2010 Triple T Race Notes

Friday

The Triple-T prologue always catches me by surprise, despite my background as a sprinter in college swimming “ I have a difficult time spinning the engine up to the necessary level.  Despite a good warm-up prior to the race, this year was no exception.  The swim and the bike went well enough.  My plan was to ride the beginning of the ride and the climb just slightly above threshold “ get to the turn around and coast back down “ than run a mile.  The plan worked well and I rolled in a pretty decent time, over a minute and a half back from the winner.  Mostly I was glad to get through the race without feeling like I had tweaked any muscles, along with the pleasant surprise of not being completely dusted.

Saturday

The course for Saturday’s first race was changed from the traditional bike course to the Saturday PM bike course due to a tree blocking the road that fell during the storm on Friday night.  I think this suited me a bit more as the PM course lends itself to a bit more of rhythm riding “ rather than constant up and down cycles.

Even though Matt and I were starting together, the Saturday AM race is an individual TT “ since Matt was planning to take it easy on the swim “ as soon as we were given the signal to start I left him behind.  I went through the swim strong, steadily building into it.  Around 5 or 6 hundred meters in I got buzzed by the John Kenny motorboat “ I don’t think I’ve someone ever been passed that quickly in a tri before.  I hit transition in a touch under 20 minutes, and hit my bike.   I was able to catch a glimpse of Matt as I doubled back past transition and saw him about a minute behind me.

The Saturday PM course (which we were riding today) “ is a long [not]false flat for a few miles, followed by a nice climb, a downhill, a mile or so flat, a nice climb, some rollers, a wicked decent, than a flat section to the turnaround, and then it’s all in reverse.  My plan for the ride was to not limit myself  at threshold watts, but to limit myself away from insane watts “ in short I was counting that my fitness has increased since Saint A’s and my perceived effort combined with a knowledge of what is unrealistic would keep me safe.

I didn’t pass to many people, but was passed by only a couple, I rolled into transition with a split right around 72 minutes “ given the hills and the technical nature of the descents average power is pretty meaningless “ but my Normalized power was 277 “ which is excellent.

Heading onto the run, I was carrying my wife’s Garmin “ which I intended to use similar to my SRM on the bike “ try and keep things from heading towards insane “ and rely on PE.  The main goal was to simply get through the run without feeling like I had overexerted myself.

The TTT run course is essentially an uphill trail run for about 2.75 miles, downhill for a half mile, than turn around and run back; Once each for each Saturday race “ twice on Sunday.   The course itself is hard to describe, but basically each direction of the run course has one climb equal to or worse than Observatory hill on the IMWI run course.

Watching the Garmin I was pretty surprised that my PE was taking me to about 7:30 miles going out, and 6:40’s on the way back yielding a mid-46 for 6.55 miles.  Not too bad.  I kept waiting for the hammer to fall, but it never did.

Saturday PM

I left the race site Saturday morning with my expectations for the entire weekend already blown away.  My bike fitness nearly equal to 2008 and 2009 in terms of FTP “ and my run closing down the gap to previous years here.  Of course I did have some doubts about my depth of fitness since I was toeing the line with only 7 weeks of run training and 10 weeks of real bike training.   But the Saturday PM would help uncover that “ I’d either fold spectacularly (and miserable) or I’d hold the line in the sand.  Fortunately since the PM race is a team time trial, I would have Matt there to help with any rough spots.

Saturday PM is a unique race format “ Bike, Swim, Run.  After you’ve done the race, you realize that it’s a much harder format than the traditional one “ IMO it’s the way a tri should always be run.

The plan was for me to do most of the wind breaking on the bike since I out split Matt in the AM, and I had brought all my aero toys and Matt was lacking.  Matt’s job was to pace me up the hills, and pull through at any key moments or if I popped.

