Monday, June 1, 2009

Edinboro Triathlon Race Report.

When I was in high school, 20 years ago, I was the best athlete, or the best academically, or the most popular, or voted most likely, or least likely either, for anything. I didn't mesh into any one group, I had friends that were athletes, and I friends that were academics, and I had friends that spent their time outside the rear entry at the pile of gravel smoking. I didn't care then, and I really don't care now, but I've noticed as time has marched on, my standing with any one group of people have not. No man might be an island, but I do a pretty good job of dispelling that myth.

So why bring this up for a race report? Just simply to show that once again, I'm not necessarily a great athlete, and I'm not a casual athlete either. For long stretches in this race, I mashed the pedals by myself, and ran in a huge gap between myself and two groups either ahead or behind me. Once again, no man might be an island, but I sure as hell am in the triathlon run portion. This was also the first tri that I did as a member of the ETC, and wearing the ETC tri top and tri shorts. I knew quite a few of the other members, but there were also several that did double takes as I either sauntered on by or passed in the opposite direction. So, I guess, overall I sort of had a deja vu moment during the race and unlike the 20th reunion of my graduating class, I didn't feel like stuffing someone in a beer bottle.

On with the race: Couldn't have asked for a better day than what we got. The air temp was around 65, a slight breeze, clear skies, and the sun was out. The race staff said that the water temp was 70, but it wasn't even close. I might have opted to go without the wetsuit if it actually felt like 70, but it wasn't. The water was fairly clear, didn't have a nasty taste, and the seaweed wasn't too bad even though it has grown since I was in last week. The .75 mile swim was not a bad distance, and wasn't all that difficult in terms of finishing it. However, swimming in a pool with lane lines is bade enough because I consistently smack the lane line 5 or 6 times in a 2000 yard swim at the Y. Put me in open water, and my internal direction is turned askew and that .75 miles can turn into a mile in a hurry. Usually, with the blender of people that make up a triathlon swim, I am pretty much cattled into the right general direction. My time was 21 minutes, 8 minutes slower than the fastest times, but 5 minutes faster than the swim time of 2007.

My transition times have also improved, so instead of taking a day to get into mode it only takes me half as long. The longest aspect of this one, was getting the wetsuit off and putting my socks on to get out onto the bike. It went pretty smooth, other than forgetting my sunglasses, which wasn't as bad as it could've been.

I have raved about my bike before, so I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say, I now know where the weak link in my rides have been before. The equipment is only as good as the person operating it, but my carbon fiber wonder made me look real good. The bike portion is 23.6 mile, on a course that I have ridden at least 20 times in the past three months, and I have gotten very familiar with all the pot holes, where all the dirty, i.e. rocks/pebbles/dirt, sections, and the general inclines and declines of the road. I was hitting sections of the course at speeds that I've never seen before. I managed to giddy up Old State Road at 19.5 MPH and then find another gear to 22.5 when I hit the top of the ridge. I got passed by quite a few people on way more expensive bikes than Mr. Madone, but I did my share of passing as well. I had to smile a little when I charged back on Crane Rd passing a lot of people who smoked my ass on the swim, and a couple who had sailed by me earlier in the bike. In all, I managed to average 20.5 MPH and got back into the transition at 1:07 after my start. I couldn't have asked for any better ride than that. This transition was also fast, the only drawback being that I can never get my shoes tied tight enough after a ride. I think I get some swelling from riding, cause it seems to happen when I do a brick session every now and then.

Running used to be my forte. The first race I ever won, was a 10K in Yokosuka, Japan, and I won in 34:30. Since then, I have won several other races at the 5K and 10K levels, and by the time I left the Navy, I was pretty happy with what I accomplished. Which is good, because since then, I haven't very good to my hips and legs, and that speed seems to have all but vanished. Yes, I finished a marathon, and I have been able to compete at what I wanted, but if I could find a way to bring back that speed again, I'd be happy. The run started out as normal, getting muscles to fire normally, shaking loose the feeling that I had to stop and retie that stupid shoe, by making an internal agreement that I'd stop if it came untied. I've run this course a couple of times, and as far as triathlon courses go, this one isn't great. The road is ankle numbing, knee throbbing camber, where the only flat sections reside in the middle. Over the last training run, I noticed that if I stayed on the berm, I'd be able to stay flat for pretty much the duration, but would have to be careful, because the berm is real small. Surprisingly, this run was the best one I've had in a long time. I felt good at the turnaround, stopping at the water stops to get a quick drink, and kept on chugging. Amazingly, I only wanted to stop and walk a couple of times, but managed to keep myself in the "RFP" (Relentless Forward Progress) frame of mind, which I will need for the next two races. Other than getting passed in the last half mile, by a guy that I rode part of the bike course last week, I was thrilled with the 47:24, or roughly 7:50 miles.

Overall, I finished this Olympic distance race in 2:21:09. I was in the top half of my age group and better than a majority of the field. I've quit worrying about awards for quite a few races, and with the two major ones coming up this season, I am not about to begin. Really, this is the only race that I will actually race in this year. The Muncie and Louisville races are more about body management, and surviving the course intact. I cut 22 minutes off my previous time in this race and am pleased with how I did. If this race is any indication of how I'm doing with training, I'm pretty optimistic right now.

Lastly, Race Director Pat Davis did another awesome job, and she knows how to put on an event. She runs the Bay Swim, and the Presque Isle Triathlon, and does a fantastic job all the way around. The volunteers did a great job, and without them, these races don't run nearly as well or even survive.

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