Tuesday, May 13, 2008


So.... I've been itching to get my tri season underway and see what sort of dividends all the hard early season training is going to pay. Last year I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to some great events: Wildflower, Memphis in May, Steelhead and IM Wisconsin. I really wanted to get down to Memphis in May again, but gas prices just made it unfeasible (particularly with huge Kona bills looming).

The positive side of this situation is that Central Illinois actually has an awesome multisport scene. I could probably find a multisport event for every weekend of the season within 2.5 hours! So I'm taking my limited travel funds as an opportunity to do some smaller races closer to home. 

Case in point is this weekend's Multisport Mayhem Tri in Neoga, Illinois. This small sprint race is in its third year and put on by Tony Garrett's Mattoon Beach Multisport company. Tony has a full season of tris- including a full Ironman in September all about 2 hours south of me. Nice lake for the swims and nice, flat rural roads for the bike and run portions.

If you are anywhere near the midwest, you'll agree that we've had a completely lousy spring for training. Winter-like weather pretty much hung around through April. Race morning temps this past weekend were in the 50s. I've never swam in a lake in Illinois this early in the year. The website claimed water temps to be 65, but I'm guessing that was only the top two inches! I actually despise wearing a wetsuit unless the water is really cold (I think USAT should make the wetsuit cut-off 74) so the cold temps suited me find. Getting in took your breath away, but after a little warming up, I was surprisingly comfortable in my full-sleeve 2XU wetsuit. I love being able to swim hard without overheating. I got in the draft of the leader for the first 100 yards or so, then found myself in the rare position of leading the swim- this just doesn't happen in big events. The swim was so short (around 400 meters) that I didn't worry about pacing at all. Redline the whole time. I came out of the water with the eventual overall winner (Barry Knight from Paducah, KY). We ran up the beach together and I was credited with the second fastest swim time.

My toes were only slightly numb as I tried to get my bike shoes on! I've been completely focused on getting stronger on the bike this spring and was excited to see what my legs would come up with in a race situation. I briefly led the race as Barry worked on getting his shoes on as he rode (I'm a big advocate for putting your shoes on in transition). I was soon passed, but ended up staying in second for the whole ride (14 miles). As it turns out, all the cycling work with Vision Quest coach Stan Watkins seems to be moving me in the right direction. Cycling has always been my weak sport and I've focused on it relentlessly the last 4 years or so. Thanks to my Powertap, it is easier to compare race efforts even if conditions vary. For this race I averaged 267 watts, which is very good for me. Last year I was in the 240s for my early sprint races. My legs never felt good, but I can't recall a single sprint race where they did feel good! The course was mostly flat with light winds, so I turned in my best average speed for a tri at 24 mph! Great progress, but I still ended up losing the race on the bike (you're all sobbing for me, I'm sure!). I had the 4th fastest bike split and lost about a minute to the leader (who, don't get me wrong, is an outstanding short course triathlete!).

Taking off on the run I thought I might still be able to make up the ground if there was some magic left in the legs. I put in a couple surges, but no magic. It was an out and back course, so I could see Barry in first the entire race. I was able to make up a little bit of time -which is an accomplishment in and of itself, I guess- but ended up second overall, about 30 seconds down. 3 mile run time was 17:28.

All in all, I am very happy with this result as my '08 season debut race. I wanted to get some hard efforts in before the more competitive Tri-Shark Triathlon the first weekend in June. My short distance run speed is lacking, but I haven't worked on that at all this season. If all goes as planned, I hope to be able to hold the same run pace for a full 10K at Hyvee in June which will be my only other "A" event outside Kona.


AJ said...

Chris - Nice job on the race! How fun to be in the lead!

Tracy said...

Way to go!!! You're going to clean up at Kona!

Michelle said...

Congratulations Chris. Looking forward to the TriShark race!

TriCajun said...

Yeah...I usually average 24 mph on the bike, also...downhill!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the race report - it gets me pumped for the upcoming season. Looking forward to TriShark. Reid H.

Trisaratops said...

Awesome job! Congratulations--you're going to be just a blur flying by me at WIBA! :)