Sunday, May 12, 2013

Race Report- MCBH Sprit Tri

Two thirds of this race course is fantastic. It's fast and the roads, being held on a military base, are well maintained. The swim took place right off the runway, in the bay.
The swim was gross.
I knew that going in. I've raced here before with the Super Awesome Wife. The water is full of airplane fuel and oil and who knows what else runs off an airfield. All the more reason to get in, swim fast, and get out. The Grey signed up for the race too and we basically followed each other from Mililani all the way to the base. It's fun to race with a friend, even though we only saw each other briefly on the course. Super Awesome Wife and Dirtbag Baby stayed home. She wasn't feeling good the night before and he'd been kind of a grumper. I wish they had been able to come. I didn't realize until after I finished and they weren't there how much I missed having her at the end of the race. But it was a better parent choice.
This race also had a bike safety check, the first race I've ever been to with one. The local bike shop, IT&B had guys out checking every single bike for a tight chain, good brakes, properly inflated tires, and the like before it went into transition. The Honu didn't check my bike this closely. It did answer a question I've been having though. Turns out my brake cables were way loose. That explains why I didn't feel like I was having much stopping power. I figured the pads were going. Nope, way loose. Loose enough that Frank, the owner of IT&B, laughed at me when he gave my bike to their mechanic to fix. The mechanic tightened the cable down. Remember that.
 These last two triathlons have been great as far as pre-race jitters go. I know I'm out of shape, I know I'm not going to be hammering any part of it, I know I need to not go hard or I'll totally fall apart, so I'm not stressed about having a good race. I am focused on having a good time and enjoying myself.
I got a short warm-up swim in because I hate swimming in the washing machine cold, and then got ready to race.

 The swim was a triangle right buoy, left buoy, back to the entry. The key to mass swim starts to to either get out in front or get wide. When I'm fit getting out in front isn't much of a problem. I'm not swim fit. I was concerned about getting kicked in the face. Especially because this was a Marine Corps Base and a lot of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children were participating. The race director went out of her way to tell us triathlon is not a full contact sport. Some of the guys around me laughed. I'm going to get drowned by Marines.
The Swim (not pictured- how gross the water felt)
 Or not. Swimming 500m is just short enough that I can fake it with what fitness I have and my technique. I found a good starting position and at the gun (which scared the crap out of me because oh we're using a gun today) got underway strong. I concentrated on keeping my stroke long and getting to the outside. The outside is important in the swim where there are buoy turns. Inexperienced swimmers try to cut the corners very close so as to swim the shortest possible distance. This is a bad strategy. When you swim directly to the buoy you're setting yourself up for two slowing things. The first is the angle you need to make to get pointed in the right direction again. A complete right angle turn, and that's a pain in the ass in the water. You basically lose all forward momentum. The other problem is that everyone else has the same idea you do and there is a massive crush the closer you get to the turn. I swim wide. Yeah, I swim a few more meters further than everyone else, but my turn is more gradual and faster and I don't get kicked in my pretty face.
Until I space on the long leg and somehow get to the inside from the first buoy to the second. I drifted and realized too late that I was headed to the inside with no time to correct. Damnit. Oh well. I also noticed that it looked like I was further back in the pack than I wanted to be. I know, I know, I haven't been swimming, no pressure, blah blah blah I'M A BETTER SWIMMER THAN THESE PEOPLE! Still, I kept it together, didn't swim stupid, and got crushed at the turn. Then something wonderful happened. Either I misjudged how far ahead the main pack was or they faded hard en masse, but by the time we were halfway back on the last leg I'd caught the main pack. From there a swimmer has two choices, go wide, motor hard, and be out of the water a few seconds before everyone else but blown out or settle in, grab a wake, and cool it off for the last 100 yards. I chose option two, of course. I was in the back of the front group, that's plenty good enough for me. Had I been fit I probably would have been out of the water in the top 20 overall.
Coming out of the water there was a soldier holding a high pressure hose spraying athletes off as we ran into T1. That's never happened before. Frankly, it's a little disconcerting to exit the water to have the race director decide I need to be hosed off as soon as possible. Just what was I swimming in? I resolved to rinse and shower as soon as I crossed the finish line.
I sauntered through transition. Why hurry? And cruised out onto the course.
I love this bike course. I think it's my favorite sprint bike course. It was two laps, each lap about 5.6mi. The lap was a loop around the airfield, so that meant it was clean road the whole way. No Dodge the Pothole! There were some climbs, but only one of any remark. If there had been more of a headwind it would be been a harder ride, but as it was I really enjoyed it. Lots of turns, and my motorcycle sensibilities enjoy going round a bend. Slowed everyone else down too. Remember how my brakes got tightened? I near went ass-over-teakettle on the first turn because I jumped a little too hard on my newly tightened brakes. Whoops. Stopping Power! I kept down in aero and tried not to care about all the guys blasting past me. Whatever. I pretty much hooked up with another dude, tall guy, and we played hopscotch the whole eleven miles. Right at the end of the lap was a little climb, dip, steep short climb section that was kind of a challenge, but the climb was so small that I feel silly spending any more time talking about it. Had I been better fit I would barely have noticed it. I bet The Grey cruised up it stronger than I did. I wouldn't know, he hadn't caught me yet (mock taunt and otherwise).
I felt pretty strong overall on the ride, which was a pleasant surprise. I kept it together and rode smart and everything came together nicely. Right at the start I got some good burn in my thighs and glutes as my legs adjusted from swimming to riding, but that went away after a few miles. I'm sure that happens to me every race and I forget every race.
I did nearly die on the bike once. The runway is made up of concrete plates. Between each plate is maybe a quarter inch groove. They warned us during the pre-race to be aware of the grooves. I forgot. Right near the end I went to pass my buddy and put my front tire right into the groove, which dragged the back tire into the groove and the whole bike threatened to go down when I tried to pull it back out. Thanks to my amazing bike handling abilities I saved it and didn't die. I did make eye contact with the other guy who gave me a, "Woah! Nice save!"
I cruised back through T2, taking my sweet sweet time. I can't hurry getting my feet into the toe shoes anyway, and I knew there was lots of getting passed to come, so why race?
Like last time, the run was slow. I didn't feel as terrible during it as I did at Lanikai, but I by no means felt fast. I was expecting, because the Grey had warned me, there to be a brutal climb on the run. Apparently the course used to go up the same side of Radar Hill that we rode up during Lanikai. That would have suuuuuucked, and that's what I was thinking was coming the whole. Most of the first half of the run was uphill, but it was a gentle uphill and I spent it wondering what the hell The Grey had been on about. He finally passed me pretty early into the run. Him and half the damn field. I run slow.
Cruised through the turn-around at the top of the climb feeling ok, and thinking it was much shorter than the mile and a half it should have been. I was right, by the way. The run was just under three miles, which is the opposite than the just over three an a half Lanikai was.
I had an ok run. I have only one gear right now and even when I want to pull it into more than a trot it's an effort. My head isn't in it and I don't have the legs. I probably could be running faster, I think a lot of it is in my head. I'm not sweating it. Hit the finish feeling like I'd worked hard and that was good enough for me.
Fun race, good run course, great bike course, disgusting swim. I rinsed off with my spare water bottle and changed out of my race kit immediately. No skin rash on me.

Swim (~500m)- 8:45
Bike (10.46mi)- 32:31
T2- 1:59
Run (2.95mi)- 29:12
Total- 1:13.32

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