Monday, July 15, 2013

Race review : Minneapolis Tri

I did this race for the first time last year, and I liked it. It's a fairly fast race and was my first sort of high placing finish, so I was happy to go back.

Packet Pickup

Last year the expo was in the Minneapolis convention center. It had a feeling of "big" to it, overall it was fine. This year, the expo was at the race site. I decided to head over Friday afternoon over my lunch break at work.

It was a standard big race setup, show your ID, get a packet, walk somewhere else get your chip, walk somewhere else get some more stuff, walk somewhere else get the shirt. Leave. I did meander around the expo a little (because packets were at one and and shirts were at the other.) Overall, pretty decent, it reminded me of Rev 3. I'll go ahead and say I like this approach better than last year's.

This is a fantastic shot of people descending on the packet pickup site. Actually it's terrible.
Manually cropped shot, this doesn't really do it justice, but basically I looked around and looked like people of the corn all headed to the same spot.

The people who make the Stider bikes were there

They had a little course you could ride and get a ribbon at the end. I'm sure this would have been fun for our kids, or at least one of them. More on that later.
I headed back to work and finished up the day there, went home did some family swimming time and then started to get ready for the race. At this point I am starting to wonder if I'm going to make it to the race. I had been feeling pretty junky for a day or so, and in the morning I didn't have enough energy to get through an hour swim workout. Basically I was tired and having tum-tum troubles (that's the official diagnosis from Jeremy Solt n.r.M.D.) I figured I'd make final call in the morning based on the night of sleep and how I'm feeling. Due to this decision, I also elect not to put on my helmet sticker or bike sticker.

Race Morning

4:05: Woken up because the house was shaking due to thunder - eh, back to sleep.
4:15: Elect to snooze - it's now raining cats and dogs and lots of lightening, I'm thinking the race won't start on time. Hedging my bets.
4:30: I check the weather, according to the weather app on my phone it will be over by 5:30, so I get started. I assess how I'm feeling. Not bad, but not 100%, I start to wonder if this is just nerves.

The drive over was nuts, I bet I didn't break 40. I couldn't see, there were puddles and flowing water on the highways. 5:30 came and went, still downpour and lightening. I send this tweet when I find a spot to park

I'm not getting out of my car just yet. Time to check the twitter sphere I see this

Then this

Then this

At this point its still raining, but I figure I'll head over. Hey; remember when I said I didn't put any stickers on in the comfort and low-humidity-atmosphere of my home? Well put this picture in your head. It's 70-ish degrees and raining and I'm standing in the rain trying to get sticker backs off of stickers without getting them wet and then stick them on things. This process takes ... roughly forever. After I get all that figured out I ride my bike over to the race site.

Like last year, rack space is assigned, so I find my spot, rack my bike and then ... stand there in the pouring rain wondering what to do next. I decided to head over and look for a place to do body marking, thankfully, that's inside a large tent. On the way over I walk through about 1/4 mile of what used to be grass but is now marshland. I noticed the little race-course for the striders from the day before. Under water. I get marked, notice the rain has let up some, and head back to my bike.

At this point they turn the PA system on and make some announcements. First, transition will not be closing at 6:45; apparently some people thought that maybe they'd only open transition for 30 minutes. Secondly, parts of both the Olympic and sprint bike courses are under water. Oh and there was some more lightening, so nobody is on the water yet. So they say hold tight and safety is ... yadda yadda yadda, we'll let you know later.

So I kinda mingle around, the rain is getting much lighter, and I chat it up with some people. Final set of announcements. The Olympic distance race is going to be a sprint, and transition closes in about an hour and a half. The rain lets up, I head back to the my bike and open my bag to find out that - much to my surprise - everything inside is dry! The rain lets up, and I set my stuff up. Over the next two and half hours or so I chat with various people, everyone seems in good spirits.

The Swim

Race Support Team

In line to start the swim

The water temp was announced at 79 degrees, for the uninitiated that is too warm to win awards if you choose to wear a wetsuit, and it probably a little warmer than most pools I swim in. I'm actually relieved, as I think it's hard enough to get in my wetsuit when I'm dry. Due to the late start, they kind of hurry through the time trial start, doing two people at a time instead of one. I see my wife and kids (who each badger me for a kiss, which is super cute) and off I go.

My wave started after the friends and family wave, which is a wave for people who want a slightly less stressful race. I think they originally planned on giving them 10 minutes before the next wave after them went, I'm not sure that happened. The swim was fairly uneventful, I ran into a small waterblock of people at the only turn, and actually (much to my surprise) ran into a lifeguard who was crossing the lane of swimmers for a reason I didn't quite understand, she was chatting with some other lifeguard, and didn't look to be in lifesaving mode, so who knows.

Overall the swim felt pretty good, not perfect, but decent. I passed what I believed to the be the last person in my wave with about a hundred yards to go, popped out of the water, gave my kids some high-fives and off to find my bike.

I found my bike, confirmed that it looked like I was the first person back to my rack space, went to put some some socks... uh... this sock doesn't fit me. These must be my wife's... New plan, no socks. I make the ridiculously long run to the bike exit. Round the corner, and make a surprisingly long run to the mount line.

