Sunday, September 23, 2007

Portage Lakes Triathlon

Well, my first triathlon season has come to a close. My final race this summer was the Portage Lakes International Distance....my first oly. As I mentioned HFP did not get a time for me. I have some approximate splits that I've got from glancing at my watch and my bike computer.

With Portage Lakes State Park, the race site, close to home and having an 8:00 start I got to sleep in until about 5:30. I awoke and took my dog out and was greeted by some BRISK morning air. Temps. were in the low 40's. I brewed my java...Green Mountain Autumn Harvest Blend. I ate my bagel with strawberry jelly and a banana. Grabbed my bags, stuck Amaterasu on the roof and I was off.

I arrived at the race site just before 7:00 a.m. and the parking lot was packed!! As I was milling around, setting up my transition, etc. everyone had something to say about the cold morning. Some folks were wearing stocking hats and gloves. After setting up my typical transition I put my cold weather gear in a pile and contemplated what to leave out on my towel for T1. Final decision was arm warmers and full finger gloves (the liner hat, windbreaker, and leg warmers stayed in my backpack). Off I went towards the beach.

THE SWIM

The course was 2 loops counterclockwise with a water start. Water temps were perfect, around 68 degrees. I took a nice long warm-up as all the sprinters started first. Soon enough it was time for my wave, the 2nd international wave to go. There were about 50 of us, the biggest wave start I've had all summer. I lined up towards the front and left of the pack. The horn sounded and we were off, swimming towards the rising sun (and 2 giant yellow buoys we couldn't see in the sunlight). The first couple hundred metres things were tight. Bumping shoulders. Hands and arms on my legs. As we were nearing the first turn the lake was full of some sort of seaweed stuff that was strange to pull through. Imagine a net that never seemed to tangle your hands up, but felt like it was about to. I wondered if this race was some trick to catch all the triathletes in some giant net and have a triathlete bake (you know, like a clam bake).

At the first turn buoy I found clear water and could really open up my stroke. For the first time in a race my heart rate didn't skyrocket at the beginning of the swim. Maybe it was my long warm-up. Maybe all the swimming I've been doing is paying off. Either way, it was nice not to feel oxygen deprived at any point of the swim. I felt so comfortable I tried some bilateral breathing for the first time in a race but didn't stick with it because I could feel my heart rate go up immediately.

As I entered into the surreal state of

...thoughtlessness...
murky water...breath...

that is open water swimming, I zig-zagged quite a bit and at one point was cut off by a lifeguard in a kayak who was pointing out towards the middle of the lake yelling "go that way." Note to self: need to work on sighting and swimming in a straight line. Before I knew it my hands were dragging on the beach and I stood (and stumbled) to head towards T1.

I took the run up the beach nice and easy. Since my HR stayed down so low during the swim I wanted to take advantage of that as best I could and get on the bike with it down lower yet. T1 was slow as I took my time and had trouble getting my wetsuit over my ankles. It could be that I remembered the timing chip fiasco at GCT, so I was sure not to lose my ankle bracelet. Little did I know it wouldn't have mattered anyways. My race was already a DNS (sort of). Unbeknownst of this fact I noticed my timing chip didn't beep coming out of T1 and asked the volunteer at the bike mount about this. She had no idea what I was talking about (what?? beep?? huh??) and I didn't worry about it as I didn't hear the mat beep for the guy next to me either.

THE BIKE

Heading out of T1 I glanced at my watch and saw it ticking at 23 minutes and change...whoa!! Best swim of my life!! The swim course was short but I was still feeling great about my time. Hopped on Amaterasu to a brisk breeze heading out onto the bike course. The course was two loops of rolling hills around Lake Nimisilla. Immediately I noticed that the cold wasn't bothering me too much, except that my hips were really, really tight. They didn't loosen up until I had completed most of the first loop. Once I finally got loose I kept a nice pace and decided to open it up on the 2nd loop...get out of the saddle to crest some of the rollers, etc. I was feeling good. The front of my legs were a pink/purple color but they felt fine.

After I began to loosen up my mind drifted to the history of the area. I could envision the thick forest that once stood on these roads and thought of what life would have been like if a canoe on the water was the best way to get around (sans the 8 mile portage).

Whilst enjoying the scenery, I lost my chain going down to the small ring on a climb and was passed by 3 people immediately. I got pissed and hammered out the rest of the course. According to my computer the 40K (24.8 mile) bike course was closer to 23.3 miles. I finished it up in about one hour and 9 minutes for a 20.3 avg. pace.

THE RUN
Quick T2. Changed shoes and threw on my hat. The run course was 2 loops of more rolling hills. In the first mile I passed quite a few folks. My feet were cold for most of this stretch and felt bigger than the size 14 they actually are. I gained my running legs somewhere about one half to three quarters of a mile into the run, possibly my best run off this summer. I stayed steady for the first loop, and just before mile 4 I started to get fatigued on an ascent. At the bottom of the next descent I got passed by someone who looked like he did alot of running (i.e. skinny dude with a nice stride wearing running tights). I tried to hang with him, and did for about a mile, but he dropped me at the next ascent. The quickening of my pace kept me passing folks here, even after getting dropped. On the last ascent my quads were fed up and I was afraid I might start cramping. With just over a mile to go I slugged down some gatorade....I know, alot of good it's going to do me now.

The gatorade at least gave me a nice mental boost and I tried to open my stride down the descent towards the finish. I didn't look at my watch when I crossed the line and they didn't have a clock at the finish, but after leaving the finishing chute I saw my watch ticking at 2 hours 23 minutes and change. My guess is I finished around 2:22:??, making my run and T2 around 51 minutes. I was very happy with that time and how I felt throughout the race. My spirits were high and other than a little bit of struggling on the run so was my energy.

This morning I ran in the Falls Natatorium 5K and have a new PR.....that is coming in my next post.

Happy Autumn Equinox everyone!!

11 comments:

Julia said...

Congrats on an amazing season of races. Firsts, PRs, and just a lot of fun times. I remember at the New Years Eve 5K we all cheered on a year of health...

I think you are there and some.

Cheers to the next wave of firsts and a life filled to the brim with these little enjoyments.

B Bop said...

Yes, we did toast to a year of health. Safe to say you and Treetop have followd through as well. I say we drink to our health more often ;-)

Veg*Triathlete said...
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Veg*Triathlete said...
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E-Speed said...

sounds like you had a great race. We need to work on your chip karma though!

B Bop said...

Yeah, no doubt!! The timing chip gods are certainly trying to tell me something :-0

DaisyDuc said...

Great job B!!! These great races and PRs just keep coming for you!!

Congrats!

Craig said...

It's amazing this was your first tri season. All year you had impressive races. Next year will be even better since there's room for growth.

Charlie said...

Congrats on one hellofa rookie year.
Your chip issue sucks. Hopefully they(HFP) will do something to make up for the bunk chip.

GP said...

...thoughtlessness...
murky water...breath...


For the past month I've been trying to find the perfect description of open-water swimming from the swimmer's perspective. And that's perfect.

The weather that Akron weekend, however, was not perfect. For the first time I didn't want to swim quickly because I didn't want to exit the water.

So, WTF? Did they tell you what's up with the DNS? I hope they work it out for you. It sounded like a great race, nevertheless... and they can't take that away from you!

Anonymous said...

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