Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Race Recaps

I wanted to give everyone some quick recaps on my last few races. I had some time away from racing after my big spring racing block to get some serious training in. Check. A couple mid-season races, another short, intense training block and then it will be taper time! Wow it is coming up fast, but I'll be ready!

Dragon Tri
Pekin, IL
Saturday June 23
1.5 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 4 mile run

Yeah, you read those distances right. This smaller race is organized by my former high school swim coach, Andy Weinberg. Andy believes that the time spent in each triathlon discipline should be more balanced, hence the funky distances. I'm all for it! If we're going to be 3 sport athletes then lets be balanced 3 sport athletes!

The swim was in a nice residential lake. 3/4 of a mile out, 3/4 mile back, no wetsuits. I like swimming without the wetsuit, but it does slow down the times a bit. It rained some during the swim and bike, but I got into my long course swim groove and felt relaxed and comfortable. Andy recruits lots of his swimmers for this race, so I was a ways back coming out of the water (35:31).

The bike had a number of rolling hills and a few fast sections with new pavement. This was a C priority race and I was really feeling the week's training. My legs hurt the entire ride, but my power ended up being right in there with my other races. We had light rain on the ride and I made up quite a few places. I really enjoy this new aspect of racing since I used to spend the whole bike getting passed. I came off the bike in 3rd overall. (53:44)

I expected my legs to feel like crap on the run, just like the bike. Nope. Felt great from the get-go. Go figure. The run course had some good hills which I like. I moved into second overall in the first mile. I wanted to have a good run even though first place was way out in front. I kept the pressure on and turned in the day's fastest run split (25:48- I said it was hilly!)

Second overall. 1:56:05 Decent race for me. Fun course.

Proctor Cycling Classic
Brimfield, IL
Saturday June 30, 2007
Cat. 5, 34 miles

Another training race for me. This is one of the larger bike races in Illinois. It is designated the Illinois State Championships. I have not purchased a cycling license, so I race cat. 5 which still seems plenty hard. Like Hillsboro earlier in the year, I came to Proctor with a big group (about 8) of strong triathletes. We did a good job of planning ahead of time. The plans were simple: do everything possible to avoid the race coming down to a field sprint. With this in mind, I launched the first hard attack 1 mile in hoping the rest of the field had not warmed up that well. Most of the pack countered easily, but the high pace was established early on. This course actually has quite a few hills, which is one of the reasons I wanted to race it. Our group led a number of attacks the first lap.

At the start of the second lap, the peloton was mostly together, but people were starting to hurt. We don't have a King of the Mountain, but we do have King of the Hill (which is fairly short, but really steep). A crash in the middle of the field on this climb gave a big group of us a chance to make a break. I spent a ton of time and effort trying to organize the group. No one wanted to work together. So frustrating! Lack of coordination allowed a few people to bridge up. My long-time racing buddy Gabe was involved in another crash when someone stopped pedaling in the middle of a climb. I may have ran over his bike, arm or something, but managed to stay upright myself. This crash narrowed the lead down to about 8. Some coordination now, but not much. Another guy that was riding well tried to get me to leave the pack and go alone with him over the last few hilly miles. I figured he was underestimating the hills and the power of the pack, so I let him go. Oops, he was stronger than I thought and managed to solo the hilly section for the win. I kept the pace high over the hills and whittled down the remaining pack.

Unbelievably Gabe picked himself up after the crash and managed to bridge back to the pack with little or no help! Amazing! By the 1K mark Gabe and I had shaken everyone except one rider. We were all wasted and had pitiful sprints. Gabe tried to lead me out for the win, but I was on the other guy's wheel. Gabe took second, other guy 3rd and I was 4th. I came to find out that if I had nipped the other guy at the line I would have been the Illinois State Road Race Champion for Cat. 5. All in all, an excellent day of racing and training. I learn a lot every time I enter one of these.

One of the things I learn is to question whether I should do these races at all. Road racing is risky business when you have to register for an Ironman a year in advance. On a very sad note, a female cyclist was killed in the Women's 4/5 race. The race was safe, and very well organized. It was just a tragic accident in every sense of the words. Apparently, Beth Kobeszka, of Chicago, and a member of the XXX Racing Team was bumped and crashed over the centerline on a hill. She was struck by a horse trailer coming the opposite direction. You can find out more here: also ran a story:
My condolences to Beth's family and friends. Hopefully they can find a small bit of solace in knowing that Beth (like the rest of us) was doing something she loved.

Lake Evergreen Tri
Hudson, IL
Saturday, July 21
1.5K Swim, 40K bike, 10K run

Last, but not least was the Lake Evergreen Tri this past weekend. I was really stoked to have a go at this course. This is a local race that my tri club is heavily involved in putting on. It is small (around 300) but due in part to pretty good prize money the competition is top-notch. Kiwi Brian Rhodes flew in from Boulder to throw his hat in the ring along with some of the best racers in the midwest. This is really one of the first times I have ever had an Olympic distance race as an "A" priority race. In the past, all my "A" races have been longer. This means that I was tapered and rested for the race.

