Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Giant Acorn International Race Report 10/6/12

Coming into the Giant Acorn International, I was fairly confident and excited for the event. Due to a lighter fall work schedule, I was able to get back onto the swimming horse, and my (still very questionable) swim form felt like it was improving. Cycling was going well, though without much interval (read:any) interval work, and I was getting in short runs every morning, though nothing at the 5 mile or longer distance.

        Conditions were fantastic at the course. Temp was in the high 60s/low 70s, and the start time was a gloriously late 10 AM. Check in was quick and easy in the morning, transition setup was fine (though my rack was at the swim end of the area, about 100 yards from bike out), and nothing felt rushed or weird. Breakfast at 90 minutes before wave start - bagel with lox and cream cheese as always. The water temp was 79 - felt fantastic without a wetsuit, and there was an open warmup area, so I ended up staying in the water for about 20 minutes before the start, floating and swimming a bit. Given how chilly people looked on-shore, I think this was the right call.

        Clydesdales went with the 50+ men this time, in the 2’nd-to-last wave. Right from the beginning, swim form felt strong - after a bit of a revelation at the National Harbor 3K swim a few weeks back, I was feeling much more confident with kicking effectively, and I felt like I was much further to the front of the pack than usual for the swim. After going stroke for stroke with another guy for a hundred meters or so, I decided to not be an idiot, drop back 5 feet, and draft off of him instead. This worked out great, and I never felt particularly taxed during the swim. My head working the way it does, I would occasionally get concerned that I wasn’t working hard enough, pull out of draft, and try to move up in the swim pack, only to find myself going stroke-for-stroke with my draft buddy. I finally reigned in my idiotic need to do more work to go the same speed, and settled back into draft for the rest of the swim.
Steps with rubber matting and volunteer support coming out of the water were nice, I felt very stable, though I saw some folks slip a bit.
Swim Time: 30:03 - 2’nd fastest non-wetsuit lake swim
Rank: 45/293

T1: Apparently, I moved so fast in T1 that I warped time and space. This is my only explanation. It was a normal T1 - shoes/socks on, helmet/glasses on, grab bike and sprint - but somehow it took 3 minutes. No clue on this one, but it’s clearly a weak point that I need to fix.
Time: 3:00!

Bike: I was looking forward to this bike course, as it is a fairly flat 2-loop ride, and I was hoping to push the pace a bit. I felt more rested and less dizzy than usual after the swim, and my legs were ready from the get go. This... might have led me to overdo things a bit. The Garmin beeped at the 5 mile mark, and I looked down to see an 11:47 split. That seemed a bit quick, and I tried to throttle back a bit. I never really got my body to buy into the new plan, though, and when I got passed at around mile 11, I slipped back into cyclist-knucklehead mode (even though it was a relay guy, so it didn’t even matter. Argh). I ended up chasing him for the next 5 miles, following just behind draft range, and occasionally passing him on the upslopes. He would blow back though me on the flats. As a side consequence of this, I was not keeping up well on nutrition, though I did work through two bottles of gatorade on the ride.
Ride time: 57:01
Rank: 3/293

T2: Transition again seemed fine, again went long. This is something that has to change before next year.
Time: 2:00!
Rank: 217/293

Run: By the time I had gone a mile, I knew I was going to pay for being a nitwit on the ride. Heart rate was very high for my effort level, and it felt like it was 100 degrees out on the road. (It was, in actuality, maybe 80). The course was 2 times through an out-and back, mostly on the same road as the bike course, with a long, gradual uphill at miles 2 and 5. The first lap was fairly unpleasant - I walked 30 seconds at each of the mile markers, to try and get my HR back under control, and walked through the aid stations. The second lap was much worse. I started to feel chills at mile 4, and made the decision to throttle back as much as necessary to not become a medical DNF. Even with that, I could feel cramps threatening in both quads and calves, and I knew that if they hit in force, the sprint on the next day would be difficult at best. I ended up walking about ½ of the uphill, and jog-walking even on the downhill back to the finish line. The only bright spot on the run was that the multiple turn-arounds let me run by my [teammate/girlfriend Katie] multiple times, and that always perked me up a bit.
Run time: 1:03:12
Rank: 207/293

Final Time: 2:35:17
Rank: 80/293
3/13 Clydesdale
      After the finish chute, I found Katie, who was still feeling the effects of her 70.3 the week before, and we staggered around and drank gatorade while waiting for results. As it happened, we both did better than we had thought, each picking up 3’rd in category. If I had matched transition speed with the 2’nd place finisher, I would have taken him by a comfortable 30 seconds. Argh.
Lessons learned:
1. Swim drafting is good. Don’t get impatient with it.
2. Better control of bike speed/pace.

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