June 21, 2010

Jonathan DeChau Memorial TT report

Saturday 6/19 was a very hot, humid, windy and sunny day for the Jonathan DeChau Memorial time trial in Rushville, NY. I was pretty stoked as I ride thru Rushville each time I ride around Canandaigua Lake, but had never done this course before. I was also excited to be able to support a great cause for a fallen rider and see so many people come out to chip in and ride as well. If there has to be a tragedy like this, it's exactly the thing you want to see, lots of folks at the ride.

Now a small surprise came for me on Friday evening when I got home from work and checked my mailbox, the Big Pants Racing team kit was finally here!! I don't really know how to describe it other than it is freaking amazing. It fits so well and looks snazzy to boot! I am pretty speechless and I snapped a few photos that I might share in a subsequent post. But just to get your appetite wet, here's an action shot of the day:But anyway, back to the race, it was hot out and mighty windy this morning. I got down to the school and was registered and ready to roll with plenty of time to spare. I hopped on the bike and since I had never been on the course, did my warm up down the first few miles to see what it would be like. Going off #28, I knew I had some time to spare and was slated for 10:13:30am. I got my 30 minutes of warm up in and the legs felt a little heavy. The course was supposedly a "V" with the first half being net downhill and the second half being net uphill. The only problem was that it was a headwind on the way out and a tailwind on the way back.

I made it to the start house with about 2-3 minutes to spare and watched as several folks missed their start times (I really don't know how that can happen...it happened all the time in tack and field when I was in school too...) But I digress, my time came up and I rolled up, reset my computer and clipped in as someone steadied me and then sent me off. We were starting in 30 second intervals and within the first 5 minutes, I had already caught two guys in front of me. The goals that I had in my head were to break 50 minutes and come in at an average speed of 25mph or more. Nothing too hard, but with the wind, I was averaging about 23 on the way out which didn't put me in a good situation for the total average speed.

Most of the top guys were all rocking disc wheels, full aero helmets, booties and tricked out bikes and I saw them all coming back as we approached the turn around.I hit the turn around in about 26 minutes and did some quick calculations and that came out to 52 for a total time, which is still solid, but above where I wanted to be. So I started cranking. I was still catching folks and using them to reel myself in to the finish line. With about 2 miles to go until the line, this guy came up on me and passed me (he would be the only one who passed me that day) and since we all were starting 30 seconds apart, I knew he already had me beat. My only hope was that he was a junior racer and not in Cat 5. Turns out I was wrong! :o) He literally smoked me and ended up finishing 3rd overall while I snatched up a mediocre 19th overall according to the final results. I cooled down with him and found out he's sponsored by Handlebars and started over 3 minutes behind me! Whew! He told me he averaged 26.5mph for the TT, that's real fast. And to boot, he's only 21...Well I didn't rock the Big Pants gear for the award ceremony since it was soaked and smelled a little suspect, but I ended up placing 2nd overall in Cat 5 and got a nice medal for my efforts. If I had enough experience to be cat 4, I coulda gotten some cash. Maybe that'll be my incentive to race enough to upgrade? But I came to the line and turned myself inside out for an average speed of 25.2mph over the 20.75mile course (it was short by about a mile) and clocked in at 49:29 for a total time, thereby hitting both of my goals. Now the big thing was, I was rolling on stock wheels and had NO aero helmet and had pretty dead legs because I was training thru this race. I'm kinda excited to see how I coulda done with being decked out in good equipment! I have a few more TT's set for the remainder of the summer, so we'll see how those all go (they are all 20K's so that'll be a little faster) but it should be fun to see how they go and keep things interesting :o) I'm still prepping pretty solid for Musselman in July and that should be a showdown against the clock. Next up is the Owasco Flyer RR in Auburn this Sunday to get a little more road experience under the belt. See you folks on the roads and trails friends. Put your big pants on and cheers!

June 14, 2010

Keuka Lake Race report

So I’ll have to admit this before I start to divulge the contents of my race report. I truly didn’t realize the impact of this race until it was about 24 hours until the gun went off and it came to pass that this would be my first triathlon back since THE CRASH in IMLP last year. I’ve raced since then but I guess just not putting all three disciplines together at once in a typical triathlon format.

It became apparent around that timeframe that this would be my reintroduction to the triathlon racing world and that was apparently a big deal. I’m not going to lie, I was really a little bit nervous! The only thing I was holding on to was the fact that the majority of the time, when I get to the starting line, my brain kind of shuts off and as soon as the gun sounds, I kind of black out and “do what I do” by just racing as hard as I can from the start. I’m kind of like Pavlov’s Dog if you think about it, except substitute the “bell” for someone shouting “GO!”

