Sunday, August 3, 2014

No hotels!: Colonial Beach & Tidewater

Two races, both close or semi-close, good tuneups, showing what my weaknesses are (surprise: the answer is running). I'm not satisfied with either result, but I'm not pissed at myself for either.

I alluded to a slight calf injury in my previous post, so that was ongoing for several weeks after Tri, Tri Again unfortunately, just as I was starting to really build back up after Armed Forces. That was a bummer, and hopefully the last "ok, I'm not going to blow off ____ anymore" moment. Previous iterations was core strength after a back episode, sleep; this one was taking care of my body post-race.
However, Colonial Beach was to be the unofficial-but-really-important "showdown" with a couple of local Virginia Beach friends. I'm still not 100% sure how, but a discussion about the race formerly known as ChesapeakeMan devolved into me saying I could physically finish an Ironman in under 17 hours, then somehow that morphed into a challenge at an Olympic-distance race. I still don't think any of us know how that happened, but it did.
Originally I had thought about making a little weekend of the race, but then Meredith and I were invited to a wedding in Virginia Beach that Saturday night. At that point, I had already registered for and begun to schedule training around the race, so I decided I would just roll with it and leave at 3 in the morning for the race.
Please excuse the 12-year-old-boy look of khakis and a blazer. I was not going boating, therefore I admit that this is an unacceptable look. I could not, however, find my suit. At least Meredith knows how to dress herself.
So, waking up at 3 was every bit as terrible as I thought it would be. I drove up with Joel, one of the locals involved in the challenge and an occasional training buddy. After having some verbal arguments with the GPS in my car, we made it up to the race site, the little town of Colonial Beach that is stuck in the 1950s. I was ecstatic to learn that they were actually willing to admit that the water temperature was over 78 degrees, meaning it would be a non-wetsuit swim.
I got going on the swim, quickly settling into second, but well, well, well behind the leader. Eventually I would give up over 2 minutes to him. I exited with one other athlete in tow, but I got out and onto the course with ease. I again tried this novel "pacing" thing on the bike, so I actually went a bit slower than usual again. I had considered semi-intentionally overbiking due to my poor run fitness resulting from the injury, but decided not to. I got passed once, but otherwise I really was alone the whole way. I did some mental math at the turnaround to figure out where people were, and I wasn't sure if I would hold off local friend Scott or another younger guy and very quick runner, Bobby, whom I raced at Rev3 Williamsburg and Rev3 Rush. It was pretty awful trying to do math, I won't lie.
I got off the bike and felt...ok. I didn't feel as horrendous as I expected, but I got going, frankly faster but more comfortable than I thought. I plugged along at what I thought was a sustainable pace, but it was painful. I was able to hold it together until the turnaround, then started the math again, figuring out that Scott and Bobby were definitely gaining on me. Joel, who had started 8 minutes back, had much more complicated math to try and figure out, but I was pretty sure I had over a minute on him, but I also didn't trust my math. Somewhere around mile 4, I really started to feel the lack of run fitness, which is also when Bobby caught me and I had absolutely nothing to go with him, dropping me to 4th, out of the money again at this race. Still, I held strong, eventually holding off Joel by about 20 seconds and Scott by another 20, with the three of us finishing 4, 5, 7. With Joel in the old man category, he was the only one to take home any money as first master, though, so he won really.
Exceptional wardrobe choices all around for the Virginia Beach World Championship that took place not in Virginia Beach
The following weekend, I was finally starting to run a bit again, so I headed up to the spectacular neighborhood of Buckroe Beach in Hampton for the Tidewater Tri. I was torn between that and Allen Stone Run-Swim-Run at the oceanfront, but decided the off-the-bike running was more beneficial to me, as that's where I struggle. Unfortunatley this week, the USAT officials managed to drop the thermometer right next to where somebody dumped a bucket of ice, finding exactly 78.0 degree water, making the swim wetsuit legal. It's unpleasant swimming in water much above 73 in a wetsuit, but at the same time, I'm not going to spot time to other guys. I've always found it very curious the number of triathlon swims where the temperature has been officially declared somewhere between 77.5 and 78.0 degrees, whereas I've NEVER done one where the official temperature was between 78 and 80. To me, that means that if the temperature is only just over the wetsuit cutoff, there's a certain pressure to "find cold water" or something to that effect. The only way you're going to have a wetsuit swim is if it's straight up bath water well over 80, where apart from dropping the thermometer in a frozen water bottle, you're not going to find 78 or cooler water.
Approximate distribution of official triathlon swim temperatures. You don't need to have taken advanced statistics to understand what's wrong here.
All I ask is for honest temperature readings, or at least for race directors and/or officials to admit that they're pandering. You can tell me not to wear a wetsuit, or switch to a sleeveless, but that's not how the rules are written. True 77 degree water, while uncomfortable in a wetsuit, isn't terrible, although I would like to see lower temperatures. I'm not expecting the elite cutoff of 68 degrees, but even ITU age group rules are lower than 78. There's a provision in the rules to allow non-award-eligible athletes to still wear a wetsuit if they sincerely feel they need it, but lower wetsuit cutoffs make it less miserable for the people racing at the front, generating more heat.

Now that I was decked neck to wrist and ankle in neoprene on a humid, hazy day, I went off at the gun, briefly leading the swim before a couple younger guys came around me midway through the swim. It was solidly choppy, which I at least appreciate to some degree. I exited third, with Nick Brodnicki not too far behind me. I don't know what happened to the other two guys, but Nick and I exited transition almost together as the first two. He started to pull away pretty quickly, again with me trying the "pacing" thing. I was cruising along on the course with no idea who was behind me or how fast, until I hit the turnaround and realized I had plenty of time in both directions. I still wanted to ride strong and see how hard I could run off a hard bike, so I kept going. The second lap was not the horror story I had heard about on this course, with a narrow two-lap course. Most people were pretty nice about keeping to the right for the most part, with the only exception being the tight turn, which I expected.
I came off the run about 2 minutes back of Nick, so not much chance to catch him unless something went horribly, horribly wrong. That said, I was in this race to try running extra-hard off the bike, which I did an OK job. After a quick 500m out and back, it was past transition/finish for a verrrrry long stretch into the wind, which sucked. I made it through, trying to eek Nick out in the distance and run for time, really. I hit the turnaround and really kicked it in gear again, with a little over a mile to go at that point. For once I actually negative splitted a triathlon run, which is a very rare thing for me. It wasn't exactly the time I wanted, but after talking with Nick, we agreed it was on the slow side that day.
I came in 2nd, over 3 minutes back at that point, but with still a solid buffer to third. I probably had more in the tank, but I also came into the race in the middle of a pretty hard block of training.
Free stuff!
So, I would say I"m not the most pleased with either of these races, but all things considered, they're both a sign of progress, which is always the name of the game. Coach Mace has been exceptionally awesome lately, trying to work around the fact that I am in fact made of glass, so we've been working all sorts of angles around that. I am closer and closer to finding the answer I think, but it's still going to take time. In the next few days, I'll be heading part of the way across the country with Meredith for a wonderful tour of the midwest, with stops in Huntington, Milwaukee, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Detroit among others. Hooray!

No comments:

Post a Comment