Sunday, May 3, 2009

Polarbear Race Report: Big win, and not why you think

The first race is in the books. The day started with a lousy forecast and light rain on the drive to Brunswick, brining back bad memories from last year's numbing 45 degrees, rain and wind. However by the time we arrived to a full parking lot, the sky was breaking and it was at least 55 degrees. It turned out to be absolutely perfect weather. I brought Nick with me to do some video taping. He's really into the computer and I bought him some video editing software. As it turns out, and not because of the video work, bringing him was the big win of the day.

It was great to see everyone again in our chosen environment- Kurt, Mike, Ange, Catherine, Jeff F., Jeff S. and many others. Everyone was clearly eager to see how they stood vs. the competition. Lots of nervous energy.

I thought the swim went very well. I base this on the fact that Mike Caiazzo has been kicking my butt in practice, but on this day, I steadily pulled away from him, beating him by 16 seconds over the 525 yds. By watching the video of the first 300 yrs, I got my splits of 1:08, 1:13, 1:14, which seems fine. I felt very relaxed the whole way, more so than last year, and ended up with an identical time (6:51, timed as you exit the pool and enter T1). Without getting into too much detail, this was the first year they used timing chips. So my swim was probably about 5 seconds faster this year.

Both transitions were fantastic. I usually give up all kinds of time here. This year, the only items at the bike rack were my bike, helmet, mat, sneakers, race belt and bike shoes. No other crap there- to the point I was nervous I was forgetting something. In T1, I was only 4 seconds slower than the fastest split, and in T2, just 6 seconds slower. Granted, I was the first bike on my rack, but that's still a huge improvement.

The bike is a bit of a mystery. My power file says I was only about 2 watts better. The Powertap doesn't lie. I thought I would be 15+ watts better, based on my training results. I was 0.5 mph faster, but that might be due to the better weather. My variability index was 0.02 lower, which is good. This is a tough course to settle into a good tempo because it's only 11 miles, and there's a corner to slow down for at least every couple of miles. Overall, it felt good, but it seemed hard to maintain a high output.

The run started out feeling terrible. I took in no solid calories on the bike and only about 8-10 oz. of fluid, and I still had a heavy stomach running out of T2. That stayed with me for about half of the run. I guess I'm a bit disappointed with the run, again, considering how I've been training. I was 19 seconds better than last year (3 mi), but the weather must be worth that much. However, when I compare run splits for those around me both years, there were only two folks who picked up meaningful time on me (:35 and 1:25), and I put time into several others (between :31 and 1:18). Who knows.

I ended up 5th overall and 1st in AG (7th and 2nd last year). At 58:06, I was 1:33 better than last year. Relative to others around me both years, only Rob Fast had a better differential. So I think I'm doing well, but there's still room for improvement.

Getting back to Nick, I thought he would be bored out of his skull. As it turns out, he had a great time. He thought it was cool that Mike C actually wins money at this sport. He saw him on the run, and was blown away by how fast he is (5:45 is tempo work). Nick even started talking about doing a race himself. The crowning comment came as we drove back into the garage. He looked up to see my old TT bike hanging from the ceiling and asked if he could use it for a race. The scarey thing is at almost 13 years old, Nick might just fit the bike.

The video turned out to be very revealing regarding swim and run technique. I bury my head after breathing, and my upper body moves way too much on the run. We're going to try to piece something together to post here.

Congratulations to all those who raced yesterday, especially the rookies who made up about a third of the field. It's great to have the season underway. Next stop: Crank the Kanc, a 22 mile TT in the White Mountains.


  1. awesome Steve. I'm so excited to hear about your son's enthusiasm yesterday. I think it's great the way you spent the day with him..sharing that type of thing. My kids are still in the 'just run around in circles climbing tress and stealing drinks phase' but I hope someday they will be eager to watch and maybe even join in the fun.
    YOU did GREAT yesterday!!! that is a HUGE improvement in such a short sprint. IT was really fun to be back in the scene...
    and thanks so much for all the IM tips. I will take all the advice you want to pour my way.

  2. Awesome race, Steve! Given the level you're at, the improvements you made this year over last ARE significant. I'm sure the bike power was off b/c of the turns. Anyway, congrats. I'm proud to know you!
    As per the video, it is interesting to be able to analyze stroke/form. The still body when running is key, I agree (not that I do it!) but does it really slow you down to bury your head after you breathe? Why?

  3. 13! that kid is huge (tall)...screw triathlon...all basketball and baseball (did Mike C tell him how much he actually makes in the sport:-)).

    solid job man, I was impressed, you looked strong throughout.

  4. Congrats on your race!! I've never learned so much about my swimming until I saw myself on video (holy smokes, I did that???). Great analysis tool and wonderful that your son is interested in tris too!

  5. just caught onto your blog from mary and anges. awesome race! both you and ange kicked that polar bears butt!