Reston Area Triathletes RATS.net Logo

Race Result

Racer: Richard Gendron
Race: ChesapeakeMan
Date: Saturday, September 26, 2009
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 40 - 44
Time: 9:07:41
Overall Place: 1 / 250
Age Group Place: 1 / 9
Comment: WWVC Relay Team Win - Epic Bike Leg

Race Report:

Swim Leg - Rich Gendron
Bike Leg - Tom Draffen
Run Leg - Perry Rapp

Swim Leg (1:08:10, About 12/42 swim-only competitors, 30th overall (estimating)

I used this race to distract myself this summer. I had knee surgery in July to fix some damaged cartilage (Microfracture to the weight-bear surface of the articulate cartilage). I was on crutches for 6 weeks and needed 6 weeks after that before restarting bike training. Running is still a long way off, probably January. If I was going to be out of cycling and running for that long, it was an opportunity to improve my swim. Luckily my bike team was there to help. Melissa Tallent agreed to coach me. Tom Draffen agreed to do the bike leg. TriRats chipped in by getting me in touch with Perry Rapp, a good marathoner and honorary WWVC Member for the day.

Early in my crutches period, I set a goal of 1:10, but started to get a bit cocky once I started turning in 1:30/100m in the pool during the Taper period. I started thinking about something closer to 1 hour. But this distance is good at reminding you that the difference between "I could" and "I did" is a "performance".

I hit my goal. I had a pretty bad first loop of the course, but then recovered and started to open up during the last mile. I was very happy with navigation skills. Swimming into the sun, I abandoned sighting and opted for dead reckoning. Worked wonders. When I saw the buoys, they were not more than 5 yards off my right shoulder. During the first lap, I had to fight a virtual peloton wanting to swim off course into the middle of the triangle, but found my way out of that.

Somehow, I forgot that an IM swim leg, taken by itself, is about the same effort/time as a 40k Time Trial - Maybe a bit longer, but similar in the effort profile. Intellectually, I knew it, but just hadn't ever paid the price of poor execution. Like a Time Trial, your time is the accumulation of your mistakes, I made three big ones.

Mistake #1 - A 4k (roughly) swim should be at threshold, or slightly below, for the entire time. With a 40k TT or an hour crit, I'd normally spend 20-30 minutes on a trainer getting nice and warm - priming the Lactic Acid system. Because of bad planning and a high competitor-to-port-o-john ratio, I left myself with only about 15 minutes for a warm up. Got in the water, did about 8 minutes when they called us all out of the water to "walk across the timing mat". WTF, don't they start the clock when they say "go" ? Anyway, 15 minutes got cut to 8 and I was chilly at the start. I'm not sure I hit a good zone until the second lap.

Mistake #2 - It really is a mistake to not pre-swim/ride/run a course of any kind. It will cost you time no matter what, Most of the time we get away with it cause the courses are generally pretty easy and don't take much of a toll. This one was not easy. Shaped like a tall skinny triangle, the start was at the top of the skinny part. The first leg was fast going down current and being protected from choppy water off the bay. Second leg had a cross current with some 1" chop - right to left - I felt sorry for the right-side only breathers. The last leg was brutal - into the rising sun, head-current and 1-2" chop. A perfect swim of this course would have been to increase turnover and book it down the fast leg, stretch out into the cross current and really work the power and stay long into the current and chop. I did that the second lap, losing at least a few minutes on the first lap.

Mistake #3 - not getting comfortable with my full wetsuit top. I elected a speed vest and paid the price in the choppy water. The extra buoyancy in the arms would have worked wonder in the swells

All in all I am pretty happy with the swim. I won't ever do a full IM again because of the knees, but I'm ready to be part of any relay team out there.

Bike Leg (4:33:08, First, Course Record)

This sort of distance was going to be new on the TT bike. It's not really something I felt comfortable pacing solely off power. Fortunately, I'm really comfortable on a bike out at that time so I just knew what I could hold power wise, and planned to pace more based on speed. As it came out, I blew that pacing plan too - just like I have in every TT I've done this year. This time it worked in my favor though.

