Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rev3 Age Group Championship Race Review

Only in Knoxville do you see a working locomotive on the race course
This past weekend was the Rev3 Series Championship race in Knoxville, TN.  This was for both Pro's, as well as Age Group athletes.  Since I raced in at least 2 of the Rev3 races last year and had an overall ranking of 9th in the country, I was invited to race.  I thought it was such an honor being able to see how I stacked up against the competition and Rev3 actually gives a prize purse to the top 5 athletes in each age group.  Pretty cool.  No other race series does this.

So Friday night, I headed to Knoxville.  I had some major travel problems which I'll share in my next post, but after one cancelled flight, another delayed flight, someone getting shot on the FDR drive in NY and blocking my route to get the airport (yeah, crazy, right?), my bag not being on my flight since I arrived too late, I finally ended up in Knoxville at to my hotel around 1 am Saturday morning.  I thought this would be my night to get some sleep, but I was clearly mistaken.

Saturday morning I woke up and tried to get out early to drive the race course to see how bad the hills were.  But after getting lost, not being able to make certain turns, I finally gave up.  Luckily I had a print out of the course elevation profile (thanks, Leo) which was laminated and put on my aero bottle so I knew exactly what was going on during each part of the bike course.  I did this for the Maine race, but didn't figure to put it on my bottle.  This was such a genius move by me and something that I'll continue to do moving forward.

After all of that, I headed to the Expo to pick up my race number and swag and also pick up my bike and put my pedals on.  Since I shipped my bike using TriBike Transport, I needed to fully check my bike to make sure it got there ok.  After having the techs help out and doing some quick tune ups for me, everything was all set to go.  So I dropped off my bike and headed for the practice swim.  I give Rev3 so much credit. They do a lot for their athletes.  By setting up a practice swim for the athletes, it helps alleviate any stress from the open water swim.  I wetsuited up and jumped in the river and started swimming.  Honestly, it felt great.  The water temp was warm and pretty calm.  All of my pre-race swim nerves went away at this point.

After having dinner at the championship dinner, I headed back to my hotel and went to sleep.

This is about where the good times ended for me.

Race Morning:
I woke up, ate my pre-race oatmeal and headed over to transition.  All week the temperature said it was either going to rain or be 75 and humid.  But on race morning it was 50 degrees and pretty calm.  No complaints at all.

Once I got my transition set up, I headed over to the swim start to start my race.

View of the swim from my hotel.  It started a little past
 the 2nd bridge on the right
For the championship race, they started all men in the same wave, regardless of age.  At first, I was scared how many people there would be, but after we all jumped in the water to warm up, I was cool with it.  There didn't seem like it was as many people as I thought there would be.  Once the horn went off, so were we.

I recognize I am not the strongest of swimmers, but I also know I'm not the weakest.  However, today it felt like I was swimming against the current in both directions.  I felt like I was going so slow. I guess the truth of it is I WAS going so slow.  Everyone else seemed to be so far ahead of me.  It really hit me when the lead females from the wave behind us caught me around the .9 mile marker.

There really isn't much I can say about the swim except for that I sucked. It's something that I really need to work on in the coming months if I want to have any shot at doing better in a big race.
Swim time: 42 minutes

After realizing I had a lot of work to do , I grabbed my bike and started going for it.  Only having about 4 rides outdoors this year, I was still getting comfortable on the roads.  Either way, I tried to catch as many people as I could.  I knew this course was hilly, but DAMN.  This course kicked my heiny.  I was so not prepared for this course.

Since I have been training on the Kickr and started using power, I realized about 7 miles into the bike, I have been training wrong.  The one thing I didn't do in my training was work on hills and power that way.  I essentially was training through cadence/power and if I needed to increase my power, I often increased my cadence.  For this course, that was a WRONG move.  Bumping into Pro Triathlete and super biker Andy Starykowicz at the airport after the race, he actually agreed that high cadence cyclist didn't perform well on this course.  Coming from the guy who had the fastest bike split in Kona last year, I think he knows what he's talking about.  Not only was this the hilliest course I have ever ridden, there were no real areas for my legs to catch a breather.  The downhills were so sharp and technical that it was hard to coast down them letting my legs recover.  And once we got on the flats, my legs were so wiped to push the pace.

