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Long Day on Skyline

With my next big race being the Poconos 70.3 I have been doing most of my long rides at Skyline drive and today was the longest ride I’ve ever done, coming in just short of 5 hours.

Like usual I was out there early to try and beat the heat and potential for afternoon storms but mainly to be done before it gets too crowded on the roads.

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It was a beautiful morning out and perfect for riding. It was such a nice day out some wildlife decided to join me.

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Coming down one of the descents around mile 17 I came around a corner to see two deer standing in the middle of the road. Luckily I was riding with hands near the brakes instead of the aerobars and I was able to slow down and they ran off.

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I continued climbing and descending until I made to the Skyland rest station which happens to be the highest point on skyline drive.

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And then it was time to turn around. On the way back it started getting windy and the bad storms that were forecast for the afternoon loomed in the distance. This picture doesn’t do it justice because it looked nasty out.

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Luckily it only started to drizzle the last 3 miles of my ride and then started raining and lighting after I had already packed up the car. I was suppose to get in a run but didn’t feel safe running on the road given the weather so I decided to bail on that.

Next weeks ride calls for an extra 8 miles before I turn around so it’s looking like it might be a close to 6 hour ride. 

Luray Olympic Distance 2011 Race report

I’ll update with some pictures later this week but here’s how the race went.

Overall (2:23:01, 2nd AG, 20th Overall)

I have some mixed feelings about my first race since Eagleman. I’m very happy with my overall and age group place and was 10 minutes faster than the last time I did this race and that was a wetsuit swim. But I’m not happy with how my swimming has been lately and as noted by the 99th overall place compared to 19th and 16th on the run and bike.

Swim (29:30, 11th AG, 99th Overall)

The water was 78.5F in the morning so it missed the wetsuit cutoff by .5F so I was expecting a slower time but not this slow. I don’t think I took any bad lines so I didn’t add much extra distance to the course, no excuses I just didn’t have a good swim. I know courses are inaccurate so comparing the time might not be the best way to go but my placing is far behind where I need it to be.

The course was unique because it wasn’t a simple triangle or square but a combination of the two to get the total distance in without having to make loops around the lake. It seemed complicated when first looking at  because they didn’t use the traditional yellow = turn buoy but once you realized what you were suppose to do it was easy to navigate and defiantly help reduce congestion in the water which would have been caused by a two loop course.

T1 (1:47, 7th AG, 62nd Overall)

A little bit slow since I had some trouble getting on my heart rate strap and needed to put my shirt on since I didn’t feel like doing the whole race shirtless like some people did.

Bike (1:10:51, 2nd AG, 19th Overall)

This was a great bike for me, I nailed my race plan heart rates almost to the number and my watts looked great as well. I was over 22mph which I’m very happy with for such a hilly course.

The course was an out section with two loops and then back to the lake. I thought it was a challenging course and enjoyed the descents and climbs. It was nothing like the rides I have been doing out on Skyline drive but was a nice change from the pancake flat Eagleman course at my last race.

I did have a little adventure on the first loop, I over-shifted going up to my big ring in front and dropped the chain. I didn’t freak out and was able to avert a disaster and downshift to get the chain back on without having to stop and fix it. The second loop was more good riding but it got crowded because I was catching up to people in later waves and people still on their first loop. Some people had issues staying to the right and it was a lot of “on your left” but it wasn’t too much of a hassle. The last 5 miles back to the lake were mostly empty and fast until the little climb to the ridge the lake sits on and about 26 miles later I was ready to start the run.

T2 (0:52, 3rd AG, 16th Overall)

Another quick T2 with a successful flying dismount.

Run (40:03, 2nd AG, 16th Overall)

I just missed a sub-40 10k, I’m very happy with this time but it could have been even better.

I got out of transition and started running and felt great going downhill in the first half mile with a low heart rate and was flying along. Then I tried to up the pace and get my heart rate to where it was suppose to be and felt the onset of stomach cramps coming so I backed off and it felt better.

The rest of my run was like this, trying to up the effort feeling cramps coming on and then needing to back off. About ¾ of a mile from the finish I tried to up the effort and trying to ignore the cramping feeling and was rewarded with a cramp in my hamstring but I was able to run through it and loosened up. After that I just backed off the effort and brought it to the finish.

