Monday, September 8, 2014

Multisport Adventures

In the wake of the long and arduous training cycle that went into qualifying and participating in the 2014 Duathlon Age Group World Championship I decided to try to squeeze in some late summer and fall triathlons.  The first race I entered was the NationTri held September 7, 2014 in Washington, DC (Olympic Distance).  To get ready for an olympic distance Tri I decided to race a sprint  Tri.  I chose the General Smallwood Sprint Tri  on August 17, 2014.  I am also considering racing a half-Ironman Tri (70.3 mi.) but have not yet made a decision just yet.  If I do race the half-IM it will be the Waterman's Half on October 4, 2014 in Rock Hall, MD.

General Smallwood Sprint Tri

One of the reasons I chose this race was because I did last year's race and that race went really well.  The weather was hot but I a good performance finishing in 1:37:30 and ending up 7th in my age group.  Unfortunately, last year my swimming was coming to the point where I would consider it to be almost respectable.  I was still slow but faster than I have ever been.  Then I qualified for DU World's and didn't swim much at all from August 2013 until June 2014.  It felt like I was a beginner swimmer when I got back in the water in June.  Yes, that John Lennon tune comes to mind "Just Like Starting Over."  So this year the weather was much cooler and how did I fare?  Well, my time was 1:46:13, almost nine minutes slower than last year.  The swim accounted for more than four minutes.  I was just less than three minutes slower on the bike and about 25 seconds slower on the run.  Transitions were also longer too but I attribute that to the fact that the transition area was one field farther away.  Granted, I wasn't pushing hard this year like I was last year but nine minutes slower seems like a lot of time.  Anybody have a towel I can cry into?

Nations Tri

Olympic distance for triathlon is 1500 meter swim, 40K bike 10 K run.  The setting for this race was downtown Washington, DC.  The swim was to start in the Potomac River just below Memorial Bridge.  Swimming upstream, near the shore, under Memorial Bridge, then take a turn toward the middle of the river back under the bridge with the current to the temporary dock.  I used the past tense before because, much to my delight, the swim was cancelled due to unsafe conditions from a sewer overflow during a rain storm the previous day.  So the race was now was they call a "dry Tri" or just bike/run.  Now the Nation's Tri attracts a National crowd and there were more than 4000 participants.  2343 in the Olympic race so this is a very strong field.  Transition area was on the National Mall along Ohio Drive just south of the Lincoln Memorial.  Without the swim, race officials decided to start the race as if we had just gotten out of the water so they hosed us down as we stood in the starting corrals.  Just kidding, but they did make us dress as if we had done the swim so no shoes were allowed and we had nothing on our heads.  So we ran into transition, got into our biking gear and hit the roads in groups of nine 20 seconds apart.  Let me tell you, the bike course was crowded.  Without the swim to provide separation it was just a packed course.  It was actually a fast course too, mostly flat with only one "hill".  I probably pushed too hard in the beginning because I started hurting toward the end but I rode the 25 miles in 1:09:37 for a 21.4 mph average.  I had a good transition and started the 10K run feeling pretty good.  I started getting a cramp (side stitch) just before mile marker two so I slowed a little and ate a gel.  The stitch started going away before mile marker three and was gone soon after so I was able to pick up my pace again.  I would finish my run in 48:15 (7:47 pace).  With transitions added my total time was 2:01:42 which was good enough for 23/149 in my age group and 365/2343 overall.  I was extremely happy with my race.  I definitely benefited from the cancellation of the swim.  Where can I find more dry Tri's?  O yeah, its called duathlon silly!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

2014 Duathlon World Championships, Pontevedra, Spain

     Wow, just noticed that its been five years since I posted anything on this blog.  Yes I have been busy, but I just had to document my Team USA experience in Spain.  How did I get on Team USA?  Well, based on my performance at some local mid-Atlantic region duathlon races, USA Triathlon invited me to race in the 2013 US Duathlon National Championships in Tuscon, AZ last fall.  At that race the top eighteen finishers in each age group qualified for 2014 Duathlon Worlds.  I finished eighteenth in my age group and thus qualified for worlds (It was a little more complicated than that but the complications aren't important).  BTW, a duathlon is a two sport competition where athletes run a specified distance, then bike a specified distance, and then run again to finish the race.  

     Qualifying for worlds was my main goal for 2013 so you can imagine how excited I was to receive my invitation.  BTW, this isn't the first time I qualified for Team USA in duathlon.  In 2012 I qualified for the Long Distance Duathlon World Championships in Zofingen, Switzerland but turned it down because I felt that I could not finish the race (10K run, 150K bike, 30k run  ***Note the words Long Distance in the title).  At the time I turned down the invitation to Zofingen,  I decided to try to make Team USA in either the sprint distance or the standard distance duathlon.  I tried to qualify in the sprint distance for the 2013 Duathlon Worlds in Ottawa, Canada but missed qualifying by one spot.  In 2013 I switched to the standard distance and made it!  OK, a sprint distance is typically the shortest race.  Standard is also known as Olympic distance but it is usually twice as long as the sprint distance at a certain race.  Long distance is just insane.

