Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sooke Race Report

I decided to wait before writing this report and for that I'm glad I did. After the race I was very disappointed with the outcome, however, now a week later I feel as though I have a different perspective of how things went. Believe me, had I written this report fresh, it would have a very different feel.

It was a typical race weekend, the only difference being not nearly as many people involved. Sooke was a small race and many of the regulars decided to skip it because they were either competing elsewhere or had already finished their season.

I stayed at Dereks place once again, thanks for that, and woke up race morning as rested and ready to go as ever.

From Dereks we had a short trip to T2 where we dropped off our shoes and then hopped on the bus to Camp Barnard where the swim start is.

After a nervous bathroom wait where there was 1 bathroom for the 100 athletes, Derek suggested wondering the camp and finding others. Sure enough we found port-o-potties that had clearly never been used. It was funny how relaxed race morning can be when you don't have any of the usual stresses.

Derek and I quickly got to the water just in time for the last announcers words and waited for the canon to go off.

Check out this photo, do I look prepared (bottom right)?

I didn't feel good in the water, I felt as though I was being passed by everyone and that I just wasn't giving it 100%. My right knee started getting stiff in the fleshy part behind the joint but that settled out after about 1000m. I exited the swim with a descent time just under 29 minutes. Fairly comparable to my other swims this year. I can't really complain seeing as how much swimming I've been doing.

I've never seen myself in my goggles, now I know why people make fun of them

After a quick transition I was off and on my bike. Right away I was feeling great. Pushing hard and catching up to a lot of people. I was told coming out of transition by some friends and spectators that I was in 10th, turns out truth was 11th. Quickly in the first 5 minutes of the bike I had caught myself up to 7th and after 15km was in 6th. Things were going my way. That is, until disaster struck on the bike. I was riding in the big ring starting to slow down. I reached up to shift down to the small ring just as the guy in front of me swerves a little to the left. His derailer cable snapped and he was investigating it. His swerve wasn't anywhere near me, but it was sudden enough for me to shove my shifter down and brace my hands on the handle bars. In doing so my chain fell off over the small ring. No big deal, shift up keep pedaling and everything will be fine. Well no such luck today. The road in Sooke is rough to say the least, and I'm assuming I hit a bump which threw my chain up between the small ring and my frame. When I pedaled I just cranked the chain further up wedging and twisting it. Chain was instantly locked. Got off the bike and first thought it was my rear wheel from the bump. Opened the quick release, no luck. Loosened it again and thats when I noticed my chain. I tried as best I could to get the chain out but it was in there good. In the end it cost me about 3-4 minutes to fix. I had to jump on my left pedal in reverse to get the chain out putting a nice little scratch down the side of my frame. Great.

After this is all dealt with I flip the quick release back and get on my way. Instantly my gears are shifting all funny. Awesome, but no matter. I just keep pushing, trying to control myself from going 150% for the next 10 minutes and blowing up. I went from 6th to 20th in those minutes.

After a descent next 30km I am coming down a steep hill and one of the volunteers waves an ambulance bus in front of me. I'm conveniently going 65-70km/h and have to slam on the brakes. The ambulance didn't have its lights on or anything, it was just commuting. As I slowed I got to about 20km/h before my breaks put my rear wheel into a skid. Once this happened, I guess my rear quick release wasn't tightened enough in my haste because my rear wheel slipped right out. Thankfully I wasn't going very fast and managed to get my foot on the ground before the wheel did any damage to my bike or fell out. It was just dangling in the chain. This could have been terrible. Thankfully it wasn't. The worst that happened was I had to get off my bike losing all the momentum of the hill (which was a lot) and put the wheel back in while swearing under my breath of how stupid I am.

All in all this was a physically great bike, I felt strong and fast. However, with the issues unfortunately it didn't go quite as planned. And on a separate note, I don't know if I will do this race again for the simple fact of the quality of the road. It was terrible. Sure it was a beautifully scenic course, but when you think your bike is breaking under you the whole time because of the violent vibrations, you just can't enjoy it. Road quality, gets an F. The rest of the race an A though.

Probably about 5 minutes before bike disaster #1

I like this photo

Nicks girlfriend Hannah out on the bike course

My lovely ride over to the island, Claire. I don't think I was that happy on the bike

Ceilidh out on the bike course

Hey looks its the bumble bee, this guy makes me laugh

I ended up getting off the bike in 14th and started the run. Sadly this is where the race ended for me. Getting out of transition I was only about 1:45 behind Derek. Not bad considering, I should have been really pleased with this. But after the first km was slow (around 4:20 instead of my hopeful 4:00) I tried to push it a little faster and only came up with a 4:15 for km 2. These are decent speeds but I just didn't have the mental toughness to deal with it anymore and I gave up. I didn't actually stop running but I slowed down drastically. I think my 3rd km was on 5:20. Things I've learned from this race;
  1. 19km is a long way to run home when you really just want to quit.
  2. Running slowly in racing flats hurt
  3. Running slowly in general hurts, your really not smooth and there is a lot more hammering.
I ended up finishing the race averaging 5:05 min/km on the run. My slowest run pace EVER in any race. I wasn't a happy camper. People were passing me going at a very easy pace, 4:40-4:50, but I just didn't care. I let them go. I don't think I've ever done this before and hopefully never will again.

Now for the reflection. It has been a long season, and I wasn't in as good of shape for Sooke as I was for races like the New Balance or Vancouver half. Despite this I was demanding of myself the same quality performance. I managed to pull that out of the swim/bike, however, when I got to the run I think it was just a little too much. I wanted to run 4:00 min/km but even without any mental breakdowns that was probably beyond my limits. So when I couldn't pull it out I started blaming the race for my lack of fitness. Saying that all this had happened and no one would blame me for quitting (which they haven't but should). I've come to accept that I quit, however, am no longer as disappointed with the outcome of the run. Next time I just need to re-evaluate my form and create goals that are not exceeding my potential of the day.

In the end it was a long race (longest I've ever done by 1 minute), but it was a beautiful day and I got to spend it with a bunch of my friends, so I'm no longer complaining. And on the plus side I am now much more motivated for my half marathon in 3 weeks to finish my season on a strong note.

A new friend Eric Suess who may be joining UBCTC

Derek very quickly making a 2 minute gap much, much bigger

Claire finishing up the run

Me with the look of pleasure all over my face

Enjoying the scenery out on the run course

Podium shot. Can't say I'm too disappointed with this one, Derek and I 1/2 and Eric in 3rd!


MJ said...

Hey dude,

If I understood what happened properly, i've had the same problem with the chain jamming in that spot... I think it's a bad design 'element' of our frame.

Don't beat yourself up about "quitting"... Just let it fuel the fire for the next time.


Ulyana said...

Oh, yes, that's a familiar feeling where you finish the race but have given up on the result. I'm not sure a lot of folks out there would be too giddy after all the problems on the bike. You did great, regardless!