Sunday, September 26, 2010

Black Bear Triathlon - Race Report

It seems like I am writing one of these things every week lately. Maybe it's because I have been racing almost every week lately. Whoops. Is that a good thing? Probably not. But neither is sitting on the sidelines wishing I had entered the race. Not much of a spectator, there'll be time for that later in life when I finally wear myself out - unless of course they have some sort of event for old worn out people that I could get into. Hhehehehe.
So today I raced the Black Bear Triathlon in Orono. Yes, Orono, Maine. I have a camp in Island Falls so the plan was to go "uptacamp" Friday afternoon with Dave and Jared and hang out, then pull the dock on Saturday. Then on Sunday (today) we stopped in Orono on the way home to race. It was my version of The Perfect Storm. Two of my favorite things in the same weekend, camp and triathlon. We took care of the dock Saturday and then chilled out for the rest of the day and talked trash about today's race. I had beaten Jared and Dave last weekend and they were both looking to make it tough on me today. I knew I'd have to earn it. I won this race last year and took some friendly ribbing over the winter for racing such a small race. I had won by 2 1/2 minutes but I worked my tail off to do it. Still I got some flak but that was OK. A win is a win right? We showed up on time but with not so much extra time that we could preview the bike course (remember that - you'll need it later) and we got registered and set up. This is such a great little race to do beacause they limit the field to like 75 people and there are very few volunteers and hardly any spectators. The bike racks are made of 2x4's and you have to count your own laps in the pool or bring your own counter. At the pre-race meeting a guy asked if it was alright if he rode without a helmet! That was a no-go, but good for a chuckle.
Jared, Dave and I were in the 3rd wave. I had a great swim, getting out 4th and about 30 seconds ahead of Dave and Jared. As I was headed out on the bike I saw them come bolting out the door. This was going to hurt, I could just tell. I figured I would let it all hang out on the bike ride and see if I could hold Jared off again. Didn't we just do this? I caught the few guys that were ahead of me and figured I was out front. I peeked bck a few times and didn't see anybody but kept hammering away. I came back into UMO after 12 miles or so and had a great transition out onto the run course. Jared later told me that me rear wheel was still spinning when he saw my bike on the rack. He was close! When headed out on the run I spied a big guy in front of me by about 50 yards. It was a guy named Dave that I had met through another friend before the race. At first I thought he must be in another age group but I quickly realized by the way he was running that this guy was in my AG and had no intention of letting me go by. I held the 50 yard gap for the first mile. I couldn't get any closer though. I was srarting to think he might out run me when I realized I was running bolt upright and not focussing on my stride. I got squared away and started to reel him in. At the 1.5 mile mark of our 3 mile run I fell in right behind him and stayed there for a minute or so just to try to get a feel for whether or not I could pass him or not. I pulled out and ran beside him for a bit. We stayed together for about a half mile. I tried to crack him a few times but every time I surged he would come with me. Then I saw a little incline coming and I waited until we got to it before pushing again. This time it worked and he started to fade. Phew....good thing too because I was pushing pretty hard and I did not want this guy around when we got back on campus. I made the final turn into UMO and took a quick peek back to see how close he was and to check for Jared. I had it - but I didn't know what others may have done so I kept pushing all the way through the finish on the track. Just before the finish I saw Dave standing there clapping for me and I was confused. Apparently he had gotten off course on the bike and got pretty frustrated with the level of direction from the volunteers. He stopped after the bike deciding his head was just not in it after getting screwed up on the ride. It IS tough to navigate this course if you're from away and are not familiar with it. I had a tough time last year as well. I wish we'd ridden the course first but we didn't think we had time. We should have made time. Dave was pretty disappointed but he'll be back, he was having a great ride too and I'm certain he would have been in the top five. So I was able to hold off Jared one more time. Something tells me my days are numbered with this act but I'll keep going at him as long as I can. We have a great time with it and keep it in perspective. I won the race for the second year in a row. This year I got tested too. This may be a small race but the people that show up mean business. It was really great to be able to win the race on the run, I had to really go and get it. Good times.