The team swimmer got out of the water and put me on the bike in about 15th, I'd guess. There were a handful more swimmers out of the water first, but they were doing the swim only. So off I rolled. I settled in quick and got out on a short 15ish mile spur that you have to complete before heading out onto the two laps of the course. I was flying by folks pretty fast, comfortable over the 40kph mark for a while. I counted 10 riders in front of me at the turn around there and started counting as I went.

From that point, it was nothing exciting. Spin, spin, spin, pass someone. Before got to the 65 mile mark I was down to one rider out in front by ~2 minutes. I passed him about 10 miles later and pretty quickly pulled away from him.

The power file shows me really starting to suffer as I rolled into about the 3 hr 45 min mark. Cadence started to get choppy with a lot more stops/starts in pedaling. By that point things like bumps in the road were starting to kick into my shoulders. A good stretch of ~10 miles of straight on head wind followed by another 3-4 miles of absolutely horrendous road conditions were no fun.

Those cruddy road conditions were followed up with some stretches of really great roads - except the tide had rolled in over the road in 3 low spots, so had to slow down to a crawl to get through that. As a road cyclist, I'm also a little more used to good clean water bottle hand offs, but bless the volunteers that were out there on the road - you couldn't take any chances and roll fast through the feed zones like in a road race or you were not going to get a bottle. It was much better off slowing to a crawl and making sure you got a bottle and a banana, otherwise you were going to suffer soon.

On the good notes - there was really pretty good organization. Things moved along well, there was tons of schwag to go around and the roads were well monitored and policed. It looked like the community was really out in force in some places - especially when I got to my second lap and I was rolling along passing folks that were still on their first lap. My first lap got awfully lonely for about 2 hrs, not seeing anyone but the locals mowing their lawns.

Final result: My bike time, 112 miles - 4 hrs 33 min 8 sec. Avg speed 39.6 kph from chip mat (off the bike) to chip mat (off the bike).

Powertap shows 4 hr 32 min and change with an avg speed of 39.6 kph. My first 3 hrs were over the 40 kph range, and I had two separate (non-overlapping) 42 kph hours. From ~3 hr 15 min to 4 hrs was the worst at 37.5 kph.

IM Distance:
Duration: 4:32:10
Work: 4363 kJ
Norm Power: 273
VI: 1.02
Distance: 179.369 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 510 267 watts
Cadence: 29 143 90 rpm
Speed: 14.5 52.4 39.6 kph

Run Report (3:24:46, 4th)

Rich Gendron and Tom Draffen of Whole Wheel Velo were looking for a runner to do ChesapeakeMan as a relay, and I heard about this somehow from Mary Picard. I thought about it, and decided it would be fun to see an ironman distance triathlon live, and to do one leg of it; after all, that might be as close as I ever come to racing one.

Rich had swam as a kid, but had not really trained it hard since then. He had a knee injury, and so focused on swimming exclusively this summer, and really got his speed up. I thought I was in pretty good shape for the marathon, and Tom was just coming off his racing season, so we seemed to be in good shape.

Registration was Thu & Fri, and bike racking was Fri, so I drove out Fri to Cambridge to meet them and register. I've never been to Cambridge before, and I must say, the Hyatt Regency has a great location there, on the mouth of the Choptank with a beautiful water view and lovely grounds. I had a nice jog around their grounds and up and down the various lengths of their marina piers, waiting for the other guys to arrive.

Saturday morning I woke up around 0500 and headed south from where I was staying Delaware. I parked, jogged over to the swim, and watched the swimmers going around, and slowly coming out into T1. It looked like a school of fish, albeit slow fish that swam funny. Tom was standing in transition all ready to go, along with a couple other relay people.

Rich finished in about 1:08, with only about 20 people out of the water ahead of him, and ran through transition to hand Tom the chip, who put it on, walked his bike out of transition over the mount line, and was off. Looking back at the results, he took off cycling in 15th place (passing five in transition, doffing their wetsuits no doubt), about 15 minutes behind the lead.