So the night before I was naming off all the people who were registered that I thought would be competition (and ultimately in front of me) and I had a pretty lengthy list on my hands, I truly didn’t feel too good and the legs were pretty fatigued still from the fast miles at the Buffalo Half the weekend before. I realistically thought it was MAYBE possible for a top 5 or top 3 finish and I even almost forgot a podium t-shirt as I was packing my bag to leave for the race site. But I was still excited and eager to get back into it and jump in again with both feet.

Race morning came and it was raining in Rochester as I drove in the early morning hours down to the Finger Lakes. (There were no deer attacks on the rental car this time around) After arriving at the race site and parking, it took a little bit to find the registration area, but I quickly got my numbers and swim cap and hauled my bike to the transition area. It was starting to sprinkle at this time and I was still a little nervous about having good old “L.P.” make her debut on the wet roads. I was in need of some new tires for her, so my baby got a new pair of “shoes” the day before from the LBS and they would hopefully keep me upright thru the bike. Swim - Mine was the first wave to go off and I was still feeling a little nervous as I really didn’t know what to expect. Gun goes off and we all charge into the deep. Right away I notice that my heart rate is pretty high. I’m always cognizant of that and can tell when I’m really pushing it. The last few years I’ve done this race; I’ve led my wave out of the water and done okay. I think my PR at this course was a 22:3X and I’ve gone 24’s there several times so I have a good approximation of where I should be. Today about halfway thru the swim, I was sighting the next buoy and noticed I was in about 5th or 6th place. Weird. I’ve been swimming pretty well at masters lately and was secretly hoping to improve my swim time. I popped out of the water in 5th place and looked at the watch and it said 21:54 for a total time and that was a 30 second PR from 2008 (last time I raced Keuka) so I knew I was getting faster and having a good race, just there were some definite studs on course today. I had a little trouble ripping the wetsuit off as I ran out of Body Glide for my arms, but I still got it off and was mounting the Lunar Phoenix and ready to rocket out of T1. The bike was prepped and this was to be her debut. I was ready to roll and hopped on after struggling a bit with the wetsuit legs in T1, but was out and pedaling away down the road.

Bike - The first half of this bike course is very bumpy and I tend to take the minimalist approach to riding and nutrition when it comes to anything Olympic distance or shorter. I taped a single gel to my top tube and had a water bottle full of Gatorade on the bike. Nothing fancy, just get thru it. I passed 1-2 guys in the opening miles and they looked like pure swimmers. I didn’t even try to settle in on the bike, I just started pushing the pace. I was cruising 24-25mph on the flats and when things settled out, there were only two guys in front of me.

We pushed and pushed and pushed and I was keeping these guys in my sights on the uphill sections and trying not to let them ride away from me on the downhill portions. There are two distinct turn around points on the bike course and thru the first one at the bottom of the Skyline Drive (I think?) I was about 20 seconds back according to Mr. Turbo Curbo The last 7 miles are all downhill and you can crank on these sections if you really let yourself go and let gravity do it’s thing. The only thing was that I am still a little freaked out by downhill sections and ripping down them on the bike. I don’t even go down into aero on any section that drops in elevation anymore. It sucks, and I’m sure it will go away, but it’s the cards that I’m dealt with right now.So after the large turn around at the top of the course and after pushing up all the hills, I watched both riders that were in front of me just slowly pull away. I tried to get going, and was cranking pretty good, but I was covering my breaks and internally freaking out a little. I rolled into T2 having “kept the rubber side down” and that was a huge accomplishment. Just getting to the run section of this triathlon was a victory enough for me. I could have dropped dead in transition and would have died happy and the only reason being that I survived the bike. The other added bonus was that I biked faster than I ever have at that race. I think I averaged over 22.5mph and biked with TOTAL and utter disregard for the run (the only way to do well on that course) Run – I had a mission on this run course, and that was to blaze a time that I would be proud of. I exited T2 in 2nd place (somehow picked up a position – hooray for fast transitions!) and started my hunt on the run. I had no idea how my legs would fare, but was ready to test them out. As I left transition and headed out, I got a lot of cheers, became a little emotional after surviving the bike and overheard the race announcer Mary Eggers yell out that I was leaving transition and 1:20 down from the leader, this was going to be quite the foot race!

I knew I needed to hold back on the run and not blow all my speed in the opening miles. As my calculations, I had 80 seconds to make up in about 6 miles. That was whipping off at least 15 seconds a mile faster than the guy in front of me. Not many people in and around the Rochester region can blow thru miles on the run in sub 6’s and I didn’t even know if I could at this moment. All I was thinking was, "I have to run this guy down". Coming thru the first mile in 5:57 was a big confidence boost and I knew I should be able to hang on to that pace for the duration of the run if all worked out. It was getting hot out and I know this run course like the back of my hand. It’s a straight 5k out and 5k back.

