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Race Result

Racer: Mike Guzek
Race: Kinetic Half
Date: Saturday, April 23, 2005
Location: Spotsylvania, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 4:41:53
Overall Place: 8 / 103
Age Group Place: 1 / 8
Comment: I have no comment at this time.....no more questions please.

Race Report:

So, all week long there is this big lightening bolt on weather.com squarely situated over April 23rd. Lows in the 30s! Brady said it best the night before the race, “not likin’ the lighting bolt”. I shared his concerned while packing my bags before going to bed on Kinetic Half Ironman eve.

I awoke at 4:30 to my backup alarm (I made the ol’ “set your alarm to p.m. instead of a.m.” mistake with my primary alarm). After some oatmeal, toast, banana, and OJ (the fruit, not the football player/murderer) I pulled out of my parking lot shortly after 5:00 a.m. to make the hour and a half trip down to Lake Anna State Park, about 40 miles northwest of Richmond. About halfway into the trip I got a call from Brady who sounded like he was in the midst of fighting a bad head cold…and losing badly. His racing status was in jeopardy, but he was going to give it an honest effort and at least show up and see what happened when got there. It turns out—not much. He got his packet, got body marked and then got out of there.

Only about 130 brave souls signed up for the early season inaugural running of this race and that made all the pre-race set up a snap. I caught up with Brady and Glover at which point Brady made it official –the Run Pummeler would not be racing. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the weather seemed to be taking a major turn for the better. The sun was occasionally peaking through the clouds and it didn’t even seem like it was anywhere close to raining. I was once again taken aback by the reach of Glover and his triathlon success. Brady and I were chatting as I readied the machine and one of us mentioned that Glover might have a tool I needed. The stranger in the car beside us says “Glover….you mean David Glover???” We said, “yeah, he’s right over there.” The guy spins around to call out to his wife, “Honey! David Glover is here!” He spins back to us, “we know him from the Duke Ironman race.” The legend grows.

With this being my first race of the year, I was a little slower than usual in setting up my transition as I had to think through things a bit more instead of just setting it up on autopilot. Brady decided to stick around for the swim and I found him with a cup of coffee down by the lake to wish me well. “Do it, horse,” he said, with a fist bump as I stepped onto the beach.

The water was cold, but after the initial “oh shit” moment, it was probably just about perfect for a half IM swim. The water was clean, but pretty choppy. My swim training has been adequate, but it’s been a workout or two per week away from where I wanted it to be. As such, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When the gun went off I tried to come out fast and find a good set of feet to follow. The first set went by so fast that I could barely react. Another fellow followed and they took off together. I sat in third place around the first buoy as I pulled a pack of guys around the first loop of the 2 loop counter clockwise swim. On the back part of the swim I looked over my shoulder and noticed a whoooole bunch of guys following me. I wondered if Glover was in there. He usually finds a place not far behind me. As we made the turn to head for the shore, I got lost….really lost. I couldn’t find the next buoy. For several minutes I swam somewhat directionless until I finally saw my orange marker. I put my head down and hammered away. It turned out to be the wrong buoy…it was one of the buoys from the opposite side of the course! I zagged back to compensate for my major zig and still manage (somehow) to come about just ahead of the pack I had towed through most of the loop. Later, I told Brady that I was happy that I was at least “still swimming towards shore.” He informed that I was actually swimming parallel to the shore in completely the wrong direction.

The second loop was much of the same except that I swam much straighter. The pace felt easy and I wished I had someone slightly faster to pace of off, as I found myself a few times losing focus and not pushing as hard as I probably should have. Even when I felt like I slowed, my freeloading buddies at my feet were quite content to sit back and enjoy the ride. None of them every tried to make a move past me. The choppiness had picked up quite a bit and I felt fortunate to be a little bit of a bigger guy as it help me to reach over waves and keep a steady stroke. I did manage to sample quite a bit of Lake Anna’s water so I felt very hydrated coming out of the water. A little surge at the end got me a few seconds clear of the handful of guys who had sat on my feet and I entered T-1 in 28:56.

Glover and I have done a number of races together and as far as I know, he has never beaten me out of the water…however…he always beats me out of T-1. True to form, I entered T-1 in 3rd…and existed in 4th, immediately behind Dave. Big Mark from Bonzai was there. All I could think about was some cycling shoes he has been holding for me for about 3 months. I promise, I am coming by this weekend.

