Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daybreak Race Report

Most race mornings any anxiety I feel is outweighed by excitement and feeling ready to go. For some reason Saturday I woke up to find those to be flipped. As I got ready I thought to myself “you gotta chill, man!” which made me think of the EPMD classic with a similar name. As evidenced by my Trash Talk post, I’m in a bit of an old school rap phase these days, so I promptly found it on YouTube as I made last minute preparations.

Following my debacle of a swim start at IMSG, I was motivated to get in the water plenty early. I set up transition and got a short warm-up jog in before making the ~10 min walk to the start with a friend who lives in my neighborhood. Eventually it was time to line up on the beach for the time trial start. I was maybe 30 people deep, but the line moved really quickly as a timing company guy with a computer methodically activated chip times and yelled “GO!” every 3-4 seconds. As I mentioned in my last post, this swim is pretty unique, as you make your way through various channels, under bridges, etc. There were only a couple of buoys, because for the most part you just followed the shape of the lake, like a maze with only one option. I started off fast and fought to hold the pace throughout. It definitely began to hurt towards the end, and felt good to touch sand on the north side of the lake. I waved at my son and daughter standing on the dock, and ran the 100 meters or so to the timing mat outside of T1 to lock in my split - 29:48 (44th/147).

I hopped on my bike and tried to be aggressive from the start. After the first mile or so there’s a long gradual climb before getting to bigger hills at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains. I tried to stay on the gas on the climbs, getting out of the saddle from time to time. Having flatted at my last race, I also watched the road like a hawk, avoiding potholes and anything shiny like the plague. The gradual climb at the beginning of the course turns into a nice downhill section on the way back where you pick up a lot of speed. As I made the turn onto this road, I noticed two trucks ahead of me attempting to forge their way through cyclists moving in both directions. The truck in front was being ultra-conservative, and by doing so both trucks were moving a lot slower than I was. In a split second I evaluated my options: A) slam on the brakes and putt along behind them for the next several minutes B) attempt to thread the needle on the right on a road with little to no shoulder or C) pass the trucks on the left. I chose C, just as the guy driving the front truck simultaneously waved his hand as if to say “go on ahead, I’m over my skis here” and I continued on my way. A couple miles later and I was back in transition. As short-course races should be, the bike was close to a time trial effort - 1:02:47 (30th/147).

A quick transition later and I was on the run course, which consisted of two loops around the lake. The hard bike had definitely zapped my legs a bit… they felt decent, but not great from the get go. About a half mile in a guy passed me, and I decided to hang on to him and let him drag me around for a while. The heat and wind had picked up towards the end of the bike, and the backside of the loop was pretty tough. At the start of the second loop my legs came around a bit and I put in a few surges, but the guy responded each time. My heart rate was in the 170’s and I was definitely uncomfortable, but knew I needed to step it up soon. With less than a mile to go a guy went by us… I noticed he was in my age group and decided it was time. I pulled up on his shoulder and got the impression from his breathing that he was about to tap out. I started my kick in the last half mile and dropped him, then sprinted to the line (as you always should!) for a split of 48:27 (7:23 pace & 23rd/147).
I felt good about my effort, and basked in the post-race euphoria as I hung out with my family and chatted with friends. The runner in me was disappointed to see a slower split (almost 3 min) vs. two years ago on the same course, but with time I’ve learned that you have to go for it more on the bike if you want to be competitive. There’s a fine line between pushing hard and blowing up, but based on my watch time (2:23:05), I knew I was roughly 5 min faster overall despite the slower run. It’s all about balance!
After loading up my stuff, I moseyed over to where the preliminary results were being posted. I overheard a guy next to me say to his friend “oh man, I got a penalty?!? Am I disqualified for that?” I took a gander at the sheet they were looking at and assured him “you’re not disqualified, it’s just a 2 min drafting penalty.” He was relieved. I then curiously noticed a # on the same sheet with “DQ – Endangerment” next to it. My number!! I mean, danger is my middle name, but endangerment?!? My mind flashed back to those stupid trucks endangering everyone on the road, and my heart sank. You’ve gotta be kidding me! I stood there stunned for a minute, then just shook my head and laughed. Had this been Ironman I would have been devastated, but for a small, local Olympic, what’s the real impact and who cares? I was just a little bitter. I briefly considered leaving with some fingers extended in the air, but realized it may help to plead my case. At the very least I wanted to ensure that my name and splits would show up somewhere in the results. It’s early in the season, and I wanted a measuring stick of where I’m at for each discipline. I found the official guy and told him my side of the story, making an effort to be very respectful. He listened and agreed with what I was saying, but didn’t seem persuaded... I eventually relented and went on my way.

this is still cool, right?

Driving home I concluded that what happened was unfortunate, but not a big deal... I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I also found it only appropriate to make a stop at Dairy Queen (DQ, get it?).  

Later in the day I checked the official results, scrolling to the bottom where I expected to see my name and splits with the scarlet letters DQ. Instead, I was shocked to find them much higher on the page (24th, 4th in AG)… and no DQ! Even though I really was “over it,” it was definitely a pleasant surprise. I’ve wondered if it was overturned in part due to not losing my cool and being respectful of the guy. Everyone knows that the irate driver cited for speeding is more likely to get a ticket than someone who’s calm and respectful to authority. I dunno. On the other hand, it may have simply been an oversight.

Regardless, at the very least it gave me something to write about!

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