Sunday, April 15, 2012

Belews Lake International Race Recap

I didn't think this race all the way through when I signed up.  I just knew I wanted to get some good open water racing experience in at least once this season before collegiate national championships.  I left Friday afternoon right after finishing my internship on the long drive to Greensboro, NC.  I am not positively sure spending 6 hours in the car 12 hours before your race starts is not a good plan, but I had to do what I had to do.  I treated my self to dinner at Olive Garden when I was about 30 minutes from my hotel.  Though the Garden was packed I sat myself at the bar and got served immediately.  I continued onto my hotel (affordable thanks to USAT discount) satisfied with my meal but feeling stiff car legs and beginning to have doubts about this idea.

I woke up at 5:00 had Red Berries with banana and almond milk before reloading up the car and heading out to the race site in Stokesdale, NC.  Once at the site I went through packet pick-up, chip pick-up, and TA set up before taking a few minutes to look over the maps of the race course.  I had been so busy completing my internship and all the paperwork to go with it during the week leading up to the race that I didn't have a chance to look over the course before hand.  A triangle swim, a two loop bike, and a Lollipop 2 loop run.  Interesting.  Elevation - I had no clue.  The air temperature was cold about 50* most of the morning so I spent a good amount of time just trying to stay warm.

THE SWIM - 33:40
With the unusual style of an open water time trial start I had to wait 33:40 into the race before I started the swim.  This means I stood in my wetsuit, barefoot, and cold for about 35 minutes.  I chose not to do a swim warm-up as I would have had to get out of the water at 7:50 and stand around soaking wet for 44 minutes.  The water temperature was 66* - warmer than the air which felt nice when first getting in but once into the swim it began to feel cold.  I started next to another lady - as 2 athletes began every 10 seconds.  I did not like the time trial start approach.  I felt like I was swimming by myself the entire time, well I kind of was. I did not have a pack to try and keep up with.  Just me and the open water.  My sighting for the first 800 m was good.  I stayed tight to the bouy's and wasted no time or energy going off course.  The last 700m is a different story.  The bouy's were not in a direct line to the finish so it was in one's best interest to sight the finish and swim a straight line to the finish rather than hug the bouy's.  I caught myself swimming off course 2x - basically perpendicular to the course.  This could be a reason for the dismal time but I know that I need to push myself in the water.  I have the fitness, I need to be comfortable with a strong effort and get my time down to 27ish mintues.  Nothing great but enough not to keep me off the podium as most races.  Had I hit even 29 minutes in this swim I would have podiumed.    Interesting that my swim took 33:40 and I started 33:40 into the race - I hope there wasn't a timing mishap.

T1 - 2:30
I chose to wear my wetsuit in this swim.  The westuit came off easily for the most part, except my right ankle. I had to sit down to get the darn thing off the right ankle - it had gotten all folded over itself as I was trying to pull it off apparently.  This was the first time I ever had to sit down.  Other than that transition went smoothly. No wetsuit and I could probably know 1:00 off this transition time.

THE BIKE - 27 miles - 1:20:41
Just a bit longer than your standard Olympic distance course.  I did not know what to expect with the bike course as I had no time to drive the course.  Well mounting the bike was on an incline and the course started with a steep short climb.  You then continued to climb a long and steady ascent for the first 5-7 miles.  I didn't like this either - it felt so slow and it was hard to get the legs going.  After getting the legs spinning I finally found my rhythm around mile 10.  The back side of the loop was some rolling hills but on back, gritty, rough pavement.  The time trial start and the two loop bike made it really hard to judge where you were in relation to the competition.  I chose not to put my magnet on my race wheel and try racing without knowing my pace. Never again.  I like to know.  On loop one during a speedy section a man passed me on the left and just as he let me know he was passing there was a pothole in front of me.  I couldn't go around the pothole thanks to the passer and going off road didn't sound great either so I took the pothole like a champ and said some silent prayers that everything stayed in working order.  During the 2nd loop I chose to participate in the water bottle hand off for some pre IM practice.  It went smoothly and I put a little more water in my aerobottle.  I only rode with 1/2 a bottle of Gu Brew in my X-wing and water in my aerobottle to decrease necessary weight.  This was my best event of the day.  Considering the course and all the other factors I am proud of the bike.

T2 - 1:25
T2 went smooth for the most part.  The bike racks that were used were midget sized and even my midget bike would not fit under the bar so re-racking was a little difficult.

THE RUN - 10k - 52:29
Considering the less than optimal lead up to this race and the course this time wasn't bad.  5th in my AG which surprised because I felt like I was sucking it up.  The course was very hilly, painfully hilly.  Long steady climbs, steep climbs, and an odd setup which mentally was not cool.  Each time you passed the turn around point you had to collect a little rubber bracelet.  No one ever really checked that you had received 2 of the bracelets - people could have easily cheated.  One a nice course and in an A race this time needs to be below 47:00, but I am fully confident that it will be.  The aid stations were stocked with water and heed at about every mile.  Knowing what mile you were on was not easy there were signs every where stating mile 2, 3, 4, 5 and some weird mile sign with duct tape on it at some point between mile 2 and 3.  That one through me off because I thought I was at mile 3 when I passed it, but then later I passed another mile 3 sign.  Who knows.  At least the last 1/2 mile was all down hill into the finishing chute.  That felt good.

FINISH TIME: 2:50:43

My initial thought was "wow, that was absolutely horrible".  I took some time to look over everything and all in all it wasn't that bad.  The swim needs to be better, the bike was good, and the run is fine for now.  There were no steller run times - I'd say all about 4-5 minutes slower the optimal due to the course.  I missed the podium by less than 4 minutes in my first race the more competitive 25-29 age group.  I am going to work on my swimming every day this week leading up to Collegiate National Championships and at least get comfortable pushing myself and "racing" the 1500m swim instead of just swimming comfortably.  I compared my time to my Luray Intl time from last year and saw that I bested that time by about 4 minutes on a similar style and distance course (and I took 1st at Luray).  Though Luray's run was not as harsh.  I stuck around for awards and ate some recovery food before subjecting myself to a 5 hour drive.  I am looking forward to Collegiate National Championships.  It will be a good experience with great competition and an awesome course to see what I can do on.

 Triathlon Saturday.  Duathlon Sunday.  Marathon Monday.  I'm not partaking in the marathon but other than that what a weekend to kick off multisport season.

Did you have any races this weekend?  How did they go?