Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Bad Strategy Executed Perfectly: Pac Crest Weekend Race Day

Pacific Crest Olympic Duathlon-June 29, 2008

The Stats
Total Time: 2:41:52
Bike: 1:25:26 (approximately 19.8 MPH) 45th out of 179, 5th fastest female bike split.
T: 1:47
Run: 1:14:40 (approximately the speed of paint drying)

86/179 Overall
18/73 Women
1/6 Age Group

The Race Report:

First off, I am going to credit Emily Brew with the perfect description of my race: A Bad Strategy Executed Perfectly. My goal was to go out and hammer the bike, then just make it through the run. With the heat and the condition of my lungs (gunked up) and feet (tore up from the floor up), my run split was going to be pathetically slow no matter how hard I rode on the bike. So, I told myself, why not just time trial the bike leg? The answer to this fairly rhetorical question will become apparent by the end of this post.

Rode up to Wickiup with Doug and Seth, blasting Volume II of the TNT CDs. I didn't feel nervous at all, as my race on Sunday was basically an afterthought to getting the 1/2ers to the finish line on Saturday. Wasn't having any problems with getting fluids into my system (foreboding foreshadowing music here) or getting my GI system to quickly move through the pre-race routine.

Our race started at around 9:10. They sent the duathletes off in pairs in 15 second intervals. By 8:45, the self-selecting starting line was already running the entire length of the transition area and I had decided to wait until the end because there would be more people to catch on the ride. I am highly motivated by crushing the souls of the weak as I pass them on the bike. Robin Vertner, however, had secured a spot in the front and needed a start partner, so I rolled up the line to start with her. Most of the folks in the immediate vicinity were on hybrids and mountain bikes, so I created a bit of a stir with the tritard, the Kuota, in all of its black and pink glory, and the aero helmet.

The first 10 miles of the bike were uneventful. Kept the bike at about 22-25 MPH on the flats and kept the cadence at an appropriate 75-80 RPM on the rollers. Had a couple of words with a few middle aged men than wouldn't drop back after I passed them, but I've gotten used to that in the last few years. I really wish they could just let me go...most of them will inevitably catch up to me on the run.

At about mile 11, we begin climbing for 3.5 miles. I don't particularly like climbing on the Kuota, as it is too light for me to control when I get out of the saddle to climb, but I manged to keep a nice steady pace and was only caught by two or three of the men that I passed on the flats.

The last 1/2 of the course is downhill or flat, which are my specialties. I was fast, but pretty uncomfortable the entire time. I hadn't been in the aero position on the Kuota for more than a 20K and my neck and ladybits were starting to scream at me around mile 15. My decision to forego the chamois cream was a bad one. The road was not in the best condition to make riding a full carbon bike and wheelset a comfortable experience. I could feel my teeth and uterus rattling in my head.

As I approached the last stretch before the transition area, I began to have some issues with a rider that refused to get off my wheel or would pass me at full speed, only to slow down after getting around me. The third time I passed him I decided it would be the last time and cranked it up to about 27 MPH (into a headwind) for about 3 minutes. I saw red, stars, spots and Jesus during this time, but I never saw this guy again. Turns out it was because he got pulled off of the course and DQ'd for drafting. Menfolk-for the love of god, accept the fact that sometimes we are faster than you and just let it go. That dude paid 80-some dollars to get DQ'd for letting his ego get in the way of my safety and his safety and the kindergarten-era concept of working and playing well with others. Step off, Number 2022, you would have passed me on the run anyways.

There was something else going on while I was putting the hurt down-i drank both of my water bottles. Large water bottles. I usually only get through one in a short-course race and brought the other one only in the event that I got a flat or otherwise was out on the course longer than anticipated.

I started feeling funny as soon as I got off the bike and was trotting into transition. The sloshing noise coming from my gut must have been audible from at least 10 feet away. I racked the bike, took a gu, threw on my shoes and speedwalked out of transition while securing my other gear-visor, racebelt and handheld water bottle.

The first 1.5 miles of the run course were a cruel, cruel joke. There are several inclines that wouldn't be difficult on fresh legs or in favorable weather conditions. Unfortunately, I had neither. And I did not feel good. After trying to run for about a 1/2 mile, I slowed down to a walk to let the nausea pass. When it didn't pass after 5 minutes, i finally had to walk off of the course and yak up a stomach full of fluid.

It took another ten minutes of walk/slogging before I decided that puking was, in fact, the right decision. The heat and my blistered feet were limiting my ability to move any faster than the slog, but I didn't fell like a bloated mess.

And so began the cycle-run 5 minutes , walk 1, douse self with water frequently, stop to refill at all aid stations. Rinse, repeat. It was slow, but I was moving forward.

A funny think happened at about mile 3. I started smiling and couldn't stop. I had, physically, felt better in my life, but I felt at peace with my slow progress and the race experience. Or maybe I had simply lost my mind. I chatted with everyone that was cheering along the bike path and stopped for about a minute to exchange water gun fire with some kids at mile 5. It didn't take nearly as long as I though to reach mile 6 and the TNT wall of noise.

Then I was done. I stood in the ice water shower for at least 5 minutes (I was in there long enough that one of the volunteers not so subtly asked me to move on and I not so subtly ignored the request) then moved into the recovery area. They had a ton of food, water and sports drink, but the only thing I wanted was something that would make me burp. Doug tracked down a soda, then a beer, for me, and after a few impressive belches, I finally started to feel quasi-human again.

After completion of my not-so-perfect race plan, I began my not-so-perfect recovery plan. Drank a couple of beers, which killed the nausea and eventually triggered both my appetite and my "drinking outside with beers" voice. As a result, cheering in the Olympic Team was a blast.

After we finally got back to the house, I notices that my back felt really hot. Turns out that I had a radioactive sunburn in the rough shape of the Batman logo on my upper back and shoulders.

The weekend closed with a great TNT party, lots of hugs and a few tears. Thank you to everyone that conspired to get me my new pink jersey, pink knee warmers and the gift certificate for some cool schwag from Cyclepath. I'll probably put it toward some pink Chris King hubs for my mountain bike.

I love you, TNT family, and thank for one of the best weekends, ever.

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