After about 2 miles in, I saw I was gaining on the guy in front of me by a lot, at 2.5 miles in, he was looking over his shoulder back at me to gauge where I was. By the time he hit 3 miles, he was looking over his shoulder about every 5-10 seconds and I knew I had him. We both popped around the turn around and I caught up to him just about a few hundred meters from that cone. This was it; I knew I had to make a split second decision on the race right now. I caught him, matched strides, breathed deep twice and put in a solid surge to see what he had. It wasn’t a long surge, but good enough to drop my opponent and cause me to run scared to the finish.

Coming in on this run course with the lead mountain bike in the first spot is something that’s really fun to do. You catch all the friends that are still going out and everyone gives you encouragement and props all the way in. Even people I didn’t know were yelling things like “nice work” and “there’s no one in sight behind you!” and you honestly feel like a rock star. And to make things even better, you run into the sprint folks as you are coming back, so I got a boost when I ran past the sprint turn around and saw Mr. Curt Eggers charging around his cone and coming in with me. I tried to pull him up to Brian Emelson, but he was too strong that day. Brian and I ran together for a bit and picked off some folks. However I know I was fading at around mile 5 or so, but I told myself that I didn’t know what was happening behind me and I wouldn’t look back (it shows weakness) even if my life depended on it.

There always comes a point in each race where you think to yourself, "I can just settle right now, cruise in and finish respectably OR I can push myself beyond what I think I'm capable of and see how epic this one can be. This day was a day that was beyond my wildest expectations. Now comes the embarrassing part (embarrassing only because someone caught it on film)…I kind of lost it emotionally coming into the finish line. I was just overcome with all sorts of feelings (joy, relief, anger at the downhill in Jay, exasperation, and fatigue) and I burst out into a sobbing mess of tears and gasps (I was still holding sub 6 minute pace you know). I normally don’t display too much negative emotion in races, but this was an extenuating circumstance. I’m not gonna say too much else about it, these pics pretty much sum it up: Needless to say I was pretty stoked to hit the line. I was absolutely flying high and I was elated. I still didn’t know until about 30 minutes later after a cool down that I had truly won. (With the wave format to racing, someone in the 2nd wave that started 5 minutes behind you, could perceivably finish 4:59 after you and win…) But the awards were special and I can’t believe that the first triathlon back I did turned out in a win. My run split wasn’t the sub 36 that I wanted, but I still held onto an average of 5:53’s, which is awesome for me as it’s the exact same pace from the Buffalo Half. So I’ll take it. The 2nd place guy was holding 5:43's and was coming fast (finishing less than a minute behind me, but I think he ran out of real estate) I don't know what he was doing in T2 (eating a sandwich?) but he spent 2:08 there and I think that cost him the race...But I digress, to all of you who thought I was on the couch eating Bon-Bon’s in 2009, not racing and not training, better watch out, I’m back! :o) And with a vengeance too. I put all my triathlon eggs in the basket of IMLP 2009 and that basket broke, so I’m not doing that this season. 2010 is full of tri-fun.…next one up is Musselman and that’s my 4th time on that course so that should be a hell of a showdown. But until then, I’ve got a few bike TT’s and cycle races in the following weeks to keep the legs loose.

Thank you to all who said any kind words of encouragement and kept me going when times got rough in recovery and over the last year. I think I needed this race much more than you all know. So get out on the roads, sprint for town line signs, run until you puke, and I’ll be right alongside you. Cheers.

June 4, 2010

Buffalo Half Marathon race report

So this was to be one of my "A-races" for the year and it definitely did not disappoint!! I had put in some good quality training and I was excited leading up to the start because I had never officially raced an all out half before. (The only other times I've run the distance have been at the ends of half ironmans or back in the early 2000's when I banditted the Ontario Shore Half Marathon) Regardless, I had put in some good miles and was hoping for a solid result.

