Back at it: Chapter 5 - Harriman Race Report

The Lead In:
1. This triathlon was my first race in two years.
2. 100% of my swimming has been alone in the pool
3. 99.9% of my biking has been on the trainer. My tri bike has never seen the light of day.
4. 100% of my run training has been done alone.
5. I knew I had built some amount of fitness but was really unsure of how I would perform and execute against the competition.

1. Be the shark in the water.
2. Move quickly and with purpose through both transitions.
3. Race the bike.
4. Make any move permanent on the run and do not get passed.

It is a rarity to swim on an accurately measured course and this course is notorious for being inaccurate. This translates to strange and sometimes shocking pace results. Knowing this ahead of time my only concern was to come out towards the front. 

The triangle shaped swim started on the beach. I lined up to the far left of the starting arch and directly behind the first row of 3 swimmers. The horn sounded; there was a quick run, some dolphin diving and then it was time to be the shark. I wanted to catch and pass most of the first wave by the first turn buoy in order to get into some clean water. I swam extremely straight and aggressively made my way over the swimmers that crossed paths with me.

By the first turn I had made it up to and through most of the 1st wave. As I made the first turn I noticed a group of 5 swimmers about 20 yards ahead of me. This group was my next target. By the 2nd and last turn buoy they had been passed as well as numerous others. It was time to finish strong.

Up until this point I had swam very straight and was doing a limited amount of sighting. Every year this last leg of the swim challenges me. For whatever reason I can never find something to sight properly off of and this year was no different. Despite not having a clear object to sight off of and getting a bit squirrelly I continued to swim aggressively. I wasnt going to let anyone dictate the path I wanted to take.

I exited the water after what felt like a very quick swim. I immediately heard Anthony pushing and motivating me to get after it. As I exited the beach to transition Meliss and Noah began to cheer me on. It has been along time since Meliss has been to a race of mine and having my son there for the first time was a warming and relaxing feeling.  Before entering transition I had managed to pass two more athletes.

Swim: 17:49
AG: 2nd fastest

T1 went quickly and I was very relieved to have stripped my suit off with ease. Usually I have a slight hiccup getting the suit past my heel. Helmet clipped. Grabbed my bike. Let's find out how fast this bike is.

T1: :46
AG: 2nd fastest

The Bike:
I have a love/hate relationship with this bike course. I love its challenging nature, the climbing the fast technical descents however; I HATE the first 5 miles of this bike course. The expansion joints are obscenely wide and are bone jarring.  

As I set out on the bike my legs felt great and my turnover felt fluid. I started off riding fairly aggressively but kept to my goal wattage. Hitting the first few expansion joints had me laughing and wondering how more people don't flat in this section? As I began to settle in and pass other athletes the speed I was caring over the joints was making me nervous. "If I keep hitting these joints like this Im going to flat", "I fucking hate this course!" Another joint . . . psssssssss. The podium was gone. 

Shockingly enough I stayed extremely come and didn't even curse. I swapped out tubes and was back pedaling in 7 minutes (definitely not NASCAR pit crew speed). The flat was out of my control however my ensuing effort would not be. While landing on the podium was no longer a reality, making the best of the remainder of the race was (as long as I stuck to the game plan).

Once I started pedaling I became The Hunter. My mission was to pick off as many people as possible before the end of the first lap. I will admit I didn’t really look at my power meter and went more by feel. I had to race the bike in order to catch-up and make up ground.

The first lap took 55 minutes but I wasn’t passed once after the flat and made my way through a lot of traffic.

The second lap was more of the same. I raced all on feel and continued to be The Hunter. If you remove the 7 minutes from the first lap I managed to negative split the bike by about two minutes.

Bike Split: 1:39.47
AG: 11th fastest (without the flat potentially would have had 2nd fastest split)

As I hopped off the bike I was excited to start running. Of course the athlete next to me had placed his swim gear across my bike rack (thank you for that) but that took two seconds to correct. As I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my hat, race belt and watch Meliss and Noah were standing and cheering me on at the Run Out. 

T2: :39
AG: 2nd fastest

This alternative run course will forever haunt me. The last time this course was used was several years ago when I did the Half distance and it was an absolute sufferfest. So much so I ended up going to the doctor a few days after and found out I had contracted a rare tick born virus that destroys ones red blood cells (main reason for sufferfest)

With the layout of this course etched in my brain I knew exactly what I was getting into. Right out of transition I set my sights on two runners ahead of me. By the first mile I had passed them as well as one other. By the second mile I saw the men's leader on his return. Now it was time to count. As I made my way to the turn around I thought I was making up some ground until I saw two large groups of athletes on their return. "Damn, that was the group I should have been in." "Let's see how much ground I can make up." As I made the turn around I grabbed a cup of water and was able to see who was behind me. I was shocked to see a group of about 7 athletes no more than 20 seconds back and it looked like they were charging.  This would be my test; can I hold these guys off? I put my head down and went to work.  I put in a strong effort and after two miles I had not been passed.  This was an immediate motivator.  Then around mile 5 I was caught and passed by another athlete . . . in my age group.  Anthony was there and offered the right words of encouragement and I tried to keep the elastic from snapping in order to put in a final effort once atop the hill but it wasnt going to happen. I was able to drop my pace for the last half-mile or so to finish strong.

Run Split: 42:48
AG: 4th fastest

Take Aways:
1. Im very happy with my swim and I believe I can have an acceptable split at The Patriot Half.
2. With only riding on the trainer I’m very happy with my bike fitness and how I executed.  This new set up is very fast.  The potential for a great ride at The Patriot Half is there.
3. I’m getting stronger on the run.  Once again I believe I have the fitness for a great run at The Patriot Half and Im ready and willing to go to a dark place to make it happen.

Up Next:
1. Short Recovery
2. 10 days of hard work
3. Taper



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