Well this year I've Age Grouped up. I'm no longer in the "I just came here from a kegger." Age Group. While I was hoping my first Foray into the 25-29 Age group would have been at a half Ironman, circumstances and the fates had a different plan. And so for the first time since 2007 I kicked my season off at the Pat Griskus Olympic Triathlon in Middlebury, CT. For all of you who did REV3 we race out of the Quassy Amusement Park but this course is just a tad more forgiving. If the race name sounds familiar it should. I do the Griskus Sprint every July but when the schedule of the Patriot Half in Freetown, MA changed last year I decided to shoot at the longer distance. This year with scant resources and scant training I rolled into Middlebury just hoping to get through the race in one piece, hopefully in the top half of my AG and try to gauge where I'm at at this stage in the game.
The Swim: 23:51
The swim for this race is somewhat easier than the Sprint as it is a point to point loop instead of a straight out and back. Still the dash to the first buoy might as well have been the Ironman. It was a really chaotic jostle for position, and I found myself stuck in traffic for a while. After the first buoy I broke a little wide and found some free water and began to close in on the leaders. By the third buoy I had found my rhythm It took me half the swim to reach the chase pack but I managed to get out of the water in 8th place nearly 3 minutes behind the leader in a time of 23:51.
The Bike: 1:16:59
I had a really quick time in T-1 as I had really loaded up both my calves and wetsuit with suit juice so I could yank it off fast. I had just had my cleats redone on the pedals so I was able to do the whole preclipped pedals mount maneuver which also helped save some time. The only thing that might have cost me was I forgot to take my Gu's out of my transition bag and as this was an Oly, I didn't mount my bento box to the frame. As I pedaled out I sort of realized thhis mistake and decided I was going to have to take my calories from Gatorade as I had no substantial nutrition. The first mile was kind of hesitant as I slid my feet in my shoes. I know I'm going to have to work on this for next weekend's sprint and the Griskus Sprint coming up in July. Once I got in I developed a pretty good pace. I lost some positions on one of the major down hills at mile 4 but I was surprised at how much my power climbing had helped me develop. For some of the major climbs at mile 6-10 I was leap frogging with a guy from my age group, an older guy on a guru and a kid Chris on an Orbeca. The older guy and the kid on the Krestel got away from me on the descent and Chris got around me on Weekeepeemee Rd. ( probably the ancient Indian word for many pot holes.) Weekeepeemee is dangerous as most of the road is pitted and patched but it is also a downhill so it turns into a risk vs. reward area. You can make up a lot of time going aero and hammering but just as easily find yourself going over the bars. The course marshalls sent us up a detour as one of the sections on the course was covered with pea gravel. The detour took two miles off the bike course but sent us up a brutally steep grade. I managed to get around Chris again and tried to climb the best I could. My lower back was killing me and I was really needing a Gu/ Hammer Gel/ Banana some sort of nutrition. We were rewarded with a much shallower grade up Flanders Rd. Once we were directed back to the Original course and then the descent down Rt. 61 ( where Josie had crashed last April.) I managed to stay infront of Chris on this section and pulled away as we went back up Middle road Turnpike and up the familar hills of the last 4 miles of the Sprint course. It was about this time I got passed by the women's leader. So I made it my mission to keep her in sight. I got passed by a kid from Georgetown on the final climb and managed to limit my losses. I had started the bike in 8th and maybe lost about 20 spots which for me isn't great but isn't horrible either.
The Run: 41:32
I managed to execute my dismount perfectly and got in and out of Tranasition really quickly. Josie was working as a transition marshall and was screaming for me along with Robin Griskus and some of the other race directors. I started the run really hard granted part of me felt like I was running on an empty tank. I managed to catch up with and pass the kid from Georgetown on thhe downhill at the first mile marker. He caught me by the turnaround and would run the hill together. We passed some volunteers and I made a comment about more cowbell. That seemed to give a little light hearted ness to the situation. We talked about pace and strategey and how sweet that beer was going to be at the finish. As we ran up the hill I knew my opening pace had been too hard as I got a wicked side stitch. I managed to keep Mike from G- town in my sights at the turn around at the park, but he left me in the dust as we began loop 2. The second loop I find tends to be a little better as you have more targets to try to catch. Indeed I was starting to regroup and was feeling a little bit better at the bottom of the hill. People kept screaming I was flying and crusing on this run but I wasn't feeling it. My legs felt like lead, I was bonking hard core, essentially I was just hoping to match the 42 minute run I did here back in 08. At the aid station before the uphill. I caught Marc from Staten Island. Marc and I had swapped the lead in the 20-24 AG last year at Park City. We touched base real quick and then I was past and started cranking up the hill. The entire second loop I noticed I kept gaining ground on the women's leader. If I could just get up to her and around I might salvage 42 minuutes. I also nooticed the guy directly in front of her had a "C" on his leg the symbol for the 25-29 AG. I had to pass him. As I ground up the hill the gap got closer and closer. At the top I managed to get around the guy with the "C" on his calf and set my sights on Cassie Maximenko the women's leader. The gap dwindled and as we approached the park I was on her shoulder. Part of me thought " Maybe I should back off and let her celebrate her victory as there is not another chick in the same zip code." The other part of me was thinking about the dude I just passed I didn't want to get punked at the line yet again. I kicked it into gear and got around Cassie, she kicked right back and got me by a foot on the timing mat. I looked at my watch 41:45 ( I had hit start in T2). It was my fastest 10k ever.
Total time: 2:23:57 66th overall 10th out of 27 in AG
Looking at the stats from the race which also was USAT's Northeast Regional Championship I'm pretty pleased with my performance. I did take away a few lessons that I sort of already knew:
1. Take gels with you on the bike!
2. Pace sensibly
3. In a short race it's alright not to use every one of the aid stations, you don't always need water or gatorade every mile.
4. Practice the barefoot mount as it might have cost me 30sec.-1 min. in the opening mile.
5. Ride more.
6. Lift more.
Likewise I have made some major improvements:
1. Big gear work on the bike means more climbing power.
2. Work on transitions pays dividends.
3. A properly executed dismount is not only a thing of beauty but quick and pain less.
4. Lift more.
I still have a somewhat long training season ahead and I'm hoping to do a late season Iron or Half..so hopefully I can iron out some of the bugs and get my first AG win since 2007. It's been a while but if I can pull a 10th in the midst of a meltdown, what am I capable of when everything is together.