Last race report for a while... since, as of right now, this was the last race I had scheduled. As much as I have enjoyed just racing for fun this year with no pressure of a "Big" race to finish off with, it time to start winding down the racing (This month so far I've raced 5 times) and start working on my weaknesses... primarily my running. That's a post for another time though. Today it's all about the Storm the Fort Olympic Tri.
The Pregame: Bad Luck take 1
Friday night I had some Sushi with Jenny and then turned in early so I would have time to get everything packed and make the hour(+) drive to Kingston by the time transition opened. (6a.m.) I make one last check over the Planet X and everything seems to be working perfectly.
Saturday all goes to plan. Heck, I'm actually feeling really good. Breakfast (Oats, Banana, Coffee, 2 Eggs) in and I'm out the door. I find some optimal parking and set up transition/get body marked. I see Josh and we banter for a while until the sun comes up and it's time to warm up. I unrack and head out for a good ride. Two miles into the bike is the only significant climb (a Category 5 though) and I want to get up it in warmup to see what gear I need to be in. I shift down into the small ring (42t) and feel like I've found a comfortable gear. I turn around to head back and try to upshift... I'm met by a bad grinding noise and no shift.
You hear me baby? Hold Together!
I get off and inspect. It seems that my FD has pulled itself down into the way of the (Osymetric) chainrings. Crap. I limp back to transition and fortunately there is a mechanic from an LBS. I explain my problem (he looks at me like I'm crazy at first) but he does have some tools and threadlocker so we get the FD set back up "good enough" to get me through the race... hopefully. I have to cut my warmup a bit short and end up hustling to get in my swimskin and in the water before the start. I find Josh and some of the other guys I normally swim around/behind and get near them, waiting for the Cannon to fire. All the men 40 and under get pretty crowded together.
The Swim (24:54 - 12th OA, 1st AG)
Contact is immediate. I'm punched right in the right side of the face, slapped on the back of the head from the left and all around just beat up. It was a fairly violent start, but I keep my cool and follow a set of feet for the first 150-200m. At that point things have calmed down but I can't keep my feet's pace, so I settle into my race pace expecting to find another set pretty soon. A few minutes later I realize I haven't seen anyone pass me. A few times I feel a slap on my own feet, but even that is fleeting. I sight a bit more than usual since I am almost afraid I've somehow went off course. Nope... buoys to the left, canoes to the right... seems like I'm on track. I plow on, making the final sharp turn back to the ramp. I exit onto the mat and see the guy helping with the exit who is telling me "4th."
4th out of the water? Me?
Man, sweet. I guess the changes I've made to my stroke have really payed off. No time to pat myself on the back though, off to transition.
I run into t1 and fuss with my Xterra swimskin for a minute before getting my helmet and glasses on. Then it's a quick hop onto the bike (and narrowly avoiding my buddy Jimmy who is right on me with a camera) and off to the bike ride.
The Bike (1:03:14 - 2nd OA, 2nd AG)
Let's just get it out of the way... I'm nervous as crap about my Derailleur. I'm very worried about shifting up/down pulling it back down into the rings, so I choose to be VERY sparing with my upshifts/downshifts in the front. The plan is to only drop to the small on the first and last climb and then muscle through all of the rollers. As far as pace/power goes, I'm aiming for an Intensity factor of ~1.00 or possibly just a little over. The bike course is pretty optimal for a fast position, with some fast downhill to match the climbing and only 2 actual turns, so staying in aero was king.
Awesome picture by Eric Barger
I hit the turnaround and grab a bottle just to dump some water on my head (and score a free bottle!) I see the three riders in front of me but they have a pretty significant gap and I am not willing to kill myself on the bike just to walk the run. At the second turn the road becomes pretty rough and you start the second uphill section. I shift down... and drop my chain! I immediately shift back up (you can normally save a dropped chain that way if you didn't know) however my chain has lodged itself between the ring and the (obviously) improperly adjusted chain catcher. I jump off the bike, cussing and spitting and start trying to jam the chain back up onto the rings. After what seemed like forever I get it back in place and take off again, except covered in bike grease this time :) I check my timer and realize I was terribly close to have a sub hour 40k, but have to settle for 3 minutes over. Sigh. Back to transition with no more incidents.
Hop off the bike at the dismount line and run it in to the rack. Zoots on and grab the belt/hat and take off out the gates. Now to see if I put enough time into the runners to keep my position.
The Run (42:52 - 22nd OA, 7th AG)
The death march begins. My goal is just to go by feel and try not to bleed too much time. I haven't been running a lot (due to the bike racing) and I've never been a terribly great runner, so modest goals are what I'm after. The course is fairly flat for the first 5 miles, then makes a longish climb up to the fort the last mile. (Pff... building forts on elevated ground... who thought that up) As I close in on the turnaround I get a good view of the guys in front and behind me. I am definitely NOT catching anyone in front of me unless they have a massive blowup, and I've got a fairly significant lead on *MOST* of the guys behind me... the exception being Andrew. He's the closest to me and he's a MUCH better runner than I am. (He's also the guy with the #1 Bike split) I figure it's going to be close depending on just how fast I am running and how well I stay together. We make it past transition (mile 5) on our way to the fort when I hear breathing behind me. Too soon. I glance back to confirm it's him (it is) and try to work some plan out. As he comes beside me I give all the gas I've got into a move dropping my pace... hoping that he's hurting too and he'll crack. He's strong and obviously up for the challenge, matching my surge. I shake my head and give him the "you got me" and back off before I burn myself totally out. As we start snaking up the hill to the fort you can get a good view of the guys below you and I'm able to see another fellow chasing hard. I still have to walk the final aid station to give myself a break, but manage to find a little bit of juice left to sprint and stay ahead for the line. (although he was from the M40+ wave, so he backed off as he was already ahead of me overall) Overall not a disastrous run (7min/miles is about where I should be on pace) but still nothing inspiring.
Alright so now that that's over, let's play cowboys and Indians!
I grab some food and a coke to refuel, hang out and watch the other guys come though and just wait around for the results. 2nd AG and 6th OA. Not the worst performance ever. I get my cannon and then wait for the announcement for the 'Grand Prix series' awards. Despite DNF'ing at the race earlier this year I still had enough points to end up 1st in my age group... scoring a jacket for my trouble.
Shoutouts to Josh, Rebekah and Sharon who also crushed their Categories in the competition and had good races on the day.
And now it's time for me to learn how to run. It's easy to see when you compare my splits (12th/2nd/22nd) where I'm weakest. The solution isn't quite as simple as more = more... but that's a good start. It's also a good time to see what's up with the bike. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading, I appreciate it!
- Christopher Morelock