Post race

I stuck around to get some awards and it was a nice had engraved wine glass that goes great with my bottle of wine from Lake Anna earlier this year.

Overdue Update

I haven’t updated the blog since Eagleman. On the triathlon front I decided to regroup from the Eagleman disappointment and did not do any races in July. My next race is the Luray Olympic Distance Triathlon in the middle of August.

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I’m doing the Olympic distance in my build up to the final “A” race for the year, the Poconos 70.3 the first week of October. Poconos is about as different from Eagleman as possible. The race takes place in Strousburg PA and is a hilly course so most of July I have been doing my long bike rides at Skyline drive in Front Royal VA. The weather is also extreme opposites, the average temp is in the 50s/60s and might be in the 40s at the start of the swim.

IronMan Pocono Mountains

Getting out to Skyline is a bit of hike but is great riding with tons of climbing that I can’t get riding close to home.

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Skyline is a 100 + mile park road that runs along a mountain ridge, I think it’s the blue ridge mountains. It’s nice for riding because there are no stop signs or lights, it’s just constant riding.

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It makes for some awesome views while riding and I get out there early in the morning to be done before it gets too hot or crowded which makes for some good wildlife sighting. In my trips I have seen a black bear and cub about 20 yards off the road. But the most interesting was a buck that was in the other lane of the road and decided he didn’t want to move when I was going by.

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And on a personal front the big news is I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought a townhouse. I go to closing on the July 29th and will move in the 8th.

Eagleman 2011

This was my third, and what will be my last time at Eagleman. This was my most disappointing race and first Did Not Finish (DNF) of any race I’ve done. I think I’ve decided that I don’t race well in the extreme heat/humid so why keep doing it when I have plenty of other races in cooler weather to choose from?

Swim (40:00)

The swim was a non-event. It was a non wetsuit swim so I wasn’t expecting a low 30s swim but thought I might have been a few minutes faster, but all in all not to bad. I was 3 minutes faster then last years also non wetsuit swim, but it’s hard to compare times since it’s a river swim with varying current and chop. But I moved up a few places overall and in the AG compared to last year so the swim is getting better.

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The start had some contact and pushing but settled down quickly and I took a good line around to the first turn buoy. The water was very calm this year without much chop and I didn’t have any trouble sighting. After the first turn I started catching up to stranglers from the earlier waves and had to do some weaving but it wasn’t to bad.

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One thing about this year was the water was very shallow. In fact if you really wanted to you could have walked in the last leg of course. I choose to swim in most of the way and only start walking about 20 yards from the finish.

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T1 

Was quick without having to worry about getting a wetsuit off and I was on my way.

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Bike (2:29)

The bike was what I expected. I had three section according to my race plan. The first section was 10 mile to get the HR back down after the swim and settle into a good rhythm. This section went well and I was right on plan and average 22 mph.

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The next and longest section was a bump up in HR for the next 30 miles. I was trucking along for this section still feeling great and average 23.4 mph for the this section.

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The last part was another bump in HR for the last 16 miles. This section didn’t go as well as I couldn’t sustain the higher HR but was only a couple of BPMs below where I should be so I wasn’t to concerned. The speed dropped a bit down to 22.2 mph but that was more a result of riding into a headwind during a long stretch and being on some bumpier roads.

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What I’m more interested in is the drop of 30 watts average power during this section. I have noticed a lot of drift in the power #s during my longer training rides and I think something might be wrong with my powertap or could be an actual drop-off in power, but I find it hard to believe I averaged over 22mph on only 206 watts.

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T2

In and out quickly with no issues

Run

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This is where it all fell apart. On the bike I followed my nutrition plan just like I have been doing on my long rides and I’ve never had issues in the past. But I was a little worried how the run was going to turn out because around mile 50 I got a little cramp in my foot while biking but it managed to work itself out.

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The run started with heavy legs as expected but I started moving along at just under an 8 minute pace which was where I wanted to be at this point. I got through the first two miles fine and was starting to feel better until getting near the mile 2 aid station when my legs started to feel really tight in my hamstrings and both sides of my knees (IT band?).

