Monday, August 3

FCF at the Cleveland Triathlon: Year 2

FCF co-founders Nick and I made our triathloning debut in the Cleveland Triathlon last year, and this weekend returned, determined for even better things. We each placed second in our age brackets in 2008; the results were quite a bit different this year for both Nick and Andy, for vastly different reasons. At right you see a camera phone pic I took of Downtown today, including the harbor where we swam and parts of the bike and run courses.

Having learned our lesson about not eating well the night before a race from our adventures the week before at Pittsburgh, we were much healthier on Saturday evening this time out. There were a few complications; I had to borrow Nick's backup swimsuit after misplacing mine, and we had to take a trip to Bike Authority to fix a punctured inner tube on Nick's bike, but all was well. We went to Progressive Field, where the Indians completed their Ways to Lose Baseball Games Bingo card by balking in the winning run in the 12th. Knowing we'd have to get up before 5 am the next day, we cut bait after the 10th inning.

As veterans, we were much better informed and prepared this year. Most notable change: we showed up on time. This allowed us to get reasonable transition area position and get settled in before hitting the water. We hopped in during the second wave, right after the Super Sprint people did their little race. I tend to belittle the Super Sprint, and I suppose International racers do the same for the Sprint distance, but Super Sprint really is short.

This year's race featured 290 entrants, up from 214 last year, making the swim a bit more hectic. Nick was 20th out of the water, kicking it out in 9:55, while I was 120th out at 13:34. His was 1 minute slower than last year; mine was three minutes slower. There's no T1 (swim to bike transition) listed, but it seems the bike time incorporates that. Hard to tell. On the bright side, Lake Erie was the perfect temperature to swim in.

The cycle was where each of us made our most significant improvements, thanks to better gear and, at least on my part, more of an emphasis on cycle training. There was a little bit of rain on the course and some wind blowing east, but nothing we couldn't handle. I cycled in 52:08, 47th-best and almost four minutes faster than last year; Nick blazed in 47:47, dropping more than five minutes from 2008. Knock about 1:30 off of those if they indeed include T1, and you see what bike monsters we are. Apparently concerned about not looking silly enough. Nick added this comical aero bar-mounted water bottle for this race. Good times.

Conditions were very good for the run; better than my time was, anyway. As I've mentioned, I had knee surgery now 11 weeks ago, and my running isn't nearly where it should be. Well, today the knee was physically fine (yay!), though I was a bit tired rolling off the bike. The problem: I've got no training base on foot anymore. So structurally I was sound, but ran out of gas quicker than I'm accustomed to. That's not accurate - one has to have something in the first place to run out of it. The result: a lame 27:56, for 78th place. Nick was the 5th-best runner, at 22:07.

We definitely both improved in transition; Nick took a minute off his T2 (bike to run) and I dropped 30 seconds from my own. I mentioned before about T1, but Nick certainly got back a lot of time there. When the dust settled, Nick ended up at 1:19:48, ~10 minutes faster than last year; at 1:33:36, I managed to best my 2008 time by a minute, injuries and all. Nick's effort was good for 6th overall (up from 21st last year); mine put me at 58th (from 43rd). Yes, I ran faster this year and dropped 15 spots. As with last week, if you give me my last year's running time, things improve considerably; I would have had 41st. Oh well, this is a Cleveland race, so there's always next year.

The age groups are where it gets interesting. Nick destroyed his age group, beating the next "20-24" year-old guy by approximately 15 minutes. That's ridiculous. I would have placed second in Nick's division, but I'm not in the Young Bucks Division anymore. No, this year, I'm in the "30-34" bracket. I use the quotation marks because, in case I wasn't clear on this last week, I'M NOT 30 YET. As I said, I would have placed 2nd in Nick's division, and I would have gotten 5th in 25-29, right behind a friendly fellow named Kyle who puled away from me in the run. Inasmuch as I'm 29, that seems the most relevant piece of information. Unfortunately, the geniuses at USAT have decided I'm 30 (I'm not), leaving me right in the middle at 10th out of a group of 19. It's tough being old. For the record, Nick would have got 2nd in my group as well.

So, the big race for the year is over, and I think we both have to be pleased with our progress. Next year, I can see Nick gunning for Top 5 overall. Barring any unforeseen knee operations, I'm looking to break 1:30. This year, we're looking at Lorain and Erie, both of which will be a little more low-key than the big one. I can say this for certainty: they will both have better-looking t-shirts than this abomination . I think my face in this photo communicates my thoughts on the shirt more effectively than words could. Really, pink/brown/orange on a tan background? Did they have surplus tan shirts and pink ink? This thing is amazing. I can't believe I wore it out of my house after the race. But everything else about the day I enjoyed.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Lorain looks a little smaller, which will be fun. I hope you do Erie. It does have a fine long-sleeve T.