Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pigman Triathlon Race Report & Results

On June 7th Payton, Jen, and I headed to Cedar Rapids for the Pigman Sprint Triathlon. I had never raced this event but had heard great things about it. I knew it was going to be a loaded field. I planned on staying in a hotel in the Cedar Rapids area but decided against that late in the week. One reason was that I had been lazy about booking a hotel but the deciding factor was that I like to be up 3.5-4 hours before a race and I wasn't sure how that would work out with me being awake in a hotel room at 4:00 a.m. trying to keep Payton sound asleep. I decided it would be best to drive the morning of. I had trouble falling asleep on Saturday night due to race thoughts. For some reason I always seem to have these terrible dreams the night before big races. I dreamt that we missed the I-380 exit and ended up in Des Moines causing me to miss the race...another one I can remember was that I got a flat tire and couldn't finish the race...yet another was that I was swimming but forgot my swimsuit and wetsuit...oh that would be bad. I woke up just before the alarm was supposed to go off at 3:15 and instantly started my pre-race breakfast...yes it sure looks good doesn't it. Belgium waffle loaded with Skippy Natural peanut butter, topped off with some honey. I figured it had about 100 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of protein, and I didn't want to calculate the fat or calories.

We arrived in plenty of time for me to pick up my packet and prepare for the race with a nice 1.5 mile warm-up running and a good 600 yards of swimming mixed with drills and build-ups. I was feeling pretty good and was excited to race this loaded field. The women were scheduled to go off 9 minutes and 7 seconds..yes that's correct, 9 minutes and 7 seconds ahead of us. They offer a gender equalized bonus of $750.00 at this race for the first place male or female. That is in addition to the $600.00 given to the male and female winners. There were 22 guys in the Elite wave that I was in.

Swim- I knew the swim would be key for me. Based on the splits from last year I was hoping to swim in the middle of the Elite pack hoping to find some good feet to draft behind. I knew if I could get out of the water in the middle of the pack I would be in good shape. When the horn sounded I dove in expecting lots of contact but there was actually very little. I hugged the right side and let the fast swimmers start in front of me. I wanted to simply stay locked in on their feet. I was swimming well through the first 200 yards and it didn't feel too difficult. I was still in a relatively large group but when we made the turn around the buoy half way into the 547 yard swim I looked up and the group was gone. This was my big mistake. I never should have let the group get away from me. Once I was on my own the gap opened up much larger. I ended up exiting the swim in 7:25 which was about a minute back of the leaders and about 45 seconds back from the pack I hoped to stay with. When I arrived in transition I saw there weren't many bikes left from the Elite racks which is never a good sign. I had a good transition to the bike with my shoes already clipped in. This year is my first in doing that and it has been helping me save precious seconds in the races. My overall swim ranking was 35th out of the 675 individuals in the race.

Bike- Out on the bike course I immediately began moving up in the race. I started passing guys whose names I recognized and they were ones I had never beaten before. I was pretty excited about how I was riding. We had a long stretch that was very fast heading into the tiny town of Palo, IA. We did a loop through the town that was probably only a mile long and it was very frustrating because we had 4 sharp turns in this one mile stretch and I was pretty conservative on the turns because the road was very wet due to the heavy rains a couple hours before the race started. After getting through Palo I continued to pass more riders and started wondering what place I was in. We got to a point in the course where we turn around and about a minute before the turn around I saw the first guy coming...unfortunately along with the first guy were 7 other guys. They were lined up one after another which was pretty frustrating to me because I was out on my own working to catch a group of riders who were able to use each other for help. I hope this was done legally because it's rare to see so many riders in a triathlon together in a group like that since they don't allow drafting but there was nothing I could do about it. I never saw a single course marshall out and there wasn't a penalty assessed in the entire race out of 675 riders which is unheard of in a triathlon where drafting isn't supposed to take place. The top 8 riders ended up coming in all within about 15 seconds of each other. I was the 9th one to come in and was about 2.5 minutes behind at this point. I did have one big mistake with about a mile and a half left in the course. We went down a hill and the road split two ways. There were volunteers there who apparently didn't feel the need to say which way to go. I saw a rider going left so I turned left...of course the rider going left was starting out on the bike course and someone yelled to me that I was going the wrong way. I got turned back around but the 4 guys who were behind me passed me. Out of frustration I picked the pace back up and passed them all again before getting off the bike in 9th place. My second transition was the fastest of the day in help to the running dismount and leaving my shoes clipped in. I was out on the run in 9th place. My bike split was the 10th fastest, behind all 8 of the guys who were in the lead group and one other guy who finished the race just behind me. I averaged 24.8 miles per hour.

Run: I pushed the pace early in the run. I knew there were 4 guys who were right behind me getting off the bike. I also wanted to see if I could catch someone from the first pack because I wasn't sure exactly how far ahead they were. I went through the first mile somewhere around 5:35. Just after the mile mark I had a guy come up on me moving at a good pace. I told myself to latch on for as long as I could. The tempo got faster and we went through the 2 mile together which wasn't marked. I was getting some small cramps in my hamstrings but continued to push through them. I knew I was running faster than I ever had in a triathlon. We passed a few of the women from the Elite wave but no guys were in sight. Just after two miles another guy passed me and he was really moving fast. I tried to pick it up to go with him but couldn't hold the pace. With a half mile to go yet another guy passed me. I recognized him. He won the Trihawks race that I finished 7th in last September. I latched on to him and with about 400 meters to go I decided to make a late charge. I passed him back and almost got one of the other guys who passed me but missed by 1 second. My 5k split was 17:41, my best in a triathlon by about 15 seconds. My average mile pace was 5:42. I'd like to get that down to under 5:30 by season's end for a sprint distance. My finish time was 1:04:52 which placed me 11th overall. Complete results with splits can be found at I was pretty disappointed by the placing. I was really hoping to be in the top 5, but after looking at the results I felt better about it. My time goal had been to break 1:04. The field was simply loaded. There were 12 USA Triathlon age group All-Americans and one professional in the field. The guy who was 6th today was 3rd at the Amateur Age Group National race in Oregon last September. He was also 2nd at Hy-Vee in Des Moines and 2nd at Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis. He's an absolute stud and was 6th at Pigman. I beat some guys I'd never beaten who were ranked much higher than I was last year. With that said, I'm not satisfied. I have a lot of work to do. Congratulations to champion Daniel Bretscher on a great race. Daniel is a professional triathlete from Indiana who is in his second year competing as a professional. He was recently awarded USA Triathlon's professional Rookie of the Year award. I enjoy following his career. My plan as of now is to train hard through Hy-Vee on June 28th and then back off for Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis on July 11th. I think if I back off for the QC Triathlon and for Hy-Vee I won't gain much fitness from now until Lifetime Fitness so I'm going to work hard for a month and then hope for a big time drop and a breakout race then. School is over. I have 8 hours more each day I didn't have the past 31 weeks. What I do with that time will determine my success by the end of the summer. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!


Beth said...

I think you did awesome. The race day posts are my favorite.
You've inspired me... to eat a Belgium waffle with peanut butter.

Jeff Paul said...

Thanks Beth! I'm glad you enjoy the race day posts and the Belgium waffle is awesome!