Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marlton 2010 Race Report

I'll get the Pine Barrens Race Report up in a day or two but here is the Marlton race report:

2010 Marlton Sprint Triathlon
Race Report #12: 9/4/10


Marlton is a popular New Jersey Sprint triathlon that takes place in and around the Marlton Lakes community, not too far from Philadelphia. I did this race twice before—back in 2004 and 2005. Normally, this close to an Ironman (five weeks to Kona) I wouldn’t bother with a Sprint, but I’ve decided that I’d like Kona to be my 100th career triathlon. Marlton was to be #98 and I planned to do Pine Barrens on the 11th for #99. I tried to not compromise my IM training so I entered the race with quite a lot of miles in my legs from the three prior (hard) weeks of training.

My principal goal for the race was to have a good hard “brick” workout and to do my best to have a decent race. The race had 372 competitors so I wanted to ideally be in the top 10 or 20. Age Group wise, I was facing 22 competitors but only two, Mickey Syrop and Ira Meyers figured to be a real threat. Mickey is a friend and long-time competitor—through the years I’ve generally gotten the better of our match-ups, but last year he beat me three straight times. Further, with my run status, I needed to have a truly exceptional swim and bike to have a chance at holding him off. Ira is a new competitor and had aged up this year. I raced him right after IM Germany and he beat me by almost 4 minutes in a Sprint. On paper, especially with my (poor) run status and heavy training load, I would have a hard time climbing past third.

This Saturday morning dawned as a beautiful day with pleasant temperatures and sunny skies. It was quite windy (20-30 mph), as Hurricane Earl had passed just off the coast the previous day. I like the wind as it effectively makes the bike course “longer”, which is good for me competitively. Anyways at 7:45, we were off—well more precisely, the first wave was. Us dinosaurs were back in the 6th and last wave.

The Swim

I like the swim here at Marlton. The “lake” isn’t much being muddy, murky, and weedy and generally 2-4 feet deep, but the course itself is somewhat unique being a straight point-to-point. Most folks walk along a “dike” of sorts to the start for the swim back to transition. I always swim across to get my warm-up in.

Our wave was finally up and I lined up on the right to keep an eye on things. There were a good 50+ people in our wave but at the gun I quickly gained separation from the field on the right. To my left, two swimmers broke clear and about 75-100 yards in, we came together. I slotted in on the right hip of the leader and the 2nd swimmer (who I latter found out was Mickey) was a yard or so back.

I swam very comfortably next to the leader trying to gauge his pace and strength to decide what tactic made most sense to me. After about 20-30 seconds of this I decided that his pace was pretty good and that I might as well drop in on his feet. I glanced behind me and saw that Mick was following behind us although he seemed to be having trouble holding the pace.

We began to weave through a lot of slower traffic, which was an issue in this narrow swim course. A couple of times I went a different direction than the leader and at one point thought about going for the wave lead but ultimately I ran into heavier traffic than the leader and when we came back together he had opened up a 3-4 yard lead. We were about 75 yards from the finish of the swim and I was working hard to dodge the traffic so I decided to just cruise it in and begin to get my mind around T1 and the bike leg to follow.
I didn’t know who the leader was (after the race I found out he was in my AG and named Zeke Hill) but I hit the shore with an elapsed time of 6:25. My HR averaged 157 bpm—which is working pretty hard. I knew that I had delivered a very strong swim split. My two prior swims here were 7:01 (2004) and 7:21 (2005). I was thus 9-13% faster than those prior swims. I had the 12th fastest swim OA (97.0 %-tile) and was 9 seconds behind Zeke by the time I ran up the beach to the timing mat. Significantly, I was 13 seconds faster than Mick. Mick almost always beats me in the swim (I think I’ve out swam him just twice in some 20 races) and afterwards he told me he had his best swim ever at Marlton. Ira is not a strong swimmer and I had opened up a 1:53 lead on him.

Here is a comparison (which is valid as the course is always the same) of my three swims here at Marlton:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 7:01 52/334 84.7 %-tile
2005 7:21 45/376 88.3
2010 6:25 12/372 97.0

Competitively, here is where we stood in the 50-54 YO AG:

1. Hill --------
2. Christofferson + 0:09
3. Syrop + 0:22
X. Meyers + 2:02

Transition One

Mick is much better than I in transitions and on this day he had the 9th fastest OA. I had a very poor transition (lazy?) with an elapsed time of 1:57 and was 53rd OA. (My HR averaged 166 during T1). More importantly, I dropped a ridiculous 30 seconds to Mick (versus my usual 10 or so) and I was 21 seconds slower than Zeke. Ira is horrible at T1 and he took a whole minute longer than I. Here is where we stood after T1:

1. Hill --------
2. Syrop + 0:13
3. Christofferson + 0:30
X. Meyers + 3:23

I was very aware that I had squandered a hard won advantage with my poor T1 as I saw Mick speed off while I was still getting my bike affairs in order. Soon however, I was on my bike determined to make a race of it.

