Thursday, August 6, 2009

Willow Creek Sprint Tri, Recap...VIctory Shall Be Mine!

I decided to do this race about 5 pm the day before. Nothing much was going on and it was supposed to be a nice race, although it was a 2+ hour drive, and it was this or a simple 5k 5 minutes from home.

Arrived at the race site around 7:30 or so for the 9am start. Got signed in and tried to figure out the logistics of the race as it was a point to point race. They gave me a plastic bag to put my running stuff in and stapled my race # to the bag and said it would be waiting for me at the end of the bike along with all the other racers' bags. The bags were supposedly going to be stapled to the deck of a bar and in order by race #. Sounded like it had ample opportunity for trouble but I put my faith in the race staff and put my brand new Newtons in a bag and left them with a pile of stuff from other racers.

Headed off and did a nice little 3k+ run and felt good for my warmup, then a very short swim.

Swim 300yds, 4:38:30, 5th fastest overall, 4th fastest individual, 4th fastest male.
I lined up in the second wave of racers on a small concrete wall at the beach to start the race. There was about 20+ people in the wave ahead and about 40 in our wave, which was all the racers 25-39 I believe. Young guys (and gals) went first, and geezers and teams followed us. Since it was such a short swim I opted for no wetsuit. The Team Continuim gear by Champ Systems is awesome, but I could definitely feel some drag from the tri top when warming up. But I had made the decision to skip the wetsuit and knew it would be too hard to get it on since I was wet and didn't have time before my heat, plus it was only 300 yds! Got off to a good start and on some feet belonging to one of the many members of the Erie Tri Club that were racing. Followed him for the whole race, came out of the water 2nd in our heat and sprinted as fast as I could up the long run (very reminiscent of the run at the Damtri) up to T-1 and my bike, passing the lead swimmer from my heat in transition.

Bike 15 miles, 37:51:60 (2:31/mile pace), Fastest overall bike individual and teams.
I felt good on the bike and immediately started passing people from the first wave that started 7 minutes ahead of us. The bike is a really nice course along the reservior and for the most part was on some nice gently rolling roads. Being a point to point course however it was basically uphill almost the whole way, whith a lot of false flats that made you really work to keep a good speed. I continued to go as hard as I could and contiued to pass people, although they were getting more and more scarce towards the end of the ride. Caught another couple of guys about 2 miles from the finish and they stayed about 15-20 seconds behind me coming into T-2.

T-2 was amizingly well setup, although the dismount line came up really quick and without much warning which left me sitting on my bike instead of riding on one shoe ready to run. They actually had handlers there to take your bike and take it to the racks they had setup, and ther was a bar/restaraunt with a porch that had all the bags stapled to the outsid of the deck and plastic chairs setup every few feet in front of the bags. I let a guy take my bike and tossed him my helmet, hoping he would keep it with the bike and I quickly found my bag, ripped it open and sat down in a chair and threw on my shoes and headed off. More transitions should be setup this way!

Run 3 miles, 21:45:10 (7:01/mile pace), 3rd fastest overall, fastest individual run.
So to be fair the run was actually 3.2 miles AND included your T-2 time, so I wasn't that slow! But back to the race. I took off out of T-2 and began the run, which like the bike was point to point to a finish line 3+ miles down the road, which was also ever so slightly uphill. Two guys followed me by about 10 seconds out of T-2, but I had no idea how many people were in front of me from the first wave, but I knew I was leading the second heat. The first mile seemed to take forever, but now I know it was actually a mile plus. The mile markers for both the bike and run counted down, so at about 7:20 I hit the first sign that said "2 Miles to Go" and I knew it was supposed to be a 3 mile run so I thought there was no way I was that slow as I felt pretty good. I churned out the second mile in right around 6 minutes flat and about that time passed a driveway with a family out watching the race. A guy yelled out "go get him, he's only a couple of minutes ahead of you and you're in second", which had me wondering just what a couple minutes meant, as the waves started 7 minutes apart. With just over a mile to go the course hits a long straight stretch and I saw the lead runner and car about 3 minutes or less down the road and knew I had him beat! A quick check over the shoulder showed me that the one guy that had stayed about 10 seconds back for the 1st mile had really dorpped back quite a ways, and even though I was technically 7 minutes ahead of him I still did not want anyone to pass me on the run.

I came into the finish and did a quick watch check so I could start my timer to see if any of the racers from the last heat were going to come in within 7 minutes of me.

The first couple of minutes flew by, but then the closer it got to 7 minutes the longer the clock seemed to take. A few people came in here and there, and some I could tell were from my heat or the heat ahead of mine, but a couple looked like they could have been the later heat, so I was unsure. I caught up with the guy from the heat ahead of me that finished before me and asked his time, but he had no idea and thought he was under an hour, which would have put him ahead of me. I finally saw the lead runner, another guy from Erie, from the second heat and he was well beyond 7 minutes behind me, but I was still confused about just how far the guy from the lead heat was in front of me. I thought from seeing him he was less than 2-3 minutes ahead, but if he really broke an hour I knew he got me! Finally Curt from the Erie Tri Club, who was there watching but not racing, stopped by and confirmed that the head guy was only a minute or two in front of me so I was pretty confident I had won the race overall.

Final results: 1:04:15, 1st overall (individual and teams).

After they posted the results it was confirmed, I had won! Not a big race, but a victory nonetheless. I felt good all day and really did what I wanted to accomplish, which was hammer the bike and still be able to have a decent run.

The only bad thing was I had to bum a ride back to the swim area to get my car, then drive back to the bike finish to get my bike. Chip from the Damtri was there so he gave me a ride (the race does have a bus that will do this for you but I did not want to wait) then I stuck around for some good food and the coolest trophy ever, which was presented by the family of the young man that was killed overseas and was named in his honor. Overall not bad for a last minute decision to go race!