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

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