Friday, September 14, 2012

Rev3 Cedar Pt. Race Report

This is the race report I have been wanting to write for a year and a half now. As any of you that have followed my racing or this blog for that time period will have noted, I have not been happy with my riding during this stretch. In fact, since joining the Squad and my former coach, I struggled mightily on the bike all of last season and the beginning of this season. In fact, save for Kona, I will be the first to say that my riding flat out sucked in every race since I started my 2011 season.

I am now happy to say that while there remains much work to be done and improvement to be found, the changes I have made in my coaching, training, and bike position, have "righted the ship" and put me on the path to competitiveness.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of racing another Rev3 race out in Cedar Pt., Ohio. The Rev3 Wisconsin Dells race was my sole Rev3 experience prior to this, and despite the mechanical mishaps on the bike, I rather enjoyed the event. With that experience fresh in mind, and the fact that Rev3 saw fit to put up double the prize purse WTC had on offer at Ironman Wisconsin, I opted to race in Cedar Pt. and could not be happier that I did.

Going into the race I knew I would have my work cut out for me as toeing the line was a competitive field. I mean anytime you have two guys with 13 Iron distance wins between them, you know you are in for a battle. But I was excited to display my much improved riding ability and was confident I could ride at least near the top guys in the field. 

Fortunately for us Mother Nature had unleashed her fury the day before the race and we were greeted with a beauty of a morning on Lake Erie. Unfortunately for me and my midget legs, Lake Erie is rather shallow for a rather extended distance from shore. Thus, the "in water" start was more of a "In (wading depth) water start." This meant that some of my taller competitors ran and dolphin dove away as I swam and attempted to get on some feet. 

The gap that opened made it a solo swim for the majority of the first loop, and only after coming through the shallow section to start the second loop was I able to bridge up to a group ahead of me. After doing so I realized it was my good friend and summer training partner, Chris Mcdonald leading and I decided to try and share the work with him. Sadly, I swam like a drunken sailor and Chris soon opted for a much straighter route. We ended up coming out of the water only a few seconds apart, but both having spent the energy that a solo swimmer would have. 

That's Big Sexy behind me. 

Since Couer d'Alene my training has been much different than it was for the past year and a half. Finally I was coming into a race looking forward to the bike rather than fearing it. I knew from my training that I had a strong ride to uncork and was excited to do so. 

I had a little bit of a slow transition and came out behind Chris and Zack Ruble. Having raced with both these guys before, I thought we would have a good crew to trade some time at the front and work our way back up to the lead swimmers. Much to my chagrin however, Zack nor I were able to match Chris' pace and he rode away. After that I settled in and focused on executing my plan. With Zack and Jim LaMastra in tow, I reeled in a few of those who had gotten away in the water. It was essentially a solo effort to stay on my watts and try to move forward. To some extent my past year and a half of poor riding prepared me well for this as I am used to riding alone. I was content to do so and was happy with my numbers for the remainder of the ride. 
Photo rights: Eric Wynn

Around the 80mi mark I saw a figure up the road that looked to be Victor. Right around 85 miles I passed him. The LAST thing I wanted to do was drag one of the best runners in the game back to T2. I knew I was sitting in 3rd now, and thats pretty much when I decided it was time to step up to the plate. For the past 18 months I have been telling myself that I need to be "in the race" and not just "out there." Knowing Victor's run palmares, I knew I needed to get as much separation as I could. 

About 10mi later I caught Chris. I now knew that I had two of the best runners in the sport behind me. I hit T2 about ten miles later and knew that my gap to Chris was insignificant. No disrespect to Eric Limkemann, but I hadn't heard much about him prior to the race, and knew he had been off the front all day. That can take a toll on anyone, and with that in mind I thought there was a good chance he would come back rather quick on the run. It was at that moment, exiting T2, that I thought I had a chance to win this thing, but only if I went "ALL IN".  I knew if I ran a paced run I was just going to be a carrot for Chris, Victor and Daniel Bretcher. I thought there was a chance, albeit slim, that if I got away in the beginning of the run, I could hold on long enough to stay away. You only live once. So with my new Zoot Race 4.0's firmly wound down. I set off on a pace that I thought would reel in Eric and keep me out front.  

Unfortunately, about 8 or 9 miles later my cards were called and I didn't have the hand. Much to his credit Eric had only increased the gap, and Victor had reeled me in. I focused on holding a steady cadence back to the turn around and just tried to fight for the podium. 
Photo courtesy Eric Wynn

The second lap is when things got REAL. Chris caught me about mile 14ish and I had nothing left. I actually stopped, not walked, but stopped and drank three cups of coke and two waters at the mile 17 aid station. I was running on empty. My stomach was not too happy but I knew I needed sugars. So I kept up the intake and around mile 21 things started to turn around. I could see that Eric had finally slowed and was coming back. I thought if I could run well for the final 10K, I might be able to catch him. I focused on nothing other than reeling him in. All the way to the chute, I was digging and keeping hope alive. 

In the finish chute but still on the gas.

I came up short. About 50 meters short. 5th it was. 

I went into this race really thinking I could crack the 3hr mark on the run. My gamble in the early miles backfired and a 3:06 was all I could muster. I paid up. 

5th place is nothing to be all that excited about. In fact, while I say I am "happy" with my race, the only real detractors are a poor swim, and the 5th place finish. I am "happy" however, because my training and new bike position courtesy of Jim at FinalFit have me riding well again. I proved to myself that I can ride "in the race" at this level and compete. And while I clearly didn't come out the winner on my gamble, at least I anted up and put in my chips. I lost but I learned. As such, I am happy with the end result. 

As always, I need to say a BIG "Thank You" to my great Sponsors. 
ZOOT: Zoot has stuck by me and continued to provide me with great equipment and support and I can't thank them enough. They continue to innovate and strive to be at the forefront of Triathlon. Evidence the Race 4.0 with BOA technology that I raced in. A great company with athletes at the helm, and in their heart. 

BH Bikes: I was finally able to do justice to my BH GC Aero. A fantastic bike that is simple, strong, stiff and fast. People underestimate just how important reliability and simplicity are until they get to race day. I know my GC will be ready to go, day in, day out, wherever I am. 

Reynolds: Knowing a company is dedicated to developing fast, strong and safe wheels gives me as an athlete great confidence come race day. I can't ask for anything more than that and Reynolds provides it! 

PowerBar: My day was fueled 99% by PowerBar products. Cola gel blasts and a Cookies n Cream Powerbar for breakfast. Peanut Butter Powerbar and Strawberry Banana PowerGels on the bike and run. Had I known I would be running the engine so hot in the first part of the run, I would have calculated a little more fuel and then... who knows!?!

SPY+ Optics: Spy keeps me in not only stylish casual shades, but more importantly, functional high performance shades that look great. Protect your eyes in style!

TRIBE Multisport: You don't get to race day without training. And having a knowledgable shop to rely on through the months leading up to race day is KEY. TRIBE is just that shop and does it with top notch service. 


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