Wednesday, June 20, 2012

REV3 Quassy Half Iron Race Report - The Revolution Day 2

We woke up bright and early to a BEAUTIFUL (albeit a bit chilly) morning for the Half on Sunday.  I woke up, had my pre-race oatmeal, grabbed my already packed bags and hit the road.  Got to the race site just in time to snag a prime parking spot across the street at the baseball fields.  Headed to transition which was now becoming old hat.  I got set up, put some TriSlide on and slipped on the TYR wetsuit.  Air temps were in the high 50's, water temp was high 60's.  There was quite a crowd of professionals assembled so it was cool to see them as I was "warming up" in the water.  I stood next to them on the shore to watch the start which was pretty cool. After they fetched an errant buoy the pro's were off.  I was in the 4th or 5th wave so I waited around and made a last minute stop at the bathroom which I THOUGHT would stave off any urges to go later in the race, trying to not have to stop like I did last year.  More on that later!

So the sun was shining brightly which meant that one leg of the swim would be directly into the now rising sun.  The swim course was slightly different this year in that it was long and narrow with the short leg headed into the sun which was nice.  Last year it was more of a triangle.  I started toward the top 1/3 of my wave and felt pretty decent.  I was soon catching people from the wave before me which is very rare!  My sighting was great again, until I made that right turn.  I had to trust those around me because I couldn't see a buoy until it was right one me.  It worked, and as we headed home I was feeling relieved. The swim(s) had me concerned due to my lack of time in the water over the past 9 months.  I climbed out of the water and got to work taking my wetsuit off.

SWIM: 36:31, 52/168 in my AG.  I'll take it!

Exiting the water, the lake in the background is one of the best I've swam in, very clean.
Decent transition, decided to forgo the arm warmers and suck it up.  I was off and out on the bike course.  The sun was coming up and a beautiful day was forming.  There were many people from the earlier waves in front of me, so it kept things interesting on the road.  The plan here was to take it easy for the first 30 miles or so, then push it and see what the legs had left after the OLY the day before.  And take it easy I did, although I really had to pee, BAD.  I kept hoping it would go away, but it wouldn't.  About 10 miles in we hit a short, steep incline and I pulled a bonehead move and dropped my chain.  So I had to hop off and get it back on, then start on the side of the hill!  Back on the road I was holding my own, getting past, passing, etc.  I was really hungry so I munched on my cut up Powerbar Harvest Bar that I had cut up and brought with me.  I was saving my gels for later.

As we were climbing the big hill about 25 miles in I realized that I needed a potty break.  So I stopped and no sooner did I stop, I heard the motorcycle with the official on it.  SHIT!  Hopped back on the bike and kept riding.  Not sure if it's illegal or not, but no use taking a chance.  So I stopped a mile or two up the road and then I had company...two other riders had the same call from Mother Nature!  Wow, I felt MUCH better.  Slowed down and grabbed a bottle at the next aid station and it was go time.  The course is beautiful and always changing so you never get bored.  We made the left hand turn at the top of the big gradual climb and it was onto my favorite parts of the course.  I wasn't feeling too bad and the legs were cooperating so I went with it.  Held a good average and picked off A LOT of people in the last 25 miles or so. 

As I said, some great scenery on a BEAUTIFUL day!
So, into transition I came, mission second half of ride and somewhat fresh legs.  I nailed the dismount and got switched over into run mode.

BIKE: 2:49:52, 20.63mph, now up to 38/168 in my AG.

All smiles headed out onto the run.
My game plan for the half marathon portion of a 70.3 is always to manage my pace early, meaning, run within yourself and don't go out too fast so you die half way through the race.  The last two years we had some warm weather for this race, but it wasn't too bad on this day.  I planned to take two, maybe three, Powergels to fuel my run.

As I got into a groove, the splits just kept consistently coming in around the 6:30 mark depending on what "obstacles" (READ:HILLS) were in my way.  I ran completely by effort which really paid dividends.  I ate a gel at about 5 miles in, then another after 8 miles.  I was consistently catching and passing people the whole time which really helps you to feel even better.  I also really like the 82GO water bags that they used at the aid stations.  Easy to open and carry and great to drink / cool you off.  Shameless plug here, but Rev 3 does things right, down to the last detail.  Up that last dreadful hill and crossed the line. 

RUN: 1:26:27, 6:19 and up to 15th in my AG!
Aaahhh, that finish line!  Thanks to REV3 for the free finish line photos.

All in all it was a great race for me, especially considering that I raced pretty hard just 24 hours prior.  It was a PR on this course at 4:56:01 and a PR in my limited half ironman "career".  The run was the fastest that I've run off a bike at the half distance by more than 90 seconds which makes me feel even better given the challenge of the terrain.

So over the course of the two days I raced over 102 miles in about 7:15 or so.  I climbed about 7,700' of elevation gain over the 100 or so miles of riding and running.  Again, REV3 did an awesome job for the whole weekend of events, not a stone left unturned.  I'm so thankful to be a part of their team and thank you for our generous sponsors, Pearl Iszumi, Power Bar, TriSlide, etc.

Now to figure out what's next!

Friday, June 15, 2012

REV3 Quassy Olympic Distance Rain Report

Well, I'm a little behind here on the race report, sorry!  Work has been crazy and last weekend Lauren and I snuck away for a little getaway to celebrate our 12th anniversary.  We had a great time, the B&B was great, we got to ride, run and shop sans kids, and we even got to see some fireworks after our dinner!!

