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Race Result

Racer: Reid Kiser
Race: Lake Montclair Triathlon (Olympic)
Date: Sunday, June 24, 2007
Location: Montclair, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 2:27:32
Overall Place: 44 / 530
Age Group Place: 8 / 60
Comment: Let's try "racing" this time

Race Report:

It's another long race report, but it's not 70.3 long just Olympic long.

Time Recaps:
Swim - 33:23 (overall rank 136 - 30 minutes to 27 minutes was the goal)
T1 - 1:52
Bike - 1:04:37 (overall rank 26 - 22.3 mph - goal was to ride until the wheels fall off and be able to run later)
T2 - 1:01
Run - 46:28 (overall rank 78 - 7:30 min/mile - goal was <48 min)

On Saturday I picked up my friend Ross from Cleveland who came in to do the race with me. We try to do at least one race together each year. He had just picked up a nice new P3 Cervelo with some Zipp Speed Weaponry, so I knew he was looking for a fast ride. His super aero de-stickered Zipps looked very intimidating against the black and white frame. I was shooting to finish around the same time as he after he smoked me last year in Cleveland. My advantages are that I train and study the sport ;-) His advantages: college swimmer, natural athlete and a laid back California attitude which deep down really means I will succeed regardless as long as I do my best.

I pick him up at his in-laws in Fairfax and proceed down the parking lot call I-95, 90 minutes later we arrive at packet pick-up and I am wondering if I will make the first wave of swimmer so I will know where things stand if the race comes down to it. Kevin Kunkel made the first wave of swimmers, so my hopes seeing him on the bike were gone. We take the bikes down to Dolphin Beach (transition area) and set up the RATS tent and go for an easy ride on the run course and then do a lap of the bike. I keep trying to point out the hills, which for some reason I keep saying this is the last major hill only to correct myself in the next half mile. Finally at around mile 4-4.5, I say this is the "last bad hill" and I am finally correct. We cruise back to the beach and I point out the bike mounting situation and how I don't recommend shoes pre-clipped into the pedals given the grassy climb out of T1 and the limited flatness before the climb out of there to the course. I recommend he put the chain on the small ring and big cog and take it easy getting out of there. We do the bike loop and I point out the hills, especially the climb on the back of the loop (that gets old by the third time you do it – it’s not too bad of a climb, just seems to get in the way before you 180 it back around to Speedsville). Then you have a nice down hill heading back where if you just pedal slightly on the big ring and get aero, you’ll top out a little over 40mph. The cars were a little aggressive on Waterway Dr this day, so we opted for just one loop, we grab a sandwich and get back on the I-95 parking lot back to DC. We spent more time on 1-95 than we would racing the next day.

I had talked with Dave Orton earlier in the week about my approach to this race. This is my only Olympic of the year, I really signed up for it since I enjoyed this as my first last year and wanted to PR. I am not sure if I viewed this as an “A” race as much as it would be a test in what I could handle. I had the question of am I going to carry a spare tube for if I flat and that’s when Dave asked if I was doing this to finish or doing this to race. I stopped for a second to think about his question, I was here to “race”, not to win but maybe break 2:30 and get a top 5 in AG. The decision was leave the spare tube and tools at home (truth be told, I have yet to buy a spare tubular for my aero wheels). On Saturday, I talked to Ross as well about this approach and he replied casually, “I never race with a spare; if I flat it’s over”. Up to this point my mentality has always been to finish the race even if I have done the race or the distance before and worry more about finishing than pushing my limits. I now had the epiphany on what are my real goals here and why do I train. Answer: To swim more consistent and efficient; pedal smoother with more power and go faster; and run lighter and quicker than I did the time before and see how fast can your body can go.

Next mental hurdle/question was is the race going to be wetsuit legal. If it was not, I am ditching the HR monitor sine that will require wearing a race top. What’s HR going to tell me that I don’t already know? I am not going to be out here for more than 3 hours, I know I can sustain threshold for 2 hours and I know what that feels like. Wetsuit or no wetsuit, no HR watching tomorrow. Next question comes to run pacing. Do I wear the Garmin? NO, focus on your stride rate and quick steps and I’ll let you take the splits to see how things are going. Do I really need to know my pace in real-time. Go to “race” NOT to finish. You’ve done this before, you’re not racing for the podium, go learn what you can do based on feel. Save all the gizmos for training. Use your brain, heart, nerves and muscles on the course to see what you can do. All of these systems will be tested tomorrow literally and figuratively.

Saturday night was laid back, Mary Beth was off to a Bachelorette party for the weekend, so it was me and the cat and a couple of Heinekens, a ¼ white meat chicken with mashed potatoes and stuffing with gravy all over and don’t forget some cornbread, and sit in front of the TV for a few hours. The value of comfort fort and knowing how salty Boston Market’s food is. It was an early night for an early wake up the next morning. I tried to visualize as much of these thoughts and the pieces of the race as much as possible in order to put myself to sleep. I slept well, got up at 4:30 to go pick up Ross and his wife Elizabeth and we headed down I-95 at regular speed.

