Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's go Fort Stormin! (Race Report)

Last year this race didn't go so well (what with pulling out and waiting for the police/medical after the guy in front of me was clipped by a truck/trailer.) as this is actually the "Smoke on the Water" course from last year and NOT the Olympic "Storm the Fort."  My primary goal was to just safely finish, with a hope to score as many points as possible in the Sprint Series. (This race counted double.)

That said, like all my sprints this year leading up to the big races, I would be "training through" it. Thursday was a tempo run and tough swim, with Friday being mercifully short and sweet 1' repeats on the bike, so I wasn't going in totally rested and ready, but excited and anxious none the less.

It's a good drive to Kingston from my house, so the lovely Jenny and myself headed out about 5a.m. I check in and bike racks are semi-marked (your row was marked, but first come first serve inside that) so I grab the end. Prime position. Josh and his dad were also getting set up, along with Terry and Lloyd, so I spent some time chatting and then finally decided I should probably warm up.

I got a long bit of riding in on the bike so I'd have a chance to scope out a little of the course, particularly the train tracks a few miles in. They are the very wide variety and at a very odd angle, so hitting them just right is of paramount importance... and even then I thought it best to slow down just a tad. Complicating things was the washed out gravel on the return trip side... I mentally make a note and carry on. They were enough of a concern I ran my Jet9 (22mm tire) instead of my HED3. (19mm)

Anyways, I get back, battle for my spot at the rack (yes...that's my stuff... no you didn't show up 20' before start and get the best spot on the rack...sorry.) and get into my swimskin. The family arrives, I get a few kisses (lucky!) and go hop in the water to warm up with the call for 8 minutes to start.


Swim - 11:36 (600y - probably long by a bit) 10th OA out of the water.

Land Ho!

Well... I thought I had 8 minutes. No sooner do I hit water than I hear the announcement for 1 minute to start... yikes! I get my face wet and get toward the front toward the middle of the river.  The gun sounds and we're off.

Moderately physical for the first minute or so, but then the waters cleared out. I'm pretty much on my own up until the second turn buoy at which point I find some feet. I hold on for a minute or two, but realize my trailblazer is going wildly off course. I correct and sail in on my own. I most certainly shouldn't have taken for granted he was sighting well. Oh well. Live and Learn. I'm out fairly early (by my estimation) but I know a few guys have gotten a fair lead on me.

T1 - 1:21 (long run from swim to transition)

Lonely Transition

I make the long run from the swim exit and quickly get my glasses and helmet on and head out on the bike. As I hit the mount line my Powertap Joule decided to fall off! A volunteer somehow catches me and I fumble trying to put it on before finally saying "F" it and throwing it to my mom who is standing at the side of transition. I hop on the bike and curse a few times. Guess I'm riding without power today.

Bike - 33:46 (13mi) 3rd OA

After getting in my shoes and up the first little incline, I drop in aero and start doing work. I pass a few places in the first few miles and think I'm probably somewhere in the top 3. I hit the train tracks just a bit harder than I had thought to and launch the aero straw cover thing off of my Torhans (2nd one in 2 races... be warned if you live in rough areas... my next one is getting a pin through it.) but otherwise come through unscathed. The rest of the ride is pretty uneventful, I push as hard as I think I can handle and still be able to run. Wish I'd had power but such is life sometimes. At the final turn back to the road leading to transition I finally see someone in front of me. (eventual 3rd place, Nicholas) I make the catch with about 1/2 a mile to go and think I'm in first. Little did I know I was actually just WAAAY behind in second place.

T2 - 00:35

I jump off the bike and am quickly running out of t2, with the guy I passed on the bike right behind me. He looks like a runner... which isn't good for me. Nonetheless, I'm not going to slow down.

Run - 26:41 (4 miles) 16th OA

Lumbering towards the finish line

And by not slow down, I mean I immediately slow down and start pacing with him. I know (from many...many experiences) that I'm bad about going out too fast off the bike, so I figure a little pacing might go a long way. He is open to working together and tells me we are way behind Bill (1st place... I hadn't even seen him in transition that morning) and that he's not feeling up to catching him. I know I'm not catching him so we have our gentleman's truce until at least mile 3 and work together.

The run course is pretty miserable (they all are if you're me) with a charge up to the fort at a little past the first mile marker (who builds a fort on a hill anyways... jeez... the nerve.) and it quickly starts to eat into how I'm feeling. Soon I'm all alone, with my pacer long since leaving me in the dust, but unfortunately I can hear somebody (David) else closing the distance between us. At mile 3 he passes me and I'm repulsed to see a "34" on the back of his leg. Sigh. Guess there will be no cruising to the finish line. I'm hurting but I've heard him breathing hard for over a mile so I muster up something and catch his heels. I sit on his back for a good ways until we come up on transition... at this point there is a long (100m'ish) path down the river, then it widens up into a boat loading parking lot where the finish line is. I come beside him and we run down the path shoulder to shoulder.

I'm not a good sprinter. My kick is more of a hop. I'm pretty sure if we get close enough for a "real" sprint then I'm going to get trounced. So as we step to the parking lot I make my move. I give it everything I've got left and fortunately my opposition is already on the rivet and lets me cross with a couple of seconds buffer. Been a while since I worked that hard at the line.

I collapse in exhaustion and lay they for a minute to collect myself.

Finish: 1:13:56 (1st AG / 4th OA)

Jenny trying to get a picture of me ;)

Sadly, since the men 40+ started after us, I am eventually kicked from the podium to 4th, within a few seconds... now I really wish I hadn't stopped for my Joule ;)

Still, I was happy. Double points for 1st in my AG gives me a safe buffer for the series in my age group, and puts me very close to the top for the overall.

We hang out and watch some other finishers, then wait for awards and finally it's time to head home. Nobody got hurt, so the race was a huge success in my book!

Now it's back to training... hard training. It's kind of "cram" time for August which is fastly approaching. Time to get in the best shape I can possibly be in!

A less dorky than normal picture of the Cobb Mobb kit.

As always, thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate it!

-Christopher Morelock


  1. Nice report, man. I followed the link from Slowtwitch. Congrats on a great race. I cant imagine having to run hard up to the Fort. That is what I love about long course; I was able to walk both trips!

    1. Hah, I was wondering who had the Dimond bike. I wanted to wait for the finish of the 1/2 and ask you about it (obviously I have a fixation with the 2001/3001) but life :/

      Beautiful bike nonetheless, you crushed that course!

      And with your run split, I imagine you didn't do much walking ;)