Saturday, September 6, 2014

On the ground in Cedar Point--US National AquaBike Championship

I drove the 475 miles out to this big Ohio amusement park on Friday.  I drove the course and had a nice pasta meal.  Today, I rode my bike for an hour and did a short swim in Lake Erie.  Dropped my bike off in transition and am having a light dinner while I wait for the Michigan State/Oregon foot ball game.

The USAT National AquaBike Championship is a relatively new event--I think the first time it happened was in 2011 when Uber-cyclist Dave Luscan took down Canadian National Team legend Brett Saunders.  It's been a LC race the last couple of years: 1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike.  Last year there was far less than 100 entrants and a 2:54 won the race outright.  When I first thought about this race I thought who knows, maybe I can take the whole thing....As I planned out my year, with the focus on racing Kona on 10/11, I latched onto the idea of racing an AB in early September rather than a H-IM.  My thought was that my legs would be able to absorb more training in the weeks following the race.  So I entered this event.

Now that I'm here, I've found out that there are 165  people entered of-which 112 are men and 13 are in my M55-59 Age Group.  It would seem that the AquaBike is beginning to become a mainstream event!  While this is typically thought of as a older person event (no run), there are 54 guys entered who are younger than I.  One fellow, Guy Berkebile, I know for sure is quite a bit better triathlete than I am--although, when you throw out the run, the gap between us narrows considerably.  So, my original thought about winning this thing or perhaps reaching the podium is probably not a solid one.

There are several strong guys in my Age Group as well so it is certainly not a given I can win or podium in my Age Group.  But not-to-worry, I'm going to swim as hard as I can and then go like there's no tomorrow on the bike and we'll see where the chips fall--after-all you can't play defense!

Here are some thoughts on how I might do:

The Swim

I've done 22 H-IM swims to date.  My PR is 32:45, which I did at Eagleman in 2007.  My top five swims are:

1.  Eagleman 2007---32:45
2.  IM70.3 WC 2006---32:59
3.  Devilman 2006---33:01
4.  Oceanside 2010---33:07
5.  SkipJack 2011---33:16

I've been under 35 minutes 9 of my 22 races.

My two H-IMs this year were NOLA (36:03) and USAT LC WC (36:54).

So what about this race?  Well, assuming the course is accurate (probably won't be) I do truly think I can set a new H-IM PR tomorrow.  I think I could potentially go as low as 31:30.  Some of this will depend on conditions--which today were very challenging (the forecast is for relatively favorable conditions at race start).  I don't think I'll go any slower than 36 minutes.

The Bike

My bike PR is 2:24:04 also at Eagleman in 2007.  Here are my top 5:

1.  Eagleman 2007---2:24:04
2.  IM70.3 WC 2006---2:24:10
3.  White Lake 2007---2:24:47
4.  Devilman 2006---2:26:17
5.  Eagleman 2005---2:26:28

I've had 10 races under 2:30, but none since 2011.

My two this year were 2:44:56 and 2:35:00

Realistically, given the course and all the chip seal road surface, I'll be hard-pressed to go under 2:30 tomorrow.  Still, I don't have to run so I can throw everything on the fire and go for it--which I plan to do.  I'm in better shape than I was when I did the 2:35 in Grand Rapids--I did 195 watts at that race.  I think I can above 200 watts tomorrow, perhaps as high as 220 watts--which would indicate a 2:31 or so.  It's hard for me to have a real sense about the relative difficulty between the two courses--although Grand Rapids was not easy.  At the end of the day I see myself going somewhere between 2:28-2:35.

Putting it all together, best case I see myself (with transition) doing:

31:30+2:30+2:28= 3:02

Worst case would be something like:

36+4+2:35= 3:15

Pretty big range for sure but I guess I would be most likely to be right around 3:10.

I think a sub 3 will be necessary to get on the podium outright, so I'm not going to worry about it.  At 3:02, I'd like my chances of capturing my Age Group but at 3:15, maybe I can still snag a podium spot.  3:10 would be shaky for the win for sure.

We'll find out tomorrow--should be fun!!!

Go spartans!

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