but didn’t seem to react to my information on his current placing.  Within a few minutes I was at the turnaround as well, I was a bit surprised that it wasn’t at 3 miles (halfway), as I expected, but closer to 2.5 miles.  Counting athletes to the turnaround, I was in 10th place, with nobody really close in front or behind me.  I knew this placing was deceptive, because a few men 40 and older would be ahead of me, if not actually in front of me on the course.  One of these older guys had passed me on the hill, and I tried to keep up with him on the descent.  Struggling up the hill was hard on the legs, but running downhill can also have a serious impact, as your quads are forced to brake a little bit.  Getting back on to flat ground, I initially was fighting leg cramps, but eventually they subsided and I was again moving fairly well (mile 3 up the hill was 6:56 and mile 4 on the flat was 6:35).

 

Get. Me. To. Finish. Form has completely broken down.

Get. Me. To. Finish. Form has completely broken down.

The entire middle section and on towards the finish I had to keep convincing myself to keep moving, keep running, and stay in the race.  It was a constant battle with my legs not to stop.  All that kept me putting one foot in front of the other was the thought of a PR and all the training and preparation I had put in just to get to this point, where the real difficulty begins.  In triathlon you train to get to this point.  It is going to hurt, you know it is going to hurt.  You just train to make the sure that it happens at the right time (last half of the run), and during the hurt you are still moving fairly quickly.   Working my way through mile five my stride began to completely deteriorate and it was all about getting to the finish line.   A painful but uneventful mile went past in 6:51… the wheels were falling off.   Almost at mile 5 or 5.25, I could hear the music and announcer and cheering at the finish area, but surely we had another mile or so to run?  The course took us directly in front of the finish line, but instead of turning into the finish chute, we headed down another big hill, this time just straight down the hill.  I saw CJ, who was cheering me on (she later said it was the hardest she’s ever seen me straining during a race).   About this time I also saw a big guy up ahead, who I knew would struggle to make it back up the hill we were running down.  So after the approximately third of a mile descent, we had to make a U-turn, head back up and then just hang a left into the chute to end the suffering.   I made the turnaround and put everything I had into catching this big guy.  I also knew I had a chance to go sub-2:15 as well.  Unafraid of cramping up at this point, I put everything into making it up the final ascent.  I couldn’t quite get into contact with the big fella, but I was really proud of my effort.

Trying to track down the big fella

Trying to track down the big fella

Left turn and down the finishing chute

Left turn and down the finishing chute

Rev3 Finisher Photo

A little smile for the finish… best I could muster at the time

Overall

I went under the clock in 2:13, a new PR, and a solid 40:45 run split (with a 7:00 last mile.. thanks to that hill).  This was my fastest Olympic triathlon by 4 minutes.  While the bike was a mile short of the standard distance, I think the up-current swim and long run into T1 compensate to make it a legitimate PR.  I was extremely happy with my effort, definitely the deepest I’ve dug in recent years.  The Rev3 timing is a little bit messed up, but I think I finished 15th of 477 people overall, and unfortunately that included getting chicked by a few seconds (dang it!!!).  My time was also good enough for 2nd in my Age Group, a nice reward for all the hard work.

Finisher and AG Award Medals, front & back - they also interlock

Finisher and AG Award Medals, front & back – they also interlock

Picking up the age group award on a nice big stage

Picking up the age group award on a nice big stage

I do have a few things to work on in order to improve.   I was a bit too relaxed at the start (partially due to the fact they started the Pro’s and Half athletes 15 minutes late) and did not get a chance to warm up prior to the swim.  If I expect to swim in the 21-22 minute range, I need to be ready and get up to speed quickly.  A fast start will also help me stay with the front group and hopefully lead to a good draft during the swim.  It’s probably the opposite approach on the bike.  While my early aggression after seeing Conor pass by did lead to a good bike split, a more metered application of effort across the whole 25 miles will probably lead to a faster bike split, with slightly fresher legs for the run.  I’m extremely happy with the race, but with these minor changes, I could probably drop another minute or two next time.

Conor and I after the race.  Clearly I need to sit down.

Conor and I after the race. Clearly I need to sit down.

This one is my favorite.  And for Megan, who asked about my wife & dog at bike check in.

This one is my favorite. And for Megan, who asked about my wife & dog at bike check in.

BearPup, looking pretty tuckered out after the race.

BearPup, looking pretty tuckered out after the race.

