Sunday, August 13, 2006

Racing the Stars

As triathletes, we all have big weekends. That A race we've been training for, the special charity race, or first attempts at a new distance. Each is special in its own way. And then, there are the HUGE weekends. I had one of those.

This weekend of big events began on Friday. Our local triathlon club, the Tri Foxes, played host to Sarah Reinertsen, as she came into town for the Olympic distance triathlon. Sarah, like so many other well known triathletes, was super cool. She did a fun run with us on Friday, posing for all the pictures people wanted and signing autographs. One guy even had his Griffen triathlon bike autographed. I managed to suppress the urge to outdo him by having my firstborn autographed. We did, however, get some pictures.

Sarah also took the time to participate in the Transition Olympics being held by Kahuna. You will be able to stop by his place and see my submission in that contest. Oddly enough, that was the only time I saw her, as she apparently crushed me in the race.

This was also race weekend. The Oshkosh Area Olympic triathlon was my first attempt at that distance, and a chance to redeem myself after the brutal circumstances in my first ever triathlon. So, here's the race report (sort of):

The weather was beautiful. It was about 70F, with little to no wind. The sun was out and it stayed that way the entire race. We couldn't have asked for better conditions.

Somehow, I managed to be an early bird in the registration process and found myself in wave two (of about 12). The one absolute blessing is that they changed the direction of the swim. It was planned as a counter-clockwise out and back. Putting the bouys on my left side is an open invitation to my swimming out to sea. The change put the bouys on the right, offering just enough protection against that happening. And, for the most part, it worked like a champ. I did run into a few bouys, and only wound up WAY off course once. That time, I nearly wound up crossing the outbound swimmers and going into the sprint swim lanes. I'm fairly certain I swam an extra 1/4 mile.

Since race organizers hadn't gone through the effort of importing crystal clear waters from the Caribbean or Hawaii, we had visibility of about 8 inches. I could see my bubbles, but not my hands. Knowing this was a challenge, I spent time visualizing the pool. I pretended I could see the lane lines at the pool, and imagined it was just a weekend training swim. It didn't help much at all, but every good coach will tell you to visualize. The good note is that I managed to maintain my crawl stroke for 80+% of the swim. Only when other swimmers dragged me under or when sighting did I break form. This was a huge accomplishment, and probably had a major impact on my time. I forgot to start my watch, but I came in right at 36 minutes. Given 2 minutes delay between waves, it was roughly 34 minutes swim time for an average of almost exactly 2:30/100 yards. Since that's about what I average in the pool, I'm happy with it.

T1 went fairly well. Lessons learned from reading blogs and my one other race helped a lot. I had a bucket with water to rinse my feet, and had everything laid out well. One minor mistake is that I forgot to put my bottles into the cages on the bikee. I freaked out at first, then remembered they were in my bag. This was actually a good thing, as the bottles were still cold. Time in T1 - 4:29. I have pictures, but as has seemingly become the norm for Blogger, it will only allow me to upload on picture per post. I'll post others at a later time.

The bike went very well. By "very well," I mean there were no busted chains, flat tires, or other mechanical failures. The winds, non-existent during the swim, did rear their ugly heads partyway through the bike. The course was well laid out, and I managed to maintain an average pace of just over 18 mph. That was enough to help me make up a lot of the ground I lost in the swim. The course did seem a bit longish. And by "longish" I mean that the 28 mile course seems to have actually been 29 miles. I measured that, and Mrs. Pol indicated that at least one other racer commented on that during transition.

T2 was seamless, as it is just a change out of bike shoes into running shoes. I had some difficulty getting out of my cycling shoes, though that may have had something to do with my momentary loss of brain function that led me to keep ratcheting them tighter, all while wondering why I couldn't release the strap. After remembering how my shoes work, I headed out, stopping by to get a high five from B-Boy and pose for a few pictures. Time in T2 - 2:27

The run was an out and back, allowing us to see all of the runners, and how far ahead they were. There was, however, on extremely long, straight stretch that allowed me to see lots of targets to pick off. I decided that each person in front of me MUST be passed, and that helped me keep up a good pace. As with the bike, I made up a lot of ground, and was only passed by one person. My 10K time was only 30 sec/mile slower than my personal best, and I finished the run in about 48:05 for an average pace of 7:45/mile.

My overall time, by the official clock was 3:02 and some seconds. Given the 2 minutes between waves, my time would have been just over three hours. Not bad for a first attempt.

George Schweitzer's recommendation for the race was to leave it all out on the course. So, I thought about a few things during the race. For the swim, I thought about Iron Wil doing her 4K swims. I thought about all the dolphins out there, and tried to pass at least a few people in the water. I gave everything I could in the open water. On the bike, I kept Bolder in mind, and gave my all, because "It's all about the bike." I didn't have much bike left in me, at the end of the ride. And on the run, I pushed as hard as I could to break my 10K PR. I missed by a few minutes, but didn't have much left in the tank at the end of the race. Just enough to pick up B-Boy and smile for the camera.

And then, we waited to get a picture of Veeg as she finished. This was also her first Olympic triathlon, and we wanted to make sure we got a picture of her finish. Like Sarah Reinertsen, Veeg was awesome. She went through the effort of finding me at the race, no small feat as there were more than 500 racers. We were in the same wave, and she blew me away on the swim. She was just heading out on the bike when I was coming into T1. And she fought through some serious leg cramps on the bike to finish well under her goal time of four hours. I think she came in pretty close to 3:25. So stop by and congratulate her. She did awesome.

So, it was a HUGE weekend, racing with the stars. And how did I do where goals are concerned. Well, let's review.

1. Avoid drowning while doing forward crawl most of the swim - check

2. Have fun - big check

3. Finish under 3 hours - Missed it by THAT much

4. Not finish dead last as the result of mechanical or other failures - check


Veeg said...

You had a ROCKIN' race. It was a great, great day!

nancytoby said...

Well done on your race, and great report! Awesome run! And I loved your photo with Sarah! Good luck on posting more - and FIE on Blogger!

Dante said...

That's cool that you met Sarah, strangely enough I've met her too when she was in Melbourne and competed in one of our sprint series races. An amazing athlete.

Well done on the Oly distance race too, it's quite a step from the sprint.

Deb said...

Great race! That little guy is too cute! Get him 'training' on the bike him go and cross your fingers he has nothin but fun. Congrads again!

jeanne said...

what a great race report! love the goals, and you met EVERY one. And what a fantastic run! (btw, love the tom petty vid!)

Shelley said...

That's so cool that you met Sarah. I met her when I did IMHawaii, she was out on the race course too. Such an inspirational person!!

Flatman said...

Sarah is awesome and so are you.

Fe-lady said...

I LOVE Sarah...that is so cool you got to meet her and get a pix too!

Bolder said...

Sarah R. Triathlon royalty!

great time dude! you were really workin' it.

can't wait to see you in action in '07.

you gonna be a force of nature!