70 minutes after we departed we rolled into transition 100% intact, contrary to 2008 and 2009 where I spent most of the ride suffering in Matt’s draft hoping for the bike to end, I felt as if we had stayed 100% within my fitness.  Matt towed me up the hills, and gave me a couple minutes of rest shortly after the turn around as he hauled us up to and past a team up the road.

Matt and I tossed on our wetsuits as quick as we could and headed for the water.  Since my run was definitely going to be slower than Matt’s the plan was for me to hit the swim fairly hard and get out onto the run course and let Matt catch up.  I got through the swim only a handful of seconds slower than the AM and was leaving transition as Matt came in.

We cruised through the run, again pleasantly surprised.  I was waiting for my body to pop the entire run, but it never did.  I wasn’t crushing it, but I was holding my own.  My run split was actually faster than 2009, and only 3 minutes and change slower than 2008.

I went to bed Saturday knowing we were comfortably in second place OA in the male team division.  The first place team was most likely out of reach barring a disaster on their part, and my job for Sunday was to get through the race in one piece.

Sunday

When I woke up on Sunday morning my legs felt sore and tired, but surprisingly ready.  The plan for the day was for Matt and me to swim our paces, and for me to wait in transition.  I got through the swim without event feeling good “ trying to ease into it and use it as a warm-up for the rest of the day.

Matt showed up in transition just behind me and we were out on the bike quickly.  Initially the plan was for me to break the wind and pace us through the race at an aggressive Ironman effort with Matt pacing up the 2 climbs on the HIM course, but after 20 minutes or so matt and I settled into 3-4 minute rotations of work.  I don’t know how it felt from Matt’s perspective, but sitting in for those 3-4 minutes was a great rest and really made it easy to drive the desired pace when I was in front.

Unlike last year the first loop was fairly uneventful, we made it past the spot of the crash last year without a problem.  We did have an interesting moment at the bottom of the Big Run fire road descent, as I went into a right hand turn I realized I had misjudged the angle slightly and ended up riding into the yard bordering it and cyclocrossing it for a bit.  Just practice for the Cheq40 I say¦

The remainder of the ride was uneventful “ we managed to ride a couple minutes faster than 2008 with a 2:58 or 2:59.

The 13.1 mile run was the final test of the weekend.  Not only was it going to be a half marathon after a weekend of madness, it was going to be my longest run since last October.  My game plan was to use the Garmin to keep away from insanity, and let my PE guide me.  I intended to run as if the race ended at 10.5 miles, as that is the point of the run were it is downhill to the finish.  I figured I could ring 2.5 downhill miles out of my shattered body “ I just needed to make sure I got there.

The first loop went without a problem, I tried to not look at the Garmin often “ I was worried that it might start making my brain think too much.  My job was to just get my ass to mile 10.5 and then roll downhill “ so that was all I tried to focus on.  At half way I checked our time and we were right around 52:30 which meant we were on pace for a spectacular run.

Things continued uneventfully until around mile 9 which is a wicked uphill into an aid station and the peak of the run before you plummet to the turn around.  I nearly broke on that hill, alarms started going off like crazy in my head.  I did my best to ignore them and rewarded myself with a brief couple of walking steps through the aid station and then continued to the top of the run course.

During the downhill towards the turnaround I had a couple doubts about my ability to get back up the hill “ fortunately about that time Matt told me to let him know if and when I needed a push.  Just a few minutes later I was crusing back downhill past the 10.5 mile mark re-energized and ready to finish.

Matt and I crossed the line with a run split just under 1:47.  Which means I faded by less than 2 minutes on the second loop.  Best of all Matt and I finished this year, and finished in 2nd OA in the Male Team division.
This weekend exceeded every one of my expectations for it “ I did not expect it to go nearly as well as it did.  It’s impossible to describe how much this weekend reaffirmed my love for the sport of triathlon and my motivation to continue the love/hate relationship with it.  I have a great deal of excitement for the remainder of the season; I just need to temper the enthusiasm with continued hard work and consistency.