Monday, September 8, 2014

Aquabike Nationals

I did the USAT National Aquabike Championship yesterday at the Rev3 event at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH.  It was a challenging but ultimately a rewarding effort.

There was a bad storm on Friday night and it was quite windy most of Saturday--this made for a challenging practice swim.  Race day forecast called for 4-5 mph winds but we awoke on Sunday, race morning to 20+ mph winds from the NE.  This generated large, short-period wind chop on Lake Erie.  I had a ton of trouble with that.

The AB wave started at 8:26 and the first 700 yards or so were directly into the wind.  I really, really struggled in the big waves.  I was kicked in the face and swallowed quite a bit of water and felt very uncomfortable--at one point I contemplated abandoning but soon banished those negative thoughts from my brain.  When we turned to the East, things got noticeably easier, although I still struggled to find any rhythm.  The last segment was downwind and we received a bit of a push from the waves.  Here is a map (note it was an in-water start):

One might conclude that I did not swim a very straight course and indeed I ended up swimming 1.33 miles--it was very challenging to site well and swim straight.  I ended up taking 42:13, despite being in genuine 31-32 minute swim shape.  Others fared poorly as well, but I seemed to do differentially poorly.  I had hoped to exit the water in 1st-3rd in my Age Group (out of 12) but ended up exiting 7th!:

1.  Grady      32:21
2.  Hoyne    + 1:17
3.  Skinner  + 6:03
4.  Gauthier  + 7:24
5.  Gigliotti  + 9:06
6.  Benson   + 9:09
7.  Christofferson + 10:04
8.  Shastany  + 10:13

I took 1428 strokes for an average stroke length of 1.64 yards (vs. the 1.9-2.0 yds/stroke I have been averaging lately.  My Avg stroke length by quarter--note the improvement after the first leg:

1. 1.40
2. 1.52
3. 1.69
4. 1.90
5. 1.73

My average cadence was just 33.8 wpm vs. the 36+ I've routinely hit as of late.

Very disappointing--for sure caused mostly by the conditions but I probably let it affect me too much.  In any event, I knew I had a bad swim and I estimated that I was somewhere around 4th or 5th in my Age Group as I entered transition.

I had a very good transition (I was one second slower than Gigliotti, who had the fastest and was 45+ seconds faster than most of the rest of the field.  I left transition trailing the leader by 9:17 and had moved up into 6th place.

I tried to put the swim out of my mind as I headed out on the bike.  I knew I had work to do and early on it looked like I could hold power above 200 watts without too much trouble.  By mile 10 I passed Skinner and figured I was in 3rd or 4th (I was in 5th).  However, shortly after mile 10, Shastany blew past me on the bike and I figured I was 4th or 5th and i began to wonder if I might be 6th (I was 6th).

At mile 23.8 I was still 7:52 off the lead and in 6th place--had i really understood what a hole I was in I would have been very concerned for sure.

My power for the first 5 5-mile segments was decent: 203, 214, 215, 210, 211 watts.  However, I lost concentration between miles 25 and 30 as we were going up a false flat (that I belatedly recognized) and into a bit of a wind and my power dropped to 195 watts and my speed below 20 for the first time.

At mile 30 I snapped out of it and began to get back on it.  I was rewarded around 32 by passing someone in my Age Group and now was in in 5th.  Shortly after 45 I picked off another and thought I was either on the podium or one off.  My power for 5-mile splits 6-9: 195, 204, 219, 210.

Between 45-50 there were a lot of tight turns and my power dropped to 204 watts but after that I began to "pour" it own and was rewarded just past 54 by passing the swim leader Grady!  I was pumped and pretty confident I had done enough to get on the podium.  My power in the final two segments was 221 and 229 watts.  I ended up averaging 212 watts (215 NP) and 21.6 MPH.  My average cadence was 84 and my avg HR was 151bpm.  I recorded 721 feet of climbing on the course:

My time was a disappointing 2:35:16, which was 16 seconds slower than Grand Rapids.  Grand Rapids had more climbing at 1043 feet and my average power there was 195 watts (8.0% less) so you can infer the impact of the wind and poor road conditions in this race.

I ended up in 3rd, which I'll take given my swim.  The two guys better than me, both had considerably better (7-9 minutes) bikes so even if I had a normal swim, I probably was destined to finish 3rd today given my bike fitness.

My bike fitness isn't horrible--the best power I've ever recorded on a half is just in the 225-230 range, so I'm not that far off (and this may be at least partially a function of age).

Oh well--good enough.  I have about 17 more days to get quality work in before I begin my taper for Kona....


Ken Lehner said...

Randy, that is a seriously low swim cadence. 36 is something like half of my swim cadence: for a 6:00 500yd in the pool, I'll take at least 420 strokes in about 5:00 of actual swimming (given turns), or around 84spm. Why is your cadence so low?

rcmioga said...

I think you count it differently. I count every left/right combination as one stroke (more accurately--this is how Garmin does it.) So in your numbers, I'd be taking about 72 spm....