Irony at it's best.. Litchfield Hills Olympic Race Report

I decided to do this race on a last minute whim after having a great race at the Regional championships giving me a huge boost of confidence.  I placed just outside of the top 20 ( By less than 30 seconds) against the best of the best in my region, and I was stoked.  It was going to be my fourth weekend of racing in a row, and I was definitely hoping to catch a break and hopefully be able to finally stand on the overall podium after being so close two weeks prior.

I'm not going to write a race report for that race but the course was extremely challenging and had a bunch of great competition.  The most satisfying thing about the race was being able to finish in front of the guy who won the overall race at the Seaside sprint a few weeks prior.  I have included a link to the results below.

NE Regionals Results

Pre- Race:  Since it was a last minute thing I needed to enter when I got there, which took a little time.  Because of that my warmup was cut extremely short, but It was still long enough for me to reearch and find a 1/4 mile climb from the lake to T1!  I was glad I ran down by the lake to observe because I definitely needed to wear shoes from the lake to transistion to avoid injury.  I found a spot for my shoes and planned my attack.   Before I knew it, its time to race!

Swim: .9 Mile.. (GPS .91 22:40 ...24:54/mi pace  10/218)

I was excited about the swim because there was only one wave of men so I figured I would know exactly where I stood coming out of the water and exactly how much work needed to be done to catch up.  I decided to use the same strategy that I used the week before to avoid any freak outs in the water.  It was an in water start so we had a to tread a little water before actually starting, which was fine.  Once the gun went off I let everyone fight it out, waited about 15 seconds, picked my line to the buoy and then I started to swim.  I swam a little wide to avoid contact, but yet I had a straight line to the first turn buoy.  I ran into a little contact at the turn, but I just continued my strategy and found a clean line.  On my swims lately I start off nice and easy, and end up passing a majority of the field, but by the time I hit the second buoy, from what I could see, it didnt look like there was many in front of me to actually pass. At that point  I found a pair of feet to draft off of for a little while to conserve some energy, but after about 300 yds I decided I wanted to swim faster and I picked up my speed and left him behind.  As I made the final turn for the beach I could see there was only a few swimmers in front of me, but since swimming is not my strength, I didnt really believe it.  I picked up a little more distance on the guys way in front, but they were too far ahead and I was hoping to be able to catch them on the bike.  As I got out of the water I was completely suprised when my girlfriend told me there was only 4 in front of me.   That is the highest I have ever been out of the water in any race, I was stoked, but I still had a long day ahead of me.

5th out of the water and ready to rock the bike!

T1: 3:36  As I mentioned earlier the T1 for this race consists of a 1/4 mile (my Garmin had the whole distance as .39) or more run up a trail like hill before you get to transition. I put my shoes and socks by a rock that I would be able to use to sit on and pull off my wetsuit and put on my shoes.  I certainly gave some time away here, but it was to make sure I stayed healthy and my feet stayed in one piece!

Bike 24.9 Mile (23.55mi GPS   1:02:52 22.5mph, 267 average watts  6/218)

I got on the bike and headed out on the hunt.  From the research I did, I knew the first half of the bike was net downhill and you would have to pay for that on the return back to the park.  The first hill out of transition was a big downhill and I'm sure I hit at least 50mph on the way down.  It was a nice straight shot so I was able to descend pretty fearlessly as I could see everything that was in my way.  I knew there was more than 4 people ahead of me because I let a few go as they  sprinted up the hill to T1, but I wasnt sure how many.  I started to pass cyclists and I kept the pedal to the medal, everytime I passed someone, I would target the next one and use that to keep me engaged.  I had gotten passed by one cyclist and I responded and passed him back.  He then re-passed me before one of the downhills and I actually ended up getting caught behind the sag wagon while descending so I lost him for a bit.  After I passed quite a bit of cyclists and I realized that the duathlon that had started the same time as the tri, wasnt marked any differently, so I had no idea where I was.  I just kept riding like I was, and trying to pick off more riders.   I absolutely loved the bike course, wide shoulders, sweeping turns and some sections where you could pick up some  serious speed, so much so that my from mile 5-10 my average speed was 30mph on 269 watts. Right about mile 15 or so I got passed by another cyclist, but that didnt last long.  I got him back in the next few minutes, but I wasn't able to gap him as he ended up passing me back at mile 20 when we started our climb back to the lake, and at that point I was comfortable letting my run take over since I knew the last few miles of the bike included a 2 mile long climb.  After the 2 mile climb there were a few descents and it was in to t2. I came off the bike feeling relatively good and ready to run.

