Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mountain Lakes Triathlon+New bike= Fast bike split!

Mountain Lakes Triathlon... the second to last race of the season for me... Guntersville, AL... 600 yard swim, 16.3 mile bike and 3 mile run... touted as one of the fastest events in the area due to the course!

For this blog entry... I need to go back to Wednesday... the day my new triathlon bike was delivered... it came late Wednesday afternoon and when I received the text from Maddison saying it was delivered I immediately departed work. I arrived home with my heart all a flutter... opened up the box and unwrapped my new chariot with incredible fervor! She is a beauty... I am beaming from ear to ear... but quickly my elation is squelched when I realize I have to put it all together... and I AM NOT A BIKE MECHANIC! To protect the bike during shipping it was completely taken apart and wrapped up... not a big deal... I have a workshop... so off I go... I make quick work of getting it all together... albeit... the fork/stem took several attempts to get everything in the right order but it was together in about an hour... except for the rear derailleur... the slip washer had come off during shipment and the entire body had come apart... now.. I knew what needed to be done to get the tension required back on the spring but for the life of me I could not figure out how to do it... with greasy fingers... as luck would have it... we had Mark Nelson and his kids over for dinner that night... and Mark has experience with bike wrenching... so after dinner we head out to the workshop and btwn the 2 of us we get it all together... I quickly take it out for an inaugural spin... and INSTANTLY realize just how fast she is going to be once I get a proper fitting. So here she is...
I bought her used from oddly enough another Navy guy out in Oregon... it is a 2010 Trek Equinox TTX 9.5 frame with Campagnolo groupset, Bontrager Speed Limit brakes, Blackwell Research carbon base bar and Wrist Relief carbon extensions... all done in a Trek Project One custom paint job called "Flying Ace"... designed to look like a WWII fighter plane. Needless to say... when I saw the bike I knew this was the one I had been looking for... AWESOME!

Friday 12 August 2011

     I hit the road from work around 1300 as Guntersville is about a 2 and half hour drive... the original plan was for Sherri, Colby and I to go up together but life happens... Thursday night was Open House/Orientation at all the kids schools so the soccer coach moved the normal Thursday night practice to Friday night as they had their first game on Saturday in Gadsden (only 25 miles from Guntersville).... So I went solo. I arrived in Guntersville before the packet pickup opened so I took the opportunity to drive the bike route... a really nice 16 mile loop around the lake... fairly flat and on nice roads. Following the drive I walked out to see the swim area as well as the transition and run route... great venue! I proceeded to packet pickup at 1630 and received one of the events now famous tie dye t-shirts... VERY COOL... maroon and white... not my favorite color combination but turns out they did it this year as a show of support to those that lost so much in the tornado up in Tuscaloosa... very cool! I ran into a couple of guys I know from Montgomery... then headed to the store for zip ties (read: I needed to reroute the power meter cables on the bike) and then to the hotel. I checked into the Microtel in Albertville, AL (neighboring town from Guntersville)... GREAT room and GREAT staff... received a "Triathlete" special rate which was $20 better than the Government rate... and was told that they were going to serve breakfast early for the triathletes... 0500 start vice their normal 0630... very accommodating! Got all of my stuff in the room and decided to get dinner first... Sante Fe Cattle Company adjacent to the hotel... and steak sounded great... I broke from my traditional pre-race pizza dinner and may have a new favorite!
     I sat at the bar for dinner... and ended up next to an older gentleman... and proceeded to have the most fascinating 90 minute discussion with him about a wide range of topics... I relish nights like this.. the unexpected gift of meeting great Americans with unique stories... awesome dinner! I head back to the hotel and get the bike all ready to go for the morning... while I watch the Whale Wars season finale of course! I hit the rack about 2200 and set two alarms for 0500...

