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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memphis in May Triathlon- HOT!!!

The 2nd race of the season was the Memphis in May triathlon. This is the 4th year I have done it, the 2nd year as a Pro. The field was much smaller this year, mostly because there were two other races in the 5150 series going on the same day as well as Ironman Texas and Florida 70.3. Only 7 men made the trip to race, but there were some top guys in the field.
I stayed with the Barczak’s (David and Allison and three of their four children Mary, Mathew, and Andrew) again this year. I was also happy to meet many of the same people I had met from the year before. My fiancĂ© Dana also came and my brother John flew in for the day to watch me race, so I may have not have been the biggest name in the field, but I probably had the largest cheering section. David, Mathew, and Andrew had a full weekend.  They did the sprint on Saturday as a relay and finished 2nd overall. On Sunday David did the Olympic on his own and Mathew and Andrew teamed up with one other person and did the Olympic as a relay (Mathew swam, Andrew ran). A lot of racing for the weekend and I was really impressed with their efforts.
Dana and I car pulled down to the race with a fellow Chicago Triathlete, EricTurner. We had a lot to chat about as he swam at Auburn and it was great to get an insight into the power house that was Auburn swimming (His class won 4 NCAA swimming championships).  We got down there on Friday and mostly relaxed. Saturday was the normal routine, but this time I was asked to be on the pro panel to answer some questions. It was great to give my perspective on the sport and what I do for training, eating, nutrition, race strategy, etc. It was also good to give a different perspective of an athlete like myself who works a full time job and tries to find  time to train. The other 3 athletes (Brian Fleischman, Paul Mathews, and Amanda Felder) on the panel, training and racing is their full time job

Answering a Question at the Pro Panel

Something that is unique to the Memphis in May Triathlon is the Pro’s start last. This meant I was able to wake up without an alarm and take my time getting ready. It was the normal breakfast and warm up routine and then off to the race start. My race start was moved up to 10am from 10:30 because of the forecast. It was going to be hot. By the time we started, the temperature had already hit 82 degrees and was climbing.
Memphis is unique in another way as it has a time trial start for everyone, including the Pro’s, so we don’t start in a wave, but we start 10 seconds apart in alphabetical order, going male, female. I was the second male to enter the water and 4th overall. I quickly made up time on the first guy  and passed him before the first buoy and as a result, for the first in my Pro career, I was leading a race. Soon after I was passed my Brian Fleischman and jumped on his feet and drafted for a while, but he took a strange line to a buoy, so strange I thought he was swimming off course and I chose not follow him so I lost his feet and he slowly pulled away. Three fourths of the way through the race Kyle Lee passed me and I started to draft off of him, but he soon lost me as well. Shortly after that I was out of the water and running to transition. I was 3rd out of the water, but I had no idea what place I was actually in because of the time trial start. It was a quick transition, much better than a couple weeks ago at Knoxville, and I was soon on the bike, riding away. 

A great Start!
 I had some problems on the bike. The first turn the police officer was standing in front of the turn and waving me to the left, so I turned in front of him. Well, this put me in the wrong lane heading into oncoming traffic, which can be a little nerve racking. I quickly jumped off my bike, hopped the medium and hoped back into the saddle. As I was getting back up to speed I saw Paul Mathews fly by and I could only admire his strength on the bike as he as at full speed and I was only accelerating. I was not happy about this little incident, but I had to forget about it and focus on what is ahead. It was on the bike that I started to really feel the heat.

Off on the Bike
  The first part of the bike was into a strong head wind and it was not refreshing, it only made it feel hotter, like your car heater blowing on you when it’s already steamy in your car.  By mile 10 I was really feeling the effects (one female pro passed out from the heat before mile five on the bike. Thankfully she was alright). It was around mile 12 and I was passed by the swimmer I passed in the water so I knew I was fighting for 5th place due to who passed me in the water or on the bike. Towards the middle of the ride there was a bottle exchange and even though I still had one full water bottle, I knew it was warm from the heat and I needed something cool, so I dropped it and picked up an ice cold Gatorade. I took some good gulps and it may have been the greatest thing I ever drank, so cold, so refreshing. I now had the wind at my back and I started to hammer it home, trying not to lose more time on the bike.

It took a hard effort to get in and what seemed like a long time, but I was finally into the 2nd transition. I did not know how much time I was down, but I focused on a quick transition and I was out on the run and the heat started to feel even worse. I was informed after the race that when we hit the run  the temp was 87 degrees  but with humidity it felt like it was 92. The run course was wide open and I could see 5th place in front of me and I just focused on him. After the first mile I could tell I was gaining on him. I knew he started off 30 seconds in front of me so if I could get within that time I would be in front of him on the clock. By mile two I did a count off in my head and I was 15 seconds behind, which meant I was now 15 seconds up on the course. I did not want to blow up in the second half of the run so I slowed my pace down. I knew the rest of the course had no shade and it would be hot. At about mile 2.5 I passed the runner in front of me and I was certain I was solidly in 5th place. I gave him a quick tap on the back for encouragement, told him good job and his response was “It’s so Hot out here.” (He also said a four letter word that I will not mention here).  No disagreement from me as I tried to think of cool thoughts and not on the heat.

The last couple strides to 5th place
 When I approached the turnaround I started to develop stomach problems. I had a side stitch and my whole stomach felt tight. I wanted to hold onto 5th and so I backed off a bit, knowing I had more than a 30 second lead. A volunteer gave me some ice cold water which I dumped over my head and it was a welcome relief.  I turned the corner to head to the finish and there was now a head wind and unlike on the bike this was very welcome as it had a cooling effect. This helped my stomach loosen up and the side stitch went away and I was able to continue to put time into the guy in 6th. On the way to the finish I saw the 7th place runner and he was a couple miles back so I knew I was going to finish in 5th. I ran to a strong finish, or as strong as I could muster, and had my first top 5 and a decent paycheck on the day.

