Two Weekends and Two Solid Races

TOA 10

Following two early races, brushing off all the dust and fine tuning of some transition skills, I was able to bring together two very solid races for the middle of April.  Both races were vary enjoyable as many more of my friends and training partners were racing.  
Granite Falls Triathlon is always fun as this in my training base and now were we reside.  This was a pool swim and I continued to struggle in the water.  I wasn’t able to stretch it out and get into a comfortable pace in which I am used to, or maybe it was that Dwayne Dixon was hanging in there and taking me out in the pool.  Following the swim I had a very fast T1 and off on the nice hilly ride through western Wake Forest.  This ride has a few nice climbs, however the toughest is on Highway 98, about a 1/2 mile climb at a 8-9% grade.  Off on the run which is just as hilly and challenging with one mile on a gravel road.  Once again I wasn’t able to hold off Dwayne as he took over with about two miles remaining on the run.  Finishing the race in second was very rewarding.  This race marked a two year mark from my first ever triathlon (same location) and I had improved in all elements of the race with a total of about six minute.  Can’t complain.  Also, thank you to my wife Tricia for getting me into triathlons, she was the driving force two years ago to begin racing.  And congratulations to her on her fast race at Granite Falls!           
Triangle Orthopedic Sprint at Beaver Dam, this was a new venue and it was combined with the International distance race.  This was my first FSSeries race and it was very relaxing and enjoyable.  This was a local race for me, so there were many friends participating, working and spectating; races are so enjoyable when you have friends near by.  The team was well represented with great finishes in both distances. 
International – Doug Van Wie 1st, Mark Carey 3rd, Josh West 7th and Dan Sullivan 13th; Shannon Lowery 2nd
Sprint – Robert VanGraafeiland 1st and Zack Capets 2nd. 
Racing was scheduled to begin at 9:30 with the International and Sprint at 10:00; all swims ended up starting about 20 minutes late.  Heading into this race I was hoping to do well, swim with Marty Gaal, ride strong and hold off Zack as long as I could in the bike and run.  This was my first comfortable swim of the season.  It was about a 150 swim to the first turn and this is where Marty and I met up, he starting in the left of the pack and I in the right.  The next 500 was a straight shot to the next turn with one sight buoy in the middle, then with about 200 to the finish, yes that doesn’t add up, the swim was long.  Following the first turn I could not see the sight buoy, so I didn’t waste time looking for it; I count on Marty’s experience and hung close to him, bouncing from his left side, right side and at his feet, I learned he kicks the entire time.  After the final turn I pulled up and stayed next to Marty until we hit the beach when I took off to the bike.  
With a relaxing swim behind me, a excellent T1, I was heading out on the bike for the many hills ahead. The bike had plenty of opportunities to get your seed up, on the down hills and flats, it also had it’s share of decent climbs, not too difficult.  Fun parts of the bike were meeting up with all the International competitors for the first five miles.  This was encouraging as it is always inspiring to have the feeling of passing people.  There was a portion, miles one to three, where we had a gradual climb (maintaining a good speed) and had cars backing up in the same direction, creating interval type riding as there wasn’t always room between the vehicles and riders to pass.  And then there was the the more than ten fire trucks on the road and down at the lake pumping water.  The bike finish ended with a fast mile inside the park and even passing a couple vehicles.
Entering T2 extremely fast, it was a down hill run with my bike to the rack.  I honestly think this may have been the fastest running part of my race, it was quite scary as I was trying to slow down to rack the bike.  Out on the run quick and specifically telling Kory Gray (pacer) to slow down, I was ready to start my favorite part of the race, just kidding.  Running out to the turn around there is a false flat most of the way, lending to a decent decline for the the run back.  After the turn around, I saw Zack and realized I may be able to take this race.  This run also allowed me time to think some on my stride, thinking how I run and should it be different.  Often when I run I am just thinking I want this over with.  Crossing the finish line with a good performances in all disciplines.
FSSeries put on two great events and I look forward to their next race.  A very special Thank You for the race support with Danny Langton and crew of ITS (Intelligent Training Systems), (Intrinsic Motion).