The Bike

The bike is one 11-mile loop on flat to slightly rolling roads. The road surface is mixed but not too bad and there are quite a few, though easy turns. I caught Mick around 2-3 miles into the bike and tried to hammer out as big a lead as I could. I felt pretty good and was pleased to be pain free in my hip. Right after passing Mick I passed Zeke and saw from the 50 on his calf that he was indeed in my AG.

Some younger ding-dong decided to draft me and I tried to shake him on several occasions. This wasn’t the best tactics but I wasn’t in a mood to aid a rule-breaker. Finally, I decided to sit up and “dare” him to pass me. He finally did and I let him get 20 yards in front of me for about 2-3 minutes to tire him out. Then I went by him and that was that.

I felt I was riding well but I could tell I lacked my high-end zip (I believe that all of the long rides and the aggregate bike volume (1100+ miles) in August had “killed” my top-end). My power meter was showing ridiculously low numbers (around 200 watts) and I later discovered the BB sensor was not properly placed to pick up my true power.

The wind was a factor and I was blown around a bit with my 1080/sub-9-wheel set-up. I finished the bike leg in 27:52 (23.7 mph), which while a bit underwhelming is partially a function of the wind. That said, I was not as strong, relatively speaking, this year as I was in years past:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 26:45 1/334 100.0 %-tile
2005 27:36 6/376 98.7
2010 27:52 6/372 98.7

My HR averaged 162 bpm during the bike, which is about 5-7 bpm lower than when I have enough muscular power to really stress my CV system at the top-end. My cadence was too low as well, averaging only 78 rpm.

I put 0:35 on Ira, 1:20 on Mick and 3:08 on Zeke. This, of course, was helpful, especially with Ira who is quite a strong rider, but it wasn’t nearly enough to counter Mick—I really needed to put 2:30 or so on Mick—and while I didn’t know where we stood, my goose was in-fact cooked at this point. Here is where we stood after the bike:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Syrop + 1:03
3. Hill + 2:38
4. Meyers + 3:28

Transition Two

I had another remarkably poor transition taking 1:07, which was the 87th best in the field. My HR averaged 160 during T2. I managed to lose time to all three of my pursuers and my lead was quite diminished as we left T2:

1. Christofferson --------
2. Syrop + 0:47
3. Hill + 2:33
4. Meyers + 3:27

The Run

There is not much in the way of good news to report about my run here at Marlton, save that I tried quite hard. Mickey passed me soon after the first mile and at the turn I could see that Ira was rapidly closing in. He finally erased his huge deficit to me in the final half-mile and I had to settle for 3rd in my AG and 21st OA.

My run split was a very poor 24:06 (7:47/mile for the 5k run). My HR averaged 165 bpm, which is a solid effort but below the 172 bpm I can average when I’m on. While my hip now appears to be mostly recovered, my run has a long way to go to return to normal. Here is how my run compares to the two prior years:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 21:15 67/334 80.2 %-tile
2005 21:33 47/376 87.8
2010 24:06 81/372 78.5

My OA time was 61:27—here is how it compares:

Year Time OA Place OA %-tile

2004 57:27 15/334 95.8 %-tile
2005 58:58 10/376 97.6
2010 61:27 21/372 94.6

Despite the ugliness of my run and its equally ugly competitive implications, I feel OK about this race. I had a nice time—I enjoyed giving Mick a bit of a run for his money. I put in a hard effort and put triathlon number 98 on the books. I seem to be able to ride with a pain-free hip now, which is a major step forward—especially with Kona just around the corner. My swim continues to be stronger than it ever has been.

My run, of-course, is a good minute per mile off of where it should be. While this is definitely a bother, it is what it is. I’ve had a tough time coming back from my bike crash and I just won’t make it all the way back this year with my run. It will leave me something to work on during the off-season!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Hey Randy:
Great RR. How do you remember the details?? This is Zeke. You must have been the guy in the DeSoto. I breathe on my right & was watching you the whole time. Generally, I can drop most swimmers after 100-150yds, but you hung tough. When you disappeared I sensed someone on my toes. Thanks for pushing me the whole swim.
Good luck in Kona, you must be stoked!