Thursday, October 14, 2010

Giant Acorn Olympic Tri 2010 Relay Race Report

Last year was my first year at triathlon’s.  My last race of the 2009 season was the Giant Acorn Sprint.  My friends Diane and Kathleen were also there competing.  Each of us is better at 1 of the 3 legs, and together we thought  we’d be able to do a decent relay time with Diane on the Swim, Kathleen on the run and me on the bike. 

With that in mind we thought it might be a fun way to end the season with a relay.  So that’s exactly what we did.  We chose the Olympic distance because the sprint distance seemed too short.

All three of us completed our first Olympic triathlon only 3 weeks before – at The Nation’s Triathlon so we had a good idea of what to expect for each of the 3 legs.

We arrived and got setup early and managed to get a great spot in transition – right next to the aisle.

The relay was the last wave, 18 minutes after the first wave.  Since i was doing the bike, i could sit back and be a spectator for the first 30 minutes of the race.

The first swimmers came out of the water in just over 24 minutes, 4 minutes ahead of us.  Diane had a really good swim and since all of the relay teams were in the same area in transition i had a good idea of our position at T1 (7th).   

Transition for relays are pretty easy, we were allowed to stand at our bikes, with helmet already on.  All we had to do was switch over the timing chip and i was away.  It was a different feeling running the bike through transition; usually i jogged, but this time i could run.  I passed a lot of people, especially on the uphill section just before the mount line.

I’ve worked hard on the bike for the last few months, which really showed with a great bike split at the Nation’s Tri (1:08:27).  My goal for this race was to beat that time.  I knew i could push hard because i didn’t have to follow up with a 10k run.  As i started on the bike, things felt really great. 

The relay teams were in the last swim wave, so that meant a lot of traffic on the bike course, especially on the first lap.  I found myself hailing ‘on your left’ a lot.   The bike course is a good one, mostly flat with some up/down hill sections, but one that you can keep a pretty good average.  The whole course is a single lane road, so there is really not much room to overtake, especially when it there are a lot of people on an up-hill section.  The one thing that really annoyed me is when people just would not keep to the left.  I often would see people riding right next to the middle of the road when no one else was around.  A  few were more scary; swerving out of nowhere.  I try to be as polite as i can letting people know i am there and want to pass with the standard ‘on your left’ call.  When i do this, i will often say thanks or offer word of encouragement to anyone who looked to be having a hard time.

The nice thing about the course was the markers on the road at every 5 miles.  This is a simple thing to do, with some orange spray paint, something that other races could learn from.  I use a cateye bike computer with speed and cadence, but i don’t use it to track distance during the race.  i like to get an idea of both my speed and current cadence, so that is what i usually have it set to.  I was already familiar with the course, however seeing these 5mile markers was a good check-point to monitor my progress.  Shortly after the first 5 mile marker there is a right hand turn from Moody Town Rd onto Kentucky Springs Rd/SR 652.  At this point the road is very smooth, and a little downhill.  The smooth surface is nice, especially since the other roads are a little rough.

After a slight decline there are a few hills.  I was really feeling good and passing a ton of people, especially on the uphill sections.  I don’t have the best bike, no carbon or anything fancy.  I have recently started using some clip-on aero bars (Profile T2+) which i really love, i was in them for most of the race, except for the some tighter turns and when needing to brake for some sections where there were tons of bikes in front.

At one point on the first lap, a few cars (the road was open) were stuck behind some of the slower bikers – i came up to them at the crest of the largest hill.  I had 2 choices, sit back and wait for them to move on, or pass the cars (on rt 652, with double yellow lines).  As much as i want to go fast, i know the rules and want to be safe.  that means no crossing the double yellow lines and basically being safe.  I tried to get the attention of the drivers ahead to give me a little room, and managed to squeeze by.  The extra bike training has really given me an extra kick if i need for passing or hills. 

I got to the end of lap 1 in exactly 33 minutes – ahead of schedule for a 1:08, now I’m thinking i can get close to 1:06!

the second lap was much easier, way less traffic to pass, but i still passed a lot of people.  I can only remember 3 people passing me for the whole 2 laps.  All of them were on really nice bikes TT bikes.  I passed many others with the full carbon TT and some with racing wheels.  This usually gives me a boost, with my alloy road bike.

for a lot of the 2nd lap – i found myself dueling with an age grouper, he had a really nice Cervelo P2C – he’d get more aero and pass me on the flat/downhill sections, and I'd come right back going up hill.  With about 5 miles to go he passed me again.  So I decided to try and drop him.  I upped the intensity all of the way to the finish and never saw him again!  Actually at the last turn i managed to pass 1 of the 3 people that passed me on the first lap.

I finished with a bike split of 1:05:42 and managed to negative split the 2nd lap by 18 seconds.  I couldn’t be happier about that!

T2 was fast, however it took me a few seconds to get the timing chip off.  I passed it to Kathleen and she headed out for the 10k run.  We were the first relay team out of T2! 

Kathleen put in a great run.  Diane and I walked up to the turn-around, right at the fork where you go left for the 2nd lap, or right to the finish.  We shouted words of encouragement for everyone we could.  After completing a few races now, i know how good it is to have people cheering you on, especially on the run.  Kathleen came past us in around 23 minutes for the first lap, and she looked strong.  We had a pretty good idea that we were still in 1st place, but we didn't know much about the other teams; and it is hard to see the ‘R’ marked on the legs of anyone coming by.  Kathleen is a great runner and gave it her all.  We moved a little closer to the finish line, and waited for her to come past for the final push to the finish.  She finished strong; our total time was 2:23:28 – good enough to win by over 3 minutes!  My first time on the podium.

here’s the relay results for the top 3 – full race results here Giant Acorn International 2010 Race results

giant-acorn-relay-result

so where did the team name J-SHORE come from?  Diane used the names of all of our kids :-

Jacob Sam Hugh Oliver Ruby Ethan

We had to wait a while for the awards ceremony.  To the credit of the race organizers, ceremony went quickly, and we got a nice engraved stone for our first place!

IMG_1540

Takeaways:

  • the bike training continues to produce results.  the last 2 races have been great! 
    I am at least 10% better than 2 months ago
  • after the tough ride my legs felt good.  A little wobbly after a fast slightly downhill flying dismount, but i think i could have posted a decent 10k run.
  • i am starting to think about purchasing a TT bike.  I’ve had some good races on my current (road) bike and think I'll improve my times with a real TT bike.  Perhaps I will start seriously looking early in 2011.  I really like the new Felt B16/B14.

In summary – this is a great race, not only because we did so well, but a good venue with a fast course.  I would definitely consider doing it again, but i haven’t really looked at my schedule for next year yet.  My main/’A’ races will be Eagleman 70.3 in June and the Nation’s Olympic distance again September – possibly the beach to battleship (70.3) in November.

Since this is my last race, of any kind, planned for this year; I'm officially in the off season!   I still have a lot of things to work on for next year.  The main thing i want to focus on is solid technique for the swim and run, and continue to improve on the bike.

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