Monday, August 29, 2011

Quest for the Capitol

The Quest for the Capitol tri is a race that I wanted to support as an athlete because it’s their inaugural year, the bike course is one of  my favorite courses to train on and because I needed one more good bric at race pace before heading into my taper for Ironman 70.3 Worlds. Being an inaugural race I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised with the race organization, some areas for improvement, but overall a good experience and look forward to racing in it again in the future. I just hope this race captured all the bad mojo and will allow me to have a good race for Worlds…it felt like, if it could go wrong, it did. Continue reading below if you’re looking for a good laugh for the day.

I needed to put in one more hard day at a good pace and there’s nothing better than having a hundred people to train with on a Saturday, especially some of the faster guys to help push me on the course. The only problem was that the bike and the run were not going to be long enough for what I needed to put in for the day so the plan was to bike the 16 miles from my house to the Capitol building as a warm up and then run another 5k and bike home afterwards. T2 was right in front of the steps of the Capitol building so I would drop off my run gear and then ride the 2 miles to the pond to set up T1. Based on my calculations, with the race start at 8am, I could leave my house and get to the Capitol, set up T1 and still have an extra 30 minutes to set up T2.

So I didn’t quite leave the house right when I planned and I forgot to calculate stopping at lights and intersections as I rode through town. Consequently I was a late getting to T1, then when I went to get on my bike to ride to T2 my back tire was flat. No biggie, right? Except when your extra long vale stem is too short for your rear wheel, still I'm ok, I have a vale extender. Expect this type needs a removable core. I have not flatted on the rear tire ALL season and got my wheel with tire and tube already installed directly from TREK, so I was not aware of the removable core, now I'm.  That meant I had to patch the tube road side before I got going. I'm too cheap to buy glueless patches until I use all my old glue up patches so I had to wait for it to dry...time is my temper.  So a 3 min flat turned into 15 minutes. Granted, it’s better to have it now then during the race going up a hill but the timing was not ideal. I’m pretty rehearsed at changing flats, especially after last season where I practically flatted on just about every training ride and each race so it didn’t take long, but certainly had me frazzled. I know the race director so I called ahead to let them know that I flatted and would be screaming in just before the race started. I rode up to T1 as I heard the announcer say, “3 minutes to race start, 3 minutes.” Aaarrrggghhh! 3 minutes? As soon as I rode into the transition area I was literally mobbed by volunteers trying to help me get ready. There were a couple of volunteers body marking while another put on my timing chip and another helped me put on my TYR Torque swim skin and then the “Saint” took my bike to set up what would be my transition area. Getting there late didn’t leave many options since the bike racks they had set up in the Idaho River Sports parking lot were a first-come-first-serve. I had one of the volunteers help zip my Torque swim skin as the announcer said “30 seconds to swim start, I will count you down from 10 seconds.” I grab my swim cap and my now favorite TYR Orion swim goggles and try to run through the parking lot as I put them on.  As I ran past the swim exit to the swim start I hear “10…9…8”. I sprint down the asphalt path and jumped off the dock as I hear…to be continued below.

The swim is a two-loop, mass start, deep water start since there isn’t a good beach area to run out and the swim direction goes counterclockwise. We are swimming in an old gravel pit that sits along the Boise River that is known as Quinn’s Pond but is also referred to as Clockertower Pond because of the condo complex that sits on its banks. I swim here in the spring because it is usually one of the first ponds to warm up in May to get in some outdoor swim sessions before the Boise 70.3 comes to town. I was nervous about the water quality because in the past it is usually too warm to swim in by August but last year the city drained the pond and did some major work on the banks to remove overgrowth, improve accessibility and improve the water flow from the Boise river to keep the water temp cooler longer into the season. The day is unusually cloudy for August with forecasted highs near 100deg. Normally the morning starts without a cloud in the sky and little to no wind since we typically won't get any rain in the month of August. I'm secretly praying for a cloudy day, at least until about noon to keep the temps comfortable. The temp at race start is a comfortable 67 degrees while I sprint down the asphalt path and jump off the dock as I hear “3…2…1”. I jump in and feel the warm 79 degree water and quickly realize that I believe this is the first ever non-wetsuit legal swim in the state of Idaho. The field is only about 100 athletes with the men wearing swim caps that are a beautiful shade of pink and the women in a nice navy blue. I originally wanted to find my friend Briggeta before the swim so I could try to use her for pacing. Briggeta is an awesome swimmer that swam in college and was the first female out of the water two weeks ago at Emmett with a 21 minute swim. I don’t think I can hold her pace for the full distance but I wanted to see how long I could hold on. Jumping in behind the back of the pack as the starting gun went off obviously meant that I was not going to find Brigetta but I still felt I could find a pack I would work with. As I work my way through the pack someone inadvertently hooked the timing chip with their hand and almost took it off. Luckily I was able to grab it before it came all the way off so I stopped, took it off my leg and threw it inside the front of my Torque. I didn’t want to try to put that back on while floating in the water.  The rest of the swim was at a nice comfortable pace and I found a guy that tried to pass but I just couldn’t quite make it around him so we swam together most of the 2nd lap. I forgot to look at my watch or the race clock when I got out of the water so I didn’t know how I did during the swim until the end of the race when I downloaded my data. I forgot to hit the lap button on my watch but the official time said it was a 24:14 which is about a 3 minutes faster than two weeks ago at Emmett but still a little off pace of where I need to be.