Rev3 Williamsburg Race Review

Doran | June 25th, 2013 - 4:17 pm

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Wow, where do I start with this past weekend’s Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic Triathlon?  Let’s just say I’m really mixed in my feelings.   I had my first Olympic Distance PR in FOUR YEARS, but it was also the most poorly organized triathlon event I’ve ever attended.  In order to give both the race review and my personal race report their fair shake, I am going to divide this into two different posts.  We’ll save the best for last, which means unfortunately I’ll have to discuss the Rev3 Williamsburg event now.

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the reasons I chose this race was because I’ve heard so much about how Rev3 looks after the athletes, both pro and age group.  So I paid $175 to enter this race.  Basically twice what a typical Setup Events race costs.  As someone who has done over 40 triathlons, from small local events to Ironman and Nation’s Tri with thousands of people, this was the absolute worst produced event I’ve attended.  By far.  So let’s delve into some of the gory details.

For one, this race had two transition areas.  While this is not the norm, there are several races that I’m aware of that have this unique feature.  So right off the bat, Rev3 made a decision to make this race more complicated for the athletes.  I can say with certainty, I’ll never do a race with two transitions again, it is just too much added hassle to be worthwhile.   I can understand why Rev3 chose to do this, the Swim/T1 location at Jamestown Park did not have adequate facilities or space for a large expo and finish festival, nor probably enough parking.  So they had T2/Finish Festival on William & Mary campus about 6 miles away.  I can see how two transitions is manageable, and in this case, more desirable for Rev3, but they completely failed at basic race execution and taking care of the athletes and spectators.

Saturday – Swim Practice, Check-In/Packet Pickup, Bike Racking

This race, like many other big-time races, featured a mandatory packet pickup, either Friday or Saturday, rather than a race-day (Sunday) option.  Also, you had to rack your bike on Saturday.  Fair enough.  Rev3 also offered a chance to swim on the course on Saturday morning from 8am to 10am.  All of this is pretty typical.  But add in the timing and locations, and suddenly your whole day is spent running around Williamsburg pre-race.

We turned up at about 9am for the swim practice.  This may be a good time to mention that in the days before the race, Rev3 had nothing posted about the water temperature, which I guessed was going to be very close to the wetsuit legal line of 78 degrees.  So I tweeted at them on Friday and they responded with 76.3 degrees.  Wetsuit legal.  But what if I hadn’t tweeted them?  We all just guess what it would be on race day?  Anyway, I was very excited to check out my new full-sleeve Xterra Vector Pro wetsuit that I won from Travlete.com and hadn’t used in open water yet.  The suit felt great, very buoyant with good flexibility.  However, with the water this warm, I decided to stay with my usual sleeveless Xterra wetsuit on raceday.  Anyway, Rev3 seemed to have a small handful of officials at the swim, but I did not see any rescue personnel, so what made this different than me just showing up at a state park and swimming?  Anyway, with the swim scheduled from 8-10am, packet pickup was from 10am to 7pm on Saturday.  So we got in the car and headed across town to packet pickup and the expo.  This part went smoothly and efficiently.  Within 20 minutes we had our packets and had checked out the small expo and merchandise tent.  So it was now about 11am and we had one task left.  Bike check in at T1 back near the lake, but that didn’t open until 2pm.  So we went to lunch at Williamsburg Winery (quickly becoming a favorite lunch spot of ours) and waited to drive back to Jamestown Park to rack our bikes.  We put on the race numbers, went for a little ride to loosen up, and then proceeded to rack our bikes.  Again, this activity itself went very smoothly, and I even met a reader of this little blog.  So I have to say hi to Megan and I hope she had a great first half ironman.  It’s now 2:30pm and we’ve taken from 9am – 2:30pm (5.5 hours!) to accomplish what could have taken an hour if transitions were in one place, and AT MOST 2 hours with the current setup if Rev3 had considered the timing of the events and allowed bike racking to start early in the morning, or had the swim later in the day.  By the time we got home at 4pm we were pretty beat and still had to get prepared for race day, which was again complicated by the two transition system.This is also when we devised our plan for race morning.  In the end, it worked out, but no thanks to Rev3.

Swim Practice - see any Safety Personnel? Nope.

Swim Practice – see any Safety Personnel? Nope.

Luckily I had CJ looking after me, so I was in good hands!

Luckily I had CJ looking after me, so I was in good hands!

