Wednesday, July 16, 2014

6 Years of Triathlon (a race report)

Saturday was that time of year again. My Triathlon Anniversary. This is the 6th time I've gotten my feet wet at the West Side YMCA triathlon, the first race I ever did. It's a super sprint (200y, 12k, 4k) and a small race usually, but nonetheless it holds a very special place for me. This year it had another reason to be special. Jimmy had finally caught the bug and decided to try a triathlon, so it would be his first as well. His goal... have the fastest bike split.

Nothing like some friendly competition!

On to the Report!


I get up pretty early and have a cup of "Olympic Gold" Granola (Kristin Armstrongs breakfast) and wash it down liberally with espresso. I shower and pack up and as soon as the beautiful support crew arrives we're off to the venue.

Jenny giving me some last minute advice... like "don't suck."

I get a pretty good position in transition and get marked. The run course had been changed this year so I spend a little extra time acquainting myself with the new route and making sure I'm aware of any surprises (as some of the course was off road) that might be awaiting. Then it's back to get a lap of the bike course in and again make sure nothing nasty is on course. Finally, as I've been unable to swim all week (pools closed... which is a lot funnier if you're internet meme savvy.) I got in a "long" warmup in the pool as time for the start drew near. (Long being about 500y, which is long only if you consider the swim is only 200y.)

Then it's good lucks and see you soon's to the family and Jenny, and a last well wishes to Jimmy who was seeded quite a ways back (he's not a swimmer.) I seed myself about 10 people back and prepare for the redlining to come.

Swim: 2:58 (19th place)

Don't judge me.
My swim was terribly unexciting and blessedly quick. In a sprint with a swim as short as this one, that's exactly what I was hoping for. I knew I was going to be a couple of places down coming out of the water, but was fairly confident my bike would shore up most of the difference... other than Nick (the eventual winner) who I knew would be tough to catch from the start, as he's a fairly "complete" triathlete and a good swimmer.

Before I have time to consider most of that however, the swim is over! I crawl up the ladder and it's time for transitions!

T1: 1:11

Look at that handsome devil with those razor sharp tan lines.

This is the nastiest transition ever. The entire way to (and in) transition is loose gravel and broken pavement. Fortunately I practice walking on hot coals, so it's no big deal for me. I take the jaunt down to the bikes, get my helmet on and head for the line. I've been practicing my flying squirrel but I'm still not positive I can nail it 100% of the time... so I take a step over as opposed to a full jump. Cost some seconds but likely saved some skin.

Bike: 17:54 (4th place)

That doesn't look chrome at all...  stupid Kask.

This bike course is very rewarding to those who are familiar with it. There are two turns in particular that can be taken very fast only if you know them, otherwise you'll slow quite a bit thinking they are tighter than they are. I was actually down a couple of watts from last year, but faster, mainly due to not as much braking on said turns.

Jimmy had said he wanted the fastest bike split, so I was willing to dig a little extra to try and deny him of it. (what are friend's for) Overall, the bike went great for me, with a short delay behind a van (we were in a subdivision) and nearly crashing coming back towards t2 (the race turns left up a big hill to go out into the subdivision, but also turns left coming back toward transition... which can cause some awkward moments when somebody like me comes barreling into that corner expecting to take the turn at full speed. It's the one complain I have about the race... but I'm unsure how to solve it.)

Alas, I was indeed beaten by Jimmy (who got the fastest split) and two others. I kept the losses down though... within 30 seconds of the fastest split, so I was happy.

T2: 0:37

Stupid belt! Being cheered on by the Village People. 

After the near run in (literally) turning back towards transition, I had shaved enough speed that hopping off my bike uphill would be tough, so I took the wuss' way out and gingerly stopped and stepped off. Again... slow... but dignity salvaging. As I ran into transition and yanked my helmet off I slung the face shield off and into the endless rows of "stuff." I look for a few seconds but can't find it so shrug it off. As I get to my rack (actually past it since I was looking for a rack with a space at the end) I realize Nick has nagged my corner spot. (For which he apologized more than once after the race, even offering to take a penalty for it. Stand up guy, but no need to get worked up  in a little race like this.) I get the Cannondale lodged in the triangle made by the top of the rack, grab my number belt and visor and head out on the run.

Run: 16:01 (6th place)

Go ahead, take a second to let how much clashing is going on with what I'm wearing to settle in.

Immediately coming out of transition I hear Rebekah (dressed as the construction worker from the Village People. YMCA...get it?) giving me a little update as to where I am... two ahead of me. Ut Oh...

Being a short 4k with some off road segments, I'm not sure if I can chase anyone down (heck... I'm not sure I can chase anyone down on a good day) but I am hungry for a good placing at this race. At a little under the first mile marker I see somebody on the horizon. It turns out to be Mike (a local Fleet Feet guy who is a VERY good swimmer and very consistent racer.) who is in a little bit of duress. I see him slow to get a couple of deep breathes and know I've got him. I make the pass and the water station lets me know there is only one guy ahead of me but that he has a good lead. Being a time trial start that can mean a lot of things... but I try to muster up what gas I've got left and finish strong.

I make it across the line leaving what I've got on the grass, then collapse in tiredness. Sprinting is hard.

Total: 38:38 (2nd Place)

I get a kiss (woohoo!) and congratulations and then make the trek back to transition to find my face shield and see if my bike is still holding up. After that I take a quick shower (forgot a towel...doh) and come back to cheer on the others. I find Jimmy and he is all smiles (You can read about his thoughts on the race here on his blog) as usual. Then it's sit around and wait, watching lots of my friends get called up for their awards (including Jimmy, who was second in his AG in his first tri!) and then finally coming out with second place overall.

The Greatest awards picture shirt ever.

6 years later, I'm still having just as much (maybe more) fun as when I started. Hopefully I can keep the trend up for another 6 (and many more) years!

Jimmy and myself posing

And that was the gist of it.

Thank you guys for reading, I really appreciate it! I've got this next week off to take a little easy, then it's the Oak Ridge Velo TT the next week, the Springbrook Sprint the first weekend of August (gotta keep getting those points) and then it's off to Milwaukee for Nationals. I signed up for the Sprint on Sunday, so I'll be racing back to back days... hoping for a miracle.

Until next week! Stay safe, we've had enough bad luck in the tour this year for all of us.

- Christopher Morelock


Check out the new and improved VFlow Plus 2 here! (Works with the rear hydration mount as well)

The magic floating in space saddle! Ooohhh, ahhh!

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