Thursday, July 8, 2010

A decent into Hell: The 24th Annual Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon

Alright before every one thinks that this a race report bashing Tom Wilkas and company, it's not. The race is one of the oldest in Connecticut and runs like clockwork every year, this year was no exception and we even caught the eye of NBC 30 out of Hartford who, ran a story about the event. Likewise it's an oddball among the major races it's run on a Wednesday night.

The conditions however where a different story. Over the last 4 days the mercury in the Northeast has been climbing in the upper 90's and low 100's. Yesterday was no exception. It was HOT people. I believe temperature at race time according to my car thermometer was a brisk 97F.

I took the day off from work and showed up to registration about 4:30PM got my bag and topped off the water bottles, and did about a 10 minute spin on the bike. I got back to Transition and met up with New Heatster Ken. My buddies Alex and Max from the Waterbury YMCA tri club were there, with Max itching for a little payback from the Griskus Olympic, in which Alex beat him by a little under a minute. As hot as it was the water was still wetsuit legal so I pulled on my Helix in the sweltering heat. I got some razzing from some of my training partners from the Y about not having a sleeveless. As usual I was in the first swim wave along with Alex, Max, Vin from HEAT and essentially all the old time regulars.

The swim: Welcome to the bath tub.
As Alex and I scouted the swim course there was a noticeable absence. The "Speedo Army" of high school swim champs didn't show up in their massive numbers this year. I seeded myself just wide of the buoy, to avoid the carnage that usually engulfs the inside track. When the starting gun went off, I had a couple of bumps and tugs, but overall not a lot of contact. By the third Buoy I was able to cut back inside and at the turn around I could count only a handful of swimmers in front of me. I managed to pick off one or two, and got out of the water in 5th place. I hit the Timing mat at T-1 in 12:55.

The Bike: Hammer Hammer Hammer!
I managed to get out of T-1 in about a minute flat and just began to pedal like a mad man. I decided to ride barefoot down the first hill until the 1 mile mark when I would be good and up to speed and could slip my feet in comfortably. I got passed by two guys ( ironically enough these would be the guys who would finish first and second overall. Chris Thomas and some kid John from Old Saybrook.) I was surprised at how well I was riding early in the ride. I managed to tear through the early down hills loosing very few spots. I managed to pass a guy from my age group at the toughest hill at mile 4. After this point the wheels started to fall off. After the down hill and three rollers at mile 5 I got picked off by a pack of 4 riders including the women's leaders. At mile 6 another group of 4 riders came around and then 1 guy on a Red Specialized that I would leap frog with over the last hill. He passed me going up I passed him going down and he passed me on the straight back to the park. The ride took about 32:26 just averaging a tick under 20mph.

The Run: This side hurts and that side hurts and my lungs feel like they're on fire.
I tore out of T-2 in :37 seconds ( my transitions are a far cry from the minute and change they were last year.) and took off trying to run as fast as possible. I took two cups of water at the aid station just outside of transition and tried desperately to find a rhythm. I ran the first half mile with my eyes closed. Just trying to keep myself in a happy place. It was oppressively hot. All I could flash back to were the Kona highlight shows where they talk about the heat and humidity. I got passed by a relay runner, as I went through the first mile at about 7:22. I was starting to get a stitch in my side, likewise my face and lungs felt like they were on fire, but I had to push harder. I saw the runners coming back from the turnaround and I knew I had to push it if I wanted to break 22. I went through the turn around and I saw a guy ahead of me doing the run walk. Mike Maxemenko came along side me and we paced through the next aid station. I grabbed some more water and tried to pull away on the flat hoping I would have enough in the tank to pull away on the hill. I managed to pass the guy in front of me. Mike got around me on the hill as I started to get another wicked side stitch. At the top of the hill I tried to reel in Mike but he had too much of a gap to bridge. I didn't dare look behind. I managed to come across the line in 1:08:27 pulling a 21:32 for my 5k one of my slower runs but just about average.

A few minutes later Max came across 1:11:39 ( he managed to get 3rd in his AG as 2nd and 3rd overall were in his AG.) Alex got pipped by Vin at the line as he crossed in 1:13:08. ( Max and Alex had been neck and neck on the run the last time I saw them.)

At the award ceremony I found out I had earned 2nd in the 25-29 AG and was 22nd overall. I held off 3rd in my AG by only 11 seconds. The performance marked the first time I had finished 2nd in my AG since I silvered in the 17-19AG back in 2003, hopefully this will not lead to 2 years of medal anguish as that result did.( 2006 and 2007 I finished just outside the medals.) Alex managed to pull a top 5 in the 25-29 and Max as mentioned Earlier got 3rd in the 20-24 overall it was a good night in Middlebury, now it's off to begin planning the next endeavour.