Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MIO 5K & Sunset Sprint Duathlon Race Report

I picked a nice warm Wednesday night to get back into some 5k racing. A friend of mine organizes a fairly large midweek 5k (350 finishers) not too far from my house which is well organized and well attended by some fast college and high school runners. This is a great race because the first mile is predominantly down hill and very fast in the first mile, but then you're tested over the next 2 miles as you regain the elevation and finish back at the park you start at. I got a good 2 mile "warm up" in (it was already pretty damn warm) and headed over to the start.

The gun went off and the race started off fast, very fast. The fun thing about this race is trying to figure out which runners that are in the lead pack as we pass the first mile marker will be there at the end. I haven't run a 5k in quite a while, but my recent race on July 4 indicated that my running legs seemed to be coming back.
As we approached the one mile mark I was in a lead pack of about 9 guys, of whom I was clearly the oldest. I recognized two of the others, one who was capable of going sub 16:00 and the other who had won the race the last 8 years (also very capable of going sub 16:00). We passed the first mile mark at 5:01....wow! As we started the gentle climb the breathing was becoming more evident and the pack was thinning out. Suddenly the race felt like it was slowing down and becoming a chess match...and now I was out front breaking the wind for the pack. We hit mile 2 at 5:27 and neared the crest of the gradual hill...I was now in 2nd and had surprisingly passed the 8 time winner. Out of nowhere someone came by me and along side the leader, I had not seen him the whole race but he was moving. About 2.5 miles in we hit a hard right turn up a short steep climb and the leaded made a Mark Cavendish-esque break for it....2nd place runner chased and I had nothing!

I knew I had a good race going and focused on keeping a steady pace and keeping the two front runners in sight. I hit the finish in 16:13, 3rd overall and last 1.1 miles in 5:44 (5:11 pace). That was 3 seconds faster than I had ever run on the course, my fastest 5k in about 3 years and needless to say I was pretty happy with the outcome!

That Saturday I was off to another event I've done a few times. My brother and I headed down to the Sunset Challenge Tri/Du. We both raced the sprint du which was a 2 mi run / 12 mi bike / 5k run around the lake. The sprint tri & du started at the same time, but due to the short swim most swimmers were out of the water in 7 minutes, meaning a more crowded race course for the duathletes. It was a warm morning with moderate humidity, but after sipping on some EFS before the race I decided to not carry any water on the bike. If all went well I'd be finishing in less than an hour, and hopefully be running for less time over 5 miles than what it would take me to ride the 12 miles. Legs felt pretty good, even after the Wednesday night 5k a few days before.

The gun went off and I knew I wanted to get out in front early if possible, it was an out and back run on a narrow trail. I managed to get out in the lead and about a third of a mile in I could hear some breathing, knowing it was one of a brother/brother duo that does very well in local duathlons, I figured I would try to do some surges in an effort to get him out of his comfort zone and maybe throw him off for the bike as well. The surges hurt me, but I could hear him breathing even harder. Came into T1 in 10:43, he was <10 sec behind.

I navigated a very crowded T1 and I was off. The first 4 miles or so I was moving along very well, passing people in a pretty steady stream. All the sudden someone came from behind and passed me. Not sure if I had just passed him or if he had a really bad swim (could tell he was from the tri, had some "pond scum" riding along with him). Well, as soon as he passed me he slowed down, so I passed him back. Low and behold he passes me again.....and slows down....this time there's another rider to our right, so I try to pass him. As I'm passing him he recognizes that I'm coming by again and proceeds to move further to the left, eventually pushing me over the yellow line as I go by.

Just as I pass him I hear a motorcycle come by and see the race official writing something down...assuming it had to do with what just went down between me and this guy. "Great, I just got a penalty for something" I assume, put my head down and try to stay in the lead of this race. Just then he goes by AGAIN, this time yelling and cursing at me, blaming his penalty on me!! I was fired up, yelled back, then decided that if there's $100 on the line for the win and I just got a 2 min penalty I can't be messing around with this clown. So I shut up, put my head down and let him distance me enough that hopefully there are no more issues. I had a great T2 (21 sec) thanks to my cyclocross dismount skills and figured I'd see him again on the run. 12 miles, 29:17, 24.6mph (tied for fastest bike split).