Swim: No wetsuits. Perfect. I don't like the things. As it turns out though, my wetsuit helps my times more than I like to admit! I raced in the elite wave along with about 30 others. From my vantage point there was a distinct gap between the uber swimmers and the rest of us. I didn't have as many feet to follow as usual. I went a bit off course sighting into the sun. I felt great though! Probably too great in hindsight. I have a tendency to lapse into energy-conserving long-course swim mode. This is not good in an Olympic race. I was probably not pushing myself hard enough for this distance. Felt good the whole way though. (Swim 24:19)

Bike: I've been logging tons of bike miles and was ready to rock! In the end my ride was more Kenny G than Korn! To be fair to myself, this course was actually accurate unlike Memphis in May which is a good mile plus short. There were also more rolling hills that slowed things down than I had anticipated. My legs felt better than any race this year. I was hoping for a sub-hour ride, but knew I would have to have an outstanding day to do it. Again I was mostly alone for the ride, which didn't help. I only picked up two places. Power was decent, but not stellar- pretty much in line with my other bike legs. Head unit said 251 ave. watts. Normalized power should be a good deal above that. Time: 1:02:36 (23-something mph)

Run: I really wanted to have a faster run than Memphis. At Memphis my run was the only thing a bit off. The Evergreen course is almost completely flat. I took off at a good clip and never really dropped off much. In fact although I couldn't go faster, I felt like I could hold the same pace for more than a 10K which is a good sign for Wisconsin. I picked up a few more places on the run, but not quite as many as I hoped. My goal was to run under 37 and I went 37:48.

10th overall
2nd in my age group (behind a former age group world champion)

All in all, an OK race. Actually my fastest time on an accurately measured course. Top-end speed was lacking, but that is to be expected when you're training for a race that lasts longer than a work day!

A final note is that Brian Rhodes was a class act! Very, very cool guy. We were so excited to have him come out to the race. I'm pretty sure he thought it would be a somewhat easy way to make a decent paycheck. He did a nice little swim clinic for everyone the night before the race. Very approachable, down-to-earth and wickedly funny. His words to us afterwards were something to the extent of: "Christ, why didn't anyone tell me there would be all of these fast, young kids? I would have swam harder. I guess I should have googled them!". Rhodesy ended up in 3rd behind Daniel Bretscher (24 and soon to be pro) and Brian Hague (22). We hope to see all of them back next year.

This all got me to thinking about the Illinois Visitor's Guide, which is what I will leave you with!

Illinois Visitor's Guide

For those of you who have visited the great state of Illinois, or plan to in the future, I pass this on:

Illinois Visitor's Guide. This list of rules will be handed to each person as they enter the state.

1. That slope-shouldered farm boy did more work before breakfast than you'll do all week at the gym. He doesn't need your respect, but he sure deserves it.

2. It's called a 'gravel road.' No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your BMW. I have a four-wheel drive because I need it. Drive it or get it out of the way.

3. Any references to "corn fed" when talking about our women will get your butt our women.

4. Go ahead and bring your $600 Orvis Fly Rod. Don't cry to us if a flathead breaks it off at the handle. We have a name for that little 13-inch trout you fish for...bait.

5. If that cell phone rings while a bunch of mallards are making their final approach, we will shoot it. You might hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.

6. That's right. Whiskey is only two bucks. We can buy a fifth for what you paid in the airport for 1 drink.

7. The Fighting Illini and the ISU Redbirds are as important here as the Lakers and the Knicks...and a dang sight more fun to watch.

8. So you have a sixty thousand dollar car. We're real impressed. We have a quarter of a million dollar combine that we only drive two weeks a year.

9. Let's get this straight. We have one stoplight in town. We stop when it's red. We may even stop when it's yellow.

10. Yeah, we eat catfish and turtle. You really want sushi and caviar? It's available at the bait shop.

11. They are hogs. That's what they smell like. Get over it. Don't like it? Interstate 57 goes two ways- I-70 goes the other two. Pick one.

12. So every person in every pick-up waves. It's called being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

13. Yeah, we have golf courses. Don't hit in the water hazards. It spooks the fish.

14. Now, enjoy your visit to Illinois. Oh, and one last thought...."The "s" on the end of Illinois is silent...."



Michelle said...

As always, I'm impressed.

Good thing none of your comments about Illinois also cross over to we Wisconsinites! (haha)

gavnunns said...

You still doing Steelhead this weekend?

Steelhead and IMOO are going to be some fun racing. I've been following your training/blog and it looks like you and I are in similar shape.

Are you up for laying it on the line for some good old triathlon smackdown? Round 1 - Steelhead?, Round 2 IMOO, Round 3 - Kona?

May the best man win!