The week leading up to Monticelloman I came down with yet another cold. This was number two in a row this spring. I was not pleased as I had just gotten over the first and then caught a second. Hence I took it easy on my workouts that week. I had happened to be on a rest week with workouts too which was good because it would allow me to recover better from the cold. I took Friday off completely from workouts and then did a 45 minute ride on Saturday morning with 20 minutes or so at race pace. Later that afternoon after we arrived in Charlottesville at the race site to pickup our packets. Parked at the race site, I went for a 3 mile run at a 7 minute mile pace, on the run course to check it out. I debated going for a swim as they had the beach open for a swim practice. However, I decided not too as the water was rather cold and I did not want to be in a cold wet suit the following morning when it was 45 degrees out!
That night I got some good sleep at Alissa’s friends house and I woke up around 6:30 to get my things together have some coffee and some breakfast I had my usual oatmeal with honey and blueberries and a banana before the race. Arriving at the race site is when disaster struck. After we parked the car and unloaded our stuff I started to put my bike together. It turned out I had screwed in my cassette too tight after I had taken it off to clean it the day before. If you screw in your cassette too tight to the wheel it basically becomes stuck with the rear wheel as it rotates so you cant glide down hills or around turns. I could believe this. Basically my bike had become a fixie. I could still shift still which was good. I just could not stop peddling or I would crash. Frustrated, I took my bike to the bike tent at transition hoping that they would have a cassette wrench. Turned out they didn’t I was screwed. Really nervous now, we were also running a little behind so I began to become stressed about getting everything set up in transition and get body marked. I then proceeded to move to transition thinking about what I could do. I did not bring a cassette wrench with me and I doubt anyone else did either. Transition was a full at this point and it was hard for me to find a spot. The numbers were done in groups so there was not an individual spot for me. I managed to find one after looking for 5 minutes or so. I began to set every up and started to ask around if anyone had a cassette wrench (I know weird question, who brings one to a race?). Turns out no one did, no surprise there. Not to self: always check your wheels to see if the cassette moves on the wheel and don’t screw it in really tight or bring a cassette tool and wrench to races. Whoops! At this point I decided well I am going to have to make due with this. Live and learn. I began to smile and think about positive things. The bike was ride-able it was just going to be a very interesting bike portion of the race. After I got all set up I went to get body marked and get my timing chip. I then slipped on my wet suit and headed down to the beach for a little warm up swim. At this time the first half swimmers were coming in so we cheered them on in.
We had a beach start to the swim which was rather exciting to me. I have never had one of these in triathlon and have always wanted to do one. I positioned myself to the front line and to the right a little so I could get out front and not have to trample over people as I am a strong swimmer. The air horn sounded and we all sprinted in. The swim course had 2 buoys we had to go around on our right hand side. The first was straight ahead from the beach then we turned west down the lake to the second then a turn for home. The water was flat, not choppy which was good and there did not appear to be much current. The temperature was a little over 60 so a wet suit for me was a must. I had difficulty breathing and settling into my stroke the first 500 yards or so. I am not sure if it was the cold water or my sickness. Could have been a combination of both. I was really struggling with my breathing around the first buoy. Nearing the second buoy I began to settle in to my groove finally. There were a handful of people ahead of me. Sighting was easy around the second buoy however after we made the turn it appeared they were still moving some guide buoys for the olympic race. A few of us stopped for a minute dead in the water looking for guide buoys since the second turn buoy was rather far out. There was a guy on a jet ski moving one guide buoy. I saw other swimmers going off to the left toward it but to me it didn’t make sense. I then noticed it was being moved. I continued on my course as I was able to spot the swim out buoy. Where they ended up dropping the buoy was right in my path, excellent. Feeling good at this point I began to pick up the pace. Exiting the swim my body felt good and strong. However, I glanced at the clock and it said 24 minutes. Eeek… That was a bit slow for me. However after analyzing my swim results I realized that my swim was actually 1.09 miles according my my garmin and my sighting seemed to be a bit off after the second turn. My full technical swim race report can be found here.
T1 could have gone better, but since my body does not move as well in the cold I think it went ok. I had some difficulty getting out of my wet suit even after body gliding my legs. I quickly slipped on my bike shoes and helmet and took a swig of water and gatorade and headed out to the bike course. Not the best but I’ll take it. I was becoming more nervous at this point also about the bike.
