Saturday, June 16, 2012

Harvey Cedars Draft Legal

I kind of tacked this race into the middle/end of my schedule, but I knew about it for a while.  I tried to do a little more speed and draft-legal specific handling and intervals leading up to the race, so I had at least some prep.  This was also part of the reason why I have been doing a few bike races lately.  The few days before the race, I was actually moving into my new apartment in Virginia Beach, so I probably didn't get a proper taper in or whatnot, but I know I was far more rested than I ever was when I was at the Academy.  The day before the race though, I was at my parents' house in NJ, so I drove down to Harvey Cedars to ride/run a lap each of the course, then have our super-high-stress meeting...and by high-stress, I mean it was all jokes and laughs and smiles and asking Jarrod Shoemaker if he would wait for the rest of us in T1 to tow us along on the bike course.
Race morning came, and I got down there about an hour and a half early to have way too much time on my hands because a non-wetsuit draft legal race has nothing but a helmet, bike, and shoes to set up.  I went for a little yog, then swam probably 500-600m, then put a sweatshirt back on.  I've definitely learned that a substantial swim warmup, with little sprints, maybe some backstroke, is important to be at the front of a swim.
Swim 10:35, 7th
Lots of contact early on, even some contact until the last main straighaway really.  I came out right on the feet of Jake Shoemaker, Jarrod's younger brother who is my age.  I felt pretty strong and fast.
Out of the swim in a decent spot

T1 0:27, 2nd
I still lost Jake up the road a bit because I think he got into his shoes quicker.
Bike 29:16 (25.4 mph) 9th
I was all alone for a bit but slowly gaining on Jake before two riders came up and I hitched a ride to work with them.  At this point I was going to see how long I could sit in the group and do nothing based on what I learned in Clermont.  One guy was out front just hammering away at 26+ mph until shortly after the turnaround for lap one.  Jake Shoemaker yells to me from behind "so King are we gonna take pulls or what" and then he slingshots around to the front of the group.  Then the other riders started rotating out.  Even by the time I was sitting second wheel, I was HURTING.  I took one pull that I thought was under control, but as I dropped off after less than a minute out front, I couldn't latch back onto the group.  It was about 5 or 6 riders deep at this point and was the only significant group on the course.  I was about 3 seconds off the back for over a mile until they accelerated right as I slowed up and the next thing I knew, I was way off the back.  I rode it calm and under control.  At the turnaround to start the second lap, I could see nobody was behind me worth waiting for, so I just soloed it in like a regular non-draft tri.  My now-former teammate and successor as president of the CGA tri team, David, had come up to watch and told me I was 1:50 back of the group when I came into T2, and I was in 8th.

T2 0:22 1st
Yay fast transitions!  Yes, I out-transitioned a former Olympian both times and only got beat by his younger brother by a second in T1.  Was he trying his hardest? I don't think so, but it's still a nice confidence booster.
Run 18:43, 9th
I was on a mission at this point to try to at least catch one runner from the main group.  I gained time on them a lot in the first lap and a bit less on the second lap of the run.  Shortly before the finish, a younger athlete caught me before the last stretch so I dropped to 9th overall.  However, I was pretty happy with how it went.
Hurting bad

Overall 59:21, 9th/16 (14 males)
So I learned a similar lesson to Clermont and even what I've learned in my bike racing.  You don't get extra points for killing yourself if it doesn't get you any gained position.  In a bike race it's usually not as big a deal because the pack is larger and typically slower (because I have to race a beginner category), so it's easier to grab onto the back when you just finished a redline pull.  In a draft legal tri with only 14 guys and the largest group having 5, there is no room for mistakes.  As I said, I was hurting just staying with the group, so my best strategy would have been to take an even shorter pull, possibly even slowing down the group if that's what had to happen.  All that said, I played it much smarter after getting dropped off the back this time.  Unlike Florida, I didn't burn all my energy trying to catch back up to the group that dropped me.  Instead, I just rode it normal, albeit cramped up on my road bike.  I think my run split, though not spectacular, shows that I rode smarter this time rather than the 23 minute zombie death march that was Clermont.  Unfortunately there aren't any more Elite Development Races left on the calendar for 2012, and even the bike racing season is largely done with criterium racing in Virginia.  However, I plan to get far more involved with group riding in Virginia Beach, if for no other reason than because it's safer.
Most of the field
David came and learned what draft legal is all about: not getting dropped

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