Got to race around 6 for a 7 a.m. start, probably should have thought about getting there earlier for a good swim warm up in the wetsuit, but 4:30 wake up is about my limit and I like to enjoy my breakfast and coffee in the morning and not rush out of the house. I set up transition, I think I have this all down now and there’s little anxiety when I walk out knowing that I have taken a minimalist approach and all is there in order. I head over to the tent meet up with Kevin, meet Stacy and a few other RATS and we chat and get ready to go over for a warm up swim. At this time, they had blocked off the water and wouldn’t let anyone swim so that we could be corralled to walk over the timing mat. Oh well, I have 3 minutes between wave 1 and 2 to warm up and reacquaint with my wetsuit. I turn to Ross as we are waiting and say “Ross, no HR monitor or Garmin today” and he replies once again very casually “I am not even wearing a watch.” I think about how it must be nice to just go out and race your race, and I am learning.

My hopes for the day were to build off of my recent 70.3 swimming “success”, defined as swim freestyle the entire distance. I was so proud of that and was really beat up by today’s swim performance. I figured if I did this in a wetsuit there was no reason not to go sub-30 on the swim (I can swim 28 min mile in a 50m pool – sure you swim in a straight line and can see everything, but I feel I can do this in open water). I had great aspirations for the day, beat 2:30 for overall time with a 30 minute swim, 65 minute bike and 48 minute run w/ 4 total minutes of transition time. This is reachable and I am ready to go swim.

The gun goes off and I swim 200-300 meter without a problem. I am off to the right side away from the crowd and cruising in the wetsuit, I look up to sight and am little bit off course, so I correct and head back to the group. At this point my nerves get the best of me and my breathing rate increases and I feel trapped in my wetsuit. I am livid and upset for no reason! Why am I letting my mind create a problem. Well I did suffer from claustrophobia as a kid and not being able to breath in water is one of my biggest fears. I am screwed at this point. I am not even a quarter mile into the swim and I want to get out of the water. Next thought is, I would have been better off sans wetsuit, “I just want rip this thing off!!!” (This should be read with a panic tone to it). I was really done and had had it. Okay let’s regroup our thoughts and be rational, you can bike and you can run you can also swim a mile to survive. GET YOU MIND STRAIGHT AND GET THROUGH THIS! Go to plan B and breast stroke and get your breathing down and re-boot your mind. I ended up doing this every 200 meters of the swim. Only problem is, I don’t practice this stroke and I know there will be leg cramps coming later. All I could think about was this is exactly how I did my first Oly on the same course as last year, what a step in the wrong direction and you’ll never hit your goal today. Please pull me out of the water NOW. I finally get to the turn around buoy, my mental condition and approach was now to get to the half-way point and realize you are half way there. Soon as I turn the sun is right into our eyes and it’s low enough to create really bad glare of the water surface. I am really DONE mentally at this point, just shoot me now. I keep regrouping and rebooting put in a few good 100 meter swims at this point and make good progress, but as I make more progress I run into more people and more buoys I have to deal with. In my last race in Hawaii, the buoys came to me swimming in a mass start of 1000 people and this was one of my greatest memories of triathlon. Today the buoys were not moving at all. I’d say to myself “Oh, that buoy is only 100 meter let’s breast stroke and take our time. The correct approach would have been to hammer out a 100 meters of freestyle and then take a break, whatever. I finally get to the final 200 meters and finally get into the rhythm and go, besides my ego isn’t going to be happy with a crowd of people watching my flail my way into transition. I get out of the water in 33 minutes, 3 minutes of goal and I am shocked at that I am not that far off track (quick transitions will make up for that). I must have really rocked when I did swim freestyle because I am pretty sure I had just as many stops as I did in the year prior. I am taking this as a positive out of what was a real negative and buzz kill for me on this day.

Off to T1 and no problems getting the wetsuit off and getting onto the bike. I was fortunate that my rack was probably in the best location of the transition minus I am on the side next to the fence and not the main path. Te rack was right in the middle of the transition area next to the bike exit/entrance. Wave 1 folks were closer to the swim and farthest from the run. For me it was halfway run from swim to bike and halfway run out from bike to run.

Dear Lord, thank you for getting me here and letting me ride my bike. Amen.