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I slowed down to pick up some water and my legs locked up and cramped really badly on me. Remembering my med tent adventure from last year this had me really worried. I grabbed a banana and some Gatorade and kept walking for 2-3 minutes and my legs finally loosened up so I could start “running” again but now my stomach was mess. I made it two more miles before my stomach was on the verge of revolting and starting to cramp. My legs didn’t feel too bad and my HR wasn’t out of control but my stomach just wouldn’t let me run. I was reduced to running until my stomach wouldn’t let me and then walking until I could start running again. I did this until about 8 when my stomach just wouldn’t let me run anymore. I walked for the next 2 miles but I started to feel some cramps in my calves coming on so I made the decision to drop out of the race and end my day.

Post Race

Obviously I’m very disappointed in my race. I’ve done a number of 4 hour rides with race intensity for the last hour this spring and hopped off the bike to run sub 7 min per paces without feeling wiped out so I know I was in great shape for this race. It’s just tough that my body decided to quit on me today. This was especially disappointing because my run has been the most improved and consistent part of my races so far this year; I got off the bike in 15th place in my age group and really thought I was capable of running my way into the top 10. 

But after my med tent trip last year and disappointing race this year I think I have finally learned my lesson that I don’t race well in the heat and humidity and will not be back at Eagleman next year. I’m leaning towards doing Mooseman or maybe another race. I’m also going to stay away from heat and go to the other weather extreme and do what is sure to be a cold race at Ironman Poconos this October.

Getting ready for Eagleman

I’ve spent the last two weeks with my long bike rides targeted at Eagleman (flat, hot, and windy). So that has meant trips to Cambridge and Queenstown MD the last two Sundays.

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Last week I went out to Cambridge to ride and run the actual courses. My ride was scheduled for 3 hours of easier riding and the last 45 minutes with harder intervals. So I rode the Eagleman course for the first 2 hours and 45 minutes and then did an out and back section for the last 45 minutes, but I had some trouble with my mental math and ended up 5 miles from the park when I suppose to be done so I actually rode for over 4 hours and about 84 miles.

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After the bike I had a run that I did the first 4 miles of the Eagleman course and was very happy with the results, I was under 7 min pace for all my sections of the run which is awesome. What was not so awesome was how I felt afterwards, I felt like death when I was done and had to keeping moving around taking in Gatorade. It took about 30 minutes and I was feeling fine again.

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I was also looking forward to lunch at the BBQ place in Easton I had been to a couple of times. But much to my disappointment they changed hours and are now closed on Sundays and Mondays.

On the ride back from Cambridge I encountered a lot of Bay Bridge traffic so this weekend I did my ride in Queenstown which is just across the bridge and about an hour closer. This ride was a little bit shorter but my difficult with the first 40 miles easy, then 20, 10, and 10 miles of building intensity on the way back.

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The ride reminded me of some things from my past. I went past Chestertown where I played in a couple of state championship baseball tournaments as a kid. And then went by Washington College where I went to visited in High School and was thinking about playing baseball at in College.

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The workout was not one of my best. The first 40 miles went fine, and then next 20 mile section went well but the last two sections sucked. It was my highest heart rate sections and I was riding into a really stiff headwind so my effort was not producing much speed. I found this to be very disheartening and I just couldn’t get my HR going. Notice the jump in HR after the break at 2 hours, there should be another jump at 3 hours and then at 3:30 but I just couldn’t get it done.

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Plus it was starting to get really hot out.

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I still had my run to do and I slogged through it, a little bit slower then last week but not to bad considering how hot it was getting out.

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I finished off the workout with a nice crabcake and a milkshake.

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The last two weeks have been big volume weeks for me at 15 1/2 and 16 1/2 hours each so with those two big weeks in the books it’s time to taper down and get rested up for Eagleman.

Broccoli Workout Day

I’ve written about my usual Thursday workout before; but after just completing the last “full” version of this workout before Eagleman I’ve decided Thursday is now broccoli workout day. 

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Why broccoli workout day? Because this workout is like a little kid with vegetables, I might not necessarily like it, but it’s good for me and will help make me grow strong.

