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Race Result

Racer: Kevin Kunkel
Race: Kinetic Quarter
Date: Saturday, April 22, 2006
Location: Lake Anna, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Other
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 2:29:20
Overall Place: 9 / 154
Age Group Place: 2 / 24
Comment: Pretty good considering all I've been dealing with



Race Report:



Well, itís time for the first race report of the year. This off season has been a real mixed bag. I hoped to do my first Ironman this year but I think Iím going to make this, my second year in the sport, the 70.3 yearóto borrow the WTC phrase. Some of my injuries have gotten better, and then new ones have sprung up. Suffice it to say, that I trained more over the winter (especially on the bike), but I enter the season more banged up then last. During the off-season I didnít run for 5 months while treating a persistent case of peroneal tendonitis that is only now getting better. Thus, I know I enter the season with very poor run fitness. This was well manifested in the fact that I ran Cherry Blossom this year 2 full minutes slower than last year. I thought that was good since I had taken all that time off.
As of the moment I write this I donít know whether Iím going to be able to compete is some upcoming races. My right knee is all messed up and no one seems to know what to do. I digress. Letís get back to the race report for the Kinetic Quarter. We had all kinds of RATS participating in all 3 of the races put on by the folks at Set-Up. They called it the Kinetic Race Weekend. Once again they did a fabulous job at an excellent value. All three of their races cost well under three figures.

Pre-race:

Going in, the forecast was calling for rain. I donít like rain much. Swimming is obviously not a problem, and Iíve done running races in the rain and kind of like that too, but I donít enjoy biking in the rain. In fact, Iíll skip training rides if itís raining. I hate the whole post-ride cleanup that you have to put the bike through. Not to mention that I have only ridden my new stead in ideal conditions. This race was only going to be my 5th ride ever on the bike! Not to mention that the race distance was 30 miles and I had not ridden it that far yet in one stretch on this bike! Also, Iím still playing with the fit, especially seat position for and aft and bar height. I think Iím moved the spacers 5 times as well looking for the ultimate trade off between power and aerodynamics. I think I have almost got it dialed in. Back to the weather...it was at least much better conditions going in than I faced at last yearís Kinetic Sprint (my first triathlon ever!) This time it wasnít in the 40s with 30mph winds. At the start of the race it was foggy and humid somewhere in the 60s with light winds--almost ideal. It didnít stay that way for long as youíll see during the rest of the report.

Swim (50th of 154)

Over the winter I didnít necessarily swim any more or less. I did go to a clinic put on by Shandra Wrinkle which really helped me a lot in identifying many of the problems in my technique. I know I havenít whipped them all but I have made some improvements by employing a number of drills. As someone who never really swam growing up, these were very beneficial. I noticed over the winter that I feel stronger in the water, and that my times in intervals like 100m-500m are quicker by around 5-10%. Itís not much but at least some improvement. I knew going into the off-season that as a percentage of time I had the most to gain in swimming of all three of the sports. All last year I was a solid mid-packer, somewhere in the 40-60th percentile in the water. That doesnít work well when I was solidly in the top 10% in the bike and run. This time Iíve cracked the top third. Not much, but Iíll take it.
As for the conditions, the water was 66 which let me comfortably swim in my sleeveless suit. I only mention this because this was a hot topic coming in on the list. The only problem was that we shared the course with the Ĺ competitors who started 30 minutes prior. They were doing two loops to our one. So as I started from the beach, within about 200 meters I ran into a BUNCH of slower swimmers who were doing the Ĺ. It took a lot of work to get around them. I didnít seem to find open water until about half way through. This has never been an issue for me in the past. It was usually me that got in others way, so Iíll take some confidence in that. T1 was uneventful. I managed to get out of my suit rather quickly. Iíve come to the conclusion that I really prefer transitions that are grass than those that are asphalt like at Reston. I donít worry when the suit ends up on the ground and Iím stepping on it to get out of it. I wouldnít dare do that on asphalt unless I was hoping to rip it. Not to mention that the grass is a lot kinder to my duck flat feet!