T1 - not yet ready to accept bikes

T1 – not yet ready to accept bikes

Bike racked in T1, and semi-protected from rain

Bike racked in T1, and semi-protected from rain; nametag was nice touch

Sunday – Race Day

We drove to T2 first (arriving at about 5:30am) and quickly set up our run gear, then drove to T1 (arriving at about 6:00am) to prepare our bike gear and obviously start the race with the swim.  We had to drive both places, because while Rev3 offered shuttles for athletes and spectators to get from setting up T2/Finish to T1/Swim in the morning, THEY DIDN’T OFFER A SHUTTLE FOR SPECTATORS TO GET FROM THE SWIM BACK TO T2/Finish!!!  This wasn’t a problem for Conor and I, because obviously we’d be racing and end the bike leg at T2, but how would Conor’s fiancé Ashley, my wife CJ, and any other spectator get back to T2?  Walk the 6 miles?  We had no choice but to drive to both locations in the morning.  After we exited the swim, inexplicably the “Swim In” entrance to T1 and “Bike Out” were reversed from the day before, making it difficult to find our bike racks and yet another execution error on the part of Rev3.  So many people had made the same decision and drove themselves to T1, that cars were parked on the path that was supposed to be part of the bike course!  Should not a volunteer been assigned to help with parking and keep the path clear? So at the last minute they changed it so bikes exited onto the main road, rather than the blocked trail.  This change also made it more difficult for the spectators to then get in their cars after the swim and drive to T2.  CJ and Ashley navigated through bikers and traffic and finally found parking about a mile from T2.  It took them about 45 minutes and they barely made it there in time to see Conor and I come in off the bike and begin the run.  I should also mention in here, that during T1 we had to stuff our wetsuits and goggles, etc into a bag, which Rev3 would pick up and deliver at the finish line for us to claim after the race.  This wasn’t a big deal, and everyone has to do the same thing, so it really didn’t bother me.  But it would soon be an issue.

The bike course itself was generally well marked with enough traffic control and volunteers to show us the correct way.  There were a few tricky little sections, but I can’t really complain here.  I did not see ONE race official checking for drafting penalties.  Not one.  Were there any? I have no idea.  The bike and run had arrows on the ground, with different colors for the Half Ironman and Olympic distance races. There was no confusion about which course to follow.  However, on the run course the arrows often pointed in the wrong direction and there were just enough directions/volunteers not to go off course.  I was not impressed, considering it was an out and back, they really only had about 4 miles of run course to mark properly and maintain with aid stations, directions, and volunteers (including the Half, which did the out-and-back twice).   I will say the aid stations were adequately staffed and supplied with water and Gatorade (and maybe other nutrition as well, I didn’t need it for Olympic distance race).  They also had tubs with cold wet sponges, which are REALLY nice, especially for the longer distance races.  I definitely took advantage of them.

So far I haven’t exactly painted a positive picture of Rev3.  But to this point nothing was terrible, it was just a bit inconvenient in terms of timing and logistics.  But post-race is when the real egregious issues arose.  I finished the race, elated from a new PR, and happy to share in Conor’s celebration of 4th place (from what we could tell at the time).   After recovering for a few minutes and catching up with Conor, Ashley, and CJ, it was time to begin replenishing my body with energy and fuel to repair the damage I had just inflicted on it.  However, the post-race food was nowhere to be found!  There was a tent and a catering company set up but the food wasn’t ready yet.  Since there was a Half Ironman and Olympic race going on at the same time, and I was up at the front end of the Olympic race, I wasn’t initially bothered by this.  To pass the time I went over to the huge computer monitors and tried to look up my results / split.  No luck, they weren’t loaded yet.  So we waited around for a while and 30 minutes later, still no food and no results.  At this point, many people had finished.  The DJ was apologizing for the lack of results and encouraging people to leave the timing tent alone and let the get the results sorted out.  Soon this “encouragement” turned very negative and he was actually calling individuals out over the PA system and saying things like “You, the blonde guy by the results tent, I am talking to you.  If you don’t leave the timing guys alone, I will add 5 minutes to your time.  Yes, I’m serious, let them do their jobs.”  I could not believe it.  Granted, type A triathletes are annoying about their results, but is this how ANY company would treat their customers?   After TWO HOURS of waiting we didn’t have our results or our food so we were ready to leave.  Conor and I went to grab our gear and go, but we were still missing the bags from T1 containing our goggles and wetsuits.  Rev3 had not yet got them to the finish line.  It is now about 11:30am, approximately 3 hours after the last person exited T1 and as faster Half athletes were beginning to finish and a vast majority of the 477 Olympic athletes had finished.  Where were our T1 bags? The food finally showed up and hundreds of athletes got in line.  We were hot and pretty upset at this point, so we got our bikes and walked the mile to where CJ and Ashley had parked, in order to drive somewhere to get some decent food for lunch.

