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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. 

1 comment:

  1. Nick, Congrats on your first top 5 finish, on a very hot day too.