Wednesday, August 27, 2014

AG Nationals RR 2 - Sprint Race

Let's dive right in to the report. Part 1 (olympic) here.


I woke up early once more. The difference... I was sore. The Olympic had done a number on me. Nothing to be done about it except get moving and try to work out some of the stiffness. Again I'm down to transition as soon as it opens (actually before) since today I'd be going in the first wave. My transition spot was right on the first row as you entered transition (lucky lucky) so I had that going for me. Everything looked good on the bike so after a third, fourth and fifth check over I was satisfied and headed back out to get a little bit of a warmup in.

Jenny was doing the last minute carb loading for me ;)

Fortunately, as it was much earlier than Saturday, there was actually room for me to go for a short run. Besides that, there was much stretching and plenty of work getting my wetsuit on and adjusted as good as I could get it. Before I know it, it's time to get into the practice swim area and get down to business.

Swim - 12:56 (59/114)

Start time!

Again, I was right in the mix at the start. Fortunately all the physical parts involved parts of me that aren't important (like my head) so things went off pretty much without issue. I found a pretty good pair of feet and rode them in up to the second turn buoy, at which point he started pushing out towards the shoreline, which is not the right angle for the swim exit. I have to pass and figure I'm doing better than I was on Saturday because there is still quite the crowd as we head into the exit. Still not an astounding swim, but better than Saturday's despite not being much faster.

T1 - 2:24

Running in half a wetsuit, what a pleasure.

Despite having a much easier to reach spot in transition, it lead to a much longer run out with the bike. My wetsuit made it a point to get stuck on my timing chip today as well. I took a breath, got it off, and headed out the door. The mount line was fortunately fairly clear and carnage free, so I mount and begin the ride.

Bike - 31:46 (38/114)

Heading out on the bike course, take 2

Basically the bike course was the first half of the Olympic, with the turnaround at the end of the bridge (so you got all the climbing available to you.) Going up by the lake walk area out of transition I could already tell my legs were going to protest another blazing ride, which was all for the better really as I had promised myself I would not repeat Saturday's mistakes and cook myself before t2. As I was coming up the first little "hill" I got a look at the leader, clearly crushing everyone. Next I saw two fairly good sized pelotons. Ok... going downhill after a turnaround I can see that happening.

I make my way back past transition and onto the bridge, plugging away and for the first time in my life kind of wishing I had a little softer saddle. Normally I have no problem even on rough terrain, but second day in a row of this broken stuff was starting to put a little stress to the naughty bits. Of course as I'm heading down to the second turnaround I get another view of...again... two pelotons coming back up. I feel like the refs were extremely lax with penalties Sunday morning... if at any point a rider can reach out and touch 4-5 different guys (and multiple riders can do it) they all need pulled over and issued a penalty. I guess we all make the choices presented to us at the time though. Maybe I only saw those groups at precisely the times they were bunched up.

Anyways, one of my goals was to not let things outside my control bother me... so back to my own race. I have a pretty good split considering yesterdays effort and happily have a much smoother dismount as well.

T2 - 1:20
heading out of t2 ready to actually try running

Unfortunately I botch T2. Somehow I miss my shoes laying on the ground and run right by my spot (it's tough when most of the bikes are gone to see exactly where your tiny number on the rack is) and have to do a little backtracking. Fortunately in advance I had written my number on the back of my hand so I could do some quick math and figure out where I needed to go. I rack, put on the Zoots, grab my belt and hat and run for the exit.

Run - 21:45 (68/114)

Look at those rock hard abs... Cobb kit should definitely have a mankini option...

A much better paced run than Saturday. I felt tired from the start, but not the same "holy crap" dead feeling I had after overbiking. The run course was actually a little nicer than it had been the day before as well (I prefer park runs than street runs) and of course being a couple of hours earlier in the day did a little for the cooling. I saw Jenny and the fam early into the run and that really helped. At the turnaround I got to see the guys in front of me. I counted off the first 30 or so before telling myself to "stop doing that"  and focus on my own race once more. At the second mile marker I was finally able to start passing a couple of people who had faded, and got one final shout of encouragement from mom the last k. I gave it one final sprint for the finish line and clocked a solid time, a 1:10:13 for my efforts. That was within a few seconds of what I had expected as a "good" day result, with a 1:07 or so being a great day (and probably pretty unrealistic the day after the Oly) I was quite happy with that result, especially after how I felt on the morning. I knew I was nowhere near the top 25, (although I would have been other years, so i wasn't too far off in my "planning stage") but I was certainly at peace with my performance.

