2 Seconds From a 2 Year Goal: The Spring Meadows Olympic Triathlon Race Report
Finally, after a few beers, I can recount the mixed bag of emotions that today’s olympic triathlon was. Oh what a day.
Alright, I think everyone has the background info on this one from my earlier post. So lets get to the meat of things.
After winding my way through valleys and traversing the continental divide, I arrived in Helena late Friday night with a car full of kids, Tri gear, and vomit. Car sickness runs rampart in my kids, and the Happy Meal Chicken Nuggets didn’t help a bit. Spent the Saturday doing family stuff in Helena. Picked up my packet in the evening, and drove the bike course, which was an invaluable experience. I’m going to try to do this for every race from now on. This morning, rose about 6:00. Got my super bad EN kit on, and hit the road for the race site. On the way, stuck with the Starbucks nutrition plan: got a strawberry smoothie and a double shot of espresso on the side.
After make some strategic parking decisions, I unloaded and setup in transition. The transition zone was the parking lot of Spring Meadows State Park, a local swimming and fishing water hole for locals. Once again, no assigned racking. In an effort to minimize how much I have to run with my cleats on, I chose a rack with the “pros” right next to bike mount/dismount. I was happy to see I wasn’t the only non-carbon fiber frame there. For the race set up, went ultralight as I knew there were some good rollers on the course. I didn’t even bring a tire patch kit. Just one aero bottle with half dilute Infinit solution. Took in one Huckleberry gel prior to swim start (and yes, it was ultra yum) and headed down to the water. Took a few minutes to warm up, and then settled into mid field. Pretty small group today, only about 50 in the olympic; plenty more in sprint.
1500m Swim: 26:49 -4/8AG, 21/50 OA
Gun goes off. From the get go, was right in the frenzy. Elbows and feet a flying everywhere. Some one darted in front of me, but I just kept on swimming right over them. Quickly found pair of feet to draft, and I settled in. Water was good clarity, I could actually see the bottom, as well as some fish, for parts of the swim. Temperature was just right also. The course was a weird clockwise loop X2. As I was just concentrating on drafting the feet I had found, I sited rarely. Needless to say, I was completely disoriented for most of the swim, and the only two points I could recognize were the start and finish. As I have been down with a bug this week, its been a couple of days since I was in the pool. So the first lap was pretty brutal as it took a while to loosen up. Second lap, the form came a little easier. After the troubles with the sloshing, cramping stomach in the last race, I tried my best to not inadvertently swallow any water.
Goal coming into the race was 29:00. I’m please to say I came out in 26:49, a new PR by 2:18.
T2: 1:41 – 2/8AG, 24/50 OG
Following my Walla Walla race, I focused on smooth and efficient rather than fast. Long day ahead of the swim. Made it to my bike already out of the top of the wetsuit. Had about 10 seconds of trouble getting my left foot out with the timing chip there. A big time saver was to skip the Garmin 310xt. Just stuck with my good old Ironman Timex. Made it the time mat in 1:41 and I straddled my bike to start. Unfortunately, the mount line was about 20 feet from there, so the officials made me walk my bike up to it before I clipped in. (If you think I’m being anal, there is a reason for this…you’ll see later)
24 mile Bike: 1:11:20 – 3/8AG, 20/50 OA
Okay, if you have seen the course profile, the race is basically up and then back down. My scouting the night before revealed a couple of rollers followed by some nice descents. In addition, I took note of some little bumps that I could possible power over after a downhill with out much effort.
With the course profile in mind, I decided to hammer as hard as I could on the way out, and then descend efficiently on the way back in. So off I go from transition, and body is feeling good. Not too cold, no heaviness in stomach. The only thing was the cyclic sound of harsh skuffing coming from my brakes. Despite my attempts to loosen up the calipers on the ride, the sound kept a coming. Rather than risk drag for the remaining 23.5 miles, I stopped and a did a 30 second check. I quickly readjusted the brakes and off I went again. 4 racers went by.Still was getting a skuffing sound, but improved from prior. Rather than stop again, I just decided to go with it.
The course was pretty wide open, and luckily there was not much wind to speak of. I stayed in the bars for probably about 95% of the time, even up the rollers. When it came to the hills, I pretty much hammered each one of the them, kept on hammering past the crest, and then pedaled my biggest gear down the back side. By doing this, I was able to roll over the small bumps and carry plenty of momentum into the larger hills. I made it to the flip in about 35min, and then I began my descent. Again, no coasting, I pushed with my biggest gear all the time to squeeze out as much as I could. There was one major roller on the way back, and as I came into it from a big downhill, I decided to shift down to the small chain ring.
You guessed it. Suddenly no resistance and I looked down to see my chain dangling around the bottom bracket. Off the bike I went. Quick rechain, and back on in about 20 seconds. Still though, all my momentum for the hill was gone. I made it to the top, and tried to make up as much time as I could on the remaining downhill to transition. With my efforts, I reeled in about 6 racers on the bike.
Goal for the bike was a 1:20, again drawing on my experience Walla Walla. Somehow, I made it back in 1:11:20, a new PR again.
T2: 0:51 2/8AG, 18/50 OA
My decision to rack with the fast guys near the entrance paid off. Bike on the rack, helmet, shoes on, hat and bib on as I exited.
6.2 miles: 47:52 5/8, 28/50 OA
Surprising, this is where I had the most trouble apparently. Off the bike, my legs were a little wobbly, but they settled down after about a mile. I focused on keeping my arms low and driving my legs with them. My plan was to alternate tempo miles with interval miles. I wanted to do something like 7:40/7:00 over and over. With only the Timex, I couldn’t get real time pace info, but as the miles clicked by, things seemed to be okay by the watch. I passed a few olympic athletes but no one in my age group. As I rounded the first lap, I still hadn’t seen anyone in my age group, so I just kept hauling the mail. My mine started to wonder if I really had put enough distance from everyone to be somewhere in the top 3 of my age group.
Last mile, I decided to give it some more gas. Eyes almost closed, chest heaving, I paced my way to the finish. As I rounded the last corner before the finish, I gave a quick look over my shoulder…no one in sight. I decided to just keep pacing up through the finish rather than sprint it out.
Then all of a sudden, about 20 yards from the finish, someone went flying by me. By the time I could react to sprint, we were already crossing the line. In dismay, I looked down to see an age of 30 on his calf. Uh oh.
My goal prior to the race was less than 48, so 47:52 is still technically ok for the day.
Its been one of my goals this year to earn a spot in the top 3 of my age group. With that being said, I just had this gut feeling that something had just slipped through my fingers. As the results got posted, my worst fears were confirmed; I missed third place by 2 seconds.
I cant really describe yet what I’m feeling about today. On one hand, I had two PR’s and my highest AG finish in a triathlon ever. On the other hand….2 freaking seconds. If I had just given two harder swim strokes, had not mounted 20 feet to early, had cut tight corners in the run, had not dropped my chain, had not stopped to fix my break, shoot, had taken one less cup of water I would be drinking beer out of my etched third place beer mug.
In the end, it seems to be a good day. I am happy to be at a point where seconds are starting to count more and more. I just cant wait to get back next year.
Things I Learned:
Every little moment counts.
Sprint the end, even if I think no one is coming.
Things I Need To Work On: