Sunday, July 26, 2009

Heart O'Dixie Race Report 2009

2008 10/50 SWIM 13/50 14:27 T1 1:23 BIKE 09/50 1:13:50 22.3 T2 2:05 RUN 09/50 51:55 7:25 2:23:38
13/60 SWIM 10/60 13:10 T1 1:10 BIKE 06/60 1:09:09 23.9 T2 1:57 RUN 16/60 48:21 6:55 2:13:46

I rode up on Friday with Ben for the race. We got to the packet pickup early and then checked in the hotel. We prepped everything for the next day. This is a point to point race. You swim ½ mile and then ride 27.5 miles to T2. And the race then finishes 7 miles from T2. You have to bag your T2 stuff and bag stuff for after the race. My T2 run stuff is just a number belt, shoes and a hat. Pretty light stuff when it comes down to it.

I was starting 419 out of about 435 (not sure of exact number). This is a staggered start so I would be starting about 35 minutes after the start of the race. Also my T1 transition area was at the back (however, this was closer to the exit than almost anyone else).


The staggered start really makes the swim easy. The swim was a clockwise horseshoe shape – just the kind that I like. All the buoys were to my right and that made it easy for me to sight. I have said it before: when you start at the back, the only people left in the water are people that you are faster then. I started my old Timex stop watch and I ran out into the water and just started my swim cruise mode. However, within the first 200 yards the Velcro on the watch started to slip and the watch was gone – oh well – nothing to do about it. As I swam I came upon a few people back stroking and breast stroking. I know that they were just trying to get through the swim – I can empathize. I tried to give everyone a wide berth and tried not to disrupt them. Like I said, I empathize – I have been there. I just cruise along the outer perimeter of the swim and finished faster than last. The swim was 1:17 faster. My age group swim rank was 13/50 last year – a really good swim for me. This year it was 10/60 – even better. Also, I have not yet begun to push the swim. I have a lot of time to gain as soon as I am more comfortable during the swim part of the race.


I had a little bit of trouble getting my wet feet into my cycling shoes. It felt like it was taking forever. T1 was 17 seconds faster than last year.


Starting at the end of the race there are only people to pass. I think that this is actually good for my race strategy. There is always someone that is in front of you and that you can overtake. With my personality I think that this pushes me. However, once again the traffic on the course was difficult. This is two lane blacktop and when there is a slower rider the cars back up trying to pass. You have to ride aggressively. I was passing cars and cyclist in many sections. I bet that I was passed and re-passed by the same group of 10 cars about 5 times before the road widen so that the cars could get away. I found it easy to keep my heart rate up in a high zone and keep the speed up. This course is rolling hills and it actually finishes at a slightly lower elevation than the start (a hundred feet or so). These are not steep rolling hills and you can really fly down the backsides. There were miles that I averaged 28 MPH for the entire mile. I pushed the bike hard for the first and last 40%. Reviewing my race data, I’m not sure why – probably stuck behind some cars crawling up hills, my heart rate dropped in the middle of the race. I passed Keith in the last few miles of the bike. Last year I had my best bike, here – it is a fast course and finished in my age group 9/50. This year I improved that to 6/60 and bettered my time by 4:41 and averaged 23.9 MPH. As a side note – doing the math I was about 10 seconds from the website reporting 24.0 MPH – damn. 24 seems so much faster than 23.9.


I thought that my bike was a long way to run to in T1. I wish that I had a photograph to show you what a nearly 2 minute transition time looks like. I am always pretty good in the transitions – easy speed. However, I do not do a flying dismount and I run in my cycling shoes (LOOK type cleats). So I had to clip clop to the far end of a parking area before racking my bike. It took forever and seemed even longer. That being said my T2 time was 8 seconds faster than last year with a 1:57.


Last year I had to walk within the first few hundred yards and watch some of my age group rabbits pull away. This year I felt fine. I was running a comfortably hard pace. I was running a pace like a good tempo run. I could have, well should have, pushed harder. I had the overhead but I just did not push it. My cardio capacity was there but my legs were tired and a little sore. I was passing everyone (once again that is what happens when you start almost last). At about mile 2 a 16 year old kid passed me – His race number was in the 300’s – I had about 5 minutes on him. He was running a little faster than I was. He said something like – ‘Looking good’ when he passed. I latched onto him about 20 feet back. I was still running comfortable but a little faster than before. At about the 4 mile mark I caught back up to the kid. I got beside him and told him that I was not running any faster. We ran together side by side for about a mile and then I told him to ‘PICK IT UP – LETS GO!’ I surged forward and accelerated. The kid came with me and I let him get just in front of me. These were my fastest miles. The run was now becoming hard – like it should be. Once the run enters the fairgrounds you follow a white chalk line on the packed red earth. The route winds through ‘Victorian Style’ cabins. The chalk line is so old school. The race finishes on a packed clay horse track. You run about a lap and a quarter on this track. It is hard to guess when you should kick – The track is wide open and you have to make sure that when you kick you can finish it. I brought myself side by side with the kid. I told him that he did not want to be out kicked by me. He didn’t budge. A little bit farther down the track and his dad was telling him to pick it up. The kid kicked it up and finished strong. I kicked a little and finished well. Last year my run was 9/50 and it dropped to 16/60 even though I was 3:34 faster. I was looking at the race results when the kid came up to me and shook my hand. He said that he finished second in his age group and was very excited. I congratulated him. He asked me how I had done – I beat him by about 6 minutes. He said something like wow and asked my where I placed – I told him 13th and said that it was a tough age group.

I was faster in every aspect of the race: SWIM / T1 / BIKE / T2 / RUN. I finished with a total time of nearly 10 minutes faster – 9:52 faster. A lot of this time gain can be attributed to the cooler temperature and different equipment but it was a very good race for me. To win my age group last year I would have need to be 12:24 minutes faster – this year only 8:09 minutes. In addition, to podium last year I would have needed 7:09 minutes and this year only 5:53 minutes. I finished 55 in males and this year 37th even though there were about 100 more participants. This is also the first time that I finished in front of Mike L. – by about 2 minutes.

Post Race

I wore my racing flat Zoot’s for this hilly 7 miles. I think that is pushing the distance for these shoes. At one of the water stops on the run they were giving out ice chilled towels. I grabbed one and put it on the back on my neck and then on my chest. It felt great for about a minute, however, my shoes were soaked by then. I started to get a couple of hot spots on my left foot. Nothing major but my feet hurt for a little bit after the race. As soon as I showered and put socks and fresh shoes on all was better. I got a post race massage for my quads and hamstrings. It felt good. We hitched a ride back to Ben's car with the pinebeltpacer gang. I enjoyed swapping race stories with Becky, Raul and Susan.


Ulyana said...

That improvement made me drool, haha! Great job!!!!!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Just happened to stumble across your blog and noticed I'm in your blogroll! Thanks :D So inspiring to see your progress, quite telling of the obvious hard work you've put into your training! Well done!