I have decided that today was my last triathlon for 2010. I will pass on the trip to Clearwater. I simply have too much going on with work and life to be able to take the time (again) to travel to Florida in November. I also have a little thing called Ironman Lake Placid on the horizon and I'll be getting geared up for that soon. Clearwater just doesn't fit in the plans this year. Maybe next year if some friends qualify and want to go....
I'm excited about having some time off to refect on the season, one that had it's ups and downs but certainly finished on a high note. I need some time to focus on business and family. I look forward to getting the group together for spin at my house real soon. BUt first, some much needed rest!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lobsterman Race Report

I always like to have a little storyline to a race. The Lobsterman story started a few weeks out when my friend Jared told me to make sure I signed up so we could square off at least once more before the end of the season. We exchanged a little trash talk and I figured it would be a pretty close contest so I threw my hat in the ring. I was pretty sure he'd get me but I also thought that if I raced a smart race I would be able to make it tough on him. You might say I was the underdog in this one. Jared essentially beat me at the Mooseman earlier this season but the results show differently. He had passed me on the bike and was putting time on me when he flatted. Tough break, and in my book not a legitimate "win" for me so I was kind of excited to lock horns with him again, particularly on a shorter course. He and Dave B had done Ironman Lake Placid this past July so my opponent here today was no slouch. In fact, when we train (bike) together he pounds me on the bike and I hang on for dear life hoping he'll tire out at some point. He never does.
I typically swim a little faster than Jared does and I might have a slight edge on the run so my race plan was to hit the swim hard, create a gap, give most of it back on the bike and then win a dog fight on the run. Good plan? Certainly a recipe for pain but I wasn't sure the math was going to work in my favor. My concern was that he was going to put too much time on me on the bike and I'd run out of real estate trying to reel him in on the run. All these things considered, I liked my chances. :).
I got to the race venue early and had Josh Freeman change my rear cassette to something better suited for this course. Then I grabbed my trainer, set it up and spun for about 30 minutes while chatting with Southern Maine's Self Proclaimed Fastest Non-Triathlete - Roger. I noticed people staring at me and wondering who the TOOL was that brought his trainer but I didn't care. I did this last year and ended up on the podium and that's where I decided I wanted to be today. Then Roger told me that Andy, the announcer, had just called my number and that my bike was racked in the wrong spot. I ran over to transition and sure enough I had put my stuff in the wrong spot. I wish I knew the guy's name that I cursed for being in my spot (whoops) so I could apologize. Must be the year of the rookie mistake or something. I got squared away and went back to wrap up my warm-up that so many were intrigued by.
It was time to get in the water. I met Dave at the start and we decided to try to work together and get to the front early. For the second week in a row I got a GREAT start and was out ahead of most of the pack. Jared started in the wave (3 minutes) ahead of us and I was hoping to come out of the water with him. I'm not sure how long Dave stayed on my feet but I had a great swim (for me) and was out of the water in just over 26 minutes. When I hit the beach to stand up my legs cramped and I had to gimp it up the hill to T1 hoping it would work itself out. I had a fairly quick transition and tore out of the transition area down the dirt drive. I heard Roger yell that I had a two minute lead, SWEET! That meant Jared was only a minute in front of me on the course. In my haste to get up to speed I neglected to get my left foot clicked in properly. When I drove my foot down on the pedal it slipped out and the rear wheel slid out from under me. I was going down in a hurry. I'm not sure what happened to change that but as I was planning my recovery from my first fall off the bike I miraculously straightened out and found myself still upright. Phew, close one. Settle down Francis. I gave my legs a few minutes to try to get stretched out and hoped the cramps would go away. They did, and by the time I climbed out of Winslow Park I had determined that I was going to be able to hit the course pretty hard. I wanted to make Jared work to beat me today and if he faltered I was going to catch him. I didn't really need to catch him, just close the gap to less than 3 minutes and I had him beat. And right now I had him beat. Still wanted to catch him though. The bike went well and I ended up going tit for tat with a 52 year old guy from Mass that started 3 minutes behind me and was smashing the bike course. We went back and forth a few times and I realized he was no joke. It helped me though, to have somebody to chase. I got off the bike in 1:05 or so, good for the 11th fastest bike split on the day at 22.9 mph average. I had another solid transition and tore out of there at about a 5:30 clip that I knew I would pay for just after the gatehouse. I did too. I had to slow up and settle down. I looked ahead as I left the park and saw three Midcoast shirts. One HAD to be him. Turns out one was Chris Callan, then Mike Kramer, and the one way up ahead was Jared. Good, I had him in sight. It also meant I had held the gap on the bike. All