Monday, October 1, 2012

Shoreman Race Report

It's a bit belated but here it is:

Shoreman H-IM Race Report
September 8th, 2012


Location: Port Republic, NJ
Distance: 1.32-mile swim/57.3-mile bike/13.1-mile run
2012 Triathlon Race Number: 10
Career Triathlon Race Number: 124
Conditions: Mid-80s, Intermittent rain—at times torrential.  Very humid.  Quite windy with periodically challenging gusts.  76 degrees water temperature. 

I wanted to return to SkipJack this year given the success I enjoyed last year (2nd OA).  However, with Parent’s Weekend at Boston College overlapping with that event I decided to substitute another 2nd year race—The Shoreman H-IM distance race.  This is a DQ event held at the same race venue as the Jersey Genesis sprint triathlon.  This would be my last race before Kona.

Last year, the fastest time in my AG was over 6 hours and looking at the 14 other gentlemen in my AG I figured that I should be able to post a relatively easy AG victory.  I also wanted to try to break five hours (I had done the equivalent of a 4:52 at SkipJack last year) but knew this might be a challenge with the rain and wind and the fact that the RD announced that the course was longer than an H-IM.

The Swim

The swim is a two-lap affair this year due to the low tide in this tidal estuary.  The water was a little warm for my liking, but not so much that I considered ditching my wetsuit.  I was in the second wave with all the other dinosaurs and I elected to start to the right--away from the buoy line.  The course had a counter-clockwise rotation so with my left-hand breathing I was able to keep a good eye on things.

At the start I was surprised to see quite a few folks ahead of me.  My assumption, given my scouting report, was that these folks were likely in the under 55 YO AGs (this did turn out to be true).  I swam comfortably and with what I felt was a reasonably strong effort.  I exited the water in 17:20, so I was pretty sure that the course was a bit long (I had expected to exit around 16 minutes or so).

I jogged slowly down the beach and jumped back in for the second lap of the swim.  I pushed a bit harder on the 2nd lap and passed a few folks who had outswam me during the first lap.  I finished the swim in 34:32.  It turned out that my GPS measured the course at 1.32 miles.  This is a 26:09/mile pace.  I took 1211 strokes and burned 911 calories during the swim.  I averaged 5.76feet/stroke and 35 strokes/min.  This turned out to be a modest SGolf score of 70.  Part of this is of-course due to the distance but I also feel this was a relatively mediocre swim for me.  Still, the time was the equivalent of a mid 31 Half Ironman swim so I won’t beat myself up too bad over this effort.

Competitively, my time was only good enough for 40th place OA (out of 275).  This was a disappointing 85.8 %-tile.  I was considerably better than the other folks in my AG—as I would have expected.  Here is where we stood after the swim:

1.  Christofferson                  --------
2.  Gusrang                          + 4:31
3.  T. Wright                         + 6:47
4.  Vlacich                             + 8:04
5.  Montgomery                     + 8:16

Transition Two

I ran into transition and noticed that an older looking guy was also executing his T1.  He finished a few seconds before me and as he left I notice a 56 on his calf.  Oh-oh!  This was disconcerting.  Of-course, there was still the chance that he was competing in the Aqua-Bike, but I decided I needed to catch him and put as much distance between us as possible.

My T1 took 2:50.  This was the second fastest in my AG to Vlacich, but I was considerably faster than the majority of guys in my AG.  Overall, I had the 49th fastest T1 (82.5 %-tile).  Here is where we stood after T1:

1.  Christofferson                  --------
2.  Gusrang                          + 5:49
3.  Vlacich                             + 7:50
4.  T. Wright                         + 8:13
5.  Montgomery                     + 8:37

The Bike

After mounting and leaving T1, I focused my gaze on “Mr. 56” ahead of me.   I start pushing hard but I can pretty quickly see that I’m not really gaining on him.  In fact, it soon becomes apparent that he is pulling away from me.  I decide to shift my focus back to myself and it soon becomes apparent that my legs are lacking their usual “pop”.  I’m having a real challenge just getting my watts over 200.  It’s real clear that I just don’t have it today.

