9/4/11 Hy-Vee 5150 US Championships

Cycling

We woke up @ 3:30, got everything ready, attempted to use the restroom, but was only able to manage a number one. I stretched for 15 minutes and then managed to use the restroom again. We go down to the car and make the 15 minute drive over to Gray’s Lake where the bike and transition was situated. I inflated my tires, adjusted my front brake, and got ready to hear the good news – the nearly impossible happened.

The water temperature dropped from 83* to 75.6* due to the rain over the weekend – just under the wetsuit legal mark of 76*! I used the portajohns for a total of three restroom brakes if you’re folowing along at home.

I get dressed in my wetsuit and begin to warm up a bit since it was 55* and freezing. There was still an hour to go as I walked into the warm water to heat up my feet and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee which also helped me heat up. I figured while I was enjoying the heat of the water and coffee, why not wade in a little further and use the restroom for a fourth time?

Now I was ready to go and we all lined up within the half hour for the national anthem and to wait for our wave to go off. The elite men would go off first, followed by the elite women, the paratriathletes, then us – the 15-29 men.

The moment seemed to take forever, but when it arrived, it felt as if it was just yesterday that I was being ushered over the timing mats in NYC for the triathlon on 96th street. Before I knew it the horn blared in my ear and we started swimming. I made sure not to go out too fast and before I knew it, I picked up my head (before the first buoy) and saw that the entire championship field had swam away besides for me and two others. Just like I expected – a weak swim for a weak swimmer (if you can even call me a swimmer).

My swim was a messy mix of mashed up strokes – some front crawl here, some back stroke there, some breastroke by this buoy, some side stroke by that buoy…before I knew it, I was passed by every single person in the race – or so it felt like. I tried to catch heels but I couldn’t hold them for more than 10 strokes. I’d like to blame it on the fact that I’ve been tapering for cross country tryouts this Wed. Morning, and that would be fine…if I didn’t usually swim this poorly.

My swim was exactly 37:00 for 247th place, not my slowest, but close to it. I became very dizzy and disoriented towards the end of the swim and when I saw how slow I was, I was truly ashamed.

Out of the water I ran to pick up my bike, put on my helmet, shoes, and get the heck out of transition as quickly as possible. I saw only two other bikes on my rack when I got out of the water – at least I wasn’t last out, which is what I was expecting.

My first transition was 3:04 vs. my age group winner’s 2:45. Like I said. I was really dizzy.

On the bike I felt really powerful with my new position and was only dropped once throughout the entire ride, by the eventual F40-44 champion (who I later saw at a turnaround on the run). I made really good time and the course was hillier than many were ready for. The field was scattered as I picked my way through it, but I still managed to eat through the leads of the athletes in front of me. On each climb, I passed  two or three riders, and on the downhill portions, I caught several riders – most notably, two clydesdale riders on Cérvelo P3’s who must not have had as efficient a tuck as I had.

Right before mile 8, I dropped my chain on a climb – a 20 second nuisance, but a quick recovery led to me passing three riders who I already passed once. The ride was nice through a mixture of rural and urban areas. Out of the four train tracks we rode over, three were covered with mats and didn’t pose a problem for me. Thank God, no flats, only a dropped chain which didn’t hinder my time too badly.

I hit a 1:12:46 for the bike for an average 20.5 MPH and 153rd best. That was a Personal Record for me and I am definitely on my way to getting much faster.

I racked the bike (and must have passed some people on my rack in the process because there were more than a handful of bikes missing when I got back to transition to rack mine), threw off my helmet, slipped on my sweet yellow K-Swiss’s and grabbed hat, race belt, gel and sport beans.

Transition 2 took 1:34 vs. the winner of my age group’s 1:35 (I win!).

Historically, I go out too soft during the first mile unless I manage to tag onto another runner – which is exactly what I did. I ran out of transition with Don and Amy (F35-39) athletes from Florida who were running a 6:30. It felt good so we kept that up for a bit. I asked what we were shooting for, and the response 42 sounded good to me, so we stuck with it.

At roughly mile 3, we decided that the wind would be best battled with a rotating pace line which is what we did. Don would lead until she got tired, and then she would run to the back of the line when Amy would lead. Until she tired, and then I would lead. I think I went out too fast my first time leading…I kinda gapped them a bit, but they yelled and I slowed down, so no harm was done.

We ran together the entire way, all the way until the last grueling climb which reduced me to hobbling down the finishing chute and collapsing just over the mat.

Coupled with my fastest bike split of my life, the back-to-back performance felt like the best bike/run production of my life and I couldn’t be happier, even if I missed my run PR by less than a minute.

Total run time was 44:02 for a 7:06 average pace and good enough for 114th fastest of the day.

My total time left much to be desired – a 2:38:24. Given my lack of training over the last month however, aiming for a time much higher than that would have been foolish. Especially given my particular weakness in the water. I placed 9th in my age group and 174th overall.

Overall the race was great, the weekend was even better and the post-race massage was integral to my recovery for Wednesday’s 6:30AM XC tryouts. Let’s hope I perform better there than I did at the 5150 Hy-vee international distance U.S. Championships.

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