I had to do was keep him there and I'd win. Easier said than done. I was starting to cramp pretty bad in the quads and hamstrings. Not enough salt. I didn't have any more either. I was in trouble. I made it out of the park and to the first aid station. I guzzled two cups of Gatorade or Cytomax or whatever it was and kept trucking. At one point I was whipping my left leg out in front of me with my hip because when I pulled it through it would seize up. The drink helped and I ran the next mile pretty well, closing the gap a bit. I fell off Callan and Kramer's pace. They caught Jared and told him I was back there. I noticed the pace quickening and did my best to hold on. I was a couple of hundred yards back - maybe a minute or so. Just needed to hang on. I tried to conserve a bit for the return trip and then the last mile in the event he tried to drop me, but at this point I was just hoping not to seize up. I hit every aid station and guzzled two drinks and it was staving off the cramps somewhat. We turned into Winslow Park and I caught Kramer and tried to get him going again to catch Callan - no dice. He was hurting too. I hung on all the way to the dirt driveway where there was about 1/3 mile to go. Legs weren't feeling too bad so I stepped it up a bit and started to sense we might have an epic finish line sprint if I could just close the gap. As we made the final turn I heard the announcer Andy say "Now entering the finish area Jared Buzzell, Scarborough Maine, followed by Robert Turner, Windham Maine. Crap. Now he knew I was close! I was trying to sneak up there. I put everything I had into the last couple hundred yards but it wasn't enough to catch him at the line. He wasn't having any of it anyway. He's familiar with my work and was NOT going to let me get him at the line. I came across a few seconds after he did and that was just fine. I had won, and it felt great. I was 26th overall and had taken 3rd in my age group. We high fived and recovered and talked non-stop about the race and it occurred to me that I had beaten not only a tough competitor on this day but also classy individual. We both went hard at each other and laid it out there and I think he was as happy for me that I beat him as I was to have been able to do it. I try to be the same way. It is a treat to be able to compete with a friend and still be friends afterward. I think too many people get caught up in it and lose sight of what is really going on here. To me it's always been more about all the other stuff around the race than the race itself. Sure, I go right at it. Heck, it has even been said that I race "angry". But after the race what do you have? You have your friends, and the memories created by your efforts that day. That's the stuff I remember, those are the things I'll take away from the sport when somebody tells me I'm at the end of the line. And when they are dragging me away, kicking and screaming, you can bet I'll be trying to figure out a way to race somebody somewhere again next weekend!
Speaking of next weekend, I'm headed to Orono to defend my title from last year at the Black Bear Trithlon. It's a small race. Bringing a couple of friend's. One of 'em is Jared. So in the words of my favorite entertainer Waylon Jennings....Don't nobody go nowhere!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pumpkinman Sprint - Race Report

Yesterday I found my legs again. After a couple weeks of sensible training I tackled the Pumpkinman Sprint in South Berwick. What a great race venue and such a well run event. I went into this race a little more prepared than I did the Kennebunk race and was able to get down to the water early and get a good warm-up in. The transition area was stressfull as there was literally no room to stage your gear. Bikes were stacked pedal to pedal and I wasn't even sure I'd be able to get mine out when I was ready to ride. I watched the Elite wave go and then a minute later the M30-39 group. I set a goal to try to catch a few of the Elites but I knew I'd have to have a better swim than I've had lately to do it. Our wave (M40-49) was three minutes later. I positioned myself at the front and left of the group and told Dave Brackett to get on my feet so we could try to get out ahead of the group. I also took a slight left heading from the beach and planned to swim back into the crowd as it thinned out rather than fight it from the start. It worked perfectly and I found myself swimming comfortably at the front of the pack (couldn't believe it!). I also decided to really focus on not getting too excited and tried to keep my heart rate down for the first bit of the race. I did this by sighting and breathing more frequently and thinking about all the things I work on at the pool. I was pretty pumped to be swimming well and just tried to settle into a good pace. I made it out of the water in 8:54, a little ahead of Dave. I had a pretty good transition after the run up the big hill and was able to dig my bike out of the rack without wrecking everybody's set-up. I knew that the first mile of the bike was going to tell me a lot - whether my legs were there or not. I noticed a Midcoast shirt up ahead and recognized my friend Bob Kutzer. He'd had a great swim and super T1 and was looking like he meant business on the bike. I got my shoes strapped on while I judged his speed. After I got my heart rate down a bit and was ready to go I started to gain on him and was able to pass. I was happy to see him out there ripping it up. Bob has worked very hard over the course of the last year, losing a lot of weight and transforming himself into a pretty decent triathlete. He's a competitor and hates to lose. It's been fun to watch him improve.