In fact, if I do this workout in the evening I actually think about it during the workday and tend to get nervous about the amount of discomfort and work I’m going doing later in the day.

But I know it’s working and I’ve increase the starting point for these intervals by about 30 watts while also losing 5 pounds this spring which is a nice jump in Watts per kg which is what matters in cycling. And it’s netted some good bike splits and race results.

 

 

Kinetic Sprint 2011

Overall 1:20:32, 12th Overall, 2nd AG

I did this race last year and was able to take 6 minutes off that time which for a race this short is a huge improvement. Given the disappointment with the Rumpus race last month I am very happy and I think this race is a better indication of where my fitness is at and the improvements I’ve made.

PreRace

The lead up to the race went fine and traveling there was uneventful. I did have to deal with my bad case of poison ivy and infection, so I was coming off some antibiotics this week.

I got to the race site with plenty of time to spare and was able to take my time getting set up and get in the water for a good 10 minute warmup before the start of the race.

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Also, I used my brother’s wetsuit for this race which fits me much better then mine and I think made a big difference with the swim.

Swim (12:31, 5th AG, 47 Overall)

This swim was a triangular course with a beach start where everyone runs into the water at the horn.

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After the initial start everyone settled in and there wasn’t much contact at all. This time I did a much better job with my sighting and making sure my stroke didn’t sloppy. The swim was uneventful and 12 min later I was out of the water and ready to start the bike.

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T1 (1:51, 4 AG, 29 Overall)

Transition was a short run along the beach,

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and then a longer run along a path and up a little hill to all the bikes.

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Bike (46:20, 2nd AG, 14th Overall)

The bike course was 2 miles to get out of the park of and then a roughly 10 mile loop with some rolling hills down and around lake anna.

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Coming out of transition is a short hill which could make it difficult to get up to speed if you are in the wrong gear or tried to slip your feet into a shoes without enough speed. So I got up to speed and waited a while before slipping my feet into the shoes.

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It seems like I can never have a race without any technical issues. This time my Garmin decided to give me a message of “multiple HR monitors detected” and never started reading mine even when I was nowhere near anyone. Luckily my coach does my race plans as a combination of HR, watts, and effort level so I mainly focused on watts today.

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The first 5 miles of the ride was to get settled in at a moderately hard effort level and I was able to get 21 mph on 256 watts. The last 12 miles was at a hard effort level and I was trucking along at 23.8 mph on 270 watts.

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The bike felt like it went by in a flash. Being towards the front of the race the ride was a mix of passing people, riding by myself for a few miles, and then passing some more people.

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I’m also very happy about the weather holding off. The forecast was originally calling for rain and thunderstorms all day but thankfully it held off all morning and didn’t start until the afternoon.

T2 (0:46, 2nd AG, 11th Overall)

Another very quick T2. I went with the flying dismount coming into the transition area,

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And because the run was only 5k I decided to go sockless and save some time there. The only little fumble was I missed my shoe trying to put one foot in and had to reach down and adjust it, but overall it was very quick.

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Run (19:05, 3rd AG, 13th Overall)

The run was a loop with the first mile being uphill, an out and back section, and then downhill to the finish.

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Just like last race I am very happy with how my running is going. The hard work, and dropping the extra lbs has made a big difference. My race plan was basically broken into four parts, up the hill, to the turnaround, back, and then the downhill to the finish.

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The first part was to put in a solid effort going up the hill in the first mile and I was able to put in a 6:38 pace.

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Next was to ease off a bit and take advantage of the downhill to the turn around. I didn’t see anyone out of the course in the first mile but in this section I saw the leaders coming back from the turnaround and counted about 8 people in front of me but everyone was at least a minute up so I was unlikely to be catching anyone. I was able to run a 5:59 pace for this section.

The third part was to put in another hard effort going back uphill from the turnaround and I put in a 6:09 effort here, but I did get passed in this section. At the turnaround I saw two people about 15 seconds back. I knew that one of them was in my age group because I passed him in the last mile of the bike course and made it out of transition before him. I got passed just after the turnaround by the guy that wasn’t in my age group and he was running to fast to try and stay with.