Out on the run I started to pick off more of the leading triathletes one at a time. This was great motivation as I knew I needed to win by >2 minutes to have a shot at the overall if I did in fact get a penalty. I ended up 4th across the line (first duathlete) in 57:39 after logging the fastest run 2 split at 16:49. Never did see "my new friend" on the run course, figured my T2 got me out on course before him. I eagerly watched the clock tick by.....and I had done it....I won by about 2:10! My brother came through 6th overall, first in AG and 5th fastest bike split all of which he was more than thrilled with.

So after the race I caught up w/ the referee to get her take, see if I did get a penalty and to see what I could learn from that penalty in the future. After >5 years of multisport racing and never seeing a penalty I was bummed out that I had in fact rec'd one, but it was for crossing the yellow line which I was "forced" to do by a blocking rider. She said that rider had also yelled and cursed at her while out on the bike and she would be dealing with him. She apologized that I had to deal with such an athlete, but she said I could have hit the brakes and complied with the rules...and she was right, would have cost me much less than 2 minutes!

As for "my new friend", after trying to start trouble after the race again and gloating how he was "a CAT 1 cyclist that can go 28mph" and I was a "disgrace and a cheater for drafting him", he was nearly clocked by one of my friends and apparently wasn't even allowed to enter the run course and completely disqualified! Come to find out that he's co-owner of a bike shop in Philadelphia and he's obviously not good at customer service....or keeping his mouth shut! I have vowed to never support a Breakaway Bikes or Quaker City Wheelmen event...and you may want to consider the same...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vacation

Well, summer is for vacations, right? Can't believe it's been a month since I've updated....talk about vacation. I do have a good excuse though, we were on vacation for 11 days, out of touch with the world relaxing in Vermont. A perfect place for a permanent vacation....in the summer at least.

So what have I been up to? Well, since I've last posted I had some great training and racing...including a tri, two running races and a du. While up in Vermont I sought out a nice triathlon in Branbury, VT which was just West of the Green Mountain Forest and Middlebury Gap. I just simply wanted to race and not get all hyped up for the race...plus I didn't have room in the car for any "nonessentials" like my TT bike, TT helmet, etc. Figuring it would be a hilly course, I thought I'd fare well on my road bike...to my surprise!

Water was decent in the mid 60's, and after about 1o minutes of what felt like pretty fast swimming I was out of the water and off on the bike. Turned out it was one of my best swim's ever, 22nd overall out of a field of over 200 (big props to my TYR wetsuit, Lord know's it wasn't because I had been training for the swim!). Out onto the bike and I just could not get going. I had an awful feeling in my stomach that wouldn't let me push too hard. AND the hills never came. I was far enough up front that there wasn't a ton of traffic and after being passed early I made one pass and really rode the race by myself. I wasn't surprised to see I only turned the 22nd fastest bike leg. Off onto the run, an out and back 5K. I slowly started to work the bug out of my stomach and pick people off. As we neared the turn around I could see I was in about 15th overall. 2nd mile split was 5:3x, faster than the first. I made a big push at the end passing three more guys on the way back in running a 5:21 closing mile for 12th overall. Not my best performance, but a promising swim!

The rest of the vacation we spent hanging around the lake, playing w/ the kids and doing the typical tourist stuff...Ben and Jerries, Trappe Family Lodge, Woodstock, etc. We didn't have the best weather, but it was nothing to complain about by any means.

I took a small journey of my own. Did a ride up and over the Rochester Gap, rated as a Cat 2 climb. It was about 6 miles long and averaged near 5%. The view from the top was awesome! Managed to hit a huge pothole on my way back and bend my new Powertap rim though....
On the 4th of July we attended the 35th annual road race in Woodstock. A 7.2 mile loop starting at the Green and finishing at the covered bridge (with a few hefty climbs in between). It was a hot day, but I had a great race finishing 2nd, taking nearly 90sec off my course PR and winning some greens fees to the country club! Nearly everyone in the family garnered AG awards in the form of Vermont Maple Syrup and the family was well represented with Lauren, her Dad, her Sister and cousin's husband. The kids had a fun run of their own around the Green collecting medals and carrying big smiles!

We headed home on July 5 and the kids were lucky enough to stay up there w/ their grandparents, aunt/uncle and cousins. Lauren and I had a few days of peace and quiet at the house...which was a bot eery....

I'll follow up with some more updates and race reports....including my return to the 5k and my first penalty....