Monday, August 8, 2011

Lake Logan Oly PR Race Report

The Lake Logan International Triathlon was this weekend, and I absolutely crushed it.

Finish stats:
Total time 2:33:13
14/39 men 35-39
111/254 overall men
Serious PR - 19 minutes!! And I PR'd every distance (except the transitions)

Friday night we arrived in Canton NC just west of Asheville about 10 pm. Not the best time to get into town before an early race. The hotel was crappy and I couldn't fall asleep or stay asleep for anything. But the staff was nice. Breakfast there didn't open until 6 am, but we convinced the desk clerk that it was ok for us to get some cereal in time to leave at 5:30.

It was like racing in a postcard. The entire course was just unbelievable.

So of course after getting no sleep whatsoever, at 5:10 we head to the lobby for the cereal and the new girl down there doesn't want to let us in. We convince her that we convinced the other girl to let us in, and she begrudgingly obliged. A tiny little town in the middle of nowhere in the NC mountains is not going to have anything at all open for breakfast that early, so I am really glad I didn't have to race hungry.

We got onsite about 15 minutes before packet pickup ended ~6:15 am. I really still hate these early morning starts. Got my number, bodymarking, and timing chip and it was off to setup my transition area. The racks were numbered weird, and I got a really bad spot on the rack. Screw it, nothing is going to mess up today. I set out my gear, and who found a great spot on the next rack? Healthy Ashley! I really wanted to find her and Caitlin before the race so Kelley could get some pictures for them. We got to hang out for a few minutes before getting my game face on. I knew what I had to do today. Here's Ashley, Caitlin and me before the race:

Swim - Goal 30 minutes, actual 30:48 including the run into TA - Success!

It was an in-water wave start, so the pros went first, then another wave, then my wave. I started kind of near the front, which made me a bit uncomfortable. As soon as we took off I did the water polo swim to see where the other guys were and if I could find a clean lane to swim in. Eventually I went face down and settled into my stroke pattern. Then I came to realize something that I did actually learn a long time ago.

I hate other people. Other people suck.

Not you people of course. If you're smart enough to read this blog then you are also smart enough to stay the hell out of my way. I stay straight or pull to the right in open water. I could sight enough to the buoys and the fellow swimmers to stay pretty straight, and I did sight often. I passed people from earlier waves or got caught in their traffic. They crashed into me. Faster people from later waves swam into me. This seemed like a really crowded swim. People were crashing into me the entire time!

The course was a "J" style course, where we went down and turned right twice, then swam back past the starting line by another 500 meters. Every now and then, somebody would repeatedly crash into me and I'd have to speed up to get rid of these people, but for the most part I just held my speed here. The female age groups started after all of the men were in the water. So every time I ran into somebody, I knew it was another dude. This disturbed me for some reason. I don't mind accidentally swimming into the girls. But I haven't grabbed that much man-butt since, well, ever. Other people. geez. It was also about this time that I discovered I forgot to take the normal pre-race gel and was running on breakfast alone. I came to this realization because my arms started feeling lethargic. Dead arm = oops at this distance.

Around the top of the J there is a river that feeds water into the lake. The river water is much colder than the lake water, and we have to swim under a bridge to get to the swim finish. When you hit the river there is a slight current that you are swimming against, and 1200m into a 1500m swim is not when you want to start feeling a current. Also since the opening in the lake is much more narrow to get under the bridge, the swimmers all bottleneck right there. Lots of concentrated traffic.

I didn't want to put up with any of that, so as soon as I felt the water starting to get colder I totally dropped the hammer! Passed about 5 dudes that were all swimming into each other, raced under the bridge, and held court on the other side dishing out execution sentences to anyone who tried to keep up with me. Nobody caught me. My RAM coaches would be proud of that kind of finishing performance; it's something they've been trying to teach us all lately.

We had to exit the water on a dock without a ladder - just pull yourself up. My arms felt like jello, so that wasn't too easy. Then it was a 200m run from the dock up to the transition area, where the timing mat was. The run was maybe 45 seconds, so I bet I came out of the water right at 30 minutes.

