Reston Area Triathletes RATS.net Logo

Race Result

Racer: Steve Smith
Race: Lums Pond Triathlon
Date: Sunday, August 15, 2004
Location: Bear, DE
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:14:30
Overall Place: 1
Comment: strong swim, very solid bike & 5K PR: 11:24/45:00/16:28

Race Report:

Short Version

Well now, that was fun. I won! after placing fourth last year (on some VERY tired legs). I kept very close to the top swimmers, smoked the bike course (1:40 faster than last year and my first time in the 26 mph range), and ran very well. The competition was much deeper last year, with Troy Jacobson and James Bales leading the charge. Anthony Van Lierop, last year's third place finisher, returned to take second. Brian Benda, who held me off for the overall win at Diamond this year, went over the bars of his bike on one of the turns, potentially damaging some ribs. It always sucks to see good competition on the ground. I hope he heals in time for the series finale at Cape Henlopen this October.

Pre Race

This is a nice little race, especially when the big bad hurricane leaves it alone. The pond is clean and excellent for swimming, the bike is scenic and the run is a flat out-and-back, my favorite. The course is almost entirely false flats, that is, very slight hills that you can barely "see."

For such a short, small race, the pre-race portion of this report is too long. But I had some knee issues, and I'll detail them here. Most people can start yawning now.

I was a little unsure about this race. I'd taken two weeks rest/easy bike/swims after Ironman USA, and then did two short-but-hard workouts the week before the race. My main concern, however, was my knee. A few hours after IM-USA my knees were incredibly sore. The next day they were swollen and then for a while they were fine (not surprising given my very light workout schedule). Sixteen days after Lake Placid, as I was riding home from work (out of necessity as my car was in the shop), I dropped in on the Reston Bike Club Tuesday night ride. I literally pass the start when I bike home, and I happened to be pedaling by at 6 p.m. Knowing I was not fully recovered, but unable to resist a group ride, I chose to ride with the double-B group, two levels down from my normal group. I forced myself to sit-in for most of the ride, but somehow I managed to end up on point two or three times. When I did, I took a fairly long, strong pull, just to have some fun, and I felt good. But I spent the vast majority of the ride in my aerobic zone.

The next morning I was riding easy, like HR < 100 bpm easy, out to the Dog Pound when my right knee started hurting like hell. Uh oh, I thought, this isn't good. Insert lots of ice, ibuprofen, and a week of fretting. The week before Lum's my knee had been up and down, but each up was more up and each down was less down: Monday, total rest :( Tuesday afternoon my track session felt great. Wednesday morning I rode easy and it throbbed a bit. Thursday morning I did my short-course race simulation and it felt okay. Friday afternoon I deiced I'd try and sneak in a longer run since my weekend run volume would suffer to traveling and racing. I got 20 minutes into my run, a loop on the trails, and my knee was horrible. Downhills were killing me in particular. I immediately wondered what A races I would be eliminating from my schedule. I wasn't miserable or mad, injuries are part of the game, part of the balance that I love about multisport and what is, is. As I walked through the woods I enjoyed the afternoon and thought about all the backpacking I used to do. I love backpacking, and I'm looking forward to getting back out there but right then I wanted to be racing. I got back to the W&OD and decided I would try and run. Sure enough, my knee felt better. I determined that flats (on both bike and run) were okay, but hills were bad. Since Lumís is a flat race, I chose to make a decision about Lumís on Saturday morning. If it were a hilly race, I would've pulled the plug without a thought.

Saturday morning I joined the RATS Saturday swim-bike, riding easy with the group for most of the ride, but punctuating the morning with 3 race-pace efforts. Going to the Dog Pound and back gave me nearly 35 miles of riding, and I followed that up with a quick 10 minute run. The knee felt fine, just the subtlest echo of pain where it was incredibly sore the previous night. Weird.

I suppose one could drive up the morning of this race, but hotels are pretty cheap in this neck of the woods and I prefer to relax the day before and the morning of the race. Fellow RAT Matt Taylor and I drove up Saturday afternoon. We hit some bad rain south of Baltimore, but I don't think it did anything more than drizzle in Delaware. We snuck into packet pickup at 5:00:30 and then drove the course. We noted some choppy sections of road, and the preview reminded me that this course was FALSE flat, not flat (which, imho, is way better).

By the time Matt & I headed for the hotel I felt like someone had pummeled me with the hungry stick. Luckily, we found ourselves in 24-hour-land, with a Denny's and a Dunkin Doughnuts in the parking lot of our hotel. I had the veggie omelet with hash browns and a three pancakes. I have to say, it wasn't the worst decision, but I think the greasy spoon dinner is best saved for The Double (See my & Aaron's Diamond/Colonial 2004 reports).