Very nice finishing chute

Very nice finishing chute

After our meal, we returned to T2/Finish at about 12:45 and were surprised to find the results computers shut down, and still no bags.  It was beginning to get hot and we were absolutely pissed by this point.  At around 1pm individual pick-up trucks stuffed with T1 bags in the back seat and truck bed began to show up, as well as a box truck.  Too few volunteers were working very hard to get them out and organized.  Hundreds of angry athletes were lining up to get their stuff and get out of there.  However, they would not let the athletes get their own bags. Rather, you had to wait for a volunteer to ask you your number, find your bag (with number on it) and hand it to you.  With only 5 or 8 volunteers and 1500 athletes, many of which had two bags (dry clothes and T1) this was not an efficient process.  Around this same time they announced results of the pro race, interviewed the pro’s and began to set up for age group awards.  By this time, some semi-readable but still messed up results were available online and at the computers, so they decided to start with age group awards.  Conor and I each received age group awards, which I would definitely say were above average.  Each person received a medal that interlocked with the finisher medal, goggles, powerbar nutrition gels/bites, a Rev3 pint glass (they ran out before they got to me) and a gift certificate to the expo tent (1st place in AG was $25, 2nd place in AG was $15), so I got a Rev3 coffee mug.  I’m such a sucker for coffee mugs.  Anyway, all in all it was a very solid awards ceremony, with a nice stage and good prizes.  Finally, a little of the Rev3 brand showing through all of the chaos and disappointment.  The same can be said of the race shwag.  At packet pickup everyone received a nice Rev3 visor, and at the finish line you received a very heft finisher medal and long-sleeve t-shirt.  Combine this with my age group awards bounty and I would say this is about double what I would expect from a $80 or $100 race which is about right, since I paid double for the entry.

Awards Stage and JumboTron - definitely far and above your normal race

Awards Stage and JumboTron – definitely far and above your normal race

Shwag - AG awards stuff on left, general finisher merch on right

Shwag – AG awards stuff on left, general finisher merch on right

Summary  

As you can guess, I’ll never do another Rev3 race again.  Nor will I do a race with two transition areas, unless I have a very, very good reason.  This was the inaugural Rev3 Williamsburg race, and I understand all first time races have some kinks to iron out.  But the shortcomings of this race went well beyond that, and Rev3 failed at even the basics of event production.   Basically everything I said here, and more is discussed on the slowtwitch forums.  I wrote this before checking them, so everything in here is my experience, many had even worse complaints.

In summary, I did find some positives in the race:

  • Good shwag (big medal, visor, longsleeve t-shirt, age group awards)
  • Packet Pickup and Bike Check-in were very quick and efficient
  • Small touches, like athlete names under their number in transition area
  • Well-stocked aid stations on the run
  • Nice finish line area with big stage and big jumbotron TV
  • Results computers would have been nice if they had results ready
  • Great promotion of the pro athletes (posters in transition, interviews afterwards, media leading up to race, very good prize money)
  • Cool contests, like best finisher photo and a green screen to take funny photos
  • Anyone can go down finisher chute with athletes, unlike Ironman-brand races (of course this also annoys the athletes directly behind the person with three kids trying to make it down finishing chute).

Unfortunately the list of negatives is a bit longer:

  • Bare minimum of kayak/safety crew during swim (and I think many Half participants cut the course – later confirmed on slowtwitch forums)
  • Last minute transition 1 / course changes due to poor planning/parking support
  • The shuttles appeared to be insufficient, causing people to be late and they delayed the start of the race
  • Bare minimum bike/run course marking / marshalls
  • TERRIBLE spectator viewing & spectator logistics (driving, parking, lack of shuttles, etc)
  • Poor planning of swim practice, packet pickup, and bike check-in timing
  • Getting Dry Clothes and T1 bags to Transition
  • Running out of age group prizes (the age group BEFORE mine…aaahhhh)
  • Post-race food arriving 2 hours late for Olympic athletes and a little late for fast Half athletes
  • Mix up in the results, which as of Tuesday after the race still aren’t quite right online
  • Volunteers not fully informed or very helpful
  • No food or drink available for purchase by spectators.  At a half ironman, spectators are going to be there for 6 or 8 hours, would be nice to have a concession stand for them.