It’s very windy, which makes it quite challenging to control the bike.  Soon the rain picks up and it’s coming down so hard that visibility actually becomes a concern.  There are rivers of water rolling across the pavement and I focus on staying upright and avoiding trouble.

It’s quite humid and I soon (around mile 20) finish my only bottle.  My new front mounted hydration system was delayed in shipping so I have insufficient water on my bike.  This issue becomes magnified as I discover that they only have 1 aid station on the bike and it’s located at the beginning of the second lap around 29 miles into the bike.  Here are my 5-mile bike splits—you can clearly see how much I struggled during this ride.  In particular, note how I am unable to keep my HR up at 152-154bpm, which is my usual HR for a H-IM ride, and that my power is a good 25 watts+ short of the 230 watts I averaged at SkipJack:

1-5: 22.7mph/153bpm/205 watts AP/206 watts NP/86 rpm
6-10: 22.3/149/209/211/85
11-15: 21.4/146/204/206/84
16-20: 21.2/143/199/202/85
21-25: 22.5/145/201/203/85
26-30: 20.9/144/205/208/86

I knew I was slow but there was nothing I could do about it as I just had no power in my legs.  I was still passing folks and I became convinced that Mr. 56 was likely to be an Aqua-Bike competitor, so I tried to stay positive and decided to not worry about my time and just focus on winning my AG.  That, and avoiding a crash in these challenging conditions.  I finally pick up my second bottle—its just water, no energy drinks on the bike course!  I know I’m going to be quite dehydrated and depleted when the ride is over.  The second lap was more of the same—here are the rest of my splits:

31-35: 22.0/143/199/201/85
36-40: 21.5/141/202/205/82
41-45: 19.7/141/197/203/82
46-50: 21.6/139/195/198/84
51-55: 20.7/138/201/204/83
56+:   20.9/138/201/204/84        

You can also see in these numbers that I had trouble holding even the modest output I achieved in the first lap.  My power and cadence suffered and my HR continued to fall.  No two ways about it this was a poor and difficult ride for me—probably one of my worst bike performances in an H-IM.

My overall time for the bike was 2:40:18.  Even with the extra distance, given the flatness of the course, I would have expected something right around 2:30.  My average speed was 21.4 mph.  My average HR was 143 bpm and my average cadence was 84 rpm.  Power-wise, I averaged 201 watts with a NP of 204 watts.  I burned 1249 calories.  Not surprisingly, this was not nearly as competitive as I usually am on the bike.  I had just the 26th fastest bike OA (90.9 %-tile).  Still, I was 10+ minutes faster than anyone else in my AG.  Here is where we stood after the bike:

1.  Christofferson                  --------
2.  T. Wright                         +17:38
3.  Gusrang                          +22:48
4.  Williamson                        +23:53
5.  Jacobson                         +26:52

Transition Two

As I dismounted and ran into T2 I saw Mr. 56 lounging in front of his bike.  I knew then that I was in first in my AG.  I didn’t know by how much but I assumed that despite my horrible bike, it was likely to be quite a bit.  At this point, I still assumed that I would easily win my AG.  I executed my transition in 1:25.  This was 37th OA (86.9 %-tile) and once again 2nd best to Vlacich in my AG.  Importantly, I put pretty big chunks of time on everyone else.  Notably, I put 21 seconds on Wright, which gave me a total transition advantage of 1:47 vs him—this would ultimately prove to be pivotal.

Here is where we stood after T2:

1.  Christofferson                  --------
2.  T. Wright                         +17:59
3.  Gusrang                          +23:24
4.  Williamson                        +24:21
5.  Jacobson                         +27:14

The Run

Leaving T2, I was confident that I was leading my AG, but had no real idea by how much.  If I had known I was leading by 18 minutes, I probably would have had two reactions.  First, I would have been disappointed, but not surprised.  I would have expected 30 minutes or more coming out of T2 before the race.  Obviously, with my poor bike, I knew my lead was likely to be less than expected.  Second, I would have thought, no problem—I’ll run 8:15s and win by double digits.  However, in this second reaction I would have made a bad miscalculation.

