Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When a hard day at the office is a tough race (Rev3 Knoxville Olympic)

Some days are tough. If you race long enough, you'll end up with a  tough day on race day. Sometimes it's because of technical, sometimes it's training, and sometimes it's just "a bad day to have a bad day."

Rev3 Knoxville was Sunday, and it was a tough race. I'd say of all the races I've ever done, it was the hardest day I've ever had on course. (yes, counting a 140.6) I knew going in I wasn't in 100% race shape, but I was thoroughly punished on course for not accepting my limits beforehand. But enough of that, let's get straight on to the report.

-Pre Race-

I spent Saturday morning driving the course and putting the finishing tune up on the Cervelo. The online map of the course was a little off and I'm terrible at directions anyways, but all in all I thought I had a "pretty good" idea of where the Olympic course went.  Then I returned to Knoxville with the bike and got checked in. Heck, I even got the best transition space I've ever had at a big event (right on the corner on a side!) Afterwards I had dinner with my friends Jimmy and Sharon and headed home to get some sleep.

Maiden Voyage of the Cervelo

Sunday morning all goes fairly well, Jenny arrives and we head out to transition (arriving by 6:30) which was good, as my front brake had somehow gotten quite mushy overnight. After a quick freak out I get it set right and get my transition set. Then it's a long walk to the pier and a little work getting my wetsuit on. After a round of kisses I smirk and drop a cocky "See you guys in a little over 2 hours." (tsk tsk... cue bad mojo)

Jenny and my mom helping me get suited up

I jump in and do a little swimming around to stay warm and then get in position for the gun.

-Swim- 25:56 (8/33 49/268)

No problem seeing me right? I'm somewhere in the front middle.

With the wave being m40 and under, there's a fair number of us. Nonetheless I seed fairly far up and had pretty clear water the entire way. I still don't like swimming in a wetsuit at all (It rubs my collarbone plate) but it was a necessity in the cool water. I noticed at about 2/3 of the way through the course my foot and calf were trying to cramp up as I kicked, so I lay off a little bit. After what seemed like forever I was flopping up on the dock and on the run to T1. Honestly, Knoxville is a pretty "boring" swim (up, around, down) but it is a tough swim. I never felt like the current was helping no matter which direction I was going. I was lukewarm to happy with my swim time/placement, especially on the yardage I've been getting in lately.

-T1- 2:14

Swimming is fun, swimming is fun...

It's a pretty long run from the dock to the bike... which was a good thing in this case as I had a hard time fiddling with my zipper. Eventually I get it off and get glasses/helmet/bike ready without much incident. I'm quickly on the bike and into my shoes. Time to do work.

-Bike- 1:08:20 (2/33 12/268)

I really need to practice my flying squirrel.

Or not. The bike started off with a short climb onto the exit ramp out of town. Immediately I was in my small chain ring and not feeling good. I mentally reminded myself to take it easy, drink some water (the Torhans 20 worked out quite well for this race) and not freak out the first few miles. Eventually I start to come around and feel "better," if not good. I am passed at about mile 12 by Andrew (who beat me at Storm the Fort last year.) and despite KNOWING that I'm not in shape to bike with him I decide to try and pace him, once or twice I even manage to pass him when I'm feeling strong. All good things come to an end though, and as we hit the "climb" of the course at mile 15 I am reminded (quite brutally) that I am not in the best shape on the bike. Goodbye guys, have a good ride. I do get a boost from Jimmy, who anyone there will know as the Pink Horse on the bike course... he went all out to lift my spirits. Going down the descent is where I get a little confused from the course "turn by turn" I followed the day before. It said turn right at the bottom of the hill, but the signs (all pink... would it have hurt to put green tape down too rev3?) pointed straight. With nobody around I forge one, but not at full speed...trying to find out if I'm off course. Eventually some volunteers tell me I'm going the right way, so I speed off back toward town. Like a fool it's almost the end of the bike ride before I remember my gel shoved in my pocket. I should have taped it to the top tube to remind me. I down it way too late in the ride.

