Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pat Griskus Olympic Northeast Championship

The forecast was for a beautiful day, but as I drove up to the race the fog cover was severe. The fog seemed to clear while we were doing our swim warm-up. However, by the time we were ready to start the fog had dropped back down to the water’s surface. The decision was made to shorten the swim to under a .5 mile in order to keep things safe. Normally, I would be totally fine with this decision. However, I had tweaked my left calf while racing a sprint distance event the week before. I was actually looking forward to using the swim to loosen up a bit more and hopefully build up a decent spread to the stronger runners.
I tried to go out a bit faster, but the fog cover made it tricky to site. A friend of mine who was in the 2nd wave commented that it was a comical site watching our wave start. We were swimming straight out, then we spotted the first turn buoy and had to break hard to the right. It was similar to watching a herd of cattle. Oh well, the shortened distance made it a quick experience.
My main focus was to get out quick and be as consistent as possible. I knew that I needed to ride well so I could ease up on the run. My most important race was the following weekend out in Texas and I did not want to jeopardize that race by significantly injuring my calf. I was able to get up to the lead pace car by mile 6sh. Sometimes this can be an advantage and sometimes... well not so much. I was following the police car that had the lights flashing. A truck had pulled out in front of us from a side road. The driver of the truck, apparently, got a little confused and thought the lights were meant to slow them down. Fortunately the situation was resolved quickly as the police car sped up and forced the truck to get moving. I pushed the remainder of the bike as hard as I could without going into the red zone. I was able to finish the bike two minutes faster then the previous year.
I headed out onto the run in my K-Swiss Kona’s and my Sugoi Timex calf compression socks. I wanted to use the compression socks to keep my calves warm and prevent them from bouncing around to much. My calf was still very tender to the touch. I focused on shorter strides with good cadence. This approach helped to limit the impact on the downhill section at the beginning of the run. I was able to find a comfortable pace quickly. The run is an out and back two loop course. I knew I would be able to determine if I needed to push the pace after the turnaround. I hit the turnaround and realized that I could keep a consistent pace. I came in with a two minute slower run split than the previous year, but it was enough to hold on for the overall spot.

70.3 Rhode Island: Road Rash

The saying is: “If you ride a bike, it’s not a question of if, but when you will crash”. This was not my first crash and I’m sure it will not be my last crash. I have raced 70.3 Providence each year that is has been staged (4). I really enjoy competing in this race. It is pretty close to home at two hours driving distance without any traffic. The bike course is a fair, rolling course and the run is challenging. Coach Paul had instructed to treat this as a training race with a run emphasis. The best aspect of this race is that I was able to drive the Timex Ford Edge up to the race venue. This vehicle is SWEET!
Swim: 29:32
This year the swim was moved to a local lake that was closer to downtown Providence. The water temps registered at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, which meant that it would not be a wetsuit legal swim. This was not a big deal as I had my Orca skin suit ready to roll. The swim went really smooth. I had a good warm-up that enabled me to go out a bit faster to start the race without going hypoxic. Unfortunately I did lose contact with two guys at the start of the swim, but I was able to find my own pace while swimming solo throughout. My main focus was to maintain good posture with a decent catch. I was able to roll into T1 without any major incidents.
Bike: 2:25:36
I was really looking forward to the bike. I had visited the Lifesport Coaching wind tunnel camp at the beginning of May. My new Orbea Ordu, with Shimano DI2 and SRM power meter, had been lost in transit during the trip home. I had given up all hope of seeing my new ride again. However, on Thursday prior to the race (exactly 2 months after I lost it), I received an e-mail that Fedex had found my bike! They expedited it to me by Friday morning. I quickly built it back up and had it ready to roll for the race. This was only my second time riding the bike, but I knew it was fit properly. I headed out of T1, hit a bump and lost my water bottle(I ended up losing 3 during the entire ride). Oh well, I still had my calories and salt tabs. I knew I could grab a water bottle at the first aid station. I dialed in my effort by triangulating my perceived effort with my heart rate and power data. The Timex Global Trainer is a tremendous tool for tracking all the vital stats. I was rolling along well as I came into a 90 degree right corner at about mile 23. The volunteer manning the corner was yelling to slow down as we entered the corner. I clenched both my front and rear brakes aggressively. Then things started to move in slow motion as I was airborne. My rear wheel was sideways and I was about to hit the deck, hard. I landed on my left side with a few bounces and slid along for a little bit on my back. I quickly got up and tried to figure out what had happened. Fortunately the volunteer ran over and told me to move to the side of the road so I didn’t get run over. He said that my rear wheel had popped out(apparently the skewer had come lose: not really sure how as I try to keep it really tight). I looked down to see if there was any visual damage to my bike. It looked fine with the exception of the dropped chain, wheel off, and DI2 unplugged. I asked the volunteer if my crash had caused any deep cuts to my side or back. He said that it appeared to be only road rash, whew.. I quickly put my wheel back in, got the chain on, and plugged the shifter cable back into the cassette. I eased back onto the bike course as I wanted to make sure that the injuries were not to severe. I was happy to get back into the aero bars without to much discomfort. On the remainder of the bike section I just tried to dial the effort back up while monitoring my electrolyte and caloric intake.
Run: 1:21:48
This was meant to be the focus of the race. However with my crash, I was not 100% sure. I tried to build into the run. I started to feel pretty good at the 1 mile marker. I was able to find my rhythm and maintain a decent pace until the 4th mile where I started to cramp. Fortunately I had my salt stick tabs with me. I quickly bit into one and put it under my tongue. The cramp, grasping my inside quad, slowly faded. The rest of the run went well until mile 11 when I started to feel the cumulative fatigue of the day. I hit the cola at the next aid station and the simple sugars gave me a boost into the finish. I crossed the line and found out that I had placed 3rd Overall and top amateur for the day. I made a straight line for the medical tent to get the asphalt cleaned out of my side. In hindsight, I was pretty lucky that the wheel had not come out during one of the steep descents.

Griskus Sprint

The 25th year of the Pat Griskus Sprint witnessed 30+ Timex employees compete in addition to 3 Timex Multi-sport team members. This is such a great grass-root race. The event kicks off on a Wednesday night at 6pm. It almost always reaches the 500 athlete capacity. There are many first timers and families that are able to participate. It is a privilege to be able to race with my teammates and Timex employees.
I lined up to the outside of the beach start. This race seems to attract a lot of younger competitive swimmers that like to go out hard at the beginning of the race. I had experienced this first hand last year as I was literally swam over. My outside positioning allowed me to get open water this year and I had a very enjoyable swim segment.
I started the bike with the intention of trying to discover if there was anything left in my legs three days following 70.3 Rhode Island. I knew I would need to ride smart and safe.
We had a storm come through just prior to starting. There are several technical sections to the 10.5 mile bike course. My legs felt fine, but I wasn’t sure how I was going. There were several athletes that had exited the swim in front of me. I was not sure how many there were, but I knew I was not catching everyone. I ended up coming off the bike in 4th place.
I hit the run as hard as I could to try to catch the athletes out in front. I was able to catch the lead runner about a .25 mile before the turnaround. At this point I just focused on staying consistent and settling in. I felt really good on the run. My legs were able to turn over much better then on the bike. I crossed the finish line in 57:19 which was my 2nd fastest result. I cannot say enough good things about this race. It is so well run.