The Good News was that because I didn’t know how big a lead I had, and I knew my bike was poor, I figured I’d better run as hard as I could.  The Bad News is that whatever had afflicted me on the bike was still waiting for me on the run.  That, plus I was seriously dehydrated and way behind energy-wise.  I could feel this right away as my legs felt dead—way worse that they normally do leaving T2.

The run course covers the four miles of the Jersey Genesis run with a 1.28-mile out and back tacked on towards the end.  This is repeated twice.  My Garmin was reporting my splits so I knew I was running slowly.  Also, the rain had stopped and the sun came out so it was brutally humid (dew point was 74 degrees).  Here are my splits for the first 6 miles of the run:

1:  9:33/150 bpm
2:  9:28/152
3:  9:10/153
4:  9:45/153
5:  9:30/154
6:  9:31/155

I could see that I was working pretty hard—normally I’d expect about a 155/156 bpm HR, so I was just a couple of beats below target.  However, I was running a good 1:15/1:30/mile slower than expected.  I walked through the aid stations and made sure to grab as many of the ridiculous 4 oz. drinking cups that I could at each aid station—fortunately, these came about every mile.  I continued to be very dehydrated and the heat and humidity were not letting me catch up.

Because I was running so slowly, I really tried to figure out, on the out and back segment, if anyone from my AG was close-by.  I thought I saw a couple of guys who might be my age but I couldn’t be certain.  They were quite a ways back anyways so I wasn’t in any immediate danger.

I passed the finish area and headed back out for my 2nd lap.  As I did, my lack of energy and fluids really began to take it’s toll and I really began to struggle:

7: 9:49/151
8: 9:58/150
9: 9:57/150
10: 10:06/151
11: 10:57/152

As I was on the out and back things really fell apart—I was fried at this point.  I could still run but not very fast.  After the turnaround I saw someone who looked to be in my AG, just 2-3 minutes or so behind me (this was T. Wright).  Given my 10:57 11th mile I knew I was in trouble.  I figured I had to pick it up or this guy would run me down.  I gave it everything I had down the stretch—this is the best I could do:

12: 10:09/159
13: 10:21/163
13+: 9:32/161

I crossed the finish line with a sigh of relief.  Just 33 seconds later Wright crossed and when he walked past me I saw his age on his calf and saw that he was indeed in my AG—whew!  That was a close call—it was critical that I pushed it in over the last 1.5 miles or so!

I finished the run in a very mediocre time of 2:08:25.  I averaged 9:48/mile and had an average HR of 153 bpm.  I burned 1876 calories on the run.  This of-course was not very competitive as I was 83rd on the run OA (70.2 %-tile) and I was just 6th in my AG (66.7 %-tile).  My overall time was 5:27:36, which was good enough for 32nd place OA (88.7 %-tile).

Here are the final standings in my AG:

1.  Christofferson                  --------
2.  T. Wright                         + 0:33
3.  Jacobson                         + 5:06
4.  Vlacich                             +17:50
5.  Williamson                        +28:11

Final Thoughts

Obviously from an absolute performance point of view not much to be happy about in this race.  Well, my swim and transitions were decent but my bike and run were very poor.  I had something going on physically this day and when you race LC, that’s a real problem—I might have been able to hide it in a Sprint Tri, but not in a H-IM.

Still, I hung in there and won my 3rd consecutive AG race.  This is not a bad thing to have heading into Kona.  Also, overall, I’ve won 5 and finished 2nd in 4 of my 10 races this year.  Things could be worse.

Oh well, at least it was a good workout and hopefully will help in my preparation for Kona!

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