Finish - 1:10:13 (50/114) 366/1734

I spent the majority of the rest of Sunday walking around Milwaukee, driving around trying to find places to park, and lounging in the hotel. It was the start of Shark Week so there was plenty of "veg out" viewing available. I turned in early as we planned to leave around 4a.m. for the trip home.

Unfortunately, I awoke around midnight in a cold sweat. It's very rare that I get sick (especially now that I only drink very rarely and very little when I do. No more bender sickness.) but it's a feeling I have no problem remembering. I make a trip to the bathroom and expunge what seems like an endless supply of waste... not so much explosive and violent as it was... well when you pull the lever on the soft serve chocolate yogurt and there is just a seemingly endless stream of... well... enough elaboration... you get the idea (enjoy your next trip to Froyoz!) After only moderate relief I come to the next logical step... barf time. I yak loud enough to wake poor Jenny (who thought I was dying) who I hastily get to retrieve the little pink bottle from my "emergency" bag.

At least you'll always remember me when you have ice cream.
I spend the next couple of hours downing pepto and drinking water and powerade... knowing hydration is likely the most dangerous part of the equation, especially after two days of racing. We move on with the plan to leave early (although closer to 5 than 4) with me curled into a ball of death in the back. Fortunately I was never sick again... other than feeling quite terrible cramped up in the truck for nearly 14 hours. (thanks Chicago rush hour) I still have no idea what caused me to be sick, although it had happened to a couple of people who raced. I then slept for about 2 days straight, while eating basically nothing but greek yogurt and popcorn... not the best way to recover. As bad as being sick is normally, being sick while your body is trying to get over being put through two days of racing is worse.

As soon as I recovered enough to start training again I contacted a local swim coach about working with me. Too long have I been content with "not drowning for xxx distance" as opposed to swimming. A week later I'm making improvements (especially to my kick which was "beyond abysmal") already and although I still have a long road ahead of me I'm motivated to make swimming a strength instead of something I just try to get through.

Next weekend (Sept 7th) is the Rev3 Aquabike. I'm feeling stronger on the bike than I have all year, even managed to set some new 2 hour power records over the weekend, so now it's a cram session to try to "patch" my swim up as good as I can between now and the 7th. It's too late to gain much if any fitness, but if I can gain some efficiency in that time... well, we'll just see what happens.

Thanks for reading, for anybody reading this wondering if you should do Nationals (back in MKE for 2015) my answer is definitely yes, it's a great race and neat experience. Just don't drink the lake water...

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

AG Nationals RR 1 - Olympic Race

Nationals has come and gone. Somehow I survived the stomach virus that I thought/wished would kill me during the 12 hour drive home. I've had some time to really put some thought into the weekend, and so now I shall bore entertain you with the report/rambling on the Olympic race.

Thursday morning started early. Final preparations/packing, loading the truck and after picking up Jenny we (her, myself and my mom) met my grandparents (full support group) and were on the highway by 5a.m. I wanted to have as much time between the drive and the race as was possible. We made a couple of stops (primarily for breakfast) along the way, but made excellent time all the way to Chicago. Of course I had planned on spending some time sitting in traffic in the windy city... and I was not disappointed. Even at 1 in the afternoon traffic was back to back on the interstate, full of drivers who are seemingly an odd combination of fearless, blind, angry and willing to consider any amount of space, no matter how minor, between my bumper and the one in front of me as an invitation to cut me off. Basically it was crit racing with cars. Eventually the madness subsides and it's smooth sailing into Milwaukee.

Far off shot of the bridge... a taste of things to come.

I check into the hotel (the Hilton, which seemed an awkward choice for "host" hotel considering it's distance.) and we unpack, get settled. We've arrived in enough time to make the walk down to the venue and get checked in, so we do so. It was odd checking in for two races at the same time, but when in Rome.

Look... I know it's juvenile, but c'mon... the Pfister? Really?

this guy had a sweet setup. Worthy of a picture for sure.

Friday was the final check over the bike and check in. I find my transition spot (row K) and say goodbye to the Cervelo. The rest of the day is mostly relaxing, equipment checks and trying to make Saturday morning as easy as possible. We also drove the course and found a most interesting house...

Quite the fisherman.

Another view of this most interesting yard.
pigs, pump, skeletons, motorcycle... so much going on...

