My random meandering - stream of consciousness thoughts, ideas, and feelings

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hunterdon Half Race Report

So to preface - going into last Sunday's race I was viewing it totally as a training day. The week before I had put in 74+ miles running approximately 10 miles/day for 5 days with a 20 miler to begin the week. This past week I started with 100 miles on sunday - the pumkin patch pedal - then tried to ride 50miles/day for 4 days - I missed out on Saturday's ride as I was glued to the TV watching the Ironman Hawaii Live Coverage. Anyway I knew I wasn't going to be fresh for this race as I still had 316 cycling cycling miles in my legs for the week. All this is in the hopes to get my base endurance up for IMFL on Nov 6.

Ok so race morning I have a super late start as I tried to pack as much stuff the night before. Ironman coverage was exhausting as much adrenaline was pumping watching Macca and Raelert duel it out on the Queen K. So we arrived at the race site in round valley 7:20am - not too much time for an 8am start! We even had to stop for gas on the way up as my trusty CR-V was running on vapour.

I knew it was going to be cold - so the original plan was to ride the bike trainer to get my core temp up before the swim - but since we got there so late - I just rode the half mile to transition which wasn't enough. Thank god Mike Nusbaum the RD postponed the start 15 minutes as I had a bit more time to get settled in. I found my racebelt in my tri bag - I hadn't taken it off since the Randolph tri in July and I still had bib #1 so I just re-used it!


Most of us got in the water about 10 minutes before the start. The water was great! much warmer than the air - about 74 degrees was what the race people said the temp was - it still felt chilly though so I did some short sprints to try to warm up and wore my neoprane hood which was probably overkill. I peed in my wetsuit right before the start for some additional warmth. The swim finally started - and got in the lead group - drafting the girl who was part of the relay - swimming without a wetsuit! - but after the first bouy we made a left turn to the second bouy - the water was crystal clear btw - very nice! but in the line of the bouy were some big rock formations - so we had to swim left of them then go around the bouy. This is where Kit cut open his knee! Normally I think if the water levels were higher it would be less of an issue. So after the second bouy, we headed directly into the rising sun making visibility very difficult esp since I was wearing clear goggles - this is a similar situation in the Tupper Lake tin man and wyckoff tri - where you have to swim into the sun to the finish. Anyway I lost the group for a couple of hundred meters but then the group got off track where I somehow managed to swim a bit straighter - so when the group got back on track I was able to hitch back on the girl without the wetsuit. So I pretty much rode her bubbles all the way back to the swim finish but then sprinted out of the water so I would be first to the mat to have the fastest recorded swim split of the day ;)

getting fastest swim split - but only by having a faster run out of water ;)

Transition 1:

This race was logistically tough because of the cold weather -So I opted to do a complete wardrobe change in T1. Normally I pride myself on my fast transitions - but since I do not do especially well in cold conditions, I toweled off, put on leg warmers, put on dry shorts over my speedo (in retrospect was a mistake as I had too much padding on the bike) put on arm warmers, heart rate monitor, fil-am tri top, vest, helmet, glasses and then camelback - so that's 9 items not including my calf guards which I kept on for the swim! out of t1 I went, but then had to turn around again - I forgot my gloves! Item #10! - finally I was out! total transition time before coming back for gloves: 6:38 which ironically was not the slowest t1 of the day!

struggling in T1 watching the other athletes pass me


As expected the legs did not feel great early on in the bike. I was glad I was warm though especially through that long descent early on in the shade. After the first few climbs I started warming up and passing people. Funny though I passed a heavier athlete and he kept trying to pass me back. It's funny how competitive some people are - but eventually I dropped him. I came up on another athlete riding an Elite bike - a nice white one! His name was Ross Reynolds from down the shore - we exchanged a few pleasantries about our bike and I moved on. I was finally starting to get my biking legs back - this shows you the importance of warm up! So I started catching all the guys who passed me in t1. Then we got to the Rt29 section which is the flattest part of the race. Rt 29 is also where they hold a time trial series in the summer - a couple of years back I did a few of those races using my fixed gear. It's also right along the Delaware river where many people go tubing including Eat Pray Love best selling author Elizabeth Gilbert who's store is in Frenchtown.

