Monday, March 21, 2011

Miami 5150 race report

The first race of the year, the Miami 5150, has come and gone. I've let a day go by, had some time to analyze it, and use it as motivation to train harder. Overall I finished 23rd in easily the most stacked non-drafting pro race I’ve done. I would be lying to say I was pleased with the overall result, considering I’ve increased my training by about 10 hours per week compared to this time last year. I am pleased with my improved run and know I need to work even harder in the water. My 10k run split was over a minute and a half faster than it ever has been in a triathlon. Knowing the run course was possibly up to 30 seconds short, I still am much faster. Coming into the race, I’ve known my run fitness has improved after putting in 25 hours a week of training including running 45-55 miles per week the past few months, compared to about half of that last season while dealing with a slight calf injury in March. Another positive thing from the day was with nutrition. I did not have muscle cramps in the race! This is one of the first races I didn’t ever have to do the shuffle or try self massage on the spot, so my nutritional work is paying off. I learned some extremely valuable lessons in the water mostly, which I’ll take into the next race.

The Miami 5150 race was the first race in the new 5150 series, a series of non-drafting Olympic distance races all over the world owned by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), better known as the owner of Ironman and Ironman 70.3. Athletes race for prize money and also for points toward qualifying for the 5150 championship race later in the season at the HyVee triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa. HyVee offers over a million dollars in prize money and takes 30 or so athletes of each gender from the top of the 5150 points list later in the summer. If you finish last at HyVee, you still walk with $3000. So, you can see why the qualifier races bring the big names. A few top names were Bevan Docherty of New Zealand (2x Olympic silver medalist), Chris Lieto (2nd at Ironman world championships), Matt Chrabot (US Nat'l champ), Cam Dye (winner of 2010 St. Anthony's tri), Olympian Matt Reed, Ben Collins, Brian Fleischman, Kyle Leto, Francesc Godoy of Spain, and a bunch of other top names including a few Russians and Brazilians. The pro field made up 10% of the entire race.

I arrived to the Ft Lauderdale home of my generous host stay Darlene at about 3am on Saturday after some travel delays, which is part of race trips, just like weather is part of race day. I was on a free flight down and avoided the airline bike fee, so I can't complain. At 10pm on Saturday night I discovered the gears on my bike weren't shifting properly, as the cables had somehow gotten altered after my test ride earlier in the day. Thanks to good friend and fellow pro Branden Rakita who was staying with me, we eventually got things working again. A late night pre-race stressor isn't much fun, but we got it taken care of. After 3 hours of sleep, which is about normal for my prior to race day unfortunately, I was up and ready to go.

On race morning I heard the rumors that the 2011 WTC banned swim speedsuits were being allowed in this race even though it was a WTC race, and regrettably I left my neoprene suit at home and replaced it with a WTC legal new suit, which is made of a mostly polyester. I was very surprised to see they were being allowed, but that’s why you need to bring them both to the races. Since the swim is my weakness I need all the speed I can get, or buy : ). Lesson learned for next time.

My biggest lesson and most costly mistake of the day came from the swim start. It was a unique in water start in the harbor of Biscayne Bay of downtown Miami, about 100 feet from the seawall. As usual, a giant yellow buoy marked the starting point. About a minute before the start, a few athletes started swimming far left of the buoy towards out towards a bridge. Soon, groups of the field were following them, ending up about 100 - 150 feet to the left of the start buoy where myself and about 4 other athletes stayed. I was looking around wondering why everyone was swimming away from and well in front of, the start buoy. I thought for sure the race starter was going to call everyone back, or wait until the athletes lined up together behind the start buoy and back in the proper starting position and in line with the first turn buoy, which was about 300 yards out straight ahead of me.

A race marshal on a kayak was yelling at everyone, telling athletes to get back behind the buoy, and come back to it. Unfortunately, the few of us at the buoy were the only ones who were listening, or who could hear the guy; meanwhile the starter was out on a boat about 100 ft in the bay with his megaphone. We waited for the group of about 25 to come back to us, which was a huge mistake. When the started announced 15 seconds til the start, I realized I was in a really bad spot, as the athletes had made there way well in front of the buoy and weren’t going anywhere but further ahead of it.

The horn sounded, I fought hard towards the first buoy about 300m into the race, and found myself third to last to it.

All that to say, these guys have been racing for years and they know what they're doing. There was a current, so they were positioning themselves to the side to adjust to it. I found myself having to swim further back around the buoy. There's no way to identify athletes in the water, so no one is at risk of a penalty, and since most the whole group is doing it, you might as well follow. If the group is starting in front of the start line, get there with them! The big lesson learned.

The swim fitness felt there, however I lost a lot of ground from the pack in the water. It was a rude awakening after 25-30,000 yards a week in the pool the past few months, feeling ready to go. The level of swimmers these guys are is absolutely incredible, and open water swimming is very different from the pool. This is the area I need to put in specific focused work over the next several months.

Onto the bike, I pushed hard averaging over 25 mph on the course, struggled a bit being comfortable riding in the strong winds in the aerobars, but was able to pass 2 athletes on the course. Waiting for more to come into sight, once again you realize the top triathletes in the world and nation do not have a noticeable weakness. They're strong - very strong, in all three sports.

I ran a lower 32 min 10k which equates to 5:14 pace per mile. I think the run course may have been about 30 seconds short, so that puts me a bit under 33:00. I was not passed on the run, passed several athletes and held off a few solid runners including friend Henry Hagenbuch from California, who consistently runs 30-31 minutes off the bike. It was he first time I've beaten him in a triathlon, in about my 5th attempt.

I have to take my improved run as the encouragement of the day, and the lessons learned into the next race. At this level in the sport, you need to put in the work for many months. I am set for a great season in 2011, will make some changes in my swim training with the help of my coach Melissa Mantak, and keep on keeping on.

It was a great day for Melissa as her other pro Athletes Matt Chrabot and Jillian Peterson both took home huge overall wins, and Brian Fleischman rounded out the top 10. Congrats to them all! Melissa and I will likely adjust my training a bit to focus on the weaknesses, but this sport is all about long term consistency. As she reminded me after the race, "do you think Matt and Jill were on the podium 5 years ago? No. You have to put in the time!" It is a true statement. I’m seeing improvements over last year, and know I will continue to see more.

Post race I was able to enjoy exploring Miami a bit, and enjoying dinner and Improv comedy show with coach Melissa, her husband Rob and fellow athletes Math Chrabot, Jillian Peterson, Cam Dye, Brian Fleischman, and Branden Rakita.

I’m blessed to have the chance to keep pursuing the sport, to work with one of the best coaches in it, and to have the support of family and sponsors. Thanks to Multisport Ministries for their support and Kompetitive Edge and TYR for supplying me with the best swim gear out there. I can’t wait to race in my TYR carbon race suit next race, as well get the chance to compete in a wetsuit legal race where I can take advantage of the TYR Hurricane Cat 5 suit! The thing is amazing, and I NEED it top be competitive with these guys in the water.

It's time to enjoy some exciting weeks ahead.... The most exciting weeks of my life, as I'll be married to an incredible woman in less than two weeks. Amy has been very supportive of my triathlon pursuits, which I am extremely grateful for. Thanks for all your support as well!

1 comment:

JoeBruin88 said...

What do you use for nutrition on the bike? PowerBar stuff?