Having done this race last year in drizzling conditions, I remembered that transition could be muddy. In fact this is the race where I learned a valuable lesson: how to properly exit a muddy transition (a lesson that I would take to heart at Worlds later in 2003). I grabbed my duct tape and taped over my Speedplay cleats, leaving a generous "handle" on the outside of each shoe. This would prove a smart idea. With that & other preparations (including a Olympic dose of Phelpsian domination in the 400IM) we were ready to race.

Race morning looked no more wet and no more windy than any normal day. I swapped my disc wheel onto my racing bike (I'd brought both my spoked and disc rear wheels) and Matt & I headed for the race. We caught up with Bill Goodrum and generally hung out for quite a bit. I ran most of the run course and then donned my sleeveless wetsuit (water temp advertised at 74) for a generous swim warm-up. Good thing to, because the strap to my goggles busted just as I entered the water. Thankfully, I always travel with spares, so it wasn't an issue. I got a good 30 minutes in the water, swimming about 20 minutes, with about 5 minutes of race pace effort. They had to kick me out of the water as go-time approached. Waiting for my wave to go, I met Cathy Friedel in the swimming coral and wished her luck. Must've worked 'cause she would take home some hardware :)

The Swim

Lum's Pond is a nice body of water (They host the Diamond Half Ironman here). The course is counter clockwise, with beach start of sorts that requires you to run a few yards before swimming. The first turn is close, so it's still crowded at the first turn. For some stupid reason, I got in behind Benda, and followed him into the water. I actually hung with him for about 12 seconds. Getting into his draft made a big difference, but I also found that if I strayed, just a wee bit, from his draft, I was dead. I would like to say I decided to pull back, but it was more like I was happy when he pulled away. Still, I was off to a good start. Or so I thought.

When I hit the first turn, I saw three other pink caps from my wave. Holy cow, I thought, where'd these other fish come from? I figured Van Lierop would be second in our wave, but he'd be well ahead leaving me in no-man's-land. I was a little worried that maybe I wasn't swimming hard enough (I'd put in a good set at Reston Masters on Saturday). In all honesty, I wasn't quite sure what to think about these three pink caps around me. I thought for a brief moment about the bike, regained my confidence, and settled into a good pace.

I managed to sight well for most of the swim, briefly pulling left on the top section of the course. As I cornered the last buoy I could still see pink caps ahead of me. Dang. Oh well, here comes the bike. I jumped out of the water, ran up the carpeted path, and yelled out to Matt Taylor who snuck into transition just ahead of me. Much to my surprise, I saw Van Lierop leaving transition as I got to my bike. He's a good swimmer who'd beaten my by as much as four minutes over 1500m in 2002, so I was thrilled. It turns out that four of the six fastest times came from my wave: I assume Benda was the fastest, followed by two kids from the first wave, and then three guys from my wave, with Robert Kelly just beating Van Lierop out of the water by :02 and me :18 back (the fastest official swim time was 19-yo Mark Iwans' 10:47, more impressive was 34-yo Bridget Coll's 11:01, third fastest official swim, male or female, and only :01 back from the day's second fastest!

The Bike

This is a fast bike course. It's mostly very slight up and downhills, which I personally love. The slight downhills are obviously fun, but I prefer a slight uphill grade to pure flats. This is probably due to the fact that the W&OD is rarely flat itself and that is where I find myself day after day. Anyway, there's a curvy section out of the park and I counted the speed bumps. Three. Once outside of the park I spied Van Lierop, who usually has an excellent bike split in addition to his strong swim. I could tell I was gaining on him already and I was looking forward to a good day. We made the turn onto Red Lion Road, and I passed Van Lierop in the general area where Troy Jacobstrong blew by me last year (and would go on to trounce me on the bike by 2:30 over 19.5 miles!!). My speedometer wasn't working, but my cadence was, and I was rolling along at nearly 108 for most of the race.

As I approached the left turn onto Chesapeake City Rd, I saw another TriSpeed outfit. I'd seen others, including Van Lierop, as I biked along but I was looking for the lanky frame of Benda. I enjoy racing with Brian because a) he's in my age group, b) he's an unbelievable swimmer and that inspires me, and c) a+b=Steve has someone to race with, someone to chase. Unfortunately, his TriSpeed outfit was all muddy and standing on the ground :( Judging from the mud on his racing gear, I figured Brian slid out in the turn. I would later learn he went over his handle bars and possibly did some damage to his ribs. He managed to bike back to the finish, but barely. Still, he was in good spirits after the race and we finally got to talk a bit. I hope he heals quickly.