I joined up with the volunteers on bike special needs bags. We laid out all the bike special needs bags, and untied them, and prepared to hand them to cyclists coming through the 64mi point at the school--at least for cyclists who had special needs bags (most did), and who slowed down to get theirs (some just waved & continued, skipping their bags).

Tom came through without stopping about 4min back in 2nd place. The 3rd or 4th place rider paused to get his bag, and informed us, "Just to let everyone know, the wind is brutal out there." Most of the riders were polite and friendly and appreciative of the bike special needs bag volunteers.

I realized it was lunch time and that I'd eaten very little, and no lunch at all. Sue Ellen kindly pointed me to apples and bananas for the volunteers, and I got a coconut power bar from another volunteer; but I had trouble chewing the power bar, and didn't get much down.

I got ready, and loaded my water bottles with fresh cold water, and checked over at the trailer every so often. At about mile 80 they called a lead change to bib 236A. My bib was 234R, so I was confident that was a misreading, and I made sure I was standing in transition when the leader was expected in. It was Tom, and after I fumbled the chip on, and bumbled my way around finding out how I was supposed to run out of transition, I was racing.

This race had had a much longer prolog than any other race I've ever done, just like this race report, but now I was out running. It was a 4.5mi out & back, which we would do three times, so we were destined to pass each of the 4 aid stations 6 times.

Because I was the first runner out, a cop car drove in front of me for my first lap. That made me feel kind of privileged, but actually it was distracting from settling into a pace, so I was glad to get to the second lap and not have any more lead car.

On the first lap, I saw a few people as I returned; they would be the guys nearest behind me. I didn't pay attention to their bib numbers however, so that by the second lap, I couldn't tell who was behind me closely, and who was an extra lap or more behind me.

I drank water from my water bottles, and declined the repeated offers from the eager kids at each aid station, as I passed them again and again. I held my desired pace pretty well for the first 20 miles, but then I just got tired. I took a couple cups of gatorade late in the race, but I lacked the will to keep pushing, and let my pace slide off about a minute per mile. I knew I was no longer on track to PR or to hit my goal time, but I just started thinking to myself about how I hated marathons, and how I just needed to jog in to get to where I could have something cold and sweet to drink. Perhaps the lack of food was a mistake, and I didn't see any gels or orange slices at the aid stations. In my past marathons, I've always been able to grab a gel and stuff like that during the marathon.

I finally finished, and came around the track across the final mat. My time on my watch matched my time last year at MCM, to the second I think.ned They weren't quite ready, and didn't have any gatorade mixed up yet. I started trying to consume some hot chicken soup and rice. Usually I'm ready to eat very quickly after a race, but this time I had to go slow on the soup, and it took a while to get much down. I chatted with a few aquavelo contestants, and then, after a bit, the third place guy came in, and we chatted a bit. I must say, he didn't look sore at all. He was sprawled out like a guy who might be tired, but I wouldn't have picked him for a guy who just finished a marathon, much less an ironman triathlon. He signed up for the massage tables. I decided I'd pass on them, as I'd already donned jeans, and wasn't going to mess with any more changing.

I missed the awards the next morning; it was fogged in and rainy, and I decided I'd catch more sleep, and didn't get over there in time. But they've since posted results electronically, and I've gone back through the years posted glancing over the bike splits, and as far as I can tell, Tom's 4:32 was the fastest that course has ever been ridden (I saw a 4:39 by a guy a couple years ago). I also see that the next guy in was half an hour behind me, and the next relay in was an hour behind me; this finish is, of course, a tribute to the speed of our cyclist, not my running, but it was certainly fun to be a part of the team. My teammates were very enjoyable, and the event was a great experience.

By the next morning, my feelings of disgust for the marathon distance were completely gone, and I was starting to wonder how I could have done if I'd just not slacked off around mile 20. In fact, I stopped off at Calvert Cliffs and ran 10 miles on trails on way back that next day, and enjoyed it, although I felt a bit tired. Perhaps the moral is that clarity is brief, but idiocy is long-term.