     My Pontevedra odyssey began on Memorial Day.  My daughter, Hannah, asked me, "Daddy, before you go to Spain can you weed whack these vines by the play set.  We think its poison ivy and we don't want to go near it but we want to play while you are gone."  I said "sure" and on Memorial Day I put on a long sleeve shirt, gloves, eye protection, and hat and pulled out the vines by the root.  I wore shorts which was a mistake but I swear the vines only slightly brushed against me once or twice.  I was fine at work all day Tuesday and while I packed my bike and things for the trip that evening for my flight out on Wednesday.  However, I woke up in the middle of the night itching all over and bursting with rashes on my wrists, legs and torso.  Both of my wrists were swollen as were my legs just above the ankle.  On the way to the airport I stopped at CVS and picked up some Ivarest to take with me on the trip. 
Hotel Peregrina

Opening Ceremonies
    I arrived at my hotel, the Hotel Peregrina in Sanxenxo, Thursday afternoon.  It was a great place to stay and very reasonably priced.  Plus, the staff was super nice.  Friday there was a team meeting at the Team USA Hotel, the Palacio Galicia, from 3-4 pm and a preview ride of the bike course at 4:30.  We had team photos at 6:30 and the Opening Ceremonies were at 7:00 pm so it was a busy afternoon.  I went to the Team USA doctors at the team hotel to get something for my poison ivy and the team docs told me to keep using the calamine lotion and they gave me Benedryl telling me that it could make me drowsy and dehydrate me.  I told them I understood but began taking it to rid myself of that all over itchy/tingling feeling.   

      Saturday the elite, junior and paratriathlete races were held.  The Tea USA manager negotiated with the ITU to allow Team USA to run a preview lap of the run course between the aforementioned races.  So we met at the venue, the Universidad de Vigo track stadium, at 2:15.  We ran our run course preview between the paratriathlete and elite race.  The run course was packed with spectators waiting for the elite race so it was pretty cool jogging through the crowd.

On the bike!
   The age group races were Sunday, June 1, 2014 and the standard races started at noon.  The sprint races started in the morning at 8:30.  I got to the venue early so I could check in my bike and set up my transition area.  At 5:55 a.m. I arrived at the venue and was first in line.  There was a university gym/locker room for age group athletes to rest/relax/recover, get a massage, check there race bag etc. so I hung out there and watched a little of the sprint races while I waited for high noon.  I donned my "uni" at ~11 and went for a warm up run with Mike Lupini before heading to the starting corrals where we were supposed to be at 11:45.  It was fun just hanging out and chatting with all the athletes in my age group.  Everyone was really nice.  My race started at 12:15 and consisted of a 10K (4 laps) run followed by a 40K (2 laps) bike, followed by a 5K (2 laps) run.  The picture at the top of the blog is me on the first run.  Unfortunately, I was thirsty (thanks to the Benedryl) standing in the starting corral and never seemed to be able to drink enough.  I carried a water bottle from the aid stations quite often.  I actually ran faster than I expected for the first 10K   My time was 46:40 and I expected something higher than 47:00.  The bike course was really hard.  After leaving transition it was more or less a six mile rolling climb with a fairly steep mile toward the end and then a rolling descent on the way back.  The wind was also in our face on the rolling climb so that didn't help.  I struggled through the bike but finished.  The second run was difficult. I was in a lot of pain from dehydration and the heat but was able to suffer through.  I still was thirsty and got water at every aid station.  The Team USA manager (Tim Yount) gave me a mini USA flag to carry while I ran on the first lap so I carried it and a water bottle for the second lap. 

Last lap!
On my second lap as I passed the team manager he told me "you can pass two more, two more!"  There were a couple of runners in sight but I knew we were coming to the stadium so I didn't have much time left.  As I entered the stadium I picked up my pace because I saw two Spanish guys ahead of me by about 80-100 feet.  I was closing the gap quickly but ran out of room.  I ended up finishing less than ten feet behind them at the finish line.  I was in a lot of pain and felt like I was going to hurl but I finished! Even though I was in pain and struggled, I met my goals for the race so I was pleased.

    After the race there was a Team USA post-race party at the team hotel which was a great event.  I got to talk with all the new friends I made.  I want give a shout out to the Hedwall's (Insomnia Tom and Shaula), the Lupini's (Mike and Geraldine - World Champion in the sprint distance female 50-54 age group), the Pierce's (George and his wife both who I almost dined with at the Hotel Peregrina), Janos (pronounced Yano) Mako and his daughter, Randy Culver, Bill Gunter and the many others who were so nice but I don't recall your names.  I had an early flight in the morning so I skipped the closing ceremonies so I could pack.  I wish I could have gone to them though because the photos looked awesome.

    Representing my country at the Duathlon World Championship is something of which I am extremely proud.  It was both memorable and enjoyable.  The 2015 Championships are in Adelaide, Australia and the qualifying race is in St. Paul, Minnesota this July.  You never know!