Ok so I started getting warm and my legs started over heating with the leg warmers and compression sleeves - so I took of the leg warms while riding and stuffed them into my vest jersey pockets - I lost a bit of time coasting but at least I was still moving forward. All this time I kept hydrating despite the cold weather since I knew we still had a half marathon - In my camelback I had 2.5 water bottles of a concoction of EFS grape and carbo pro I didn't supplement sodium because of the cooler weather. Wearing the camelback I was also able to ride right thru the aid stations as I also had a flask of EFS liquid shot on my top tube.

Right before the big climb on the bike from Rt 29 (as we knew about because we pre-rode the course 3 weeks before) I took another nature break to lighten myself up before the climb. The 3 guys I passed, passed me back up - in that group was my friend Dave Fabian. I started the climb and managed to pass them all back up again giving some words of encouragement to Dave who was way past the talk test going up probably the hardest climb of the day.

At the top of the hill there was one more rider up ahead who I was able to pass also which left only 2 guys and one of them being a relay who I did not have to worry about. The last part of the bike was probably the nicest easiest section as it is a net down hill passing through horse farms and corn fields a really beautiful ride! here is the bike data for my ride

on the final climb I finally say Ryan McGrath who was the last rider ahead of me. I started making some ground up on him. But I really give this guy credit - he did the race without aero bars or aero wheels and he is just coming back off an injury - a bike accident where his tri bike was totalled! So I almost completely closed the gap but then backed off so I could get my arm warmers and gloves off before I got into T2. T2 went relatively smooth as I just had to take off my helmet and vest and put on my race belt.


So Ryan and I started together stride for stride - but by this point I had to take nature break number 3 as I was able to finish most of the contents of my 70 oz. camel back. So I stopped to pee once we entered of the off road section and relaxed and let it flow....for almost a minute it seemed and maybe it was cause Ryan was completely out of site! I started chasing him negotiating through roots, branches and rocks - I didn't expect this trail section - we previewed the bike course but not the run - bike mistake! We finally got out of the woods and into a clearing I thought I saw Ryan briefly but then he was gone. We passed a point where the sprint had a different turn so I thought the race marshals might have sent him the wrong way. So I kept running and no one was in front of me, except the relay guy who I saw after receiving some cheers from my Fil Am Tri friends who were doing a long training run.

Finally after reaching the 1st turn around Ryan was back on my heels and caught me at the top of the climb. We ran stride of stride for maybe the next 5K having a chat running under 7min pace. This was like Macca vs. Raelert the night before! only we didn't know who was who! Ryan mentioned about his injury and about how the downhills hurt him. I also knew Macca made his move on the downhill on Palani Drive - so subconsciously or really it was consciously I opened it up on the same downhill section where Ryan caught me going up. I created a gap but I knew I had to guard it and I put in more effort on the uphill going to the 2nd turnaround. I solidified the break as I was able to get myself out of site. But I didn't want to take any chances - I grabbed a 2nd Hammer gel at the turnaround and sucked it down at the water station. Here is where I saw Kit and he told me to smile - but after seeing ryan heading to the turnaround I was still focused on holding my pace - I was looking down at my GPS making sure I was holding 90spm - I was able to do this for most of the race except for the steep uphill sections. Here is the run data:

So I finally finished the lollipop section and headed to the finish where I was greeted by cheers from the Fil Am Tri crew who were now having a BBQ picnic after their long run.

Finally one last climb and then the race director himself Mike Nusbaum ran the final 100 meters with me

and then my patented handstand finish

Overall results are here

All in all a great day. And being able to celebrate with friends afterward made it even more special and memorable. As always I'd like to thank all my sponsors and friends: Elite Bicycles, Newton Running, Rotor Bike Components, Computrainer, Quarq Powermeters, PBN nutrition, First Endurance, The Fil Am Tri Club and last but not least Mike Nusbaum and Paramount Adventure for putting on this great event. Thank you all for reading! Until the next race.....

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