First top 5

I was not happy with the bike, I have some work to do to get it back to where it should be, but I had a solid swim and my run, although nowhere near a personal best, was solid considering the conditions. I am happy with the pay day, but I know there are improvements to be made. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rev3 Knoxville

This past weekend was my first race of the season, Rev3 Knoxville. I was planning on competing in the Nautica South Beach Triathlon earlier in the year, but they were not offering Home stays or airport pick up. So after looking at the costs of flights along with hotel and car rental I realized it would cost be about $1200 to do this race. Since 10th place was only $180 and it was a stacked field, I decided it was not worth it.
Leading up to Rev3 Knoxville my training has been up and down. I have changed coaches and I have been doing more volume then I have ever done before, so my body is adjusting to additional load. In addition, stresses from life always come into play. The pool I normally swim at was down for about 3 months, so I had to find another pool to train in. This would not be a big deal if the most convenient pool for me was not 30 min away. In addition my job has been stressful as we were supposed to have a new contract signed 16 months ago, but they continue to extend it. If the contract goes to someone else, there is no telling what could happen with the current staff. We are told there would be no change in staff even if it went to a different company as the Navy would not want that, we would just shift employers, but no one really knows. In addition there have been plenty of rumors swirling around of pay cuts to changes in staff, etc. You try to block it out, but 16 months of this can start to weight on anyone. If you read my blogs last year, you may remember one of my first ones was about this contact and a possible break in work. Yes, this is still going on. I don’t think it matters who you are, if are getting married, thinking about starting a family, etc, this will cause stress on anyone. Needless to say it has been hard at times to focus on my training.

The Sun Sphere from the World's Fair. 
I arrived at in Knoxville on Friday. I choose the race because it was a race I could drive to and I have heard great things about the Rev3 series. My home stay was with Cliff and Jill Helton. They have 3 great kids, Turner, Regan, and Sloan. They were very accommodating and I can’t thank them enough for putting me up for the weekend. After I arrived I did a short spin on the bike just to get the legs going again, then it was relaxing at a dinner party at the father of my homestays house where I meet some triathletes who came up from Atlanta to race and we had food that was prepared by some athletes and friends of athletes that are professional chef’s. So good.  Then it was off to bed.  
                Saturday I woke up and got a quick run in. I almost ended my race before it started as I rounded a corner and slipped on the side of the sidewalk (it rained overnight) and rolled my ankle. Lucky for me my reflexes kicked in and I did not do any damage. After my run I came back and Turner and Regan were watching Old Yeller. Turner had to read the book for school and then watch the movie and write a report on the difference between the two. I sat down and joined them while I ate and got ready to head to the race start. I have to admit, even to this day, I still get misty eyed when he has to shoot Old Yeller. It really is a classic movie.
                After telling the kids I had something in my eye, I packed up my bike and headed to the race course. I drove the bike course and realized this was going to be a tough course. Holy Hills. It was all either up or down. This would be quite the challenge. Then it was a quick bike to loosen up and a quick swim, pro meeting and relaxing the rest of the day until my parents arrived. Then it was off to dinner with them and some other athletes that my coach coaches and off to an early bed.
Getting ready for the race start with Kyle Lee and Kaleb Van Ort. 
Race morning was the usual early morning wake up (4 am) and my normal breakfast. Then, off to the race start where I got my warm up in and in set up in my transition. My transition spot was marked by a 3 foot poster of me racing. This was something new that I have not seen before and I thought was pretty cool. After a quick warm up in the water it was soon time to start. It was an in water start. I looked around to see what top swimmers were near me and I noted Matty Reed was a couple swimmers down to my left. I determined that if I could, I would try to get on his feet as I knew he would be out fast. The gun went off and soon it was all white water and bodies crashing into each other, everyone jocking for position. I have learned from several races not to give up position so I fought for mine. I looked for Reed, but I could not determine where he was, it is hard when everyone is in a wet suit and all you seen is splashing water.

The Swim start. I am about 8th from the bottom. 
I jumped on someone’s feet and swam hard to the first buoy. About 500 meters in it was two quick right turns and off to the swim exit. As we got around the second buoy everyone was still fighting a bit for position, but the chaos had settled down a bit. After a short time after I realized I was in the chase pack and the front pack was too far ahead to catch. Two swimmers were leading the group and I knew I could probably go around them and gain 10 sec before the swim exit, but I knew that the energy cost would not be worth it so I settled in behind them and drafted.
                Out of the water I was in 16th place, but there was a pack of us. Into transition we went. I had trouble getting off my wet suit and lost to much time. But I was soon on the bike and trying to spin out the legs. I rode conservative as I knew the hills would be very challenging. After settling into my pace I started to ride a bit harder, but my lack of experience eon the hills was costing me time, too much time. Climbing I did ok, but I feel as I lost more time descending the hills. Descending at speeds of 45+ mph takes some skill to really take advantage of and I really do not have that experience. Several riders passed me on the bike and I knew I was losing time.
                The bike was over and I may have had one of my slowest bike splits I ever had. It was disappointing, but no time to think about it. I had a better T2 and I was soon off to the run. I saw two runners up ahead and I put in some effort to catch them. I was making time on them, but they were to far ahead and in the last 2 miles they put the time back into me. One runner was trying to make a move behind me, but I was able to pick up the pace a bit at the end and fend him off to avoid a sprint finish as those can hurt more than the race itself.
At the finish of a tough day

 It was not the race I wanted, but it was the first one and it was good to get a race for the season under my belt. I know I have to work on my bike so that is what I will be working on the next couple of weeks. 
No, not hockey pads, but air compression to help recovery post race.