Friday, May 28, 2010

Harryman Olympic Triathlon - Race Review

by Lindsay

Last Saturday Ton and I (and our trusty driver and superfan Rob) headed up to Harriman State Park to compete in the Genesis Adventures Harryman "Olympic" distance triathlon.  I say "Olympic" because it was actually quite a bit shorter than that, but more on that later.  Unlike the previous years, the weather is gorgeous for the race.  Mid-60s, going up to the 70s, and sunny.  The weather had been even warmer the week before so the water had warmed up a bit from its usual low 50s to close to 60!  That's very warm for Lake Welch in mid May!  Unfortunately, the notorious hills are still there.

The race had a very humane start time of 10:30 am so we left NYC at 8am, armed with Thai bagels spread with peanut butter and Nutella.  Arrived just before 9, checked in, and racked our bikes (first come, first served!).  We were both in the 2nd wave, only because we had signed up later than 1/2 of the participants.  The waves were not by age or gender, as is customary.  This is a bit annoying because people you may be competing against in your age group could start 3 minutes ahead or behind you, so it's hard to know out on the course who is really ahead.

The race was small so there weren't as many logistical things to do and we ended up killing time until 10:10, when we got our wetsuits and made our way down to the lake for a warm up swim.  I take my first Gu Roctane.  At 10:15 we hear rumors that the swim has been canceled.  Huh?  Prior to our race there was a Half Iron distance race that went off without incident and the weather is still beautiful so this comes as a (late) surprise. We go back to transition and hear rumors that not enough lifeguards showed up and had they realized this earlier the Half participants wouldn't have been allowed to go off (oops).  So we're running 1 mile instead.  Instantly worried that this will be fast and make me hot and tired before the bike even starts, not to mention make the bike course that much more crowded with everyone starting within 5 min of each other, I start warming up.  At 10:30 we are lined up at the race start for our one mile run when another announcement is made that there will now be a modified swim (800m out and back), and the race will start at 11.

WTF!  I had finally gotten my mind wrapped around running a duathlon, now I have to switch gears again. And I wasted a Gu  :)  At the suggestion of a participant, they decided to make the swim and out and back (rather than triangle) so they didn't need as many lifeguards to watch everyone.  Go back to transition, get the wetsuit, and start over.  This time they mean it, and at 11:03am I am in the water.  I get off to a terrible start and end up 3 back from the starting line.  I'm not the world's greatest swimmer, but by triathlon standards I do alright and this is not the positioning I want to be in.  I struggle to find good feet and draft and feel like I am in a fishbowl the entire 800m, it just never clears up.  Frustrated, I get out of the water only about 20 seconds ahead of Ton.

Ah, Bodyglide.  How I missed thee.  I ran out and forgot to get more before the race.  Big mistake.  I could not get my wetsuit off for the life of me.  I had to sit on the ground and struggle with the legs, Rob gleefully taking sequential pictures.  Not funny.  Ton beats me out of transition by about 10 seconds.  Losing 30 seconds to someone in transition is just unacceptable!  But I move on.

I hope on the bike and quickly catch Ton and Cameron, a friend from the Columbia tri team.  We take the long, fast descent in a line, not really able to advance or fall back.  I take another Roctane.  We hit the u-turn at the bottom, which I was prepared for but the girl I was passing was not.  She slams on the breaks and goes hard left, forcing me off the road.  Great, I'm clipped out, at the bottom of a steep hill, with racers going by so I can't get in.  Finally find a break, get on the bike, and get into the proper gearing for the mile plus climb.  Climbing is my relative strength so I am annoyed to have gotten such a lousy start.  Ton and Cameron are long gone at this point.

This is the worst part of the bike course because racers are still coming down the other side of the road that we are going up.  At the same time, cars in both directions are trying to get by, leading to general chaos.  I just push through, and attempt to get up this thing as fast as possible, saving my legs be damned.  I pass as many people as I can, and catch Ton and Cameron.  This is where I wanted to make up most of the time, and I think it worked.  Just push through, I can recover on the flats.  All the while I am sipping Accelerade out of the one bottle I brought for the course (wanted to minimize weight and risk of overdrinking).  I often get a sloshy stomach on the run so I wanted to drink as much of my water bottle in the first half of the bike leg, to let it digest a bit.  The rest of the bike I took hard- an Olympic should be pretty close to all out effort.  Don't save yourself for the run, just hang on!  I leapfrogged with a lot of participants, including Cameron who I eventually lost in the last few miles.  I saw Mike on his New York Cycle Club SIG Graduation ride, which was fun.  The course was rolling, but shady and a bit confusing even though on the map it looked like a straight out and back.  I came back into transition at 1:04, for about a 19-20mph pace.  My goal is always to have the fastest female bike split- which I didn't but was close.

At this point I can't tell exactly where I am in the race, but there weren't many bikes in transition so I know I wasn't too far back (plus I started in the later waves).  I grab my final Roctane and some Endurolytes (just in case as the sun was high over head) as I head out on the run and after about a half mile or so I feel good.  No sloshy stomach- this is probably the best I have managed my nutrition!  The run is not flat and the varying mile times prove that.  I pass one woman but otherwise just see a few guys.  I do like the modified course, it's mostly on back roads, shady, and scenic.  I feel good but decide not to push it until I'm at least at the half way point.  It was an out and back so I can see the leaders and everyone ahead of me.  I could one woman, then another not too far back.  That's it!  I'm in 3rd.  I passed #4 and she was slowing so I felt safe in my positioning and honestly eased up a bit, what was the point of blowing myself up?  Not the best racing strategy, but given that I was secured a podium spot it didn't really matter.

Finished the run now int he heat of the day, for a final time of 2:13.  Good enough for first in my age group and 3rd overall.  Some controversy over the 2nd place female as she appeared to have messed up the bike course and ended up doing the big hill again (and still managed to come in 2nd?  hmm....) but no one can prove anything so it's done.  I'm happy with my performance on an early season, tough course!  Lots of kinks to be worked out, but the race course was good- I'd just prefer they reverse the bike course so we aren't all bunched on the downhill then uphill.  And I thought my minimal nutrition worked great, so happy to not have any issues there.

Best part- a woman yelling out "I want your abs!" while I was finishing.  Ha!

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