Monday, September 29, 2008

Duxbury Race Report

The weather had been pretty terrible all weekend leading up to Duxbury. The day before the race we got an e-mail saying that the swim was cancelled due to choppy waters, then later that day another e-mail was sent out saying the swim was tentative and a decision would be made on race morning. The race started at 10:30 AM. At 9:45, it looked like it would be too foggy to hold the swim (safety issues). But as luck would have it, the fog lifted at 10 AM and the rain let up, and it was go time.

When the starting horn blasted for the half mile swim I got off to a strong start. I looked over and Tony Delogne (former IM Lake Placid winner) was right next to me as was some dude not wearing a wetsuit (water was like sub-60!). By the time we got to the first buoy no-wetsuit-dude was half a body length in front of me! I began to suspect this was some ringer collegiate swimmer who decided to do a triathlon. I started to veer over towards him and was planning on getting in the draft behind his feet. As I was doing this he started fading... hard. I stopped drifting towards him and increased my kick. I dropped him easily and began to rapidly pull away. Turns out he just sprinted out waaaay too hard. So I continued my fast rhythm and exited the water 1st with Tony about 25 seconds behind.

I crushed the run from the swim exit to t1, going as hard as I could. I hopped on my bike, hammered over the 1/2 mile wooden bridge, let up for a few seconds to get my feet in my shoes, and then I went back to work. I put my head down and went for it on the bike. I knew Tony was a strong cyclist, so I kept checking behind me every few miles, but I never saw him. I pushed it hard on the bike and stayed as aero as possible. When I came back towards transition I again hammered over the wooden bridge - I thought I could gain time on people here as others might be cautious going over this.

I didn't have as quick a t2 as I did t1, but nevertheless I had a sizable lead and took off on the run course. I took it out hard, but my legs were definitely feeling the effort I put into the bike. I had to ease up on the pace a tiny bit but still was maintaining a strong tempo. The run course went by quickly, and before I knew it I had the wooden bridge back in site - just over a half mile left. When I got to the bridge I picked up the pace. It was easy with the crowds cheering for me. I got off the bridge and took the hard left and sprinted towards the finish. All in all, I felt strong the whole time.

A few minutes after I finished a little boy came up to me and gave me an award that he had made for the first place finisher. His dad was behind him and reminded him that he was supposed to shake someone's hand when giving them an award - so he stuck out his little hand. It was so cute! The best was the first line of the award he gave me - "Dear 1'th Place...". It was awesome. After the awards ceremony my dad and I headed over to a Team Psycho gathering that was in Duxbury. It was really fun - the food was great and there was all the Harpoon you could ever want. Later that evening I went for a 30 minute spin on the trainer to loosen up my legs. And then I slept for almost 11 hours!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

3 down, 1 to go

Just finished my third race in as many weeks: the Duxbury Triathlon.

1 more to go in my 4 week racing block (the longest ever for me). On Thursday morning I depart from Providence for California to race Scott Tinley's. Dux race report to come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What a weekend!

I'm still on top of the world after having one of my best races ever this past Saturday

Me and Sarah Groff shared 3rd place honors
Me, Matty Reed, and Ol' Umpenour sporting the American flag

The race started with a swim in Lake Hagg, which was just barely over the wetsuit cutoff temp. So the water was cold! The horn blasted and we all dove off the pontoon into the freezing water. I immediately started getting sandwiched and bumped from both sides, so I was forced to drop back a little and slide over onto someone's feet. After rounding the second buoy I saw that I was at the back of the lead pack, just a few seconds down from the leaders. It was a great position to be in. I held my place to the swim exit, ran to my bike, and easily got into that lead bike group -- not counting the breakaway that Matt Reed and Matt Chrabot had started. While my pack was losing time to the 2 Matt's, I was still very content with our position, which was over a minute ahead of the pack behind us. Looking around I saw that I would most likely be battling it out with Mark Fretta, Joe Umpenour, Brian Fleischman, and Tim O'Donnel. All of a sudden I heard this screeching noise of metal on pavement. I looked over to see Fretta fly into a ditch on the side of the road. The tubular tire had somehow come off his rim, and he had gone careening off the road. We entered t2, and I was the 4th person from my pack out on the run. I immediately moved into 4th place overall behind Reed, Chrabot, and Umpenour. I held a constant distance behind Umpenour until the 3rd lap, when he began to pull away. I thought I was a lock for 4th, but Chrabot started struggling hard on the last lap, and I passed him with 1k to go, securing my podium finish. The adrenaline was pumping. This was one of my most memorable races in the sport.

