Monday, August 15, 2011

Luray International Triathlon race report: The bike breaks through

On May 23 I wasn't really looking forward to this race. I had just come off an incredibly disappointing bike split at the Columbia Triathlon and Luray was only hillier and longer. The only reason I decided to do it was because it fell on a good calendar date and was several weeks out from Nations, a good tuneup. Then I visited the Czech Republic, biked, thought lot about my biking and once I got back to the USA, I paid a visit to Elite Bicycles in Philadelphia, and that would change, well, a lot of things. Several bike races and a solid race at Culpeper later, I was pumped for Luray. My bike legs had, overnight seemingly, realized the training they did over the winter and spring and were strong and much faster than before, and I felt pretty confident going into the race I challenged a couple years ago (the sprint, that time)... of course the legs were always strong, it was the bike fit that was holding me back. No more, thanks to Max at Elite.

Pre-race -- This was pretty important. The group of people I was staying with rented a cabin on a mountain, which required a nearly half-mile walk up a steep dirt road that 2-wheel drive cars could not get up (my hardy 2-door Civic, for as many bikes as it can carry in it's innards, cannot tread anything but road). I had to walk up this mountain road twice on Friday evening. We were all sweating and tired after each walk up, so I considered this my Friday run, but it was too much.

SWIM (1500m) -- 24:03, 14th. This went fine, I was slowed a bit by the 2 waves in front of me (3 and 6min ahead). Within the first 200m i caught up to 40-49 men and by halfway I was catching and going by 30-39 men. This wasn't helpful in keeping a good draft or a straight line as I had to dodge or give up drafts in order to move out of the way. This kind of sucked, but my time didn't suffer by all that much. Managed to keep a good tempo without crushing myself, stayed calm. Came out of the water feeling pretty good. Judging by time vs. effort, the swim may have been a little long, as Matias swam only 22min.

T1 -- 1:55, 80th. I totally blew this. It was going ok until I was about to leave transition when my aero bottle popped loose from its bracket. I panicked and stopped to fix it in transition. Should have just got on the bike and tried to fix it while moving. After fumbling around with it, I still wasn't able to fix it, so I just wasted all that time. Also took too long to take off speed suit. Need to really nail that down, lost 40sec to Eric Sorensen and a couple other guys I wanted to beat.

BIKE (42.1km) -- 1:09:13, 7th. This went great. I was picking off people and really using my power on the steep hills. Was able to stay in aero the whole time thanks to the new fit, which is a major help. I put myself in a good strong tempo and just focused on that effort. First time I felt really in control on the bike during a 40k and without a doubt my best bike split rank in a competitive race. It's clear the training is finally being put to good use thanks to the bike fit. Rode the same time as Columbia, except this was over 1km longer and a slower (read: much hillier) course. Beat Sorensen's split and just behind Mike Harlow's, which are good benchmarks for me. Only problem... I didn't drink nearly enough. I was scrambling for water from my aero bottle after I drained it (which was loose the entire ride, had to hold it in place with wrists), and was empty 4mi from transition. I should've put on a second small bottle on the frame. Dumb mistake that I'd pay for on the run.

T2 -- 1:00, 51st. This doesn't look good either. Not sure what went wrong here, I think I racked my bike and then it slid off so that wasted a few more precious seconds, I forget.

RUN (10km) -- 39:03, 10th. First 2 miles were just fine, good pace and turnover. Then I hit the gravel/loose rocks for the middle half and it just progressively got worse. My flats didn't do too well on the gravel and around mile 4 I started feeling my calves cramp up. I know this was a combination of not enough water on the ride (and being unable to drink properly/enough while running), and the climbing I did Friday night. I had to slow up within the last 2 miles or so at points to shake out and prevent cramps, and this led to a pretty slow final mile... Not happy with the time, but I am glad I avoided calf cramps... need to hydrate better and avoid excess work the day before a race. This run should have been much better. It cost me at least 2 placements, compared to what I can run on a course like Luray's.

2:15:13, 7th overall. Happy with the time and overall placement, another good result in a race I wasn't rested or taperedfor. This would've ranked me higher in previous years but it was a more competitive race this particular year. Really pleased with my bike and cool with the swim. Very disappointed in my lame transitions and how I set myself up for failure on the run. Nevertheless, this instills a good deal of confidence in myself. I know I can now bike with the better cyclists. I just need to make sure I'm setting myself up well for the kind of run I am capable of. Zero and Pat finished 8th and 9th, so it was cool to line up with them in the results. Alyssa was 2nd in the ladies race and Ryan shook off a frustrating bike mechanical to finish respectably, although he'll disagree. Triathlon rookie Ben had a fine race too.

The next day we went out to Skyline Drive... Pat and I rode for 2 hours and then followed with a solid 45min run, with the pace picking up considerably for the last 10-15min. What a weekend!!

Big shout out to MATIAS and his fiancee Katie, who went first and first overall in the olympic, and 1-2 in the sprint the next day. What better wedding gift can two triathletes ask for?

1 comment:

  1. Solid race Andy! I agree...swim was loooong a 1500m.

    Keep on crushing it! :)