Bike (2nd of 154)

As soon as I exited it was as if God unleashed the heavens. It began to rain slowly at first and then in buckets by about half way. The rain seemed to simply be a hindrance and not a real obstacle but I donít have that much experience. I took corners a little more carefully this time then I did at Culpeper last August where I wiped out pretty bad. There was a steady stream of half competitors who I just kept plucking off. They seemed to be spread out about every 200 meters. As soon as I got past one I focused through my blurred vision (need to put RainX on my bike glasses next time) on the next. The roads were open and there were quite a few close calls. I still donít understand why a guy in his Ford F350 has to stay completely in my lane when he passes and there is no oncoming traffic in the other lane. There was a couple times where I was passing someone so I had to follow the 2 meter USAT rule which put me in the middle of the lane. This angered cars greatly. I donít quite get why they canít simply wait the 10-15 seconds for me to pass. Once again, I digress.
Like the swim the half folks do two loops of out course. When I came back up to the entrance of the park I made the turn in and the strangest thing. Instead of being in the middle of a steady stream of bikers, I was in no manís land. As far as the eye could see in front or in back, I saw no one. I thought for a minute I was off course or something. It was at about this time (25 miles in) that I realized I had never biked this far in a triathlon ever and that my lower back was starting to hurt. I guess I still need to work on the fit a bit or at least get used to the new bike. I scooted up and started riding the rivet as they say and that seemed to help on two fronts. Not only did my speed and cadence pick up, but the back strain started to subside. I wished I had done this sooner. Who knows? I may have had the fastest split.
As I approached transition, I still saw no one other than 3 guys altogether coming out of transition. I couldnít believe I was within a couple minutes of the lead. I had people yelling at me and telling me I was in 5th overall. Iíve never had that kind of experience before in any race, running or otherwise. There was no one in transition. All the racks were empty. It was a very surreal experience. Lastly, one thing the new bike has helped is that since it has a much steeper seat angle my legs felt pretty fresh as compared to what I used to use. My legs didnít feel fast, but fresh. I take confidence in this as well because as I already mentioned, it was the longest Iíve ever biked in a triathlon to date.

Run (13th of 154)

As Iíve already mentioned, my run training has take a real hit. This time last year I was averaging 40 miles a week on 5 days. Right now Iím running twice a week for total between 15-20 miles. This has really let my running down but not as bad as I thought it might. The big difference now is that I donít recover quickly after hard efforts. Here I am 3 days after the race and the muscle soreness in my lower legs is noticeable. When I used to run a lot, I wouldnít have felt anything a day later.
So I left transition with the legs feeling pretty fresh, other than the fact that my shoes were completely soaked even though I left them in a plastic bag. The hard rain that lasted about 45 minutes did them in. I could barely make out the guy in 4th in front of me. He was probably about 300m ahead. As I got a little further up ahead and knowing that Iíve gone from being the hunter to the hunted, I peered over my shoulder. There were two guys I would estimate about 600m behind. The course has two out and back segments that make up the 6.5 mile course. At the first turnaround which is about 1.5 miles in I still couldnít see those two but I think they were making time on me. It appeared they were about 2:00 back. I was making a little time on the guy ahead of me but not much. As we got to then second turnaround which is about 3.5 miles in I could tell that the two guys were pushing each other and they were about a 1:00 back. As I got to about a mile to go those two and another who had joined them blew past me. The worst part about it all is that through last yearís 9 races 3 people didnít pass me total on the run all year! Here they did it in one race! Worse yet, now that I know the run results times, those three ran were well within my capability just a year ago. As for the guy ahead of me, he got passed by the three as well and I managed to close to less than 100 meters but I just didnít have the leg speed to catch him. I sure hope these injuries get better so I can do what I do best: run!

Post-Race:

I finally got a chance to meet and/or spend some time with some high profile members of our online community; namely, Dave Glover (who unfortunately had to drop out of the Half due to some calf problems), Debi Bernardes (always smiling like Natasha Badmann), Katie Davison (fellow Worldgater and uber swimmer extraordinaire); and the winner of the Half race Chris Martin (that guy ran a pro type time. low 4s, amazing). Katie was nice enough to stick around and pick up my trophy for 2nd in the 35-39AG, even though Iím 34. Donít get me started on that USAT issue! Thanks Katie. I also finally got to meet Scott Baldwin, a fellow Team Amino Vital athlete. He had a great race as well.
It was a good start to the season, especially considering all of the stuff Iíve been going through in the off-season. Next up: Smith Mountain Lake Sprint in 2 weeks. Iíll be seeing many of you there. Sorry for the long report, but I find this exercise quite therapeutic.