But, during the race, I just took the corner and powered through. Once I passed Brian I knew I was leading our wave, but I wasn't sure whether I had a shot at the win. Matt Cooke had registered for this race. I hadn't seen him before the race, but I hadn't looked. Matt, who finished 2nd to Peter Reid at Columbia, and not too far back, is a phenomenal athlete and I had no illusions of how I stacked up against his incredible bike/run. Pros were in the first wave with all the under 30 men. Still, I thought he was in front, and I was still going to give it my best.

The loop portion after leaving Chesapeake City Rd can get a narrow & curvy. While the roads seem to get very little traffic, it is a little dangerous, and I tried to push through the crowds as safely as possible. Given my speed and determination, I made one or two stupid decisions during the race ... I hope I didn't scare anyone with some of my wider passes on the left. Sorry folks.

As I finished the loop through the farm fields, got back on Chesapeake City, and finally returned to Red Lion Rd, I realized I'd picked up the front of the duathlon race. It dawned on me that their race numbers were much higher than ours. I'd just passed two strong cyclists as we hit the one hill that's a bit more than false flat. I'd been passing cyclists strongly all morning and rarely checked my rear, so I was surprised when one of the guys I passed a minute or so earlier overtook me. And the other guy was right behind. After getting passed, I sat up a bit to get back, as did the guy just behind me. I think I waited the legal 15 seconds before re-taking this guy, but I won't swear to it. I must have gotten complacent on that slight hill, because when I overtook the guy who passed me, I just hunkered down and threw down a good long pull. After a two minutes or so, I looked back and my two challengers were a good quarter-mile back. Thanks for the push guys :)

The rest of the bike was uneventful. I got into the park, counted the three speed bumps and then got out of my cycling shoes. I would finish the bike in 45:00:00, only 0:50 off Troy's split form 2003, and 1:40 better than I biked last year. Of course, at the time, I didn't know this. I just knew that I had to crush the run if I wanted to post a respectable time against Cooke. I did, however, take the time to wipe off the transition muck from my feet. I slipped on my flats and raced out of T2.

The Run

By now, I was pretty sure that I was ahead of most the triathletes save one, Cooke, and perhaps another M25-29 out there (I would be wrong, there was a pro from the first wave ahead of me as well). Given this is an out-and-back course, I would see all the competition as I headed out. I pushed through the fields trying to settle into a hard pace. Onto the asphalt and then the right onto the meat of the run course, I ran my mantra through my head ("relax (shoulders) & quick feet"). With every few feet I covered I was glad to not see someone running in the other direction. I got further & further without seeing anyone coming back. I saw the first guy: high number, duathlete. Then I saw another guy. His form kinda looked like Matt, and maybe the body size was right, but ... I wasn't sure. As he approached it was obvious this wasn't Matt. I was almost near the turnaround so I figured Matt wasn't on the course.

It was somewhere around here I had the sudden thought: Oh crap, what about my knee? I did a body check & realized the obvious: my knee was fine. More than fine, not even an echo of soreness. I was passing people pretty quickly and at least a couple of guys asked "Tri or Du" I would manage a "tri" and motor along. I wasn't sure of my speed, but I was passing guys strongly and my HR was pretty much pegged. I didn't feel great, not like NYC this year, but I didn't feel slow either. As I returned to the fields, I pushed whatever I had left and crossed the line happy that I had run the hardest race I had in me.

Post Race

Lum's Pond is a good place for a triathlon for many reasons, but one of them is that it's got a ton of nice places to hang out after the race and real toilets. After the race I talked to Van Lierop, tried to get the scoop on Benda, and then finally talked to Benda as well (super nice guy); after a bad mechanical on the bike at Lake Placid and a wreck at Lum's he's had some bad luck and we joked about the old wives' tail of Threes. I also met new triathlete Chris Allen (of the one-legged Riverwatch fame). Chris was learning quickly that biking can do funny things to your running legs. Good job Chris! There's a lot more to learn, but it's all fun.

Matt & I grabbed our bag lunches and relaxed after the race. Matt was mid-sentence about something as my mind wandered over the race when it suddenly dawned on me that I'd set a new 5K PR. My previous 5K PR was from the first leg of the Virginia Duathlon (16:44), as I tried in vain to hang with Greg Watson. I guess I need to run more open 5Ks. Anyway, after rudely interrupting Matt's story, we hung out for a bit to watch the triathlon awards before finally ducking out during the duathlon awards. As the fastest finisher in the Piranha series, I should be getting a check for $300 in the mail, real soon now. Not bad for an hour's work :)