The Bike
The course at Kinetic is fast and fun if there is no wind. Today however, there was wind. It was still pretty fast and fun…just a little less fast…and a little less fun. It’s a two loop course that circles Lake Anna with rolling terrain and only a few climbs of note on each lap. The basic strategy on the bike was borrowed from a recent race report I read—go hard when it’s easy and easy when it’s hard in order to maintain an even effort. Two fellows past me within the first 20 miles--one slow and one super fast (eventual winner John Mcgarva). I had a bit of down spot about an hour into the ride. My back started to hurt and my legs felt heavy. I think around the hour mark is when you start trying to assess…”have I gone too hard??” “am I having a good day or bad day??” and having been past twice (with another fellow in the distance) and feeling a little tired….I was starting to feel like this might be turning into a bad day. I decided to exercise the nuclear option. I went for the water bottle containing Red Bull. I took a healthy dose of that and cranked up the engine. I was going for broke. I’m gonna pick up the pace, or go down in a jittery blaze of glory! I had told myself going in that no matter what, I wasn’t going to let up on the bike. I decided to really try to stay focused and press the second half of the course. I increased my average on the second loop and felt much better. Actually, I’m not sure that I felt better as much as I never felt worse. It’s no big deal if you’re tired and your back hurts at the end of the ride, it’s just a little more worrisome when it happens earlier in the ride, and I think that’s probably what I felt at the 1 hour mark.

I held off the fellow that had been tailing me on the bike by a couple minutes and descended into T-2 in 6th place as I saw Glover just starting his run. I felt pretty good to not be too far behind such a decorated triathlete.

My T-2 was fast…46 seconds and only 3 seconds off the fastest T-2 of the day. I creamed Glover’s 1:07 lollygag through T-2.

The Run
The run is basically a series of long gentle rollers on park roads. However, you do have one pretty nasty climb to get up from the transition area to the road. The first steps of the run felt pretty good and I was excited about my chances to execute the final leg of the race in good form. For this race, I had decided that I was going to do my best to not look at my watching during the run…I was going to run on feel. The first 4 miles went by super easy (although I had no idea if I was running a 9 minute pace or a 7 minute pace….well, ok, I knew it wasn’t 7…but theoretically, it could have been 7 and I would have had no idea). Anyway, I decided to check the watch around mile 6 to see how I was doing. I was running about a 7:50/mile pace. This was about 30 seconds off a goal pace, but I felt very comfortable and strong so I decided to keep running on feel. By this point, two guys had already passed me and were motoring up ahead.

I passed Glover a handful of times, exchanging high fives and splits. I am talking about time splits of course. He was gaining on pretty much everyone except the number 1 guy who was really motoring. Up to mile 8, the run was actually pretty enjoyable for me….but in the span of ¼ of a mile, I went from feeling like I had to hold my effort back to feeling I had to dig in to keep pace up. The 9 mile marker just seemed like it never wanted to come. Finally, I passed the 9 mile mark and shortly after made the final turn to start heading back to the finish. I counted 3 guys who had been closing in on me the entire run within two minutes of me. I was running scared. There was a final short out and back right about mile 12 and I didn’t want those guys to feel like they had a chance to catch me when they saw me there so I decided that it was time to just open it up (if I could) and try to maintain whatever lead I had…or actually put a little time into those guys. The next mile went great and I ran about a 7:30 and did the same from mile 11 to 12. Just before the 12 mile mark, 2 of the guys were within 40 seconds of me (eek!). There was a short little climb to get to the last ¾ mile descent to the finish and I knew if I could just push over the rise, that gravity would do the rest. As I barreled down the hill for the last ¼ mile I could see a fellow about 20 yards behind. I just tried to turn my legs over as fast as I could and let gravity do the rest. I held him off by 19 seconds and maintained 8th overall.

My run time of 1:40:54 was slower than I would have like, but it was by far my most relaxed and strongest feeling run. It was also very consistent from mile to mile so I have some positive take aways.

A couple hours after the race, it finally rained. It was crazy rain. It even hailed marble sized chunks of ice for a while. And during that rain I saw the most memorable part of the race for me. As racers, volunteers and spectators huddled under the cover of a gazebo roof, a lone finisher made her way to finish line. In the driving rain and wind she probably couldn’t here us all cheering for her, but I hope she did. The wind looked like it was going to blow away the finishing chute before she could make it there. If she only could have been 10 minutes faster, she would have been under the roof eating pizza with us…if there was ever an example of why to train to be faster...that was it!

In the end, Glover got third overall after a good swim and run and a somewhat uninspired bike (by his standards…not by mine). I also won the Clydesdale division after being too scared to enter the 30-34 AG after aging up over the winter. For some reason, this race was really fun the whole time, even when it hurt. I hope to be able to do it again. And with that, the 2005 race season is underway.