As I cruise back down the exit ramp I bend down to unstrap my shoe and am hit with a terrible side cramp. I suck it up and get my other shoe off but end up riding sitting up for the last bit of course, trying to get a breath.

Looking back, I would say my bike was too aggressive for my fitness. My intensity factor was very near 1.0 which is just too high, especially having a weaker bike than usual from the get go. I think realistically I was in shape to ride a 1:12 - 1:15

-T2- 2:00 (ish) (t2 and the run were together on Rev3's website)

Riding in on one shoe... the one part of this race I actually looked cool.

I manage to swing my leg over and look pro coming into transition, but as I rack my bike and bend over to put on my Zoots, I'm again struck by a cramp. This one is so bad I have to sit down and take a couple of breaths just to be able to stand back up. In hindsight, I missed out on the podium right here, sitting in t2 trying to breathe. Nothing I could do and thankfully it resided fairly quickly. Time to go suffer.

-Run- 46:30 (ish) (4/33 23/268)

Don't mind me, I'm just heading out to suffer some more.

I've quit races before, both literally (when I was sick on vacation last year) and in spirit. (at Augusta 2012) Never have I wanted to truly quit a race so bad as I wanted to quit on Sunday.
I hurt.
That's the only way to say it.
It was like a snowball of soul crushing. The first few miles I was still struggling just to continue running thanks to my side reminding me that it didn't appreciate the torment I had been putting it through. Eventually I "smoothed" out and actually felt like I could continue on/wasn't going to keel over. Of course the real runners started passing me and it seemed like every one of them had a number on their leg between 30 and 35. I had told myself NOT to look at my watch (as I knew there was nothing I could do about it anyways) but nonetheless I took a look at mile 4 and saw that being around 2:05 had already came and gone with 2 miles left. I sulk a little bit as my pace continues to stagnate at mid 7's, but try to pull myself together and finish as strong as I can for the day. As I'm rounding toward the finish I can hear somebody sprinting on me and I try to pull out what's left...but there just isn't anything there. He cruises by me and I cross the line in an unceremonious collapse.

Toasted and unhappy about it

In retrospect, my run was primarily crushed by my overzealous bike split among some other issues on the day. It's possible my cramp came from too hard a bike as well, although it's hard to be sure. I should have ran somewhere in the 6:50-7 range per mile, and the best I managed was a 7:10 on a (thankfully) downhill section. For a flat course my run was embarrassing, but it's what I had to work with at that point.

I finished with a 2:25:05 (comically a PR at Rev3... considering it's been 4 years since I finished it)
4th in my AG and 23rd overall. Not the day I had planned on, expected or wanted, but the day I had. I came away immediately upset with myself, but having had some days to look back, I've had some lessons drilled into my thick skull that will serve me well come Nationals.

First... It's a triathlon, not a bike race. I have a problem integrating this, but it has to become second nature NOT to try to bike like it's the TdF Prologue. If I had biked even 4 or 5 minutes slower and ran to my potential my day would have been quite a bit better I think, and much less painful.

Second... I still have comfort issues in my wetsuit. My bum shoulder is just a problem it seems... not sure if a sleeveless would help or not, but I might try one out and see in the future.

Third... I can't forget my nutrition on the bike. That was rookie and bone headed. I have to get my head in the game before and during the race.

/ Race Report

So that was Rev3. Bad day behind me, no lingering on it, just learning from it and moving on.

And fortunately I can move on pretty quick, as Memorial Day (next Monday if you didn't want to look at your calendar) is the Springbrook Sprint triathlon. I will be going for the win on the Fleet Feet Sprint series again this year so I'll be there looking to pick up some points.  I guess that means you guys will get two race reports in a row. Hopefully the next one will be a little more exciting.

Thanks for reading, I always appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Ohhh yeah, bonus. Here's a Picture of Jimmy in his pink horse getup. (and me riding him in aero. Yes we are idiots)

All we need now is a PD Lightning Stryke to make him a unicorn.

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