Around mile 24 or so, I think I realized I enjoy Olympic races a whole lot more than Half Iron, or this distance race.  Maybe it was just this course, but I felt wiped the whole bike course.  I'm used to averaging 20-22 mph depending on the race and course.  Well here I was averaging like 18 mph.  Such a hit to the ego.

The course itself was great though from a spectators view.  The roads for the most part were very well taken care of, the scenery was great to look at and the volunteers were really great.  Once saw me looking like crap and shouting something (not suitable for here), but it made me laugh and I got a little wind back in my sail.

After questioning if I can actually finish I got back to transition so happy that this hell was over.  I dismounted and grabbed my Skora's for what I thought was going to be my most enjoyable part of the race.

Bike time: 2:12.  18 mph.  NP 201 (a little high for what I wanted)

I was so happy to rack my bike that I felt a huge rush of adrenaline.  I love the run.  It's my strength.  I know I can pick off a bunch of runners so I was psyched.  What I realized when I was running both into transition, as well as out of it, was that my legs had nothing in them.  They felt like bricks.  Yes, they are supposed to be tired after biking, but this time they just felt so heavy.  They weren't this heavy after Maine, and that was a longer bike course.

But I sucked it up and headed out for the run.  Even though my legs felt like crap, my first mile was still 6:24. I was aiming for 6:20's so 4 seconds off wasn't that bad for me.  Normally after a mile or so my legs start to get some life back, but not today.  Today they just felt miserable.  It was also getting a lot hotter and the sun was definitely beaming down on me, so I started to fade a bunch.

My miles started going from 6:24 to 6:47, 6:56, 7:12 after 4 miles.  I really started to question if I could finish the race.  After 4 miles, I knew there was less than 6 miles left but those 6 miles felt like an eternity.  But after my Garmin read 6:19 on mile 5, I had this new found energy.  Maybe I just needed some reassurance that I did have some faster miles in me.  I tossed back one more gel and just started running hard since I wanted this race to be over so bad.  The things running through my mind were definitely not helping me.

With a mile left, I saw a 15 year old athlete and she was killing it.  She was in the Olympic distance race, but she was impressive.  I passed her and offered some words of encouragement and she did the same.  By this time, there was only about a half mile left and I just cruised to the finish line not caring any more.

Run: 1:04.  pace 6:37/mile

 Championship results:
My main goal coming into this race was to place in the top 5 of the final yearly rankings for the Rev3 Championship series.  I knew I needed some luck to get there, but I also figured I had a lead over some people behind me so I thought there would be a chance.  I was more concerned about where I finished in the annual rankings than this particular race, so knowing I finished this race 7th in my Age Group didn't bother me. I wanted to know where I stood in the standings.

After annoying probably everyone at Rev3 and trying to get an answer they started to announce the series standings.  I had a flight to catch and wasn't sure if I could hang around so I was badgering almost everyone I could to find out if I should stay or not.  When they finally announced my age group, my name was omitted from the rankings.  Ugh.  Tough blow.  But then I recognized a few of the names who were called out and realized they were behind me in the rankings so I went over to the scoring tent and asked to see the results.  As it turned out, the calculations were a bit off and I actually finished with a final ranking of 4th in the country for the series.  While it sucks that I wouldn't get on stage because of some confusion with the calculations, I did end up taking home some swag to go home with and some bragging rights.

4th place Overall in Age Group Championships
I learned a bunch of lessons in this race.  Some that I will post in a future entry, but I'm glad I did the race.  As much as I hated every minute of it because of how unprepared I was, it was still a race.  I'll be able to take what I learned and apply it to my training and future racing.  

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