Race Report – Richmond Tri Club Sprint

Doran | May 6th, 2013 - 11:39 pm

I really enjoy these early spring sprint races.  I am still in a base period and not doing much specific work, so these races give me the opportunity to check my fitness and get in a really good intense effort, as well as putting together a swim-bike-run day.  With CJ’s dad and his wife in town, I was lucky to sneak out solo Saturday morning to go race in the middle of a busy weekend.  I got up early Saturday (4:45am) and drove to Richmond.  Getting to the race, the first thing that stood out was the long and twisting transition area, set up in the parking lot of the aquatics center.  Chatting with some others at the bike rack beforehand, I decided to switch up my normal T1 strategy.  Usually I just sit down and put on my bike shoes, then run out of transition, hop on the bike and clip in.  The majority of really faster athletes start with the bike shoes on the pedals and run barefoot out of transition, then wiggle into the shoes once out on the bike course.  In this case, I decided to do the same, because I thought it would be easier to run the 75 yards (from my rack to the bike start) barefoot, rather than in bike shoes (which I had just put new cleats on).  So this would be interesting.  Another unique feature of this race is that it was a pool swim, but with buoys at each corner that you had to turn around, similar to an open water race.  Pushing off the wall was illegal.  Rather than a one-at-a-time time trial start, we started in waves of 10 every 30 seconds.  This put everyone on course much more quickly than other pool swims, such as the Smithfield Sprint, it also means all the top contenders at the front of the race are closer together, so I was happy with this unique arrangement.

Swim

I started in the 4th wave of 10 triathletes, 1:30 after the first group.  We joked before the race about the other groups who were actually attempting to swim 5 across in a lane.  I said I’d happily draft behind them instead of battling it out the whole way.  When it was time to start, one guy just took off like a torpedo, so I grabbed his feet and moved into second with nobody on either side of me.  After the first turn buoy, I pretty much lost his feet and decided to settle into my own rhythm, he was really moving (and finished w a 4:42).  I continued the next 125 meters at a firm pace and then suddenly hit a roadblock, in the form of three or four pairs of feet.  Now it felt like a real triathlon swim, and I started to steadily slide and bump my way past people and finished out the swim strong.  My time of 5:36 means I averaged 1:24 per 100 meter pace, not too shabby considering the congestion and the seven 180 degree turns around buoys without a push off the wall to get going again.  Coming out of the water I felt great and was mindful of how to best attack this transition.  I quickly donned my sunglasses and helmet and started running barefoot towards the bike exit.  Of course, the bike start was up a slight grade, making it a little bit difficult to reach down and put my feet into my shoes.  Eventually, I got them in and it was time to start riding in earnest.  Overall, I feel this is a much faster way to transition and I’ll probably continue it in the future.  My 57 second T1 time is pretty decent (15th overall), even without the long run.  Of course the fastest was 38 seconds… wow.  The transition area, my bike rack, and the path out is shown in red below.

Bike

Now that I’ve had the new power meter for about a month (and with data from Smithfield Sprint Tri and a few hard TT efforts in training), I went in with a plan to keep my power around 210 watts (sad, I know).  At Smithfield I think I took it out a bit too hard and was constantly trying to catch my breath.  I knew that keeping my effort in that range would definitely start me off in the right neighborhood, and I could always pick it up towards the end if I felt strong.  After getting up the initial hill and making the turn onto a long straightaway, I was suddenly FLYING and it felt easy.  The road was smooth and rolling, and my goal power output had me rolling along at 24-25 miles an hour.  I knew it had to be a combination of a tailwind and the smooth road surface, but I really enjoyed it.   After a few miles, we turned onto a rougher road and definitely lost the tailwind, or at least I lost my momentum.  But the rest of the ride was steady and I wish I could say uneventful. But for the whole second half I was tangled up in a group of three (two men and a woman) who weren’t drafting together in a group as a paceline necessarily, but were definitely staying too close to each other. They were clearly within the draft zone, and I couldn’t tell if they were taking turns at the front or just passing each other randomly based on their own race pacing.  Well, I ended up getting mixed in between these riders at several points.   This meant I would have to freewheel to the back when passed, or power past all three at once, and also put some decent space between me and them for my own conscious.  I noticed the woman, in particular, taking advantage of being behind the guys, and in a few cases, me.  I have only called out people for drafting once in over 30 races, and I very nearly did so again, but it was just barely borderline enough I didn’t say anything.  In the end, I got off the bike behind these three jokers and decided I would just pound them on the run.  Strava link / details below.

