Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Galena Tri RR

This past weekend I was pretty excited about going out to Galena (land of hills), IL for the Galena Triathlon. I planned this race in conjunction with work as I talked to the race director and partnering retail store about setting up PowerBar for the Post race party. I did this race last year, and to say the least, it was the beginning of an awful year. My front derailleur snapped last year and forced me to stay in the little ring for the entire bike course. This made the downhills pretty pointless and made for a very frustrating day.

So this year, I made sure all was working with the bike and felt confident that a good day was ahead. I packed up the car Friday evening with the bike, race gear, and whole PowerBar set up. I woke up around 3:30am and began the day by filling water jugs of PowerBar restore for the triathletes post race. Restore is my go-to drink for post events as it is the right blend of carbs, protein, electrolytes, and fluid to promote rapid recovery.

I took off from the house around 3:55 and sipped on my cappuccino for the 2 hour drive. I also loaded up on some PowerBar gel blasts (raspberry is my favorite!) and water. Upon arriving, I picked up my race material, dropped my bike and bike gear off in T2 and then hopped back into the car for a 30 min drive over to T1/finish area. After getting all of my race gear ready, I unloaded the car and set up the PowerBar tent, tables, banners, and drinks so that it would be all set to go once the race was complete. From there it was a quick 30 min trip BACK over to the swim start as this is a point to point race. Luckily, coach Sharone of Well-Fit was able to give me a lift over to the race start area.

The weather seemed pretty perfect with a cool breeze and slight clouds, but you could tell the clouds were going to bring some rain at some point. I took my bike out for a quick spin and to make sure all was working well and then parked it back into transition. One mistake was that I forgot to calibrate the Quarq powermeter so my numbers were slightly off. Its as simple as pedaling backwards 4 times! I'll have to make sure to remember this for the next one.

From there is was getting the wetsuit on for the chilly 60 degree temp water and waiting for the start.

While waiting, I found my grandparents who came to watch / support me. It was great to see them as they don't get many opportunities to come and see me race.

I lined up at the front as I knew I could hang with the lead swimmers. I didn't have many pre-race nerves, rather I was pretty confident that I could pull out some fast splits. My body was well rested from workouts and itching to go hard.

With the 10 second countdown, I put my head down, told myself to go hard and never doubt my abilities. The gun went out and I sprinted into the water trying to get in front of the large 100 person swim start. After about 30 seconds of redlining, I realized I was not focusing on form at all and was running out of breathe pretty quickly. I had a pretty bad panic attack from not being able to take in enough air. It scared me as I thought I may have to stop, but I was unable to due to the whole group of swimming right behind me. I knew if I stopped I would be clobbered and pushed under. So I kept pushing and tried to relax. I slowed the pace down and after the first turn buoy I was back to normal and feeling ok, but pretty tired from the quick start.

Three swimmers pulled away and I lead the next group of swimmers the rest of the swim. The front swimmer had about 30 seconds on me by the time we exited, which I was ok with as I progressively get stronger throughout the three disciplines.

Coming out of the water in 4th

I had a quick T1 and actually hopped on my bike about 10 seconds back of the leader. I was unsure of who was up front, but my it my focus to catch him and never look back. The start of the bike is a pretty large hill, which definitely wakes the legs up! I got to the top and then put my feet into the shoes. I realized that when I did this, the leader was pulling pretty far ahead. I didn't worry though as I knew once I was in and pedaling full strength I could catch him.

After going pretty strong, I kept an eye on my Power and realized it wasn't very high. I thought this was due to the downhills and not being able to get it too high. During the race I never even though about how I didn't calibrate it! I was catching up to the leader, but very slowly. I was surprised with how strong of a biker he was. Around 6 miles, I caught him and realized it was Mike Lavery (a PowerBar athlete) from Madison, WI. He is an exceptional triathlete and strong cyclist as well. We exchanged kind words (him telling me he was hoping for another mechanical! haha). I made it a mission to keep riding strong and get as much distance as I could.

Unfortunetely, around mile 8 Mike came back past me. We hit the biggest hill of the course and I did all I could to stay right on him. I used a lot of energy going up the large hill, and once we got to the top, he gapped me quite a bit. He pulled ahead by about 20 seconds as my legs were getting their energy back from the power zapping hill. I got back into a groove and kept the gap around 20-30 seconds all the way into the bike finish. I even hit 57 mph on the large downhill back into town! It was a pretty scary moment as my bike was doing the speed wobble and I was trying to turn. I just missed hitting a cone and cleared the turn. Phew..

I blasted through transition again and made up about 10 seconds on Mike. He was just in front of me and I turned the speed on..

I caught Mike about a minute into the run. This was at the point where we run up the largest hill of the course. I didn't think I was going very fast up it and even thought that Mike may catch back up to me from my lack of uphill speed. But once at the top, I started to push the pace and carried the momentum through the rest of the run. The course was all up and down, but nothing too major besides the first big hill. At mile 3, I started to feel really good and decided to push the last 1.3 miles as hard as I could. I knew I had the win locked up at that point, but wanted to have a solid run split.

Based on the time, my last mile was around 4:40. I felt great and pushed it all the way into the line. My finish time was 1:15:00...a full 8.5 minutes faster than last year.

I was pretty excited about how things went and look forward to the rest of the season. After the race I manned the PowerBar tent and even was able to show off the new Gel flavors - Berry Blast and Kona Punch. There were HUGE positive comments on both of these which is a good sign. I personally used both in the race and couldn't have been more pleased. So start looking for those at your local shop soon! If the shop doesn't have em...just make sure you talk to the manger and request it!!

The post race was good once the sun came out. I kept busy at the both and talked to a lot of athletes. I tore down, loaded the car, and then was back off to Schaumburg. Overall it was a long day, but definitely a fun one.

Nothing big is planned for a while. I hope to race at Muncie 70.3 in July, so it will be a large bike training block until then as well as working a bunch of events on the weekends. So make sure to stop by if you see me and try out some product!

Thanks for checking in....



Rick Lapinski said...

Great race out there Ryan! You two were motoring on the bike...I could never close the gap, and knew I didn't have a chance on the run.

Keep hammering!

Thomas Gerlach Pro Triathlete said...

Dude you need to get back at posting on the blog. Hope all is well.

Thomas Gerlch
Pro Triathlete

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