Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-altitude:Boulder Sprint Triathlon Race Report

My Dad and I arrived in Colorado on Thursday, June 17, with the goals of scouting the area, job hunting, and getting in a huge training week with our friends at Endurance Corner (Gordo Byrn and company). To kick off our big week, we decided to hop into the Boulder Sprint Tri (formerly 5430 Sprint) for a fun, quality workout. I will spoil the suspense and tell you up front that I did well, considering the conditions. I have lived the past 23 years at 465 ft above sea level. Boulder Reservoir just happens to sit at 5430 (hence the name of the triathlon--- 5430 Sprint Tri). So, needless to say, my body did not adapt to the altitude in the two days preceding the race. Additionally, my beautiful, super sleek, aero Tri-Bike, race wheels, and Rudy Project Aero Helmet did not make the trip out West. As a result, my bike time was considerably slower than it would have been, for the same effort. However, the goal of this session was not to set the world on fire, but rather experience the joy and (more so) the pain of racing.

The swim, which has recently emerged as a strength for me, went very well. I hopped onto the feet of a breakaway group of three in my wave, and came out feeling perfectly fine. The bike felt fine, but the flat, fast course had me lusting for an Aero-Rig, fully equipped with super-fast gear. All in all, not a bad ride. The run was surely a terrible experience. That was where I felt the altitude and the growing heat of the day. I just tried to keep the pace under control so I could breathe sufficiently in the thin air. Unfortunately, this controlled pace was way slower than my usual race speed, and even this pace was barely sustainable. I made it sure I made it to the finish successfully.

The overall result was not pretty, but considering I was racing against some very fast, experience, geared-up, and altitude acclimated Colorado natives, I was happy with it. I took away second place in my age group, as well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Double-Duty Race Report: Bears and Rain

As promised, I will work through some hardcore race reporting.

May 23: Black Bear Olympic Distance Triathlon, Lehighton, Pennsylvania
Team Dolan (a.k.a The Dolan Fedeartion) descended on a remote location in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania for our season opener. I was not sure how this race was going to go, in fact I was really not too stoked. My training leading up to the event had been a bit of a wash, having been disrupted by a nagging Achilles issue (injury), senior week (party), the consequences of senior week (fatigue, illness), graduation (whirlwind), and post-graduation depression. But, the race was going to start regardless of my fitness, so I had to proceed as normal.
It's always exciting when you go for your warm-up before the race, and you feel horrible. You can not breathe, your legs feel like they have inexplicably expanded by about 30 pounds (each), and you develop a great desire to wear arm-floaties, because you have totally forgotten how to swim.
Miraculously, when that gun goes off, this feeling almost always goes away. I hammered the swim with a pack of 5 or 6 gentlemen, and emerged from the water a full minute faster than I have ever covered the distance before. Sweet, right? Yes. Wicked fast T1 and onto the bike. Now, I know that I had been told that it would be a hilly bike ride. I was not lied to. This course was essentially all hills. I was unable to get into a rhythm, but I slogged my way up, and spun my way down. I rode a 1:09 split for 40k (last year I rode consistently in the 58-59 minute range on flat or rolling courses). But my strong swim-bike performance brought me second into T2, under a minute behind the leader (pleasant surprise). I grabbed the running shoes and took off like a shot. I felt great for the first few minutes, and kept telling myself that I could win this race. However, after a few minutes of this, my legs quit on me. The wheels fell off, as they say, and I had to drastically revise my goal from going for the win to simply getting to the finish line. 5th place overall. Slow run. Positive experience and good opener? Yes.

June 6- Pittsford Triathlon, Pittsford, NY
I approached this one as a glorified, heavily-caffeinated training day. Pittsford is a somewhat silly race, but it is close, and a good opportunity to get in a hard effort. The pool swim (300 yd) is a formality, and doesn't do much for me, but the bike (15ish miles) and run (somewhere between 5k and 3.5 miles) are nice. Anyhow, I arrived at the race site and it was teeming rain and under 60 degrees, so that was sweet. The cold, rainy conditions at Black Bear had apparently followed me North, and had deteriorated even more. As I emerged from the pool, and powered past everyone on the bike, the rain drove so hard that it stung my bare arms like you wouldn't believe. I made sure to finish the damn race as fast as possible. I took the win by seven minutes and quickly changed my clothes. First win of the season.

Much bigger things on the horizon. Stay tuned.

Explanations; recaps; shenanigans

I guess it's time for my monthly blog post, eh? We have a lot to cover. First of all, let's discuss my racing thus far. I know that I professed to have a lot of race reports forthcoming, but not too many have appeared, based on my extensive tentative race schedule that I had planned for this year. Well, here we go...
My early season (March) cycling races consisted of a lot of pain, a lot of frigid temperatures, and no notable results. However, by the time March turned to April, I was starting to feel very strong. A successful debut in the Collegiate A-Division yielded a huge training benefit, and I approached the Tour of the Battenkill race (April 10) with great optimism. Unfortunately, on the first dirt descent (15 miles in), an (explitive) individual on my left drifted from the middle of the road right into me, leaving me with the not-so-enviable choice of going into the ditch on the side, or try to dodge him by going left. I tried the latter, but was unable to get my front wheel around his rear. Crashing is always interesting; it always happens in slow motion, and there's always a moment just before you hit the ground where you consciously say to yourself "oh shit." And then it's CRASH, BANG, BODIES EVERYWHERE! I came out mostly unscathed, with my bike intact, and a sore hand that managed to NOT break upon impact.

In light of this incident, I have decided to curtail the road racing for a little while. Crashing is a part of the sport; it happens to everyone. It is a risk we all take, and we are fully aware of. You cross your fingers, rub the buddha statue's belly, and make sacrifices to the spaghetti monster and hope it doesn't happen too often. But sometimes in spite of your appeals to Morgan Freeman (God), you end up lying in the road, hoping that you will be able to go straight home without stopping at the hospital first, explaining to a not-so-gentle nurse why you have a massive chunk of your hip missing.

Triathlon is my number one athletic priority. The biggest challenge for me has always been getting to the start-line healthy, and therefore I don't see road racing as a risk I can take right now. A broken collarbone in June or July will truly ruin a triathlon season if you live in the Northeast, and have a 3 month season. Bike racing is an incredible rush, crazy fun, terrifying, dangerous, and a great workout. For now, I'm on hiatus, though, and the Cat 2 upgrade will have to wait. I would have a long way to go anyway.

Thus, I am all-in for Tris this summer. Race reports for the first three races of the summer will follow soon.