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Friday, June 29, 2012

Philly Tri- Climbing the Ladder

The Finish!
This past weekend I competed in Philadelphia as a stop in the Lifetime Fitness race to the Toyota Cup. This was my first time competing in the race and my first time in Philly, so I was not sure what to expect, but my training has been better and I was feeling good the week leading up to the race.  

Paul's Hard Rock Glasses!
My Home stay was with Paul Amos. He would also be doing the Philly Triathlon and it would be his first ever triathlon. Paul is also a word travel and I got to see his large selection of Hard Rock Cafe Glasses from all over the world. Very Impressive! He works at Penn University and lives right by the University as well, so I was able to do a run workout and see the famous stadium that holds the Penn Relays as well as explore the campus. This race was also a treat as I was able to have lunch with my old college friend Katie Driscoll who I had not seen since we graduated. When I first arrived Paul drove me on the bike course and I was able to see the famous Boathouse row were many of the top rowers in the country train and also the Art Museum and the famous Rocky Statue out front.  Paul had tickets to the Phillies baseball game, but we were unable to see it as when we arrived at the stadium the skies opened up and the game was rained out. That was alright as I was able to at least see the stadium. We headed back to Paul’s house to relax and enjoy a beer (he has a keg on tap at all times, how awesome is that).

Friday and Saturday was the normal pre race workouts and pro meeting and then it was off to bed early on Saturday night. But I was not able to fall asleep. I was awake for a long time. Why, I do not know, but it was a little frustrating. But instead of worrying about it I used the time to focus on my race strategy and to visualize the race in my head. Soon, before I knew it I was asleep and the alarm was going off at 3:30 am for the race start. Then, it was my normal breakfast and off to the race.

Philly is a point to point swim and also to keep the roads clearer for us we start at 6:30 am, 30 min before the first age-group wave. Because of the earlier start, this meant that it was an earlier morning (I am always up a minimum of 3 hours before my race). Following my normal race morning routine with warm up and transition set up, I was soon boarding the bus to drive us to the swim start. The bus I happened to hop onto was also with Cameron Dye, Sarah McLarty, Alica Kaye, and Sarah Haskins. It was a relaxed atmosphere as we joked about being younger and taking the bus to school. I am not sure if the age-groupers on the bus were really nervous or not as I think we were the only ones chatting. But it was a good environment to stay relaxed before the race. 10 minutes later we were at the race start and after a quick warm up we were lined up and ready to start.

THE SWIM:
You can see the Pro women behind me and to the left. 
The gun went off and I got into a quick tempo. Everyone was jocking for position and trying to get on the feet of Cameron Dye or Andy Potts, the two fastest swimmers in the field. Arms were clashing and bodies were bumping. As I was swimming I suddenly felt an arm come down on me. It did not feel like a bump, but as if the entire body came crashing down on me, trying to force me to the bottom of the river. At first I thought it was an accident that maybe he had tried to take a new route, but two strokes later it happened again and I knew it was no accident. When it happened a third time I fought him off and gave a shove back. After shoving him back it stopped, but it suddenly left me feeling very tired and we were only about 50 meters into a 1500 meter swim. A thought of panic went through my head, how was I going to race feeling like this. However, I quickly put it out of my head. I told myself to settle into a pace and recover. Sure enough I soon felt better and settled behind two others swimmers. Another guy was on my feet and we formed a pack of 4 in the swim. Soon we hit the turn buoy and headed into shore. It was about 25 yards from shore I suddenly saw a large group of pink swim caps, the caps the pro women, exiting the water in front of me. I knew something was wrong as they did not pass us and they started 1 minute back. It turns out they turned to early and cut a large section of the swim. I have heard of racers going the wrong way and adding to the route (read my blog on the Capital of Texas Tri), but never in such a large number. Since it was not the entire field as some women went the correct route, 8 women would be disqualified on the day.


As I ran through transition I passed several of the pro women who cut the course and the same happened early on the bike. This created a lot of congestion and made it hard to get around some of them early in the bike. Soon I was able to pass most of them and I had clear roads and I could focus on racing.


THE BIKE:
The Philly course it 2 laps with 4 hills on each lap or 8 total climbs for the race. Since I don’t have a lot of hills to train on where I live, I knew I would have to ride smart. When I hit the hills I focused on spinning up and attacking the down and the downs proved to be very fast! On many of the down hills I am not sure how fast I was going (I did not have a computer on my bike, I actually never race with one), but it was somewhere north of 40 mph as I was in my hardest gear and spinning.

About Half way through the bike I was not sure of my position, but I could see a group of riders in front of me. I knew I was making some time on them so I focused on trying to catch them. On the decent of the last hill (number 4 and 8 of the race) I came up on a turn to quickly and almost flew off the side of the road. If you ever need a quick wake up or to get your heart racing, take a turn to fast going 40+ mph and almost wearing nothing, it usually does the trick. On the second lap I was aware of the turn and took it with a little more caution. But as a result of my hard break I lost sight of rider in front of me and they got away as I never saw them again on the bike. A tactical error that I have no one to blame but myself.
Charging Hard Into Transition

I hit the second transition and my legs were feeling a little tired from the effort on the bike and the eight hills. I had a quick transition (I believe the second fastest on the day) and one of the other guys must have had problems because he was in transition when I entered and was still there when I left. I never saw him again.


THE RUN:
The last push to the finish
The run course runs up stream on the road, then there is a U turn and it continues back past the transition to another U turn and then to the finish. A great course for spectators to see the race. Early on in the run I felt great. I had great leg turn over and I felt strong. I was not sure if it was because of the false flat on the run out and I wondered if I could hold the pace. I decided to just go for it and try to run some people down. As I came to the first turn around I counted the men in front of me. I was in 11th. One place out of the money and 9 and 10 were running together. Because of the speed of some of the guys running, I never thought I could run myself into a top 10 placing. I always thought I would have to swim and bike into the top 10 and then hold people off in the run. But I decided then and there it was time to climb the ladder, to start finishing higher and really race. It was time to think differently.  I went after them. I ran back toward transition and then out to the second half of the run. I continued to push. I was really hurting, but I still had some spring in my step so I kept going. I could feel the fatigue setting in and it was having an effect on my mental push. I slowed a bit for a second, but I knew I could not let up if I wanted to catch 10th, so I picked it back up. If I was forced to walk trying to catch the man in front of me, so be it. At least I put it all on the line.  On the next turn around I could see I was making up time on 10th, but I did not know if it would be enough as I was quickly running out of real estate, so I tried to make one more push.


 In the end I was not able to catch 10th place, I would end up finishing 34 second down to him (I started more than 1 minute down). Although I was not able to make up the time, I did end up out running several of the athletes in the top 10. Looking at my results, I noticed again, I lost too much time on the bike, but I also know it improved. This tells me I am making steps into the right direction and to continue to work. 2 minutes faster on the bike and I would have been fighting for 7th or 8th place. I am now feeling more and more confident and with little improvements here and there I know I can be fighting for a top 10 in most races and a spot in the money if I stay the course.  It’s not an easy road and the little improvements are hard to come by. However, as it has been said before, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.





POST RACE:
After the race I did get to do one thing everyone who visits Philly should do. I went and got a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. I went to Pat’s, which is directly across from one of the other famous cheese steak places, Geno’s. It was so good and a great reward to a great race. 

Two famous Philly Cheese Steak Places are right across from each other  


        We went to Pat's!
YUM!!!

2 comments:

  1. Nice write up. Keep up the great work

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  2. This was your best race report yet! I love how positive you sound throughout all the challenges. Great job on the run...sounds like the best you've done yet!

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