Tri Latta Sprint Triathlon (6.11.11), Charlotte, NC - 1:13:42, 2nd Overall
The World Championships of Charlotte (aka Tri Latta) is a race I haven't done since 2006, my first season doing triathlons, so I was looking forward to mixing it up with the local triathlon champs. I had been riding all winter on a road bike due to my crash in Clearwater ruining my Cervelo. My new Scott Plasma had arrived a week before Latta and luckily Bob and Greg had it assembled by Friday for the race the next day. I wasn't too happy about Latta being my first ride on the new bike, but I decided to just roll with it and see how I could fare on the new steed. I had a good swim as I was 3rd out of the water behind Brad Perry and Jenny. Tried to stick on Jenny's feet for the swim, but ended up losing her at the halfway point and couldn't jump back on. The bike ride was interesting as my bike wasn't quite fitted to my needs and I ended up losing about 4 or 5 positions over the course of the ride. I spent the whole ride frustrated as I couldn't get comfortable on the bike and it seemed like anyone that passed me was just riding away from me with ease (James, Selle, Donny). I tried to keep them in sight at least, hoping that I could close down some time on the run. I had a super quick T2, passing Selle in transition, and set out to track down Donny and James. By the first turnaround I was on their heels and started pressing a little more to pass them. I passed Donny about mile 2 and as he stuck on my shoulder I tried surging to get him off, which finally happened. Those old guys are tough to break!!!! Rounding the last turn I was sitting on James shoulder and put in one final surge to pass him and luckily he wasn't having his best run so I was able to pass without him countering, which most likely would have broke me! Overall, I was happy with my swim, run, and overall race, but knew there was a lot more work to be done on the bike.
Mountaineer Half Iron Triathlon (6.26.11), Morgantown, WV - 4:59:44, 2nd Overall
Since I wasn't able to race any early season halfs due to Boston, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to do a half about 9 weeks before Ironman Louisville and also a good way to go up to Pittsburgh to visit Keith and Lynne. The had their first baby in May, so Kevin and I headed up to Pittsburgh on Friday to meet Sydney and also spend some time with them. We got there Friday afternoon and went for a nice 9 mile trail run with Keith through some Pittsburgh parks and then got to spend Saturday hanging out and visiting. Kevin and I left Saturday evening for Morgantown in time to pick up our packets and drive the bike course. Due to some mudslides and road closures they had to make a last minute bike course change. Driving the course I soon realized the front 808 and rear disc was going to be a really bad decision; the course was amusingly hilly! Sunday morning Kevin and I headed over to the race site and the temperatures were nice and cool with overcast skies, quite a contrast to the Charlotte weather in late June. They had numerous other race distances that we starting before us so we stood around and waited for the half to start. The swim was a wetsuit legal, time-trial start, 2 loop swim in the Monongohela River. I was the second person to jump in the water and had a pretty traffic free first loop, but by the second loop we were running into lap traffic. Had a decent swim for a wetsuit swim, but the course was either a little long or the current was stronger than it felt. The bike was another 2 loop affair and it was ridiculously hard in my estimation. I would have been better off on the road bike and I don't think I was in my aero-bars for a tenth of the race. According to my Garmin, the course had 7100 feet of elevation change over 56 miles, it was ridiculous. That's more elevation change than Lake Placid and St. George,some of the hardest Ironman bike courses, which cover 112 miles, not just the 56 of this half. By the start of the second loop I was frustrated and not at all looking forward to another loop of hell. It got done (slowly), and it was time to hit the run on a flat greenway along the river. I found myself in 7th place off the bike and started the run feeling pretty good. At the turnaround on the first loop I saw Kevin trucking along and giving me rough splits of the guys ahead of me. By the end of the first loop I had caught 4 of them and was maintaining a solid pace just a hair about 6 minutes per mile. I ended up catching the second place guy right at the final turnaround and kept the hammer down all the way to the finish, clocking the second fastest run split of the day, 1:20:xx. I was again frustrated about my bike split and how I felt on the bike, but happy with the run and my overall race. We stuck around for some food and then began the 6 hour trek back home. Overall, it was an enjoyable low-key race atmosphere, hardest bike course ever, a good chance to do a half before Louisville, and a great trip.
Piedmont Triad Omnium Road Race (7.10.11), Lexington, NC - 2:23:19 (57ish miles), 2nd Overall Cat 4/5
Having never done a bike race before I talked a couple of teammates into coming up to Lexington and trying our hand at riding with the roadies. I was looking for a good bike workout and since my job had been shifted to Columbia, I wasn't getting in enough quality tempo efforts on the bike. The course was 3 loops and it was hot out there as we didn't start till around 4 in the afternoon. Unfortunately Watkins, Chris, Lat, Everett, and I rolled up to the start line pretty late so we were stuck in the back to start. We tried to formulate some tactics on the warm up, but since it was our first try at bike racing we didn't really know what to expect. We all spent the first lap trying to get up to the front and by the end of the first lap I had made my way up there and was sitting on the front or around the front for a good majority. I felt good, a stark contrast to how I felt warming up, but I didn't want to over-cook myself in the beginning because the temps were soaring around 90+ and it was still a long way to go. The first lap was really jumpy as everyone was trying to test each other and near the end of the first lap I attacked on a short steep hill and got a break with a couple other guys that was shut down after a couple of miles. Oh well, still a long way to go, I was just trying to make it interesting. At the beginning of the second loop Watkins took a long flyer, with no one responding. The group never really made an effort to bring him back as everyone started riding a lot more conservative than the first loop. Nothing exiting on the second loop, but I stayed near or on the front just in case anyone tried to make a break. By the third loop we had caught Watkins and everyone was really starting to press, however no one got any breaks. On the same hill where I attacked on the first lap, I attacked again. I turned around and there was only one guy sitting on my wheel. He asked if I thought I had enough to stay away and I told him we might as well try. We spent the next 7ish miles rotating through and sharing the work. I had to stop and wait for him on the last little hill as I had rode him off my wheel, but I knew if I was going to have a chance I needed someone to share the work with. He was hurting more than I was so I was taking a little longer pulls than he was, but unbeknownst to me I think he was just setting me up for the sprint finish. Every time I rotated to the back I would turn to see if the peleton was coming for us, but I could never see them so with about 2 miles left I knew it was going to be he and I, mono-e-mono, for the sprint finish. At the 1k mark to go line we were sitting next to each other talking about the overall omnium points. If he had needed the points I would have let him take first and the points, and he said the same to me. After our chat he snuck in behind me, a tactic I should have fought, but I didn't want the peleton to catch us so I basically provided the lead-out for him to sprint around me. When I stood up to sprint I felt my right quad start to cramp so I just sat down and pedaled in for the second place finish. I wasn't overly upset with coming in second, as I definitely got the good workout I was looking for, but it would have been nice to come home with the W. I learned a little about bike racing and also what kind of shape I was in, but it stung a little bit to get duped by the guy. Lesson learned! Ended up with $40 or something which basically paid for the entry.