Monday, May 2, 2011

Off-Road Adventures.

As many of you may recall, last season was marked by several “adventures” during races.

First was Lake Mills where I fell on my ass trying to get on my bike.
Then was Elkhart Lake where I fell on my face trying to get off my bike.
Then was Pleasant Prairie where I strained my knee on a steep entrance to the water.
Why should this year be any different…well it shouldn’t.

And with that, I give you the Jhawk Early Bird Sprint Triathlon.

Originally I was not going to do this race. I never have in the past and typically like to ride more outside before racing. The main reason is that I am not a real strong bike handler normally…early in the year it is worse.  Scott managed to talk me into it.

The Jhawk is a very laid back and relaxed race in general. It is a 500yd pool swim followed by a 13+ mile bike ride and a 5k cross country run.

The race director started all the faster swimmers at around 11am. As it turns out I was in the same lane as Scott Bowe and Robbie Greco. We all knew we’d be swimming pretty close to one another. Scott started out first, I was second, Robbie was 3rd, and there was a 4th guy in our lane.

The swim started about right and we were holding a good pace. We started 5s apart and I got right on Scotts feet and drafted. At about the 200yd mark I was about ready to pass Scott when my foot was touched. My first reaction was WTF? I didn’t know Greco had gotten fast enough to pass at this pace…and wasn’t sure why he’d want to leave my draft. I quickly realized it wasn’t Robbie, it was the guy who started in the 4th position and he was motoring right along. He passed me with gusto and then proceeded to pass Scott as well. At that point I didn’t bother making the pass. Looking back I should have. I came out of the water and wasn’t even breathing hard, I could have probably gone a solid 20s faster. Granted I would have dragged Scott and Robbie with me…but 20s is 20s.

T1 was uneventful. Got on the bike and started riding. The day was VERY windy and a little chilly. Pretty close to 50 degrees.

The ride was going well and Robbie, Scott, and I were all 1-2-3 for a little while.  At some point in the ride we were making a right hand turn. I had recently passed Robbie who got out of T1 a little ahead of me. As I made my turn I thought I had pulled straight and took a quick look back over my shoulder to see where Robbie was…I looked back forward and gave a little yelp as I was heading towards the edge of the road and into the ditch. NOT GOOD. By the point my brain engaged, it was too late. I was in the gravel, then riding down into the ditch. I was very fortunate that the ditch was dry and solid…and not loaded with bigger rocks. In any case, I was up on the pedals and managed to bring my bike back to the left and up onto the road. At that point Robbie passed me. At least I wouldn’t have to look over my shoulder to see where he was.  I was still 1-2-3 with Scott and Robbie...but Scott was a much further ahead #1.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I passed Robbie back and took a couple minutes out of him. But it was really windy and rarely seemed to be a head or tail wind, rather a cross wind that was gusty. I never really got comfortable, especially after going into the ditch once. Most of the turns were taken very slowly. Scott finished about 3 min in front of me, which is actually pretty realistic compared to our other rides. So he must have taken the turns fairly slow as well.

T2 was uneventful.

The run was interesting. I’ve been dealing with a hip problem for the last month or so and it has really hampered my ability to run fast. I’ve been running, just not comfortably. Due to that, I really wasn’t sure what to expect on this run. To top it off, I had never done this course and had no idea what to expect. Plus the course was cross country on very uneven terrain. Something I had never really done before.

Overall the run was fun. We were in and out of the woods, up and down hills, going through some mud, through people’s back yards, and all over the place. As I was running I was a little disappointed to see my splits being so slow, but as I thought about it, the course was rather hilly and certainly challenging. The wind made it interesting as well. At one point I was running up a hill and the wind hit me straight in the face, it felt like I went from running to a complete standstill. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I slowed to a 12min pace up that hill it got so brutal.

Anyway, I finished pretty strong. Robbie managed to pass me back on the run. I hate runners. As it turns out I finished 10th overall and won my age-group. Not a bad showing overall.

My swim time was a 5:51. Solid overall, could/should have been better.
The bike was 38:20 or so. Considering the wind, not bad.
My run was a 22:30. Considering the course, not bad.

All in all a good race…and hopefully I can ride outside a bit more in the coming days.

Lessons to remember:
Pay attention to where you are riding. Don’t worry about those behind you.
Don’t be content to draft in the swim.
Bring water in my T1 bag. I was a bit parched prior to the race start.
Use sunscreen, even for a race that only lasts an hour.

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