Saturday morning came early. I'm up and ready and in transition when it opens. The plan was a final check/airing of the tires and then driving back to the hotel (my wave went off at 9:30) however with all the road closings I couldn't get the truck out and back in to the garage, so I contented myself with watching some of the earlier waves and fretting with my wetsuit. I've been uncomfortable in my Desoto T1 for some time now, but with no other real options available at the time (swim without seemed too cold) I decided to suck it up and make the best out of it. Finally we get called down for the swim warm up, so it's hugs and kisses and hopeful see you quite soon's.

I'm actually dead center in this picture! I wish this picture had a better scope of how many
guys were kicking around at this point in the warmup

Swim - 26:03 (129/184)

We begin the race report with a disaster, namely my swim.  I began second row towards the middle, figuring while I'd be in the melee it would be easier to find some feet fast. I'm not an exceptional swimmer, but I am comfortable in open water and good at taking a pummeling, so lining up in the midst usually works out for me. This time it didn't. The horn sounds and it's go time. My first stroke I somehow get my left arm caught between the guy in front of me's scissor kick. He kicks hard and catches me in the perfect spot... my world becomes shooting pain. My first thought is "fuuuu!" I have a couple of other mixed thoughts as well, like how bad am I really hurt, but above all the thought is "stop and get run over." With a lack of options I swim/gimp on. I take more of a beating than usual but at least I wasn't swam over. With a little free space that opens (turns out because I was at the back) and the pain subsiding in my arm I re-focus towards getting out of the water. That was still probably 100-200m into the swim, before going under the bridge. I'm afraid that's all the excitement, at that point I find the next pair of feet that looks like it's taking a good line and follow. Honestly I didn't think I was that far behind at the time, but thinking back I do remember thinking "this is easy.." which usually means I'm half a$sing. While certainly not a swimmer I think 23 or 24 was closer to my ability.

Look at that chaos. Again, dead center trying to get out of there.

T1 - 2:26

Enough swimming. By the time I hit the ramp enough guys are gone that I get a free shot at being pulled up by the volunteers. Then it's straight to running the long way into transition proper. Once in I make my way to row "K" and locate my bike. My bibjohns get stuck a little longer than usual but eventually I peel myself out and take off running... which in itself was madness since you have to dodge other guys trying to get their stuff AND being run over by guys behind you in a narrow row. Once out the gate I see the disaster zone known as the mount line. The guy behind me goes flying by, hops on his bike and ejects his shoe from the pedal! It goes shooting across the gated off area with him in hot pursuit. I had considered a flying mount myself (I have been practicing!) but after seeing that I take a step over and although I lose a second or two I manage to salvage some dignity.

This picture not brought to you by Marathon photos, because they did not get good pictures.

Bike - 1:00:51 (47/184) 217watt avg.

Time to do work. The plan is to take the first mile or so pretty lax, get down and into a rhythm, start putting down some power until the bridge, climb it at a controlled pace, bust it down, do some real work in the "town" out & back, take up the bridge on the way back a little bit more conservative and then spin out the downhill back to transition.

The start of the plan works perfect. I'm feeling good from the start and by the halfway point I'm feeling even better. As I turn back onto the bridge, only a few miles from t2 the mind... starts.

When I grabbed my bike in T1 the first thing I did was turn on my powertap. So in the back of my mind I knew that SOME amount of time shown on it was from running through t1. And I was close to an hour close. The warning bells were going off...stick to the plan. The angel on my shoulder was telling me not to do it...but like Faust before me the lure was too great. I go up the bridge with ferocity and hammer down after cresting... hitting the pseudo speed bumps (covering cracks in the road) with reckless abandon. I scorch toward t2 and a miserable run.

Of course, like most deals with the devil, things don't turn out the way you hope when you make the deal. Sure, got an hour, but those stupid fifty one seconds mar it. So, ruin your run AND don't go 1hr even. Good deal.

Heading into T2, pre-dropping my bike.
T2 - 1:26

I come towards the dismount line HOT. As in...way too fast. When I hop off my bike I have to quick step a couple of times to keep from face planting. I immediately know my legs are toast, and am already feeling like a dummy. Then, my hand slips. I don't know how, but I manage to just drop the Cervelo on it's side. I grab it as quick as I can and finish my run into t2.  Thankfully it didn't hurt it, (thank you shoe) although I wasn't sure at the time. I find my rack and get in my shoes as quick as my addled mind will work, and then it's out the gate to get crushed.