Saturday 13 August 2011
     I wake up... roll over and look at the clock... 0457... funny how the body/mind work sometimes... I get up and get the now standard pre-race shower and shave done... complete the checklist one last time... making sure I have everything... GTG!
    At 0600 I depart the parking lot for the Guntersville Recreation Center... on the way I crank up some motivational music... Eminem's Lose Yourself... I am fired up... I arrive at the venue... get all my crap together and walk my bike over to the Transition area to get set up... I run into my Prattville swim buddy Mitch as well as I guy I have come to know through all the local triathlons named Sonny... I head to my spot... as I am getting set up I strike up a conversation with the woman setting up next to me... Kennette... yet another example of just how many great people there are in the triathlon lifestyle! As I am about to finish up... it starts... Mitch told a couple of his buds to check out my bike... and over the course of the next 20 mins there are about 20 people who come over just to see her... VERY PROUD... LOL... at about 0700 I grab my swim stuff and head to the pool for a warm-up swim... I get in a couple hundred yards and feel GREAT... I am ready!!! I make my way down to the water to watch the SE Collegiate swimmers start the event... during the pre-race moment of silence I decide I am going to dedicate my efforts today in memory of the U.S. Navy Seals that lost their lives this past week.
     Following the start of the Collegiate Championship racers... we start lining up for the Time Trial start... I am #464... we were seeded based on projected swim time... I put down a modest 11 mins... still work to be done on the swim! The line moves quickly... before I know it... I am running into the water... a shallow, rocky bottom into the mile-foil infested lake... I quickly settle into a nice pace... I feel great... and after a couple hundred yards I realize I forgot to start my watch... my first event wearing my new Garmin 310xt... so I start it and get back to swimming.... on the way out I feel great... fairly straight line... very little traffic... I am actually passing people... I round the first buoy... good... I round the second buoy... good... then for some reason I start to veer to the right... I swing out wide and despite a mental effort to get back on a more direct line to the beach I continued to stay wide... here is what the watch showed... not completely accurate but you can clearly see I started my watch late... and you can see the veer to the right following the second turn... swim was supposed to be 600 yards... Garmin path calculated 828 yards given an straight line from the start to when I actually started my watch.
      If I use 800 yards.. the resulting time equates to my perceived effort during the swim... like I said... work to be done! Anyway.. I exit the water... run up the hill, through the Rec Center and into the parking lot... get my bike gear on... and head out of transition... cross the mount line... execute a perfect flying mount... clip in and start my ride... it becomes readily apparent that I am going fast as within the first 2 miles I am passing people very quickly... a quick check of the power meter shows a nice effort... I trade places with a woman about 6 times during the first 6 miles... we laugh as we pass each other... "Tag... you are it"... we continue to do this over the bike course... SIDEBAR: at mile 8 I decide I HATE the saddle on my new chariot... that will be the first thing I change out... SIDEBAR COMPLETE.... then at mile 10... I pass her for the last time... I settle into a really nice pace and feel great... I am passing LOTS of riders... first people with race numbers in the 300's... then 200's... but at mile 12 I get a wake up call... I can hear him coming.. that distinctive whoop whoop sound of a carbon bike with a carbon disk wheel... he blows by me like I am standing still... I glace down at my computer... 27.6 mph... HE IS FLYING... had to be 35+... I make the right hand turn at mile 14 with only the 2 mile causeway across the lake btwn me and the bike finish... my glasses are smudged with sweat so I decide to take them off... WHOOPS.. dropped them... a quick glance to mark the location... and back to the task at hand... a strong finish... just as I get on the causeway... I pass #200... what a great feeling... I started 264 spots behind him on the swim... I round the last corner and head for the dismount line... I did not anticipate how short it was and did not have time to take my feet out of my shoes... so I ride up to the dismount line and unclip... off the bike and into transition... a quick change of shoes... grab my visor and running belt... and off to the run... 
     My plan is to take whatever the body will give me on the run... I want to run a 7:30/mile average... after a short 1/4 mile I glance at the watch... 8/mile... back to running... legs feel a little heavy.. maybe I went too hard on the bike... maybe the transition off the bike in the new position is different... things to work out in training... anyway... I continue the run... taking water at each station... quick sip them dump it on my head... my watch vibrates... 7:54 first mile... okay... settling into a nice pace at this point... I hit the mid point in the run... ICE COLD WET TOWELS... yeah buddy.. I run the next half mile with it on my head... it is the little things that matter... watch vibrates at mile 2... 8:04 second mile... back to running... at about 2.5 miles I finally settle into what feels like a great stride/pace... unfortunately there is very little left in the run... I finish strong... 

Overall 1:22:40
15th out of 59 in Age Group
139th out of 779 Overall
Swim 11:48 (25th AG/300 Overall)
Bike 43:54 (16th AG/120 Overall)
Run 23:49 (18th AG/185 Overall)

Overall: I am thrilled with my effort... when compared against all of my races... this was by far the best bike split I have ever had... run was very consistent with previous events as well as the swim... work to be done there but I consider this event to be my best overall triathlon to date... hard to believe my Brother and I did our first one nearly a year ago... I have made major improvements this year and this event is a huge boost for my confidence that the training is paying off!
     Following the race... I stuck around to watch the winners get their awards, took a shower then headed to Gadsden for Colby's soccer game... it was a REALLY tight match... and a heart breaker to boot... they ended up losing 2-3 with the final goal being scored with less than a minute left on the clock... bummer for the team to lose their first game of the season but they played fantastic... it is going to be great season!
     As always... a huge shout out to my family for the love and support they give me each and every day... no matter how I finish the race... first or last... when I get home I am still married to an incredible woman and the father of 4 incredible kids... #1 in Age Group and #1 Overall!

Attitude trumps pain!

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