Monday, May 21, 2012

Bluff Creek Triathlon Race Report and Results

On Sunday I raced the Bluff Creek Olympic distance triathlon near Boone, Iowa.  I decided to do this race about a month ago when I found out a couple friends and fellow Live Uncommoners were doing the race.  I thought it would be a good race to do with a 1/2 Ironman in Kansas looming on the horizon.  I wanted to get a longer open water swim than I'll be doing in the sprint races so this was perfect.  I met friends and fellow LU'ers Aaron Maurer, Josiah Campbell, and Chad Uhde at Chad's house in Bettendorf on Saturday afternoon.  This was going to be the first triathlon for all three of those guys.  I decided to drive because I thought 4 bikes and all our gear would be tight in Chad's truck plus I had come down with a cold and I didn't want to be coughing on those guys for the 3.5 hour ride.  We made the trip just fine although at one time I thought I was going to get the three bikes on Chad's rack through the front window of my car when some crazy lady decided to come to a complete stop on interstate 80 to do an illegal u-turn.  Thankfully I was able to get stopped and there was no one behind me or my bike in the trunk may have been reduced to 1/2 its' current size. 
We got to Ames and picked up our packets and then made our way to the Pizza Ranch.  I had never been to Pizza Ranch before but it is an all you can eat pizza buffet that includes salad bar, dessert pizza, and even ice cream.  We put down plenty of food.  I had basically skipped lunch knowing I would probably end up filling my stomach at dinner and Aaron captured a good picture of one round of food at our table...there were 3 or 4 rounds for each of us.  After finishing off our food we went to the Super 8 in Boone and found out why Aaron got such a good rate.  We were located across the street from the Boone Speedway and the racing was in full session.  The cars were so loud you couldn't even hear the person next to you when trying to have a conversation.  Thankfully they were done by 10 pm and the hotel walls must have been built to keep the speedway noise to a minimum because I couldn't hear them from inside the walls. 
At about 9:00 Chad, Aaron and I got out for about a 20 minute run.  It was nice to get the legs loosened up after the long car ride.  When we laid down to sleep my big fears were lived out.  I had been feeling sick since Wednesday and it was culminating with coughing attacks on Saturday night.  I couldn't lay down on the bed without coughing uncontrollably.  I went to the Wal-Mart next door and bought a nice supply of cough drops and some nightime cough medicine I hoped not to use since that always makes me feel really groggy and hung over in the morning.  After trying to get the coughing to stop for about 30 minutes while those guys were trying to sleep I caved and took the NyQuil.  That didn't do a bit of good...I was coughing so hard and so often I could not even come close to settling into a sleep.  I was really worrying about keeping those guys up before their first ever race and this was not a big race for me so at 12:45 after about 2 hours of laying there coughing I decided I better move to my car.  I went out and reclined the seat and locked the doors and actually fell asleep pretty quickly.  I woke up at 3:00 am and decided I would try to move back to the hotel since I was no longer coughing.  The second I laid down the coughing continued.  I couldn't believe it.  I was coughing so hard I couldn't even keep the cough drops in my mouth.  I was worried one was going to fly out and hit one of the other three guys trying to sleep.  At 3:45 I moved back to the car and the next thing I knew the sun was up and it was 5:30.  I rushed from the car to the hotel room to make a quick breakfast of Wheaties Fuel and yogurt knowing those guys would want to be leaving soon.  My stomach was not feeling good at all.  The Pizza Ranch Gods were having a good laugh at how my stomach was feeling.  I relieved it twice at the hotel but the Pizza Ranch continued to swirl.
We made our way to the race venue and set up in transition.  The race had a sprint and Olympic distance.  Josiah and Chad were competing in the sprint while Aaron and I were doing the Olympic race.  The transition area was first come first serve so I found a spot Aaron and I could both put our bikes not knowing that racking next to Aaron would later nearly lead to sabotaging my race.  After setting my stuff up I went for a 1.5 mile run and then waited in line for the porta-johns because the Pizza Ranch was giving me a really bad feeling again.  After that I put on the wetsuit and asked a race official if I could swim to the race start.  They were taking athletes around the lake to the start by shuttle bus even though it was only about a 400 yard swim to the spot they were shuttling to.  He told me I could not swim to the start but I went down to the lake and when I saw people warming up nearly half way to where I was standing I jumped in and swam my way to the start rather than wait for the shuttle.  This turned out to be a great idea since Aaron, Josiah, and Chad didn't show up for about 25 minutes.  I got about 1,000 yards swimming in but I had a major problem brewing.  Pizza Ranch was swirling around in my tummy and it felt like a ticking time bomb.  I knew it was only matter of time before Pizza Ranch came out and it didn't care if I was in the middle of a race or not.  My options were limited.  There was no bathroom that I could see on the side of the lake we were starting on.  I decided to think I would use a bathroom at an aid station on the run but Pizza Ranch continued ticking away and I knew I would not have that much time.  I kept thinking about professional triathlete Jordan Rapp who had to take a DNF at Ironman Arizona after admittingly pooping his pants during the race.  I did not want the same fate so I made the decision to unload right there in the lake.  I unloaded first and then took my wetsuit down while hiding in the deeper waters of the lake away from anyone else.  I washed everything out and made my way back to shore so I could put my wetsuit back up...this was not a pleasant experience nor is it something I ever want to happen again.  Pizza Ranch is officially off my pre-race menu...NEVER AGAIN!!

