Saturday, July 11, 2009

Race Reports: Catching Up- 5K and Black Fly "Int'l"

The 5K in Castine hardly involved any catching up. This race is very much a family, small town affair on 7/4. Very low tech and low budget. It's much more about seeing friends for the first time since last summer and getting some exercise. A whole bunch of people walk or run slow. A few of us work it hard.

The race started with the typical sprint, then began to sort itself out. It's flat for the first 3/4 mile or so, and (thanks to my Garmin) I knew I was holding a 6:05 pace- plenty fast enough for me, although there were about 8 people in front of me. Then the hills started. By the time we got the the highest point in the race, I had picked off two more. I gradually pulled in another, then had another in my sights and eventually within a few yards. But then we started going down hill, and my largest running weakness was revealed. I stink going downhill. He gapped me, and the race was pretty much over. I kept my heart rate up, but decided not to turn myself inside out. As it turns out, I had my highest average heart rate over 18 minutes for the season (other than tris where I don't wear a monitor).

According to Garmin, it was exactly 3.0 miles, and I finished in 19:25- fine. After finishing, I grabbed a water and started doing the race in reverse to find my eight year old. I was amazed how soon I found her, and heard she had run nearly the entire way. She ended up winning the kids division and came away with some good loot.

This week was one of my heavier training weeks- including the triathlon, a bit over 12 hours. The big highlights came from my wife's and my family visiting for her 40th birthday. On Thursday, we went out on Lucky Catch, a lobster boat run by a HS friend. Everyone had a great time even though we didn't catch any legal lobsters. He generously had five waiting for us to take home by the time we got back to the dock. In a major departure from recent weather, we had a beautiful afternoon. Big birthday dinner with lobster and steak. For a guy who likes nearly all food, including all seafood, and is from Maine, it's weird how I don't like lobster. Hence the steak. On Friday, we took the boat out to one of the outer Casco Bay islands to enjoy a great beach day. Then dinner was at a Japanese restaurant.

I mention all of these details not only because it was all great fun, but also as a backdrop to Saturday's race- that started at 7:30, 2 1/2 hours away. I was generally tired from the week, then got up at 3 AM to drive over. I wanted to leave plenty of time in case something went wrong. Big lesson learned....don't trust Google maps implicitly. They sent me over the Sandwich Notch pass. I'm going along, following the directions just right, then turn onto a rough dirt road- it's about 4:45 at this point. I figure it's some short term paving project. But after 2 miles of single lane weaving and bouncing through the forest, I start to question the road, wonder if I've made a terrible mistake, and think about what to do. So I stopped to check a map book I have with very local roads. Sure enough, it gets me to where I want to go- it's also labeled, "Summer traffic only." That's New Englandese for a lousy unmaintained road. The psychological phenomenon of loss aversion kicks in, and I continue on. This road was barely wider than my car, was full of potholes, had boulders and trees right on the sides, and went up and down like a roller coaster. After 8 miles of torture, I finally pulled out onto the beautifully paved Rt. 49 that also served as the race course.

The setting for the race was spectacular- Waterville Valley, right in the heart of the White Mountains. Upon arriving, I soon learned that the water was a reported 53 degrees (holy crap!), and as a result, they shortened the swim from two laps to one. [What is it about me and shortened swims?] In my opinion, it was actually better than Mooseman last year, and easily could have gone the full 1/2 mile. It was probably about 425 yards in total...which took up the ENTIRE body of water. It was like swimming in a bathtub. At the same time, it was a time trial start, with folks going every five seconds. In hindsight, a second lap would have been a logistical nightmare and incredibly crowded as first and second lap swimmers mixed it up. Good sighting and a sprinter's background gave me a good swim.

The bike was about 8-9 miles down, a small lollipop, then back up the same road. I did the first 10 miles in 21 minutes and continued to catch tons of people that started ahead of me. I was pleased with my power output on that first half- it would have been easy to cruise the downhill portion. The second half also went well. I went to my small chainring twice, and only came out of my aerobars a couple of times. I loved this course- the pavement was in great shape, and we had two long stretches with no turns. Just put your head down and go.

I had a bit of a brain fart coming into T2 and forgot to take my feet out of my shoes before the end. Won't make that mistake again. This race was a "B" race for me, and only the second Olympic distance other than Nationals. But I didn't have much of a plan going in. I was actually surprised/concerned by my lack of focus. As I started the run, one goal came to me- keep a high turnover to start the run, shorter strides, don't pound, work into the run, and try to descend. I have been able to nail the first mile in most races, putting in lots of effort, but wanted to finish strong. The strategy worked well, and I was able to avoid the torso discomfort I've had in prior races. The first mile was a gradual uphill, and I split 6:46- fine. Mile 2 had more pronounced hills, including one very steep one, and I split 6:31. The mile that included the turnaround was fairly flat, and I got it down to 6:26. Mile 4, 6:24. Then I saw a NOAD. That's all I needed to have a good push to the finish- 5:53. I was very happy with those splits. It comes to an average of 6:24, which is right on what I want for Nationals. I've never broken 40 in a stand alone race, but that's my goal for the tri. It's a flat course in Tuscaloosa, so that should help.

As for results:

Swim 5:51, 6th

T1 1:31, too slow, fastest was 1:10

Bike 54:38, 23.1 ave, 10th

T2 0:55, fastest was 0:37

Run 32:00, 6:24 ave, 21st

Overall 1:34:54, 7/419 OA, 1/50 AG

After changing up, I enjoyed a good meal- pasta salad, clam chowder, bagel with cream cheese, crackers and cheese, honey yogurt, banana and soda. With that, I only got a couple of snacks for the way home, just enough to stay awake. Soon after getting home, however, I thoroughly enjoyed some leftover birthday carrot cake. Dinner was an open faced steak sanwich with cheese on top. Yum.

Next up...Urban Epic sprint on Saturday.


  1. Hey GREAT Race STEve!!!!! An AG Win!! Excellent. Your run is really fast! Looks like I won't see the back of that shirt again anytime soon. :) But 53 degrees...ouch! The pictures of that race look beautiful. Might have to try that out next year.
    Rest up!

  2. solid day Steve.

    in Tusca, dont be too anal about "pacing" that's Nationals...race with your heart and trust your PE.

  3. Enjoyed reading about both races. Very well done. And I have also found that Google Maps is unreliable. We once used it to shorten a bike route (didn't need/want extra miles) and ended up on a sandy road!

    Congrats to you and your daughter on yr AG wins. If there is any lobster you don't want, send it down my way :-)

  4. Great Race Steve. Good luck at the EPIC.

  5. Awesome race, Steve! Congrats on the AG win and 7th overall! You are going to rock Nationals...
    And congrats to your daughter.... She has your talent, obviously!
    And congrats on the 5K too!