The bike course is one of my favorite training routes so I could probably ride it with my eyes closed. It’s a popular training course for both cyclists and runners so I was a little nervous how we would be able to work through the numerous packs of non-racers. This is a difficult bike course with lots of hills which will likely keep a lot of athletes away but fit right into the type of courses I love to ride. I was excited when I headed out to see that it was still cloudy, hoping it would stay cool for at least another hour or so. There was good race support on the road and most of the corners had a volunteer there to make sure you turned at the right spot. There were a couple of spots where the traffic was a little hairy but in general it wasn’t too bad. As I climbed I noticed how tight my lungs were so I took my inhailer before it got any worse. It's hard having asthma and racing because some times I don't always know what sets it off. As I rode I passed the girls that exited the swim before me and I kept thinking the lead guys must have been hammering because I couldn’t see them in the distance and I couldn’t figure out how I wasn’t making any ground on them. Not knowing how long it took me to swim, I didn’t have any idea how far ahead of me they could be. As I was going up the first climb I feel something solid hit my leg on my back-pedal and then hear it hit the ground. I turn around and see my Epi pen rolling down the road and then see that the lid on my draft box is open. I must not have got it fully closed when I changed my flat prior to the race. I can’t go on without that or I would have left it. It sucks trying to restart going uphill, in case you were wondering. As I made my way up one of the steeper climbs the motorcycle cop was riding along side of me and told me that I was in 1st place. 1st place...I guess it made sense since I passed all of the women in front of me but what I didn't understand was that he was telling me I was in 1st overall, including the men. Huh? As I came up to an intersection the volunteer had traffic stopped but apparently the driver thought she could go and pulled out while the volunteer is screaming at her to stop. I had to lock up my brakes and skidded my bike sideways, narrowly avoiding what could have been a season ending T-bone crash. I'm praying that I keep it upright and that the pre-race patch job I did on my rear wheel will hold up! As I’m restarting, one of the guys flies past me that I know beat me out of the water. Now I’m totally confused on how I got in front of the guys but I figured I should be able to hang with them for the rest of the ride. Just before I came into T2 a couple of the lead guys caught up to me. Since I still had the timing chip down the front of my race top from the swim, I don’t have an “official” bike split but my watch said 1:08:22. Apparently the two lead guys took a wrong turn and then had to backtrack to get back on course which cost them about 8 minutes. It's a much slower bike time than at Emmett and the bike course is actually 22 miles but it's much harder than any other course in the state with over 1,200ft of ascent over the 22 miles and two 9%+ climbs at mile 16 & again at mile 17. I love this course!

T2 was right in front of the Capitol building’s front staircase and was fairly empty when I pulled in right behind the guys which made it easy to get in and get out. The run is essentially flat that takes you south through town toward the river, loop around and through Julia Davis park and then back to the Capitol building. I was having a lot of problems with my asthma as I came into T2 so I grabbed my inhaler and brought along with me on the run. I don’t know if I was having problems because of stuff floating on/in the water during the swim or the poor air quality in the Valley from the forest fires. It was an Olympic distance race so I didn’t have my Fuelbelt or any pouch to put my inhaler in, other than the one on the back of my jersey but I don’t like it bouncing around while I run, so I put it in my "front pouch” along with my timing chip since it was the easiest. As I was running with the guy now in 3rd
place overall, somehow my inhaler falls out of my "pouch". Are you kidding me? Just in case there weren’t any other things that could happen during the race to cause me to slightly change my pace. I had to stop and pick it up, he took off. Now I didn’t have anyone to run with now so I had to pace myself. Since this was technically part of my training for the day, I kept it at my half IM pace and cruised back to the Capitol with a 43:09. I still had another 5k to go for training, so after a quick refuel I headed back on the course with the overall race winner, Neil Bangs, for a mile, than I ran the course reverse so I could still use the aid stations and cheer on all those that where still out there. I love to support the racers and give a proper thank-you to all those volunteers. I know that without the volunteers we wouldn't have a race.

I ended up 1st overall for the females and 4th overall for the general classification with a 2:19:17. It was a good raceday-effort for training but I could go without all the distractions next time. Other than my asthma I felt good, my legs were still firing well but my lungs were burning. Next time, be better prepared for changing a flat with my deep dish tires then make sure my draft box is completely closed before starting a race and try to be there on time.

Up next...I'm going on a little trip to Vegas with my Speed Concept to test out the 70.3 World's course and check how my nutrition does with the heat. After that, more focused training until November and then back down to Vegas on the same course for the ITU Long Course World Championships with Team USA. I hope to see everyone in Vegas because what happens in Vegas...will determine what I do next doesn't stay in Vegas.