SWIM:  I went out in the 5th swim wave.  The first 3 were sprint waves and then there was one wave of collegiate club men and women doing the Olympic distance.  When the horn sounded I took off at a good pace on the outside of the group.  I wanted to get out hard because I know the pro starts get out super fast and I wanted to simulate what Kansas will be like.  After 100 yards or so I looked around for feet I could get on and saw some to my right.  I made my way over and connected on.  I stayed on the feet for about another 400 yards when we were joined by a 3rd swimmer.  He was moving a little faster than us so I wanted to make sure if he pulled ahead I could switch feet.  We swam as a group of three until just after the 3rd bouy which was about 1/2 way into the swim.  At that point the 3rd guy that had joined us took off.  I was able to see it before the gap was too big and I focused on breathing every three and kicking a bit harder and was able to make the gap up.  I stayed on his feet until about the last 100 yards when he started to get away.  He got out of the water 4 seconds ahead of me.  I was thrilled with my swim.  I knew the time wasn't good when I got out of the water but you never know how accurate swim distances are in open water especially on a windy day like we had...oh yeah I failed to mention this was a very windy morning...15-20 mph with gusts over that.  When I got the results it was confirmed to me I swam really well.  My swim was ranked 4th and the fastest swim was less than 3 minutes ahead of me and he was a guy who swam for the University of Iowa.  After that the gap was 1 minute to 2nd fastest time and 4 seconds to 3rd.  My swim time on the long course was 26:16 and that included about a minute run up to the transition area. 
BIKE: I knew it was going to be a windy bike ride.  I had looked at the forecasts ahead of time and decided to ride my brand new Zipp 808 Firecrest wheels.  I opted to go without a water bottle and filled my Specialized Shiv Fuelselage with GU Roctane Tropical Fruit drink.  I also wanted to practice filling the Fuelselage since there was one bottle exchange on the course.  The ride was windy as expected.  The gusts made it very difficult to get comfortable.  In the sprint distance race Chad Uhde crashed after catching a huge gust of wind.  Thankfully he was able to get up and keep going.  I had riders from the wave ahead of me to catch so that was nice to have out in front of me.  I put out a big effort on the bike.  There was one HUGE hill going into a valley.  I topped out at 48.6 mph going down it which scared the Pizza Ranch out of me considering the wind gusts that could come at any time.  Up the other side I was barely able to hold 10 mph.  I had passed all the guys who started 3 minutes ahead of me by the turnaround except for one...the super swimmer from Iowa.  After the turn the ride got very tough as we were mostly into headwinds.  Going back down and up the hill again was torture.  I was biking at 9 mph going up it into the wind.  Despite that I was making up time on the rider ahead of me.  My legs did not feel particularly good and I felt like I was riding very slow.  I passed the last rider ahead of me with about 3 miles to go.  I finished up the bike leg with a split of 1:03:23 which was the fastest ride of the day. 