 

 

 

Me in the front - drafters in the back (captured by race photog)

T2 was again fairly swift for me, I flew through so quickly that I nearly left with my helmet on.  Luckily, a race volunteer yelled “your helmet!” as I was sprinting towards the exit with my helmet on like a complete rookie.  So I took it off and threw a $300 helmet into the nearest patch of grass (which happened to be outside transition area).  Good thing that guy told me when he did, I would have looked like a proper dork running out with my helmet on.  This transition was 1:02, still with room for improvement.  I really need to focus on transitions at some point if I am going to keep racing so many sprints.

Run

The weekend before, I had watched Allistair Brownlee destroy the field at the ITU San Diego race.  The guy was incredible, running a 29:30 10k (he said the course was likely short).  His focus and effort during the run was really spectacular, and I wanted to try and emulate that.  With this lofty goal in mind, I set out onto the run course.  It was a windy two loop course that took us through parking lots and around a soccer field, and had a few hills as well.  The first loop, I found it difficult to really push hard because it was difficult to follow the course.  While the path was marked ok, the volunteers weren’t super clear, and would say things or make motions that were (in my opinion) extremely ambiguous.  Despite this minor inconvenience, my GPS had my first mile at 6:08, not bad.  I was moving fairly well, and I could see others up ahead either at the turn arounds or loops.  I knew the second lap could be faster, as I gave it everything I had, and also actually knew where I was going.  Second mile: 6:01. It’s always inspiring to be running past people, so I could just pick out a person (on their first lap) and catch them and move onto the next.  But with that also comes a little bit of complacency, because even without trying your hardest you can be moving through the field.  As I came up the last hill, the fast dude from my swim wave sped by (I had passed him on the bike).  I tried to keep up, as did another second lapper up ahead, but he was flying (17:55 5k).  Third mile: 6:03. So unfortunately I conceded a spot right at the very end.  My GPS had me running exactly 3.12 miles in 19:01, while the official split was 19:09.  That now makes two triathlons with 5k’s under 19:10, each of them faster than my previous best (and distance confirmed w GPS).   I’m looking forward to breaking under 19:00 soon and hopefully cracking 40:00 in a 10k at Olympic race (a long-time goal of mine).

It was much more confusing than it looks if you're exhausted & running 6 min/mile pace

Overall

With this being a low priority race, I can’t really be too hard on myself in any serious way.  Yes, I had taken Thursday and Friday a bit easy, but still had gone in without much sleep or focus on the typical race week stuff.  Also, I’m not trying to be fast at a small sprint race in April.  With all that said, I was a little surprised how well I did.  My time of 1:00:04 was good enough for 10th place out of 500 people, can’t be too upset there.  However, I couldn’t help but notice that going a mere 30 seconds faster (half of which I could easily make up in transitions) would have moved me up to 7thplace.  As usual, my swim and bike were strong, ranked 10th and 7th respectively, while I was a mere 31st in the bike leg (out of 249 men).   While I still have a ton to learn about racing and training with power, I think the power meter did help me put out an even effort, leading to a decent bike split and having good legs for the run.  I honestly try every sprint race to go all out on the bike to the point where I explode on the run, but haven’t been able to push myself to that point yet.  I’m beginning to wonder if it’s partly a mental block on the bike, with my conservative nature preventing me from realizing my potential.  Or I just suck at riding a bicycle.  Either way, I think my swim fitness is coming along well, my running is the best its been in a few years, and my cycling will hopefully get there soon.  Now it’s time for a good month or two of training before the next race, which I think will be Rev3 Williamsburg on June 23rd.

Richmond Tri Club Sprint (final results – male)

Swim – 400m: 5:36 (1:24 per 100 meter pace)

T1: 0:57

Bike – 12 miles:  33:23 (22.7mph avg)

T2: 1:02

Run – 5k (3.1 miles): 19:09 (6:11 per mile pace for split, 6:04 by GPS)

Total: 1:00:04 (10th overall of 500 and 2nd in Age Group)

Setup Events really stepping up the awards ceremony - all this fanfare for me?