T1 - 2:54
I couldn't find my spot on the rack at all. My bike was buried. I forgot my number, looked on my arm to get my number, then on the 3rd try finally found the rack I was supposed to be on. Had a tough time getting socks onto wet feet. The TA was grass that was recently cut, so there were loose grass clippings all over my feet and inside of my socks. Bike shoes went on, helmet went on, Garmin went on, grabbed the bike and ran out.

Bike - Goal 1:10, actual 1:08:51 Success!!!!!!!

The bike course was exactly as advertised. I ran the 200 yards to the road, mounted up, made one turn and started up a huge climb. I took the first climb in the big chain ring, which might have been overkill but I had a lot of adrenaline running for that first climb. The descent that followed was huge, I hit my max speed of 39.2 mph on the downhill there.

This was a lollipop course, so there was one long road going out into the town (Canton, I guess), then after a loop around town we take the same road back to the lake. It ran by the river for the most part, so the road was pretty flat. There was some rolling hills, but not much worse really than the rolling hills we see around Raleigh.

I only had one problem on the bike, and it threw me off mentally more than anything else. I was dealing with a lot of other fast people out there, but I'm not going to say there was any real drafting. I did have to wait on other people to slow down before I could pass a few times. You want to pass one guy, but there's 15 people in front of him all equally spaced, some even riding two abreast. So once while we were in town the guy in front of me slowed down from "the pack" and I jumped to pass him. Turns out, this was just before we had to turn onto a new road, and I passed him just before the inside of the turn. I did announce the pass, but it was like "on your left - oh man sorry I didn't see that the next turn was so close". He yelled something at me that I didn't stick around to hear. I made the turn, came out of the saddle to sprint, passed a couple more people and just left that guy in the dust. That was a breach of etiquette - he shouldn't have slowed down and I shouldn't have tried to pass that close to a turn. I felt bad about it for the rest of the ride.

I was watching my average speed the whole time. It was typically between 21 and 26 mph every time I would look down. I watched the Garmin roll into 22 miles at 58 minutes flat. That was really cool. The big descent that got me up close to 40 mph at the start? Guess what happened at 22.4 miles? We had to climb back up that sucker. It was a pretty steep grade. 39 mph going down, 5.5 mph going back up. I took the bike down to the middle chainring for the first time in the ride. I stood up and pushed when I could, still passed a few people that couldn't climb very fast or just didn't have anything left in the tank. This hill was a bear, but I wrestled it.

I came around the corner after descending the climb from the start of the bike leg, circled the lake and went back across the bridge. I knew there was a 200 yd run from the road back to the TA, so I decided not to leave the shoes in my bike. Running on gravel in socks would not be cool.

According to the Garmin, I averaged 20.8 mph over the entire ride. That's my first time averaging over 20 mph in a race. Very cool.

T2: 1:95, total transition times is 4:50, goal was under 5 minutes. Success!
Again, I couldn't find my spot in the rack. Again, I checked the number on my arm, found close to the right rack, and saw the pink transition bag. Rack the bike, off with the helmet and bike shoes, throw on the running shoes, race belt, grab the visor and take off.

Should have been less than 90 seconds.

Run: Goal 45 minutes, actual 48:47 Fail, but you'll never hear me complain about a sub-50 minute 10k and a PR!

Again, this course was exactly as advertised and it still surprised me. 10k run on one road was 5k in one direction to a turnaround point then 5k back to the finish line. The 5k out was all uphill, and the 5k back was all downhill. My plan was to take the uphill part at a 7:30 pace and the downhill part at a 7:00 pace and hope that put me near 45 minutes.

What I didn't count on? I was completely gassed by the time I hit the turnaround and just didn't have any more 7 minute miles left in my legs. That uphill was tough!

I did start out a bit fast. I tried to slow it down and pace out the uphills. But eventually they paced me out. Every time I looked down to check the Garmin, I saw a 7:15 to a 8:15 pace. Plenty of walking thrown in there for good measure. Plenty of water and heed at the aid stations.