RUN: I was quick to get my helmet off and shoes on in transition.  I then went to put my race belt on and I didn't see it.  I picked up my wetsuit to see if it was hiding under there but no luck.  I picked up my transition gear race belt.  I looked in my transition gear race belt.  I saw Aaron's belt laying there but could not find my black Xterra Wetsuit race belt with #407 on it.  I left transition and yelled to volunteers that my belt was nowhere to be found hoping they would not DQ me for not wearing one.  My legs did not feel very good on the run.  I was hoping to run 5:45's...goal pace in Kansas but they were not wanting to do that.  I knew I had a big lead so I kept thinking "just run tempo pace."  My tempo pace runs have been in the 5:45 range lately and that has felt so easy but this was not feeling as easy as it should have.  I don't know it it was the sickness or that I didn't back off at all for this race.  I did a longer bike ride in the wind the day before and maybe that was it...not sure but it wasn't a pleasant run and by the time I finished I was pretty disappointed in how I felt about the race.  I ran 37:08 which was the 2nd fastest run of the day.  That pace was barely under 6:00 miles and it should not have felt as difficult as it did.  I ended up winning the race with a total time of 2:08:39.  I probably should have felt better about the race but I just kept thinking if I race like this in Kansas I'll be lucky not to finish last in the pro race.  I felt much better about the race after getting home and seeing the results as well as looking at past results.  It really put things in perspective for me.  I learned my swim ranking was 4th and other guys who did this race in the past were 2-3 minutes slower on the swim this year so that made me realize why my time was so slow.  My bike time was the fastest ever on this course and only 1 minute slower than professional triathlete super biker TJ Tollakson's split a few years back.  This made me excited to think I could ride a good time even with my legs feeling tired in the windy conditions.  My run sucked but I also went in with the mindset that I was not going to run hard unless I had to because I want to have a great week of training.  Complete race results with splits can be found by clicking here.  This was my first race in my new Kiwami Prima top and bottom.  I loved the new jersey.  The front zipper is very long so on hot days at Ironman branded events when you can't take the top off I'll be able to open it up and I can even pull it up if needed since it's a 2 piece suit.  The pockets were easy for me to put my GU wrappers in on the bike. 
I was super excited to watch Aaron finish and find out how Chad and Josiah did.  I learned of Chad's crash but then heard that he still managed to win the Clydesdale division of the sprint race and Josiah finished 3rd in the Clydesdale division.  Aaron finished AWESOME!  He went 2 hrs. 32 minutes and won the Olympic distance clydesdale race by 30 minutes.  He ran a 7 minute/mile pace on the tough 10k course.  He had one of the worst bikes at the race...sorry Boris (name Aaron gave to his bike) but I have to be honest here.  I was saying prayers for Aaron and Boris when I went down the huge hill on new Zipp Firecrest wheels that are 100% true because I saw the wobble on Boris' wheels the day before when I spun them.  I can't imagine that wobble at 40+ mph.  Aaron's blog is a hilarious read and is here.  I was most excited that those guys had a blast in their first triathlon ever and I was glad I could share the day with them.  By the race belt...was around Aaron's waste when he finished.  He put on MY belt before getting onto his bike!  I told him with my luck last year the time I spent looking for it would have cost me the race.  Half the fun of the sport is getting in great shape.  The other half is enjoying the training and seeing it pay off.  These guys have gotten to experience both of those.  Up next will be Pigman Sprint if I hear about getting in by the end of the week.  If I don't hear I'll scratch it and train like crazy next week since Friday is my last day of work for the next 3 months.  I can't wait for summer training and racing to begin.  2 races in and 2 wins but the level of competition goes to a whole new world in June.  I am excited to see how I stack up. 
I almost forgot...the most exciting news of the weekend is that Super Mom traveled to Rockford, IL to run a 1/2 Marathon on Sunday morning.  She drove up the morning of leaving the house at 4:00 am and won th race earning her a paycheck of $350.00.  Her time of 1 hr. 22 minutes was well under the course record earning her a bonus $175.00 so her total pay day was $525.00 which is a new Paul family record.  She told me afterwards she eased up in the last few miles so she wouldn't have a difficult time setting the record again next year!  She has taken a commanding lead on me in terms of race income earned this $50.00 at Bluff Creek didn't compare.  Jen is selflessly donating all her race earnings this year to her newly engaged sister Shanna's wedding fund so Shanna was pretty excited the result.  I really need to place high in a pro race if I want to catch Super Mom on the money list.  She's incredible.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

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