Some slide action during the swim

A little swinging too

Getting in on the swinging action

Hanging out on the big bridge over the swim exit path. Just a few hours earlier that wood was wet and watching people navigate it was almost humorous

The Bike

Similar to last time, because the friends and family group was in front of me at the start, there was a lot of navigating rookie riders. That's all fine, I don't mind it, and it didn't last too long. About a half mile in I navigated a rough section, and then ... bobble ... off went my water bottle. While it was happening I actually thought I might be able to catch it, and I almost did. I watched it bounce into the grass and thought "well, I'm not supposed to leave it there, but then again if I stopped now all those rookie riders will likely crash right into me" so I didn't even slow down.

Due to the rain storm, the bike course had been altered, since I didn't actually know the bike course that didn't have much impact on me since I probably wouldn't notice. What I did notice is that my watch beeped at 15 miles (advertised race distance) and I thought 'This is not the end...' It did seem to go on a while afterwards, I didn't pay attention to how much further it was, but it wasn't just a half mile.

The bike went quite well, only one person passed me the entire time, though I did notice that he was in my age group. They even had a water stop, which was great, because I was not looking forward to trying to do this entire race using only water on the run course.

I came rolling into transition, and came into what was the second part of the adjustment due bike course change. The bike in and bike out was the same place. So I run the entire way through the huge transition with my bike AGAIN. It seriously felt like forever. I also noticed that some people have finished the race and are sort of lingering in the transition area. Not in the way, but it caught me off guard. I get back to my spot fairly easily, put my shoes and running gear on and head out. The run exit had also been moved to the same place the swim entrance was. This was in an effort of equalize the transition area so people close to the bike entrance/exit were not also right by the run exit. What they didn't say was that the timing mat was still all the way to other end of transition. One more time, all together, I ran the full length of the transition area three times during this race :)

The Run

After what felt like the longest transition run ever, I got started. I felt fine pretty much right away, grabbed some Gatorade on the first water spot. Some guys came by me pretty quick, they weren't moving that fast so I figured I could stay with them; though I wasn't able to muster very much oomph. They weren't pulling away that fast though, so I figured at least they weren't running away with it.

At this point in the race I figure I'm in second place in my age group. About a mile in the guy who was right next to me in transition passes me, he is moving pretty fast and while I do try to stay with him, he's running faster than I believe I can run. So now I'm third. At the half way point there is a turn around and I get a chance to see who's behind me, there are a few guys back there. I'm not feeling like death, but I'm also not feeling like I have much left in the tank, I try to turn up the gas a little bit. For the rest of the race I surge a few times to try to stay on plan, and about three more guys pass me. So I figure I'm in 6th as I head into the end.

The Finish

Remember those guys who passed me in the beginning, they didn't get away. A guy who had ran past me a little bit ago was feeling pretty junky and fading fast. I tapped him on the shoulder with about 200 yards to go and said "let's pass those guys", they were about 50 feet ahead of us he got super stoked, we blew past them. As I was heading over to give my kids high fives on the way he said "I'm going to wait for you!" I waved him on and came in just behind him. Afterwards I congratulated him on a good finish and he snapped a picture of us.

The guy in black was my finish line buddy. The two guys in white and red are the ones who ran past me at the start of the run. Also here you can see me sporting some nice chest action. I call that look "Collar bones and Sternum." Super hot, I know.

I got my medal, some water and an iced towel (felt awesome!) and found my family.

Post finish shot

The four of us heading to get my results print out.

The Results


Overall I'm satisfied with this race. The time doesn't really reflect it, but except for the run time I think this is represents a pretty solid effort.

Swim: 23 seconds, isn't bad. I did get caught in traffic a few times. But that time is 3rd overall, and first in my AG.

Bike: This time is deceptive, because the course wasn't 15 miles like it was last year, my watch had it closer to 16 3/4, based on some comments on Facebook that's what other people thought to. Had I known that I would have estimated closer to 49 minutes. So This time is pretty decent.

Run: WAY OFF! I did not walk this time so that's a win, this pace is roughly 9 minutes per mile, which isn't much to sneeze at. But let's put it this way - in my age group here's the breakdown.
Swim: 1st
Bike: 3rd
Run: 38th
So the run doesn't really match up well with the rest of the effort.

Transitions - usually I don't mention this but last year I only need 3 minutes total, this year it was almost 5 minutes. I checked the results, I wasn't the only one with these long transitions. The real difference was running the entire distance of the large transition area with your bike twice just takes a while.

Overall: 8th in my AG, though it was fairly close. I was only one minute off the podium. Had I run my goal I would have come in four minutes earlier which would have landed me second. I know I can run that, I've just got to deliver.

Closing Thoughts

I think the race organizers adapted well to some pretty cruddy weather. There are some who are complaining that the communication was poor, but I actually think it was pretty good. Of the people I talked to at the race site, everyone was in good spirits and had a good time.

I like this race, there is a great energy there. I DO NOT like the bike course, I don't know how people even drive on those roads. Yikes!

When I was picking up my results print out with the kids, the lady handing out the results suggested that having them there made me faster, and that's actually kind of true. In all the pictures you see me smiling, and that's because it's awesome to see them cheering me on. On the same trip my oldest confided in me "You know, mom doesn't like this race. Actually she hates it, she never wants to come again." That's pretty much the same thing my wife said last year, the larger race is harder to navigate with the kids. But I appreciate it; so a special thanks to my wife and kids for coming out and supporting me. They are troopers!

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