Running onto the podium.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

3rd at Elite Nationals!

So pumped! Won U23 National Title by about 5 mins! Stay tuned, more to come.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gearing up for Portland

Elite Nationals are 2 days away. I'll be looking to defend my U23 triathlon title and should be in the mix for a top-10 finish overall if things go well. Sexton drove me to the airport yesterday morning and I caught a flight up to Portland. Getting to the Embassy Suites in Tigrad, OR was an adventure. I was originally told it would be a $60 cab ride to the hotel, but I was later informed that I could catch a train for $2.30 and it would take me to Beaverton, where a hotel shuttle would pick me up.

I bought a train ticket, which ended up only being $1.50 (because I said I was a student). I take the hour train ride to Beaverton and then call the hotel to come pick me up. No answer. I call again, and again, and again... I'm getting frustrated. My phone runs out of battery. None of the 3 pay phones at the train station work. I'm stranded. Suddenly I notice some thuggish looking teenagers following me. "Are they going to try to rob me in broad daylight?" I wondered. They didn't look particularly threatening but I could tell they were up to something. Finally one of them approaches me - he then tries to sell me some marijuana! I politely declined, and they went on looking for their next potential customer. It got me thinking - do I look like the kind of person who does that stuff?! I hope not... maybe it's time for a haircut. How can this day get any worse? I finally ask a local maintenance man how to get to my hotel. He points me in the direction of a crowded city bus. So I lug my 60 pound bike box and 2 big bags on board. The bus is pretty full and everybody is staring at me wondering "What's in the box". After another half hour ride the Embassy Suites finally comes into view. I was so relieved to finally get there. I guess for $1.50 I got my money's worth. However, my bad luck wasn't over.

I get into my hotel room (which I'll be splitting with Jarrod). It's quite pleasant. I open my bike box and am not happy to see that my whole canister of protein powder exploded. It's everywhere! In every crevice, in my bike chain, and in my rear derailleur. I was so frustrated at that point I just closed it back up, pretended it never happened, and decided to deal with it tomorrow... At least my applesauce was still intact.

Today wasn't nearly as bad. The hotel had a good complimentary breakfast (I got an omelet). I cleaned up my bike and bike box (but now the whole room smells like nasty protein powder). I found a pool about 4 miles away and rode my bike there, hopped in for a quick 2500 yards, and then did some efforts on the bike on the way back. So hopefully all this bad luck is out of my system.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pacific Grove Race Report: Caught in the Kelp

I pretty much had a disaster of a race, although I did win the u23 division. (Disregard the fact that I was the only u23...)

This was me giving my "victory speech" on the podium, all by myself.
This is what the podium is supposed to look like...

Now onto the race: So the swim at Pacific Grove is known as the "Kelp Krawl". The massive amounts of kelp in the ocean make swimming nearly impossible at some points and you find yourself simply grabbing on to slimy patches of kelp and pulling your whole body along. The danger is that it is easy to get caught and tangled in this kelp. Due to this factor, everybody tends to stay in one giant pack on the swim, which leads to a giant pack on the bike, and finally it turns into a runners race. That sounded just fine with me. But Pac Grove 2008 went a bit differently...

So the gun goes off and I have a fast, clean start. I'm sprinting out near the front and feeling pretty good. Then we hit the first kelp patch. I was caught a little off guard and decided I needed to settle in on somebody's feet and hope that they clear out a path for me. I wasn't great at navigating myself through these giant kelp patches, and it's tough to pull yourself through with very tired arms. I wound up at the tail end of the 2nd pack, which wasn't too far behind the first. The swim was 2 laps. About 2/3 through the 2nd lap, as I went around a buoy my timing chip got caught on a piece of kelp, and it was strong enough that it was just holding me in place. I had to stop, turn around, and pull it off myself. In the process I lost contact with my pack. I panicked. I started sprinting. Slowly but surely I began making up ground. I got closer and closer and could finally feel the draft returning. I settled back in. "Phew, that was a close one" I thought to myself. With about 25 meters left I was feeling okay. We hit the last patch of kelp. My timing chip got caught again, not once, but twice. I lost a lot of time untangling myself. I exited the water in no man's land.