Hammering the last hill on the bike!

Table below shows my ride in 5 mile increments

12:41  23.6   231 watts

9:59  30mph 269 watts

12:40 23.7mph 277 watts

14:08   21.2mph 267 watts

13:21  16.0 mph 289 watts (3.55 miles)

t2 0:36

As I came in to t2, Erica told me I was in 6th which meant I would have to pass 3 people on the run to get on the overall podium.  My legs felt good so I was ready to see where they would take me

Run 6.2 Mile (6.19 GPS 41:43 6:44/mi pace 8/219

As opposed to other races I was looking forward to the run, I didn't know my competition with the exception of a few, so in my eyes I would be able to run down anyone in front of me.   I couldnt see the guy who passed me on the bike at first, but I wasnt too worried since the first section is a bunch of trails.  We ran down to the lake and back up that hill, where I could see him.   About a half mile into the run I made my first pass.  As I made that pass I muttered "nice ride" as he simultaneously muttered "nice run".  I locked in to the next guy and started to make a move.  This section was downhill, but it only meant we had to run back up it, you can see where the hills were by my mile splits.  As I got past mile 2 I could see the top 4 guys.  I had to make a decision on whether I was going to make a push at 3 and see if I could break them, or try to pick them up slowly and methodically.  I chose to try and do it methodically.  With 3 miles to go and only about 2 minutes separating 2-6th place I started to slowly make my move.

I was hurting and was almost ready to mentally crack at about the 2 hour mark, but I talked myself out of it and back into the hunt.  Like the bike course the second half of the run is mostly uphill which really can take it's toll at the end of the race.  I could feel my pace slowing, yet I could see I was still gaining ground on the leaders. As I came to Mile 5 I decided it was time to start my break I picked up my cadence and started to give a little more.  As I was in the process of doing this I got passed by the eventual 3rd place athlete, he was having a strong run and I didn't feel it was time to respond yet.  I used him to bridge my way up to the others just a bit more.  As we hit the 5.5 mile mark I pushed to my max effort and started to red-line.  Only as I started to considerably pick up my pace I could feel my left shoe start to loosen.  I just kept running as I knew this was my shot, I was so close I could feel it.   Within the next minute or two I realized that my Yankz had snapped, and I was running in a shoe with no lace support, which was slowing me down and making me uncomfortable.  I made the decision to then wing it and run in one shoe for the remainder of the race.  While I bent down to take off my shoe I got passed by one other athlete.  I'm estimating I ran the last 1/2 mile or so without a shoe.  I slowed my pace slightly to cope with the extra pain, but in hindsight I should have just sucked it up and  finished as I had planned.  As I came across the line there were many confused faces wondering why I was holding my shoe in my hand.  I wobbled back down to the lake to cool off before hanging around for the awards ceremony.

Finishing with shoe in hand

Mile 1 6:47

Mile 2 6:15

Mile 3 6:29

Mile 4 7:14

Mile 5 6:55

Mile 6  6:43

.2 6:41

What running a 6:45/mi pace barefoot does to your feet!

Post Race:

While I missed my goal of getting on the overall podium I still did manage to win my Age group and finish 7th overall. I always thought I was safe from mechanical failures once I got to the run, but I was proved wrong today.  The snapping of my lace cost me some time, and while it may have only been a minute, when you are racing for the overall its a big deal.  The final finish times from 2-7th were separated by a total of 2:20.  So a minute is definitely big and could have put me as high as 4th place.  I'm extremely happy with my performance as it puts me almost where I need to be for Burlington.  I estimate I need about a 2:08 to qualify to worlds in London next year, and without the shoe mishap, and the fact there is a much shorter transition in VT  I will be very close.  I've got about 8 weeks of quality training left before I see what I can give!

Where's the Irony you ask?  Well I didnt notice it at the time but my award consisted of bento box like gear from of all companies YANKZ!   The only thing that would have been worse, would have been a brand new pair of them!  I have had many suggestions since the race to try the xtenex laces.  They look like I might need to give them a shot. I'm mentally fried after racing 4 weeks in a row and I definitely need a break.  Time to focus on training and seeing what I can do when I get back to Burlington this year!  No racing for me next weekend, instead I have the much more important job of directing a half iron!

My First Place Award, Ironic isn't it?