J-hawk Latebird Sprint 09-30

J-Hawk Latebird 2012



This is one of my favorite small races, in part because it helps book-end my triathlon season. The Early bird is in late April and latebird in late Sept. I’ve gotten as close as 5th in the Clydesdale division (with changing a flat tire in the cold and rain) and I hope to podium someday here.

However, 2012 is clearly not that year, however, I wanted to go up and race and have a good time – test my run – and hang with some of my friends.

One complication arose in August though… the cub scouts scheduled a camping trip. Unlike my older son, my younger guy hasn’t gotten any chance to camp this year. And he loves camping. So we had to go. So this was going to be an interesting experience. Camping for 2 days with the cubscouts and then racing. Not ideal conditions for hardware, but really my training wasn’t such to justify a decent chance at hardware, so it was a pretty easy decision.

So Friday both boys and I went up and pitched our tents, Sat was a long hike and day at the beach (chilly day) and fishing. Food was far from ideal for racing. But good times.. just not restful. Sunday night we woke to deep fog. Had to tear down the tents early and pack the car. The boys were staying with the scouts and I took off early (let’s face it, camping is way more fun than hanging around for hours and hours waiting for dad to finish racing. Triathlon is probably the worst spectator sport ever!).

I get there in plenty of time. Check in, get racked up in a nice spot, check in with pals (Jossie from HIP, Kevin/Jenny/Glenn/Pat from Prairie Dogs) and get busy doing my warmup.  This race is different, in that the faster swimmers swim pretty much last. I was in the 2nd wave of the fastest swimmers so I didn’t start until 11am.

Unlike the early bird I was a bit anxious, I was excited – basically, I was ready to race. Earlybird I was TOO relaxed and just dawdled everywhere. Today, I wanted to get out there and throw down to see where I’m at. The pragmatist in me knew I wasn’t ready for the podium but I was going to RACE this time not just go through the motions.

I had only one lane mate, which was nice, although he was also a Clydes. We split lanes (side by side) which makes things simpler than circle swim – because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to pull off a solid swim. If I have to cut any workout due to life or work, it’s swimming. Why? Because I can pull that out of my butt if the need arises. It’s the area I am most comfortable in and, if in prime shape, do really well (relative to triathletes… I still suck as a REAL swimmer).  So I seeded myself 7:50, I was going for it.

We start and I get into a really good rhythm right off the bat. First 100yds is in 1:22 – which is too fast and I know it. I pull back on the second 200, no idea time, but soon after the wheel came off. All of a sudden my arms are tight as heck, back is screaming, and neck muscles are all starting to kick in. I know that when that happens, I’m in deep doodie. Well, at 300 I was flailing almost so I really had to pull back on the speed and force myself to relax (is that even POSSIBLE?) and by 400 I get into decent rhythm even though every upper body muscle I have is now pretty pissed off. I’m done at…. 8:36. Ouch. Oh, and my lane mate lapped me on the last 50. Booooo.

I climb out and start running for the bike, feeling like the hulk. My biceps feel like they are huge and I can barely extend them.

I get to my bike, get my helmet on, get my glasses on…. Then try to put on my shirt. CRAP that won’t work, especially with my big Alien style Aero helmet. Crap. Take off glasses, take off helmet, put on shirt, put on helmet, put on glasses, put on shoes, grab bike, GO. Worlds-slowest-transition.

Get on the bike and start spinning like mad. I need to get the legs working quickly, as we have  2 hills right off the bat. Up and over those, start passing people.  Good. Work to get my bottle though and this girl in a green swimsuit passes me. OH – HECK – NO – YOU – DON’T!!!!!

Bottle back down and throw it to the max gear and mash like crazy, quickly getting up to 25mph and dropping her like a bad habit.  Ok, NOW we’re racing kids ! Whoo-hooo! Big-arse-grin on my face.

I love racing.  And this is a sprint tri, I don’t have to leave ANYTHING in the tank, we have only 2 rules

  1. If it doesn’t hurt, go faster
  2. If you can breathe, go faster

Simple right? Well, I implemented the plan. And for a large part of the race my power was over 250 and speed over 23. All good. This course always kills me though, it’s not particularly hard – but I never seem to break 20mph avg. Can never explain it. The wind? Subtle hills? I’m-a-big-wussy-boy? No idea but I was hoping to break 20mph this time, because, well… because!  Am I really trained for all out time trial riding? Um, no, but I didn’t care I was R-A-C-I-N-G. Dream big baby!

Ok, so the rest of the bike was pretty normal stuff. I passed a bunch of people. I got passed by just a few.  And those few? Yeah they passed me like I was taking a nap. But it was a fun ride, it hurt like hell, and I remember how much I love racing my tri bike. Just loads of fun.  Also reminded me this is the first race with this bike! Wheee!!!!

Finally look at the clock before the 2 hills – 40min. Crap! That means no 20mph for me, for sure. Oh well, I tried. A conservative dismount and off to transition.

T2 was much cleaner. Drop helmet kick off shoes, plop down on my butt to get shoes on (oh yeah, mental note after 2 years I’ve still not put my stupid speed laces on… what a dork I am!). Grab my other crap and run. Putting said crap (race belt, amphipod belt, and visor) on as I ran.

Now… this was going to be interesting. For the last 6-8 weeks I’ve ONLY done short intervals. Like 50s at the longest.  Mostly 20s, 30, 40s intervals with similar rest. So the question is…. Was I ready to transition to longer intervals? If I go above 10:20min pace, I have shin cramping. If I go below it, I cannot hold it. And this course is chock full of hills and twists and trails and switchbacks and… yeah, not nice neat simple pavement that I have been running on.

Only one way to find out. Run Biatch Run! So I ran. Made it about 4min before I was done I mean toasted. Muscle failure all over in the legs. Ok, walked a bit. Tried 2min, that was barely doable. In the end I just ran as long as I could run and then walked until I thought I could run. VERY frustrating. The cardio was NOTHING the muscles were just simply did not have the muscular endurance to support what I was asking them to do. The left glute was my weak point. I knew this. So it’s not a surprise. But the sprit was SO willing and eager to race it was frustrating as heck to have the body not cooperate.

I got passed by a few buddies, exchanged words, and kept going. Got passed by a ton of people, but I’m used to that.  I did what I could. Booo!

Finally the end was in site, I managed a 2min segment or so.

Chilled with friends, stayed for awards (I wanted to see top 3 Clydesdales – one was my lane mate! Plus all the Prairie Dog team mates got hardware! 2 first place Age Group and 1 first place team) and afterwards went to lunch with some before heading home.  As frustrating as it all was, I am thankful I can do it at all. That, without any specific training, I can still race a sprint Triathlon is a privilege I don’t take for granted. And a great way to spend a day with new friends and old.

So the triathlon season of 2012 has come to a close. I’m actually kind of glad. I’m not really satisfied with where I am and looking forward to getting to where I want to be.  The “off season” is time for Cyclocross and getting back to basics. Laying the foundation for a successful 2013 season.

Interestingly enough, I have no major goals for 2013 just yet.  I do know that an Ironman isn’t in the cards. Work is interfering on that front, so my return to iron distance (which you have to plot about a year in advance) is delayed 1-2 years.  There’s lots of other fun things to do and I’m only getting better… not older!

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