I got out on the bike and could see the packs forming up the road. I was going as hard as I could. I looked behind me: nobody. Up ahead I was too far away to catch anyone. This was disastrous. Finally, I noticed a couple guys pretty far behind me. I sat up and got my feet into my shoes and just hoped there'd be some strong cyclists to work with. Ultimately I started working with 2 others. We were the 3rd pack. We were losing massive amounts of time to the 2 6-man packs ahead. I went as hard on the bike as I could, but it was really just damage control. I was hoping that if we minimized our losses I could run some people down. We got off the bike many minutes back and I went to work. I hammered the first lap of the run, but even if I had run a 30 minute 10k I wouldn't have made up any places. After about 5k I began to shut it down and save my effort for Portland this weekend. I still split 32:25, but the run course was pretty short. I believe I took 12th place.

Needless to say I was very disappointed, but it seems like every race this year has been an adventure and I learn something new. I should have tucked my timing chips under my wetsuit. Lesson learned. I'm staying in Davis, CA for a few days with Steve Sexton and Kevin Collington. We all had some good laughs about the race and how it played out in the exact opposite way that we all expected.

During the awards ceremony I was unexpectedly called up to the podium for winning the Under-23 division. I had no idea that there was even going to be U23 awards. It's the tradition for all the winners to make a speech. So I had to wing it. I was the only person standing up there, and my speech went something like: "Yeah I knew that the U23's were going to be really competitive this year, but I came out here and did what I had to do to win it..." It got a little laugh.

Wish me luck in Portland!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

1620: The Pilgrims -------- 2008: Ethan Brown (!!!)

I survived Plymouth!
Well my experience at Plymouth was much better than the one at Cranberry, but it was not without incident. Overall, the race went well, I won by 8 minutes - 2nd place was Cait Snow, reigning Ironman Lake Placid Champ. She was shortly followed by her husband, Tim, who normally finishes ahead of her, but he got a little lost on both the run and bike courses - Can't say I blame him...

As usual, when the gun went off I hammered the swim. We started swimming next to a giant levy, but once we got out past it into unguarded waters it became very choppy. I was expecting that and it didn't phase me. I exited the water with about a 1:45 lead and hammered the quarter mile run to t1. There was an iron-distance race going on at the same time as ours - so all those people were already out doing loops on the bike course. This was nice because I always had someone to follow and felt confident that I would not veer off course. Anyway, the bike course was extremely rolling. I could not get into a rhythm no matter how hard I tried. I had my SRM on my TT bike, and I was not pleased with the numbers. My cadence was never consistent and I had to sit up and shift a ton. If I do this race next year I think it makes a lot more sense to do it on a road bike with clip-on aerobars. After finishing the loop I came back into t2 with a several minute lead.

I took the run out hard and headed out of downtown Plymouth towards the high school. I began to settle in after about 3/4 of a mile. Right after the first aid station the Plymouth high school drumline was all set up. They started playing some inspiring precussion as I went by, and I have to say it did motivate me! That was really cool. The run course was just as hilly as the bike, and it was really taking a toll on my legs. Also, I was apparently ahead of the van that was putting out the directional signs for the run, so it was pretty sketchy at a few places. Coming back into downtown there were no markers whatsoever. A cop yelled at me to continue down the road I was on and then take a left - those were my instructions. However, what he should've said was veer right and then take a left, so I found that out through trial and error as I ran down the wrong street. Luckily I don't think I lost more than a minute, and when you have an 8 minute lead that's not really a big deal. So I'm running in downtown Plymouth through extremely busy streets (not shut down to traffic), I'm wearing a unitard, there's tourists everywhere giving me strange looks, and I'm not sure where I'm going. I was getting very nervous, but then finally I saw some bright orange cones and my day was saved. I made it to the finish line and was just relieved it was all over. I hate having to think while racing, especially about the course, but I guess sometimes it's necessary. My legs were cramping up bad towards the end - the hills killed me.

So it wasn't 100% smooth, but nevertheless at least I got to the finish line this week :)
Post-race Ice Cream Sundae from the Friendlys! So good!