At least I look stylish! Look at that crossover though...bleh.

Run - 46:38 (130/184)

What an ugly run. The idea was take mile 1 easy and get worked into a rhythm, then negative split it. What actually happened was I took mile 1 easy and then slowed down. I don't have any good excuses, I overbiked and get exactly what I deserved (and knew would happen.) Fortunately I had time (plenty of time) to have some fun. I was passed by a steady stream of guys from start to finish, but I had accepted my punishment and just tried to give out any encouragement/thanks that I could. Finally we reach the final mile and I try to pick up the pace a bit and at least finish looking solid. Few times have I ever been so happy to be done or so disappointed in myself. All the blame is mine for that one.

Finish - 2:17:26 (91/184)

So ended race number 1. I found Jenny and the family and we killed some time until finally I was allowed back in transition to get my bike. Everything was in good condition and ready for another day so I checked it back in at my new transition spot (right at the gate of the swim entrance) and high tailed it back to the hotel to get some down time before the sprint.

Next week I'll finish up with the sprint and talk about things that are going to change (and already have started changing.)

Thanks for reading, you guys have no idea how much I appreciate it.

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

USAT Nationals

And so here is the report from the weekend of racing in Milwaukee. I think next week I'll actually detail out a real "report" but for this week just some general impressions over the weekend. I've been sick since Monday morning at about 1a.m. (which made for a... unique... 12 hour drive back to TN) so I am probably going to be pretty lazy with this post. First, let's get this out of the way.

1.) Have fun. Race the best I have on the day without any self brow beating.
Check. I had a good time both days and didn't let the bad get to me.
2.) PR the Olympic distance. That means 2:12:38 or better.
Nope. 2:17:26 with a pretty ugly swim and run.
3.) Gut out the Sprint and leave everything I've got on the table.
Check. I felt like I raced the Sprint extremely well after Saturday.
4.) Not hold back in either race no matter how I think I'm doing. Race to the end of both on the redline.
Check. I gave it what I had.
5.) Not make any silly mistakes (nutrition wise, equipment wise, new on race day, etc.)
Check'ish. I used the full sleeve wetsuit I am not terribly comfortable in... but due to water temps I didn't want to use the sleeveless.

Friday after bike check in we got a picture in the park. Beautiful weather was a theme of the weekend.

*added goal from the Cobb Mobb group... not get caught by Barry Phelps (who is a monster) until the run. I'm proud to say he didn't pass me until 2 miles into the run :)

Obviously missing my goal time in the Olympic meant that to start with there was no shot of a top 25. Even if I had hit a perfect day I would still have likely been closer to 30th than 25th. Some true talent showed up this year... it was humbling to see the speed of some of those guys. My time was 91st, which was obviously a disappointment, but the race was what it was.

You can see the disappointment on my face after the Olympic.

The sprint went a lot better. Despite some soreness I actually raced better than I did the day before. I had expected around a 1:10 (with 1:05 being a great day) and finished in 1:10:17, so pretty close. Last year that would have been 25th place exactly, but it was only good enough for 50th this year. A little disappointing but I think it's obvious I'm not quite worlds material at this point anyways ;)

As far as the actual event, I thought it was a very well set up and ran race. The area was for the most part nice (although the bridge was a bit rough) and there were plenty of people to make sure the race ran smoothly. The only gripe I have with Milwaukee is that it is literally the hardest city on earth to get something to eat in. Downtown in every other city I've ever been in is always littered with places to eat... here that was not the case, at least not anywhere I walked around.

Ouch. Triathlon Tramp Stamp in place. The only thing better would be if "Cobb" was a cutout in the shorts ;)

I met a lot of great people while up in MKE. It was finally a good chance to put some faces with a couple of the other Cobb Mobbsters (who all did very well, better than me for sure!) and I even had the pleasure of talking to a couple of people who recognized me from the blog. I only had a pen handy to write down Patrick's name... you other guys I'm terrible sorry I suck with remembering names, but hope you had great races! 

Next week a real race report. I hope everyone who raced this last weekend (nationals or not) stayed safe and had a good day!

-Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Short race report and some thoughts before Nationals

A day early! I'll be leaving early (10-12 hours driving in the morning) Thursday and will likely need most of tomorrow to finish any work related stuff (I do work... occasionally) and get packed. Most of this post will be RR from the last tuneup (Springbrook Sprint) but there is some flavor at the end as well talking about my goals this weekend. Again... hope to see any and all of you at Nationals, I'll be wearing my Cobb gear. Say Hi :)

All CopyPasta from my RR on Link is here if you'd prefer to read it in that format and/or check my splits.