At the turnaround, I told the volunteer "it's all downhill from here right?" and he responded "it always is". Pretty sharp guy. Checking the garmin going downhill I saw numbers anywhere from a 6:45 pace to a 7:45 pace. Again, I was gassed so there was plenty of walking. With half a mile left some spectator gave me a generic "you can do it" when I was walking. Yea, I wasn't really concerned about finishing. Thanks for playing. I was just trying to dig a little bit deeper and see if I could charge the finish line.

Me and Ashley on the bridge!

I did put up a pretty decent charge to the finish line. I saw Caitlin running out when I had about a mile to go. Then when I was on the bridge heading to the finish line I saw Ashley heading out on her run. It was really great to see them on the course, gave me a fresh push to finish strong.

I cleared the finish line completely spent. I love knowing that I gave that race all I had and really left everything out on the course. I'm proud of the work I put in before ever hitting the starting line, and I think it shows in the results. Compared to the 2:52 I put up at the same distance in March this is almost a 19 minute PR. At these speeds, PR's that big are getting seriously hard to come by.

What I didn't expect was that this race was a special qualifier for the Age Group Nationals in Burlington, VT. There were 50 spots reserved from this race and the top 33% from each age group became qualified. That usually means you get a much faster age group pool. I just realized today thanks to an email from the USAT that with 39 men in my age group, that top 13 spots were qualified for nationals!! Of course, I placed 14th. The guy who got the last qualifying spot ran a 2:30:02, so I missed it by only 3:10. If I had hit my 45 minute run target I would have made up 3:48 and put me ahead of 2 other guys in my age group, and sent me to nationals.

I have never cared where I placed before, and I didn't expect to qualify coming into this race. Didn't even know what you needed to do to qualify. I still only race to better my own times and set a good example for my girls. But I do have to admit, qualifying for age group nationals would have been really cool. And I was really close. makes you think.....

Hanging out with Ashley and Caitlin after the race. We had lunch with Ashley, and Caitlin's mom came into town so we missed seeing her more at lunch.


Amy said...

Such a great race and an amazing PR! I am continually amazed at how speedy you've gotten over the past couple of years. So awesome. Also, LOVE that profile pic of you on the bike. You look so strong.

Nice job Mr. Speedster!

Unknown said...

Looks like a beautiful race.

It has been my experience that mountain towns completely shut down between the hours of 8pm and 10am.

Amber said...

Awesome work! You really did crush that race! And Kelley got some awesome race pictures!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Congrats - that is just an awesome performance and a huge PR. YOu should be vvery proud of yourself. Kelley got some awesome photos. I am a bit envious as I Have no running photos becuase I never have spectators. So add this to the list of qualities you need to look for in a southern gentleman for me: one that will come and watch me run my ass off (literally, ha) and take nice photos. Ha. ;)

Georgia Snail said...

Gig ups for racing your a$$ off, CJ! It's getting to be crunch time for IMFL!

Heather @ Side of Sneakers said...

Oh my gosh I can't believe how close you were to qualifying!! That must make you feel good :) Congrats on such an awesome race- it sounds like a beautiful place for a tri. Might need to put it on my list for next year ;)

Being Robinson said...

wow, huge congrats! that had to be an amazing feeling, nice PR! enjoy it :)

Unknown said...

yes indeed, you DID crush it

Wes said...

Lake Logan is a great course, and you really crushed it. You had a superb run time, and you said you were "gassed" LOL.. Nice job, CJ!! Ironman on the horizon....

Unknown said...

You are getting so fast! I love watching the transformation!

I laughed a little though when you said you looked at your arm for your race number. I may have done that a time or two before!

Congrats on the HUGE pr!

Sophie @ threetimesf said...

GREAT PR effort, Well done!! Some great pics too, the scenery looks amazing :)

Lily on the Road said...

It takes a real man to have a pink transition bag!

Good job on the OLY and sorry you missed the Nationals, but next year, you've got it in the "pink" bag!!