Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When It Rains, It Pours in Syracuse (70.3)- 1st Pro Race

When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade…. Then grab a beer and make a shandy- cause I learned on this trip, that's a winning combo for a good time. Like my friend Beth says, “Bad races are the easiest to write about because you can find what happened and what you need to improve on”. I haven’t had too many bad races lately, so I get to see how easy that really is. I hate excuses and would like to limit the excusivness in my blog posts to as little as possible. ..That, and I don’t want anything to take away from the great time I had out in Syracuse. Like I mentioned on Facebook, I was drawn to this race because of Jen’s write up on it. Got connected to a great homestay out here and couldn’t have ended up with a nicer couple. Dan & Alesha, you guys are rad & the amount of hospitality you offered me is silly. Not to mention Dan’s flawless taste in coffee mugs and our shared love for dogs & craft beer made for fun convo.

Going to give a brief report of the action then do something fun.

At least I had a crisp speedo
Evaded an angry police after jumping out of a car planted in traffic and ran a blazing pace to get to transition, drop off my transition ish, then bolted to the start line just in time for the National Anthem. Felt great in the swim despite not hitting the bathroom beforehand. Just missed a little pack around 30 seconds ahead of me and ended up around 1:50 back from the leaders. I was fairly pleased with that swim. The swim course was a tad long, judging by everyone’s times. Exited the water in 7th place. Got out of transition quick and realized that I left my nutrition in my morning clothes bag.. ‘I guess I’m living on Gatorade today’.

Rode fairly quickly and comfortably into the top 5 after 3 or 4 miles.. wasn’t pressing too hard and stayed slightly reserved. After a nice 6 mile grade and a few miles of rollers, a spotter told me I was in 4th and would likely be catching the dude in 3rd at this pace. I felt good, had plenty of energy in the tank, and was already strategizing for the run. Then somewhere between mile 25-30, like a light switch, my speed dropped off, and everyone caught up and started passing me like I was standing still. It was the most confusing thing at the time, because I was maintaining the same output and felt reasonably good. I concluded (again, at the time) that this was because I must’ve gone too hard out the gate, even though I was certain I had stayed controlled and knew I’ve never bonked this early in a 70.3. I hammered thru the last 20+ miles, disheartened, angry, and moving a snails pace despite having good legs.

Look close & you can see me riding on 30psi
Talked myself back into it and thought, “well, let’s see what I can do on this run course”. I ran the 1st 3 extremely hilly/hot/humid miles and saw my positioning/took stock of how underfueled I was and decided to save my guts and legs for the upcoming 70.3s I have in a few weeks. There was no sense in thrashing myself to turn a sucky day into ho-hum day. But at the same time I came an awful long way to DNF, so I found another pro that was on the same plan and we jogged the remainder of the course together. At least I got in a solid workout. Even jogging was tough on that course in the heat. I went and sat in the lake, drinking pepsi (they didn’t have Coke, not that it really matters to me either way but I feel the majority of people I know play ball for The Cokers) after the race and racked my brain about what happened out there.. at least until the lifeguard yelled and told me I had to swim (or sit and sulk, in my case) in the designated 25 meter recreational swim zone, literally feet from me. When I picked up my bike out of transition 30 minutes later, noticed the rear tire on my disc was dead flat. Well, that’ll explain it.

As for the town of Syracuse, it was all Jen & Mark said it would be and more. Everyone was super friendly and I loved chit-chattin with a bunch of locals after the race. Really cool & unique town with a good community vibe and a thriving triathlon scene, as well. Congrats to my homestay, Dan, for finishing his 1st 70.3 and enduring a gnarly thunder/lightning storm the last hour of his run.. that was pretty sketch. And to everyone who recommended it, Dinosaur BBQ lived up to the hype. Cool place, with great BBQ. I’d definitely recommend this race, as long you’re ready/prepared for a brutal run course.  I couldn’t draw up a better bike course than that one.

Takeaways and Lessons Learned:
  •  Don’t leave late to a race (been telling myself this for years and still hasn’t quite sunk in).
  • If I can’t get to the bathroom before the start, I may as well just go home then and there.
  • The initial 4-600 meters of the swim are of utmost importance.
  • You can’t plan for flats.. oh wait, they make stuff for that. Maybe I should bring it next time.
  •  Don’t pick hot, hilly, humid run courses to race…
  • Encouraged and happy to see my swim fitness made an appearance.
  • Syracuse/The East Coast is to Ice Creameries as SoCal is to FroYo & cupcakeries.
  • Next time Lisa Norden is chillin solo at a table, grow some balls and ask if you can bite her medal. #BadOlympicJokes
  • Grilled PB&J sandies are fantastic.
  • Don’t ever fly US Airways again. Ever. Again.
  • The weather in Syracuse goes from sunny, hot and humid- to a windy, thunder/lightning absolute downpour in the time it takes you to go in and out of a portapotty.
  • Thoughts for a future career: Gotta think I’d be a good Skymall model.. Those dudes are either sound asleep or completely overexcited about how effortless their life just became because of some outlandish product.
  •  Don’t eat massive cookies slowly in front of fat people in an airport. Nothing good can come of it...

I'll test anything with a name like "Death by Chocolate" 

I hope reading this post is like listening to a Blink song. Singing about my misery in an up-tempo, catchy, melodic tune. I’m writing this with a grin because I know better days are coming. Murphy’s Law trips/races don’t happen every time.. (See slight airlines rant at the bottom)

Thanks to B+L Bikes for all the support, couldn't do this without your help. I’ve also lost track of the times I’ve called Kev (Service Manager) the day before a race with extreme (probably not that extreme, but the day before a race, I’m freakin like a kid that lost his mom in a supermarket over anything that goes wrong) mechanical bike issues and he’ll troubleshoot it & walk me thru it. Thanks to my family, especially Reid, who came to the airport well after midnight to pick me up after endless flight delays. And a huge thanks to Dan & Alesha for hosting me out there.. Looking forward to returning the favor when you guys make it out here!

Next Up: Vineman 70.3!!!

Side note: Not once, in 4+ years, has my bike been lost, misplaced, or damaged by the airlines. US Airways managed to lose my bike 2x on the same trip, and gouge the side of my disk on the arrival trip (..may have been TSA) while charging $230 each way for it. I still don't have my bike at this time. Pick your next flight wisely.