Saturday, October 15, 2011

Giant Acorn International Race Recap

This was a somewhat local race to DC - allowing me to wait to the last minute to register and no need for a hotel or extensive travel plans.  The late start time even allowed for a normal amount of sleep the night before.  This race was 6 short days after Augusta 70.3.  I spent the time recovering my legs in hopes to be able to race and PR at the Giant Acorn.  The weeks training consisted of elliptical with almost no resistance and swimming.  By Wednesday I knew my legs would be able to race on Saturday so I registered online just in time before the race sold out.  I worked out a ride with some DC Tri friends and focused the last couple days on getting my legs and body as ready as it could possibly be.  I had set a goal of finishing Nation's under 2:30 but with the canceled swim my 1:56 was under 2:30 but missing the swim portion.  I am confident that I would have still finished under 2:30 but I wanted to prove it at Giant Acorn.

Race Morning
  After having the breakfast of champions, Special K Red Berries with frozen banana, my ride was soon to be here so I double checked my bag and headed outside.  I was lucky enough to have curbside pickup from the DC Tri crew.  We quickly loaded my bike on the roof rack, thank goodness because my bike is so tiny that it doesn't fit on all trunk racks, and hit the road for the Lake Anna Marina in Bumpass, VA.  It was overcast, slightly raining throughout the drive and cold.  I spent most of the drive mentally dealing with the fact that I was going to race in the cold air.  I came to the conclusion that the faster I biked and ran the sooner I could get out of the coldness and it would probably feel good during the run anyways.  Race start was at 10:00 so we planned on arriving at 9:00 to give ourselves in hour for packet pick-up, transition set-up and warm-up.

Pre Race
As planned we arrived around 9:00 with what we thought would be plenty of time to pull ourselves together.  We soon realized we were mistaken - either 90% of the athlete's arrived at 9:00am or the race was not prepared to handle packet pickup in the AM.  The line was out of control.  We waited in line for 40 minutes, transition closed at 9:45.  I had to run to the car get my bike and gear and set up transition in 5 minutes!  Yikes.  I was in go mode.  Luckliy it seems some athlete's decided not to show due to the cooler conditions so transition was not as packed as it might have been.  I created an organized mess around my bike before getting into my wetsuit.  As I got into my wetsuit I realized I had left my awesome red swim cap in the car.  No big deal I went back to packet pickup and got another red cap, much easier than heading to the car.  I got body marked, donned "DAD" (no time for black armband) on my left arm and took some deep breaths for a few minutes before the starting gun of the first wave.  As I took in the crowd and the course I noticed that there seemed to be an unusually large amount of females in my age group.  Come to find out it was the Collegiate Regional Championships.

THE SWIM - 1500m - 31:48
The water was choppy - I'm used to pretty flat water and there were a huge amount of people in my start wave.  I found myself a nice starting position toward the inside of the course in front of most of the crowd which may or may not have been a good decision.  I got pummeled the first 400m of the course - both by waves and other athletes.  Many athlete's were swimming off course and having difficulty sighting.  Definitely not a good race to draft unless you were keeping track of where you were headed.  The swim was hard, I battled waves and athlete's the entire distance.  Overall I was happy with my swim time, I expected worse given the conditions.  I will continue to get better at the swim.

T1 - 2:58
Not my fastest T1 time but I had to get the wetsuit off and deal with my organized mess when I got to my bike rack.

THE BIKE -   - 1:09:53
The air felt cold on the arms at first - now I know why people get arm warmers.  The rest of me was ok a little chilly but I warmed up quickly.  Shortly into the bike I went to take some water and realized that in my rush of the morning I had not dumped my water into my aero bottle while setting up in transition.  Luckily I had a bottle of Heed in my bottle cage and dumped that into the aero bottle.  At least I had Heed and PowerGels - I needed whatever I could get to push my legs to a PR.  The bike course was 2 loops of rolling hills.  It was fun - none of the climbs were outrageous and there were some long downhills.  The course never really felt crowded but was definitely much busier as I came around on my 2nd loop.  I took 3 gels during this bike to help prepare myself for the run.  I would have like to have a bit better bike time, my average speed was 21.34 MPH, looking for this to be about 22 MPH and above on flat courses.  My legs started to feel the previous weekend's 70.3 effort near the end of the ride.

T2 - 2:03
Nothing too exciting here, back to the organized mess.  Got into my run shoes and grabbed the race # belt before heading out to the run course.

THE RUN - 10 - 50:23
The run course was 2 loops of 3.1 miles.  I was not cold at all - the cooler air felt nice for a change.  It was on the run course that I saw the massive group of girls in my age group coming back towards me while I was heading out on loop 1.  I thought I had done well enough on the bike and positioned myself in front of those in my age group - little did I know the collegiate's were way out in front.  My legs were feeling tired so I just passed people 1 by 1 during the run to keep me mentally in the game.  I was realizing that I probably wouldn't break 2:30 but still could PR so I was pushing as much as I could.  I took advantage of water and Heed at every opportunity.  A small section of the run course was through a wooded trail and I loved it - trails always make me run faster!  The run was not close to my 10k PR but good enough considering my legs were pretty beat.

OVERALL - 2:37:02
A new International Distance PR for me.  I was happy with that but a bit disappointed about not breaking 2:30.  There will be many more chances and many more races more conducive to such a goal.  With the amount of girls who had finished in front of me I figured I probably didn't place.  I asked some of the timing people of the collegiate's were in the age group divisions or if they had their own division and was told they would be in the Age Group divisions.  I met up with the DC Tri crew, put on some warmer clothes and got back on the road.  Come to find out - I won my AG!  Wish I would have known at the race site but no big deal.

Post Race Thoughts
I don't like being rushed before the race, now I really am sure of this.  I will always be at races much too early rather than rushing around.  This seemed to be the most unorganized Set-Up events race I have done.  I was happy to finish the season with a PR - my body and mind were ready for a break.  My focus now shifts to the marathon that is only a couple of short weeks away.  I have been developing goals for next year, putting together the 2012 race schedule and seeking out Ironman Training plans.

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