I was feeling really good on the bike so I decided to hit it pretty hard given I only had a three mile run afterward. I passed a few people and then I came up on a guy from a popular Tri club in a neighboring state. He looked pretty fast (super fit and chiseled in stone like the Russian on the Rocky movie)so I took an extra second to size him up before I went by. He was in my age group and I wanted to make sure I could stay in front after the pass. I went by him on a slight uphill and as I always do I offered a quick "good work" as I went by. I do the same thing when somebody passes me. He said nothing, but I'm used to that, a lot of people don't say anything but some really appreciate the encouragement. I guess I should reserve it for people that look like they need it because after I went by him he immediately passed me back. I knew he didn't like me going by him. He couldn't stay ahead though and I realized I was going to pass him again but I slowed and got my heart rate down a bit and got ready to rock. I wanted to end this little game before it started. As we crested a hill I pulled out and rolled by him without offering up any unecessary encouragement this time around. I put a few minutes of hard effort into him and he faded. I glanced back once or twice but couldn't see him. Game over - I thought. The rest of the bike went well and I came into T2 having averaged 22.3 mph for the ride.
Most of the bikes were out so I was able to sling my bike on the rack pretty easily and head out for the run without incident. I wondered if I had put enough time on my new friend. I got rolling pretty well and was feeling great. I did not wear a GPS but the race results show me averaging 6:33's for the run. I'm not sure that was accurate but I was running as hard as I could. I was in between two of the Elite female racers rolling along when I heard footsteps. Different footsteps. Uh Oh... I didn't look back but I suspected it was HIM. I confirmed that as he went by because he got real close to me and growled in my ear...GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! I was like..."huh?" You GOT to be kidding me! I said to him "Hey - how about nice job, or good effort or something like that?" He grunted..."same thing Dude!"...I started to tell him what a TOOL I thought he was when I decided I should just shut my mouth and run. The Elite female was just ahead of me and what I had to say wasn't really appropriate so I ate it. He was running a 5:50 pace and I knew it would likely kill me to try to run him down so I just stayed with my pace and watched what I figured was first place in the age group run away from me. I finished up a strong run (19:40)and finished 17th overall. I saw "Biff" in the finisher's area and decided I would not have anything to say to him. I wanted desperatley to slide over and just let him know what a tool he was but I knew it would escalate into an ugly scene with testosterone flying all over the place. I decide not to share it with Brackett either. We've got that brother thing going and anybody that messes with me has to deal with him. Bit of a short fuse there. :) SO, other than that I had a tremendous day. Preliminary results had me 4th in the age group. I was headed out and checked the results again and saw I was FIRST. Huh? Get this, the top three M40-44 guys also went 1,2,3 in the Age Group Overall category. SO, that meant I won the AG! Funny. I'll call it a fourth though because that is what it was. A great day, great weather and lots of great friends. The Speed Lab guys did well - Pat Kelley, Dino Desanctis, Dave Brackett, Kutzer and others from the Heartwood clan. Rick Kelley threw down a monster effort too. My newest athlete "Lisa" smashed her time from last year. Thanks to Mike MacDonald for the salt - again, AND for grabbing the gear I left behind in transition.