The bike went very well given my situation with my cassette. Running the bike out of T1 I was feeling a little slow, down and nervous all at the same time. I was praying to god that I would not crash on the course. I have never ridden this course before or driven it so I didn’t quite know what to expect. The only part I was familiar with was a steep sharp, quick downhill near the beginning of the bike. The olympic course is a one loop course that circles Lake Monticello. Beautiful and scenic it features numerous rolling hills with a nice challenging one here and there. I found the bike course to be challenging but yet very fast. I went close to the my bike split I got at Lobsterman last fall which I was stoked about and not being able to really handle downhills and turns made me more happy with my bike fitness level for this early in the season. We had a bit of wind on the course around mile 15 or so which I thought was bizarre since most of the bike course is lined with trees and there were not many open fields that you crossed. It was puzzling to me where this strong crosswind came from. The air temperature was perfect for me with the biking. I had been worried that it was going to be really cold on the bike and that I may need arm warmers. That was not the case, I was perfectly comfortable the whole time. One thing I should have done is drink more of my water and Heed that i had carried with me on the bike. Usually I go through the two bottles on an olympic on the bike. I probably has half that, which came back to bight me later on the run. When the temperature is cool out I have a tendency to not take liquids on the bike. Its a habit I have been trying to break for years now. I managed to hold my place well on the bike which was surprising for me as well. I only went down one place on the bike. Usually I get crushed on the bike. The last few miles of the bike course is great, its all down hill. With only a few turns left to go I glanced at my watch and saw I was averaging about 20 mph on the hilly course. I was very pleased. I began to get a second wind so to speak in the last few miles. I took a Clif Shot around mile 15 which helped out. I had planned to take it earlier but it seemed to work just fine here. Coming into T2 I was a little disappointed I could not try out taking my shoes off before the dismount line as I had been practicing. Arriving at T2 I looked a little silly “winding down” my peddling. Needless to say I was glad the bike went that smooth. Its a little bit of a jog into transition after crossing the dismount line. You basically dismount at one end then run around the transition area to get into it with your bike. My full technical bike report can be found here.
T2 was an interesting experience on many fronts. After dismounting off my bike and slipping out of my bike shoes I had the most awful cramp in my thy’s and my upper abdomen. The cramp was so tight you could see this long bulge protruding from my chest that was solid as a rock. I could not stand up it hurt so bad. I had to stop for a moment to let it pass. This had never happened to me before. I concluded it must have been from the lack of water I had been drinking on the bike. Once it passed I was able to get my other shoe on and make my way out of transition jogging slowly being cautious of any other cramp that could emerge.
Once I was out on the run the cramping began to go away and I began to gain speed. I went out at a sub 7 minute mile pace which was great for me and given it was a hilly course I was feeling great. I managed to pace off of a gentlemen who departed T2 the same time I did for the first 2.5 miles or so. The course is a 6.23 mile lollipop loop along the lake through residential streets. The hills were rolling and challenging but I did not find it unbearable. It did seem more rolling than the profile on the map had shown. I continued to maintain a 7 minute mile pace which was great for me with the hills. Once you round the lollipop it is downhill for the most part. People in the neighborhood had come out to cheer us on which was great. I smiled and waved as I passed by. I seemed to have been doing pretty well at this point. One person came flying by me around mile 3 but besides that I managed to keep my place. My pace started to fade a little bit toward the end. There was a little climb to the finish line. My full technical run report can be found here.
I felt good after finishing the race. I definitely brought the run in as fast as I could. The race offered a nice spread of pizza, fruit and snacks for the finishers. After taking in some food I went to look at the results and noticed that I placed 5th in my age group and two of the guys that beat me placed in the overall top 3 pushing me up to 3rd place in my age group. I was psyched. This was my first award. However, the results they were reading off were very different than the awards printed for racers to see. There seemed to be many mistakes. They were even calling up women for mens awards. There was also a mess up in my age group. One of the guys got an award for both overall and age group bumping me down to 4th place. I questioned it as I thought I was eligible for an award. They apologized to me when they recognized it but didn’t do anything to correct it. Everything was screwed up. In all this was a nice low key race but a little disorganized.