Race morning came and it's an early one for folks who live in Rochester. The gun goes off at 7am from downtown Buffalo, so that means that it's a 3:xx am wake up and a 4:xx am departure to get to the race site, get your packet, chip, warmup and all that jazz before a 7am start. Driving there I wasn't rushed or anything, I was right on time to arrive at about 5:45am or 6 and about 20 minutes from Buffalo, a deer decided to run out into my lane of I-90 and smack dab into the driver side door of my car. (well actually he struck the front drivers side wheel, which caused much of the fender to rub against the wheel and I had to pull it away once I stopped at the next rest stop) Needless to say it was not the adrenaline spike I needed at 5:30 in the morning!!! No worries though, everyone (minus the deer) was fine, no injuries.
Well, back to the important stuff :o) The race report! We hit up registration, got our packets after parking the car in prime parking spot in the garage and I donned the new TriSpot uniform and trotted around for a short warm up. Unfortunately, becuase the race was in downtown Buffalo, there was no real room to warm up and I was forced to stop at every single intersection and weave thru the loads of people waiting in line to use the porta-potties race morning. I'm thinking I got about a half to a full mile in for warmup, and that was short sprint type work between traffic lights. I ended up running into my old college roommate Jake and his wife Sarah sitting on the curb and also Alphonse too. They were all doing the half (I think) and we chatted for a while to pass the time.
I got to the start line and this is a mighty big marathon and half. They start everyone at once and it's about 4,000 people from the starting line. (editors note: 2500+ finished the half) I'm the one about a few feetback with the white backwards hat on whose stretching out his arms. There was no room to do any striders or anything as we all nervously waited on the start. They did some quick announcements and suddenly we were off. I was running with the lead pack (big mistake) for about the first mile or so and we ran thru the 1 mile mark in 5:22. I was just trying to hit 5:55's or 5:50's for my paces, so I knew I had to back off. When the 2nd mile ticked away in 5:41, I knew this might hurt me later on. Regardless I kept on going.
I was feeling pretty good and clicked off the 5km mark in about 17:34. It was started out strong and I was building up a nice little buffer just in case I blew up later on (I've been known to go out too hard before...) There was a nice little out and back section along the lake that was pretty nice and I got a chance to see the leaders (they had long since left me in their dust) pass by going the opposite direction. The weird thing was that there were equal numbers of half runners as there were full's. I quietly thought to myself, that's either going to make the half really slow, or a REALLY fast full time. I myself counted that I was on the bubble of about 10th place at this time, so I was trying to hang on to that. I continued on and was feeling a little bit "sloshy" at around the 5k point (which is the nice little out and back section by the lake) and I wanted to slow down, but knew I couldn't afford to if I wanted to run faster than my goals! I soldiered on and eventually went thru the 10k mark in about 35:56 or so and made a funny face as I went thru, but no one caught it on film. The pace was pretty quick and even though I was about halfway thru the race at this time, I was hoping I could hang on to this pace thru the finish.
Miles 6-9 were kind of a blur to me, I just tucked my head and things were on pace. After mile 9, things started to slow but I was hanging tough. I got some support from the TriSpot water stop at around mile 9 and Kevin Patterson was yelling on the bull horn, along with Joe Meyers harassing me as I ran by too which was uplifting. It was at this point that Todd Stewart, who had bested me at the Medved Maddness in the beginning of the month came up on me and ran with me for a little.
I streaked thru the 15k mark in about 54:22 and the 10 mile in the fastest time I've ever run for 10 miles - 58:22. I was feeling okay and at this time Todd was with me and I began to pull away a little on the numerous highway overpasses that were coming in the final miles. I thought that I might be able to pick it up for the final 5k, but I was hurting. The average pace went from anywhere between 5:48-5:52 up to about 6:00 at this point and ultimately climbed up to 6:13 for mile 12. Todd flew by me and I tried to go with him, but it was no avail, he was gone.
I hit the line in 1:17:10 and coming into the final stretch I saw the finish clock click over from the 1:16 mark to 1:17 and I tried with all my might to go faster, but it was fruitless, I just couldn't will my legs to speed up. It woulda been nice to hit the 1:16 mark in my half marathon debut, but I'll have to settle for a 1:17 :o) I guess not a bad problem to have! I hit the line, Todd turned around and congratulated me and I looked back and saw my other college housemate, Brent Bartlett stroll thru the line in about a 1:18, not too shabby! He told me he was "racing his way back into shape" and that was an excellent display of his current fitness level. I can only assume he will get stronger as the season goes on.
Brent declined the finishers photo, but I was giddy and in a goofy mood enough to snap the above official photo! I was pleased and went with my good friend and fellow Big Pants racer, Ryan MacPherson to go on a cool down and warm down by running the last mile in with Kim. She wasn't having the best day so I just ran her in and cheered some other folks around on as wel. Unfortunately, I missed the award ceremony and was forced to go up on stage late to get my "wonderful" trophy as the final results had me at 12th overall and 3rd in my age group.
Not a bad way to start out the road racing season. On the way home I realized that every road race that I've run this year I've averaged sub 6minute miles for the duration of the race. Not too shabby. I'm stoked that this result will help me recalculate the goals I have for the Chicago Marathon in the fall. I'm thinking I'd like to race that one pretty quick! :o) But other than that, I'm letting the legs rest a little until the Keuka Triathlon this Sunday, which should be an all-out brawl! :o) Lots of good competition coming there and I'm hoping I can hang with everyone (as my legs still aren't feeling too hot now...) But it's still a few days away, so game on! See you all on the roads and trails friends and see you down by the Finger Lakes this weekend, I'll be the one flying by on the shiny new bike! :o) Cheers.