Friday, June 24, 2011

Pat Griskus Olympic Race Report.

"I'm not dead yet."- Monty Python

Well ok I haven't posted in nearly three months and any following me is probably like "wait he still blogs?" when they see their status updates. But I am still kinda blogging and now I'm racing this season. Last Saturday I ran the Pat Griskus Olympic Tri at Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury, CT. The race is run out of Quassy Amusement Park at the same venue they run the Rev3 triathlons out of, granted on a slight easier course.

I guess the theme for this race could be new out look, new equipment, new teammates, same old course, bike split and dominating run. I arrived at Quassy at about 6:30 and caught some crap from one of my friends Scruffy from HEAT in that this year I was racing in Waterbury YMCA tri club gear. I'd been coaching their swimmers, training at their facility, and have been put on the board of the club so I had to represent.
This year in addition to new tri clothes I was racing in Pearl Izumi Streak II racing flats and had borrowed Alexei's Aero helmet to see if it was worth the investment, so today was also a test run of the gear I hoped to use in Louisville.
Last year I came into this race after a roller coaster May and June and this year I was a little more settled but still felt kind of unprepared as my training has been nowhere near what it had been in the "Glory Days" of 2008 and 2009. I set up my transition next to Sandra from the Y tri club and a few other of the White Orange and Teal Crew, and made my way down to the swim.

I met up with Neil, my protege from the Y tri club as we waited for Fog to clear off the lake. The race directors mentioned the litany of sponsors and Had Sister Maddona Budder ( yes she was racing here this year, weird I know but I guess Rev's not the only race in the state that can pull big names.) give the invocation and plug her newest book, as well as give us her memories of Pat Griskus, a Connecticut Native and the first amputee to complete the Hawaii Ironman, and was training for his third attempt when he was hit by a truck and killed in Kona in 1987. The Sprint race run every July since 1987 was renamed 1988 in his honor. Finally after about a half an hour and after a couple of chants from the uber bikers for a TT dualathon, the race crew announced a shortened swim. The first wave of men over 35 took off in the mist following a line of kayaks to the first buoy. I went off in the second wave and all the way out to the first buoy it was carnage as people get swimming of the tops of each other and the stragglers from the first wave and tried desperately to sight in the fog. The entire swim I was never really in a clear patch of water as I blowing by guys from the previous wave. I got out of the water in about 9 minutes and hit the mat for T-1 in 11:09 .

T-1 went kind of slow as I had no body glide and struggled to get my right foot free from my wetsuit. I got on the bike pretty quickly and began pedaling like a madman. As expected I did lose a few spots on the opening run out of the park, and on the steep descent at mile 3. I was a little shocked to see Neil's Cervelo P-1 going flying by me so effortlessly. For the first time in my racing career I felt that on of my athletes might actually beat me. I started to make up ground in the hills, pushing higher cadence than power this year, and it seemed like my months of spin classes were paying off until about mile 10 and three steady climbs back to back to back. By the summit of the second climb my heart was beating faster than a jack rabbit's on cocaine, I backed off on the pace and put it into an even easier gear, trying to get my heart rate back to normal. Luckily there was a descent after the third climb so I just coasted for it feathering the brakes a bit so I could make the Sharp right hander at the bottom. Weekeepeemee Rd, had actually been repaved this year but I still took it cautious and got passed. They did the reroute up Crane Hollow Rd, and it's steep ass hill and other than nearly getting taken out by a few serpenting cyclists on this hill the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. I did pass Ken, "The CT Cookie Monster" Schultz on the last climb of the course something which never happens, but apparently it was because his body was still recovering from the Rev3 Revolution Challenge in which he race both the Rev Oly and Rev Half two weeks ago on brutally hilly courses. I finished the bike in 1:16:29 30 seconds faster than last year so I guess the Aero Helmet may have had something to do with it, or the spin classes or both.

T-2 was also a little slower than normal as I tried to squeeze my feet into my new racing flats. I took off in just trying to get back the plethora of spots I lost on the bike, which was a lot more than usual as the short swim put the uber bikers in closer proximity. I passed Ken again on the hill and just tried to turn over as fast as I could, last year I had felt flat on the first loop of the run this year I was flying as I tried to see how far back I was to Neil. By the turn around I had a gauge, less than a minute and although he was looking strong, I knew that I was about a minute faster on the 10k, it might be Ken Glah vs. Pauli Kiru at the finish line but I knew I had it in my legs to catch him. Scruffy made a comment that he was coming to catch me as I spotted him less than a minute behind on the turnaround. I knew I needed to increase the tempo so I hit the Nos on the flat, and grinding up the hill for the first time. The pain of my efforts became clear when I had to slowdown and rub out a side stich at the top of the hill. I jogged lightly for about 200 feet and then kicked up the pace again. "Must catch Neil." I thought to myself. I spotted him at the turn around about 30-45 seconds in front "He's mine." The catch was almost like Crowie's passing Chris Lieto in the 2009 Ironman I came along side stood neck and neck for a bit then was gone. As I came up from behind I noticed he was wearing a new set of Peral Izumi's "Damn Obi Wan has taught you well." I said as I went by. We laughed, and then I continued my onslaught on this run course. I had felt my bike had been too slow and I was taking it out on this 10k, because if you bike like a bitch you better run like a rockstar. I noticed by the turnaround I opened 30 sec. on Neil and Scruffy was a further 2 min. back. As I ran past I gave Scruffs a razing for his comments on the Previous loop. "What happended to catching me dude?" " How dare you negative split." or something like that he shouted back. I made my way up the hill a lot stronger on this loop than the previous with no cramps, and managed to cross the tape in 2:11:43 my 10k Split was a 41:50 only 4 seconds slower than last years.

Overall I was in 110th place part of which I chalk up to the short swim, the other to the stacked field at this race. I was 8th in my Age Group, Neil was 9th less than 2 minutes behind. Overall except for some blistering on my heels from the new flats the equipment worked out well, and I was glad to see my fitness level seemed up to snuff. My next race is in two weeks at Ironman Providence 70.3 and that will be a better test of my preparedness for Ironman, as well as my re-entrance into long haul Tri.

Happy Training