Fridged Race at White Lake Sprint

Race two complete, great event and my time sure surprised me, especially the bike and run.  However this wasn’t without some very cold water, the coldest swim I have ever experienced and I am from western NY.
The water temperature was reported to be 56 degree, 4 degrees warmer than the day before when the half was held, like we were supposed to be lucky.  It was still past the temperature thresh hold of finding any type of comfort for swimming.  I warmed up about 500 which was broken with much breaststroke trying to find myself and catch my breath as I navigated around all the others warming up.  Following the attempt to warm up, all I could do is shiver for 5 minutes before the race began.  Now the race is underway, trying to swim in the front group was difficult for me this time, I was breathing every stroke and swimming all over the place.  After about 200, all my mind wanted to do is quit, but I would still have to swim back, I slowed down and focused on controlling my swim.  This helped and I settled into some type of pattern and reasonable comfort.  There was still some type of delusions as I reached the ladder and climbed out.  Taking the run to transition a bit easy to find composure and breath helped.
Making it through T1 smoothly I was off on the bike.  Here I did find myself stumbling on a new process again.  Working on my transition to the bike with shoes already clipped in.  Obstacle was while getting my left foot in the shoe the velcro strap came completely loose.  I hung behind another open rider for the first mile or so while trying to get the strap fixed, realizing this wasn’t going to work, I decided to ride on without the velcro strapped.  I was able to open it right up on the flats around White Lake with a result of my fastest ride ever in a race.  On the roads there was some new smooth and enjoyable pavement on the north side of the lake, the east side remains bumpy.  
Heading into T2 my feet seamed to be quite numb, must have been a result of the cold water.  Outside of the numbness, T2 and my run went well, resulting in a 5K PR.  The run course was a bit different and remained on the main roads around White Lake (out and back) rather than the previous years through the residential neighborhood, the course still remained fairly flat.  
Once again an excellent race put on by Set Up Events NCTS and their volunteers.  It was a great experience with great teammates, Thank You Dave Williams and Triangle Multisport Coaching/Training for great transition pointers.  I don’t think I will ever hold off Doug Van Wie at the end of a race.  One funny comment taken away from the finish line discussion, from one of the other open competitors, “You guys were every where.”  Congrats to all the racers in tough/cold water condition, both in the Half and Sprint. 

Racing Around the US

This will be another big weekend for TMS-IOS Elite! Gil, Logan, Lawson, and Mollie (accompanied by coach Dave) will be competing in the USAT Collegiate National Championship on Saturday. USAT will be broadcasting live streaming video of the event–check it out and see if you can spot these guys (they’ll be wearing their UNC tri suits)!

Locally, DougKit, Mark, Kari and I will be racing Belews Lake on Saturday. As the only open water swim with a time-trial start format, Belews Lake International will begin with a much nicer swim than last weekend’s frigid and choppy White Lake Half. Doug will be looking to follow up a 2nd place finish at Belews last year (race report here), and a strong 3rd place finish last weekend at White Lake, while my goal is simply keep all of my body parts above freezing temps. With a 1500m swim, expect to see Doug way off the front!

Azalea Triathlon 2013

Over all a good race for me personally, excellent venue at UNCW and as always fabulous staff and volunteers through Set Up Events NCTS.  Conditions were quite cold (mid 30’s) and I had been sick all week, battling what to wear in the race and a winter bug. 
The pool swim was a bit sluggish for me and the run down the stairs after you exit the water proved to be a bit to slippery for me, thankfully I had a good grip on the hand rail.  With a long run to the transition I went with gloves, arm warmers and beanie to stay warm.  We were allowed to place items on the ground to be picked up while running to T1, great idea, however three items proved to be to much and I would have been better with just gloves.  Once on the bike we began to enjoy the flats of the NC coastal area.  After the first two miles, which were a bit bumpy and some turns you were able to really open it up and build up some good speed on Eastwood, Rogersville and Wrightsville Ave.  A very enjoyable ride.  The run took place completely on the UNCW campus and was completely flat, great opportunity to finish an early season race strong.  May be one of my best paced 5K’s with textbook descending mile.       
For the first race of the season I was pleased with my performance and had some good lessons learned.  I will continue to work though T1’s with with my shoes clipped in and a fast and smooth transition off the bike into T2.  This would certainly be a race I would do again.