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The last section was to go downhill to the finish as fast as comfortably possible. I just focused on keeping the guy that passed me in sight and making sure no one snuck up and caught me from behind and I managed a 5:44 pace here and just missed going sub 19 in a triathlon 5k.

Post Race

I managed to snag an age group podium and get an award. SetUp events usually does good awards but this was probably the best I’ve gotten so far.

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It was a bottle of lake Anna winery wine, a Setup Events water bottle, and an insulated bag which I think is intended for picnics.

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This was the last race before Eagleman so now it’s time to put in a solid month of training and getting ready for a solid race.

Not a Fun Weekend

Warning, there are some gross pictures  so don’t read below if you don’t want to see them.

Well, I have learned that I don’t react very well to poison ivy. I’m not sure how I got it but my best guess is during my long run last Saturday.  I probably brushed against some poison ivy on the back of my leg and the oil got onto my calf due to the sweating. I didn’t notice anything until Monday when I started to have a little bit of itching and some redness.

Tuesday I went on a trip to Saint Louis for work and I’m thinking that being in so many public places had something to do the problems that happened. Tuesday it started to itch but I didn’t think much of it other then regular poison ivy, and Wednesday was more of the same with it being a little itchier but nothing I didn’t expect.

Thursday while traveling home was when it started to feel really bad, it felt like my skin was tight and I was having trouble fully bending my left leg. By the time I got home the back of jeans even formed a little bit of crust from all the puss that had been oozing out of it.     

And here is what it looked like on the back of my leg Thursday Night. It looks swollen in the pictures but I don’t think they do justice to just how swollen it actually was:

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First thing Friday morning I went a Doctor and not only is it bad poison ivy but I managed to get it infected as well. My gut reaction is that the infection was a result of the open skin from the poison ivy and being around so many germs on the plane, hotel, and travel in general.

I got some prednisone and an antibiotic that I’m going to be on for the next week and it’s amazing how fast they work. It’s Monday night and it sill looks nasty but it is much better and the swelling has gone away.

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One interesting side effect I did notice this weekend was the prednisone’s impact on my workouts. I’m still able to exercise like normal but being on the medication messes with your resting HR and my HR zones won’t really apply this week so all my workouts have been on perceived level of effort.

And why is that interesting? Prednisone is a “steroid” so it will heal the poison ivy like intended but it also helps with any other inflammatory issues and increases the level of plasma in the blood which has some positive side effects for sports. So after a three hour bike ride where I was putting out my best watts of the year I had my 30 min descending pace run and went out and ran 7:00, 6:30, 6:20 and that was without even getting my HR up to the numbers the workout called for in the last interval!

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2011 Rumpuss in Bumpass Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Report

Overall 2:23:59 (11th AG, 60th Overall)

I’m bummed out about this race, the weather was bad so that had something to do with the results but I know I am capable of a much faster time than yesterday’s race. This was the third year I’ve done this race, and was 3 minutes slower then last year. The 2010 and 2009 reports are: here and here.

Heading into this race I didn’t exactly have an ideal taper. I was in Atlanta all week for work, flew home Friday afternoon and then woke up at 4:30 to drive to the race site.

The weather forecast all week did not look promising with some strong thunderstorms and heavy rains forecasts for race day. Fortunately the thunder held off until later in the afternoon but starting around 7 it rained most of the day in varying intensities. 

Swim 29:56 (17th AG, 106 Overall)

The race directors were keeping an eye on the forecast to decide if they would need to delay the start for lighting but with 15 minutes to go they gave the go ahead for an on time start, so I got in the water to do a 10 minute warmup.

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The water wasn’t horrible with a temp of 68 degrees but I decided to use a thick swim cap warmer underneath the regular cap they give out to keep some heat in and seemed to workout fine.

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My starting wave wasn’t very big so I lined up on the front line on the inside which looking back was probably a mistake. I wound up swimming the first leg of the triangular course mostly by myself with no feet to draft off of and added some extra distance getting to the first buoy.  

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During the second leg of the triangle the water started to get a bit choppy and I had trouble finding the next turn buoy and probably added some extra distance and again had no feet to draft off of, which turned out to be the theme of the swim.

