Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Bit of Redemption at Ozark Valley

As mentioned in my previous post, I really wasn't pleased with my triathlon season start at Kansas City. June 24th was my first chance at redemption at the Ozark Valley Triathlon, which takes place at Lake Wedington a few miles west of Fayetteville. 

This is a sprint tri but is a bit longer than most traditional sprints (there are no standard distances for sprints) with a 1,000 yard swim, 19 mile bike and 4 mile run. The lake is very clear and the swim course is in a nice cove, which makes a near perfect venue, IMO. The bike has a couple of pretty tough climbs a few long-ish gentle climbs. The run course is, frankly, fairly brutal. It is two loops including a long, steep climb of around 3/4 mile in length. I don't know the grade but it's really tough, the toughest run course of any tri I've done.

I had a goal time of 1:42, which was a bit of a push but totally achievable if things went right. Since Ironman Louisville is my "A" race, the plan was to train through this one, which meant no taper. As such, I was a bit sore from training but felt pretty good overall. That being said, I'm too competitive to just take it easy in a race.

As usual, I felt pretty good on race morning until I got in the water. Then the nerves kicked in. A quick warm-up swim seemed to help. I lined up to the outside to try to get away from the madness as much as possible. Of course, several others had the same idea. As the horn sounded I took off and within 20 seconds someone knocked my goggles off. First time this had happened to me but it is inevitable for any triathlete.

I got the goggles quickly back in place and started to swim again but they leaked. Stopped and dumped the water and put them on again. It's quite an effort to tread water and try to put on goggles at the same time. At least for me it is. Started swimming again and more leaks. Dang it! This sequence was repeated several times and I finally gave up about half way through the swim.

Dealing with leaky goggles for 500 yards was not my idea of a good start. I got out of the water in almost 22 minutes. I had hoped for under 20 minutes. I don't know how much time my leaky goggles cost me, but I feel I would've been close to my goal time.

I was upset but knew I couldn't let it bother me too much. The run out of the water to transition is fairly long. I was very pleased with my time in T1. From water to on the bike was under two minutes. Pretty solid for this race.

Then my next obstacle hit. My brakes were rubbing on both wheels. I couldn't even get going, so I had to stop and fix that quickly. I'm not sure how it happened. I'm guessing they got bumped in transition or maybe I was sabotaged. Ha! Anyway, a quick adjustment and I was on my way.

Yet another obstacle as I got onto Highway 16. This is an open road and I immediately got behind a car which was behind a line of other cyclists. Slow cyclists. The car had plenty of chances to pass but it just wouldn't go. I was so mad. It was not a pretty situation. I actually ended up passing the car and the other cyclists. When I reached the first hill the car finally decided to pass us and was never to be seen again.

And so began my game of catch-up. Pretty typical for me to be slow on the swim and then pass many, many riders. There was virtually no wind and a few climbs, including one nasty one, so this course was tailor made for me. My goal time was 52 minutes and I beat that by over 2 minutes with an average speed of 22.9 mph. After such a crummy start, I was stoked with this performance. 

I didn't go all-out, so I felt pretty decent coming into T2. For the first time going into T2 I decided to try to get out of my shoes and do a "flying" dismount. You can see in the picture my feet out and on top of my shoes. It wasn't quite "flying" but I was able to swing my right leg over the bike while still riding and standing with just my left foot on the pedal. This is SO much easier than trying to do a standard unclip and swing the leg over. Definitely doing this from here on out. Now I need to practice "flying" mounts. Hopefully, without "racking" myself. Ha ha!

Quick transition and no cramping to start the run. This setup good for a solid run. The run actually starts uphill for a quarter mile or so, then a brief downhill before the large climb. There was carnage all over the big hill. My goal was to not have to walk any of that hill, which is quite a task, but I was able to do run it both times, albeit slowly.

About half way through I could feel my quads trying to cramp. I slowed down enough to keep that from happening and then on the last half mile or so both hamstrings cramped. That hurt like hell but wasn't enough to make me stop. I got over the last hill and the cramps subsided, so I sprinted down the finishing shoot.

Total time. 1:42:12. With all the drama to start, I was able to hit my goal time, so I was very happy with the day.

Swim time: 21:43 (2:22/100 yard)
Bike time: 49:45 (22.9 mph)
Run time: 27:43 (6:56 min/mile)

Next up: Shark Sprint in Rogers on July 8th and Ironman Racine 70.3 on July 15th in Racine, Wisconsin. 8 weeks until Ironman Louisville 140.6.