Bike was GREAT for me until the dismount. No mechanical issues, fast bike, fast wheels and wanted put it all out there. My mental thought is that it’s only a 50 minute run after you get off the bike (benefit of 70.3 distance training and racing – Oly’s seem like sprints now). I take some fluid, sugar and salts in on the ride and take advantage of every downhill taking as much speed as possible (hit 40 on the big downhill) and I take a high cadence on the climbs for recovery. After 4 laps, I signal the police officer to stop traffic to get me back to T2 and head in relaxed and regrouped completely from the events earlier. The swim does keep coming back to me in my mind on the bike and the run, but I resist and move on to the moment I am in at that point in time. Approaching the little downhill to T2, I pull my feet out of my shoes as I approach the timing mats and I put my weight on my right pedal to stretch my hamstring and WHAM!!! The right tear drop muscle of my quad seizes. A thought of panic crossed my mind, but no worries, just get those caps of electorlytes you have with your running gear into you quickly. T2 goes quick, I did have some problems with the insoles of my shoes sliding on me as I slipped on my shoes (note to self: glue or tape them down). It didn’t end up being much of an impact in that I was in and out of T2 in around a minute.

I started off the run by walking up the “Xterra” run course (first 100 meters or so of the run is off road on rocky washed out paths) and popping 3 Endurolytes (I’d end up taking another 2 after Mile 2) while I walked up to the water stop given the quad cramp that started on the dismount of the bike. Funny thing about the walking up the hill is that I was keeping up with the guy ahead of me who was running ;-)

Mile 1 was solid, focusing on my stride rate and being relaxed to avoid a leg seizure. I have done lots of bricks and T runs this year in training and I definitely noticed in the first two miles who was used to this and who wasn’t. I knew their pain. One female passed my on Mile 2 and that was the first person to pass me (I should say blow by me!), so I mentally said to myself, it probably won’t be the last and she’s 23 wearing racing flats, so I say with my inside voice - rock on track star! Another guy catches me shortly afterwards and we leap frog through a couple of transitions since I like to walk and swallow my fluids. I had the same thing last year with this race where people would separate from me on the down hills and flats only with me passing them on the uphills (ended up forming an alliance for the last 2 miles of last year’s race where we pushed each other along on our first Oly’s – good times).

The massive uphill around mile 3 is no fun and I finally caught back up with the female that had passed me, now there’s three of us jockeying around each other with me letting them go at the next aid station. At the last hill climb around Mile 4, I catch them and they’re done. I push on and just let my feet get out of the way as I cruise down the hills to the finish. I am not sure of my exact mile splits on the run, because the marking didn’t seem consistent and sans Garmin I hadn’t a clue. I had a 4 minute mile split (I know that was wrong) on Mile 3 and a 9:30 on Mile 2 (that may have been accurate, but I don’t think I was moving that slow as I was passing people). But I was able to nail presumably sub-7 on the last two miles and put in a 6:19 on Mile 5 (I have never done this type of pace except in an interval – I haven't run sub-6 since 8th grade). I was definitely moving down the hills and with a couple of guys in my AG ahead I was trying to push and catch them. They were definitely “runner built” bodies, so I conceded but pushed myself on to a strong finish trying to avoid any major cramps and I didn’t want to be that guy trying to chase down someone in the last 100 meters only to fall on my face in the process. I was pretty excited about averaging 7:30 miles on the run.

Even on a good swim, I would have taken this pace and this run. I really want to get to Kunkel speed and under 7’s, so maybe next year.

Post Race:
Ross and Elizabeth are at the finish chute cheering me on in the final steps of the day (Ross got there a few minutes ahead of me – swim being the difference, he did end up having solid a solid ride and run so I was very happy for him). It was great race overall and I continue to learn from my experiences and the people around me. We proceed over to the food pavilion and force food into our mouths knowing we need it but not hungry given what we pushed. We hung around at the RATS tent meeting new people, talking Bento Box aerodynamics (Kevin’s got the most aero bento box I’ve ever seen) and most importantly the free massages. Congrats to Dave Cascio on 2nd overall and Kevin for 3rd in AG 35-39. I wish my swim would have been a better experience and maybe snuck into the Top 5 of AG, but at the end of the day it was goal accomplished and a PR with proof to myself that I can push hard on the bike and the run without knowing my heart rate or pace.

My overall thoughts: Your body really knows it’s limits and your mind can be set to take you to where you want to go. Sometimes, you have get your mind out of the way and I will work on that for the next few months/years in the swim. I apologize for the tone indicated in my swim and don’t want it to take away from what I accomplished overall. I know it’s going to take more open water WETSUIT and group practice to get there, so I guess the answer is to race more since we seem to be limited around here on those opportunities. If anyone wants to start a support group for this topic, let me know. I’ll be the first one to sign up and I am here to share my fears (Hi, my name is Reid and the first step is…). It’s really tough for us non-swimmers and I commend all the others who go through the same challenges and make it to the finish no matter the time it takes.

To the fortunate ones, the swim is an afterthought or warm up for the other legs of the race. For most of us it is what makes us Triathletes and not duathletes. I love this sport because nothing challenges me more mentally with a positive reward physically and mentally at the end of the day regardless of all the mental and physical battles we face along our journeys.

Back to training and studying for the next event,