Anyway, back to Quassy weekend.  It all started on Friday, June 1.  I took the day off to watch Autumn's end of school year recognition assembly.  What a treat, she was awarded the "Citizenship" award for her class!  We're so proud of her.

Since Lauren and the kids had traveled out to Ohio the weekend before, they weren't up for a road trip so I was making the solo trip up to Middlebury, CT....typically a 3 hour drive without traffic.  Of course, I did manage to hit traffic on a Friday evening on Route 84 in Danbury, but made it onsite by 5:00 or so.  Immediately found Kelly & Kelly, did some catching up, helped Kel with some tune up issues and headed for packet pickup.  The weather was nice, but the winds of change were in the air.  Smooth trip through pickup, caught up with some more Rev3 teammates and racked up the bike.  When I opened up my packet, I was treated to a personalized bib, #102 which coincidentally was the number of miles I would be racing that weekend doing "The Revolution", Olympic on Saturday and Half on Sunday.  Rev3 racked all of us together, maybe 15 or so.  Game plan, race the OLY on Saturday, long training day on Sunday.

Personalized bib, sweet!
By the time I got racked up and ready to head to our hotel I realized it was too late to get to the team dinner so I found a Panera and grabbed a quick bite.  Of course I kept checking the forecast...and it wasn't changing, nearly 100% chance of rain the entire race, and temps in the high 50's / low 60's.  Not only was I worried about the swim due to the fact that I had just days before got back in the water after a 9 month break (since last tri season, Steelman in August 2011), now we were going to have a sloppy bike course to test out my new carbon race wheels (READ: Carbon braking surface) AND it was going to be COLD (luckily the water was high 60's / low 70's).

So I spent what felt like forever packing up for the day.  Extra trash bags here, arm warmers there, etc.  I roomed with my teammate Anthony so we were up early and headed over to race site.  And it rained, rained and then rained some more.  We headed down to the water after I lubed up with TriSlide and got the wetsuit on.  Water felt warm and despite the weather there were easily 700 other crazies out there with us!

I was one of the first waves so we were off good and early.  No sun glare to worry about on this day.  I got a decent start to the swim and I really think I did a great job sighting.  I kept my eye on a light that was shining through the fog on the long leg of the course heading back home.  Hopped out of the water and started to get the wetsuit off.  I wasn't too winded, hadn't really pushed that hard, but I pulled the swim off after basically no swim training AND I was within seconds of last year's time.

SWIM: 27:22, 20th / 70 in my AG, damn!

Out of the water, notice the umbrellas!
I took some extra time to put now wet arm warmers on my already wet body.  Not an easy task, and probably not worth the time considering the conditions!  Anyway, I was off.  I decided to forgo glasses, probably a smart move since they wouldn't stay clear anyway.  My face was getting pelted by the rain at this point, but I was able to duck my head down at times and hear the rain pelting my aero helmet!  So after I hopped on the bike I realized that is wasn't going to be a day to push the bike.  Make up time where you can and take it easy everywhere else.  On top of that it was my first race with my new carbon wheelset....and I got to experience just how good they work when wet!

I felt pretty decent considering how far behind I was on saddle time.  It amazed me how up beat everyone was on course.  We were all sharing comical remarks as we would pass each other.  I made a point to thank EVERY volunteer who was standing out there. 
This isn't me, but you can see what the conditions were on course!
After half way I passed a volunteer who was shouting out overall position as we rode by. "THIRTY" he said to me as I rode by.  DAMMIT, now I have a reason to push this second half!  So I started stalking, and counting down.  I had made it to about 24 or so when I hit transition.  I hopped off my bike in my soaking wet socks and made a comment as I was running through the puddles "darn it, my feet are getting soaked" which garnered some good laughs!

BIKE: SWIM: 1:13:36, 20.93mph, now up to 13th / 70 in my AG

Still smiling.  Love the vegetation in the background.  You can see the rain drops if you look closely!

Off to the run.  (It was still raining by the way).  My mission now was to continue my countdown.  My feet were rebelling though, they were frozen!  The OLY course is great though, the first two miles are downhill and flat (you know what the rest of the course must be then).  I just started clicking off the miles, first two sub 6:00/mi.  Then the first hill came and the HR jacked up there.  Nothing like running through rivers of rain, splashing in puddles and feeling like a kid again though!  I continued to pass people, eventually hitting the line in the top 10 overall (this was because we were one of the first waves).

RUN: 37:16, 6:03 pace, now up to 7 / 70 AG

So, overall I was 2:22:27, 15th overall and 7/70 in the M35-39 AG.  Man is that a stacked age group.  My time was slower than last year although the swim and run were nearly identical.  The bike was obviously slower due to conditions and T1 was slower due to my arm warmer decision.

I've gotta hand it to REV3 though, given the conditions they put on one heck of an event, and this wasn't even the "big show" taking place tomorrow.  Course was perfect, plenty of volunteers, timing was very quick and accurate.  I'm proud to be a part of their AG team.

Anthony and I packed up our stuff in the downpour and hightailed it quickly back to the hotel to get a warm shower since we were freezing.  I headed back to the race site to spend some time volunteering at our awesome team sponsor's booth, Powerbar!  This was a blast, it's so fun meeting and talking to all of the athletes who either raced that day or were picking up their packet for day 2.  By the time I was done the sun was starting to come out.

I headed back to the hotel to pack up for another round of swim/bike/run, and of course our team dinner!

Stay tuned for Day 2.....