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Coming back to shore on the third leg was fine, and I think I took a good line in but was still swimming on my own most the way.

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I got the dock and was very disappointed to see 29 minutes for my swim time. I knew I didn’t have a great swim but was really expecting to see 25-26 at worst. 29 minutes  for 1500 meters is a 1:50 per 100 yard pace and when I’m in the pool doing a long set or warmup I usually swim around a 1:40 per 100 yard pace. And in theory a wetsuit should give you a 10 sec per 100 yard time savings not a disadvantage, so I really don’t know what my problem was but it’s something I need to get fixed.    

T1 1:57 (13th AG, 76 Overall)

Because of the cold and rain I decided to wear a jacket but other than that it was a normal transition.

Run to bike while taking wetsuit top off:

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take off rest of wetsuit:

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put on coat:

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put on helmet:

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run out of transition area putting feet into bike shoes after getting up to speed:

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Bike 1:10:11 (17th AG, 111 Overall)

The bike course was two loops of a rolling/flat area around the lake.

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The race plan was ride first loop at a certain HR and then bump it up into the next zone for the second loop.

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The first lap was fine and after settling the HR down in the first 1/2 mile I stayed right in zone for the lap but was surprised to see an average speed of only 21 mph. The roads were wet and it was a bit windy but I had on my race wheels and aero helmet so I would have expected to see a faster split. 

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The second lap I was never able to consistently stay in the next zone and  as a result only averaged 21.3 mph for the loop.

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I didn’t find the weather to be much of a problem, there weren’t a lot of puddles and the road didn’t get too slick (I only saw one person go down). The part that was a bit unnerving was the crosswinds on the some of the bridges. I had a disk wheel on the back and deep section rim on the front so I got pushed around by the wind. But knowing that it was coming made it possible to account for. 

One thing that didn’t work as well as I thought it would was my rain coat. The only one I have is a couple years old and at least a size to big. This leads to a lot of flapping in the wind which is bad and wastes energy, so I thought I was being clever and pulled some of the seams in and duck taped it together.

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But I didn’t really get the shoulders right and the sleeves were still way to big so I was riding with what was effectively a sail.

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T2 1:06 (4th AG, 13th Overall)

T2 was quick: just the normal flying dismount, rack the bike, slip on the shoes, and put on the race belt while starting the run. The rain had really done a number on the transition area, turning it into a mud pit. This is what my shoes looked like after the race:

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Run 40:52 (5th AG, 37th Overall)

This was far and away the best part of the day. The run course was two loops and I got out in the first 1/4 mile and knew I had a good run in me. 

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The run plan was to run the first two miles a certain HR, bump it up for the next 3, and then increase it again for the last mile.

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I got going and averaged a 6:29 pace for the first 2 mile section feeling great, like I hadn’t even biked or swam.

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The next three mile section I slowed a bit to a 6:34 pace but that included an off road section on some slick mud. It was really tough to navigate and keep up the speed in my racing flats that basically have no traction.

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Then I picked it up for the last mile and brought it in with a 6:34 pace including the off road section again. I was getting tired and never really hit the high HR levels the plan called for in the last section but I was still pushing it.

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After crossing the finish line I was initially very disappointed with my results but after thinking about it more I’m still not happy but I can at least rationalize the bike results. This winter / early spring was spent really focusing on my run and I have made big time progress, this was a 5 min triathlon 10k pr, but it has been at the expense of some biking. It wasn’t until after the Atlanta Half marathon that things switched from bike maintenance mode to really adding some serious intervals and long rides. This was first race of the year and is not really a priority for me, so if the run can stay where it is and the bike gets back to or past where it was at the end of last season I’ll be happy.

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The swim, I have no excuse or rational for. I just needs to get better if I want to reach some of goals I have.     

Masters Week

 

The Masters is back this week with the Par 3 contest on Wednesday afternoon and the first round on Thursday. This is my favorite tournament of the year and one I really want to attend in person.

The problem is the Masters is one of the hardest tickets in sports to get, with tickets to tournament rounds usually never made available to the public,  but starting next year it looks like I might have a chance:

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Starting next year they will have a limited supply of tickets available to the general public by a lottery.

So here’s hoping I can get lucky.