Last warm up before Nationals... just going out to keep all the rust off the gears. 

Warm up - 

Started off with a solid run. About a mile and a half on the course, just getting a feel for some of the hills. Back to transition and off to get some time on the bike. My new (steel) fork made a nice squeal every time I turned (fork+skewer... had to get some anti-seize to quieten it down) but it felt good. Got back to transition and my spot had been taken (despite me clearly marking it with my stuff and a shirt over the spot my bike should have fit.) I grumble but nobody is around and I'm not the kind of person to just shove somebodies stuff around, (and my spot had already sucked) so I just move my area down a few feet. Then it's into the pool for a few laps and in line for the swim start.

Standing around looking like an idiot (far right)

Swim - 2:55 (12th)
Short and sweet. Cut 4 seconds off of last years time so I suppose I was moderately happy with that. However I gave up 30" to some of the faster guys, which is a mountain of time in a swim this short. 

Do I look like I'm joking!

T1 - 1:14
T1 is a very long run from the pool to transition. I picked up 7 seconds from my time last year :/ Primarily due to having to fight with getting my bike out of my transition spot and running around the racks. I step on and take off, narrowly missing being taken out by a rogue competitor trying to get clipped in. As transition exits on a hill, I waited until cresting it to worry about getting into my shoes. 

heading out to do work
Bike - 23:04 (2nd)
I smoked the bike course last year and paid for it on the run. My goal this year was to take it easier, but still put out a good pace. 

Once again on the rough pavement I nearly lost my torhans aero straw. I jammed it back on three times (and when I got home drilled a hole through it to bolt it on. permanently...take that) which broke my rhythm and just generally annoyed the crap out of me. 

The steel fork was fine, not any more noticeable road vibration. 

I passed a couple of people, eventually working my way into what I figured was an excellent position (hard to tell in a tt start) and start getting out of my shoes for t2. At the last turn the pavement was VERY bumpy... I hit it full speed and very nearly eat it when my foot slides off my shoe. I recover and it's into T2 I go.

I always think I look so cool coming into dismount... but pictures prove otherwise...

T2 - :31
I come into T2 hot, which is probably not the smartest thing to do since there are still a LOT of people starting out on the bike. I still gave up a good bit of time somewhere unfortunately(probably again part of my sucky transition spot) but I can't think of anything overly boneheaded I did.

This one can just speak for itself...

Run - 18:22 (9th)
Goal was to take it easy and move into a steady pace after the first mile. I executed fairly well I think, and although my run wasn't setting any trails on fire, it was fairly good for me... and I didn't walk ;)

Podium time

Overall - 45:52 (2nd OA)
So overall I had a pretty good race. I think I went a little too easy on the bike this year (overcompensation) but not too much. I was happy with everything except the :30 I gave up in the swim. My plan this off season is to grow some gills and/or nail down my swimming.  Although I'm seemingly becoming a worse cyclist it's in favor of becoming a better rounded triathlete, so I can't be upset with that. Run speed is still pretty lacking for short course, but that is not unexpected at this point. I'm likely one more year of trying to tack on speed before I start pushing for longer distances again, so I've got time to improve some more.

Thursday morning I'll be on the road to Milwaukee. As I said in earlier posts, dreams of a top-25 are behind me certainly for the Olympic, and likely for the sprint as well (although I may still have a shot there...and possibly in the roll down) So, goals stated to look back at next week (or the next...depending on how I feel when I get home next week)

1.) Have fun. Race the best I have on the day without any self brow beating.
2.) PR the Olympic distance. That means 2:12:38 or better.
3.) Gut out the Sprint and leave everything I've got on the table.
4.) Not hold back in either race no matter how I think I'm doing. Race to the end of both on the redline.
5.) Not make any silly mistakes (nutrition wise, equipment wise, new on race day, etc.)

I normally don't ask it, but if you had the chance/will, I'd accept any prayer/karma/vibes/thoughts in the positive that my family and girlfriend (and myself) have a safe trip down and back. And if you wanted to throw in any miracle talk for a perfect day (or two in a row) I wouldn't be opposed to that either ;)

Thanks all for reading. I hope to have something entertaining at the least to report next week :)

- Christopher Morelock