Yesterday Jocelyn and I raced in part of the inaugural TriDunkirk race weekend, opting to break up the ironman training and suffer through the olympic distance option. Jocelyn had decided about a week prior to do the race, but I wasn't sure that I was ready for such a hard effort yet as I have been trying to strike the proper balance between recovery from Placid and the "build" for Kona. There was no rest week or taper going into this and my legs felt flat, but I said what the hell on Thursday and committed to it mentally. So off I went to register, but alas, the online registration had closed so my only option (but cool that it even is one so close to the race!) was to register the night before at packet pickup. So our original plan of staying the night in Erie was scrapped and off we went to Dunkirk, NY for registration and a night of camping at Lake Erie State Park!
After a quick snooze in the tent, we were up and off to a 24 hr Tim Horton's for a quick breakfast and then to transition to setup. After the Columbia Tri this year, I learned my lesson that I need to warmup for not only sprint distance tris, but also for olympics. I guess I have gotten to used to the long stuff. We probably did not leave enough time for this after setting up and before transition closed so my shoes were out, but not to worry as there was a nice grassy softball field nearby and I went and did a nice barefoot jog with some striders in the dewey morning grass. Jocelyn and I got suited up in our BlueSeventy Helix suits as the water in Lake Erie was a surprising 72', and I started with some warmup calisthenics on the beach. There were a number of different formats being held all on the same day, with two sprint waves going off at 7, but I was in the fourth overall wave to go off at 7:34, 4 minutes behind the F1 format race (1.5k/40/10/repeat > .75/40/10) which seemed to be the bigger draw for the day.
At 7:34 I was off from an in-water (knee deep) in a relatively small wave compared to which I am accustomed. I set off right for the first turn buoy and set a hard tempo out to the turn, prob 200-250m. The warmup run and vigorous arm exercises seemed to help and before I knew it I was into the lead and feeling good. I made the first turn and still did not have any contact with a single person, something very foreign to me at least as of late! I kept the kick up and tried to keep my arms churning as I all too often fall into my lackadaisical, pool-swimmer's efficient glide, and kept reminding myself that this was meant to be a fast, painful race! I could not see the second buoy once I made the turn as I was now swimming towards the rising sun and sighting through my older, foggy goggles, but I lucked out and picked the correct angle and the next buoy soon came into view. I made note of a reference point on the shore behind the buoy as this was to be a two lap swim and I wanted to make sure that I stayed on course for the second lap. Out and onto the beach for a brief run, and back in for another go round. I continued to feel smooth and strong during the second lap, sighting very well, and exited the water in a fast (for me) 18:33, probably too fast honestly and I would estimate about a minute or so short.
I was up the beach and into transition pretty quick, but still had a little difficulty getting my wetsuit off over my calves. The bodyglide I tried helped a little I think, but I may still need to trim/shorten the leg openings. I once again had a hard time getting my Giro Advantage 2 aero helmet on again (maybe I have Dumbo ears??) and am thinking I should try a different brand. Has anybody else had problems with this and found a good aero helmet that is big-ear friendly? Otherwise T1 went pretty well (small zones help!) and I was out in 1:12.
I started out on the bike course and started killing the pedals, trying to redeem myself from my last olympic distance bike effort, and keep the pressure on, and HR and watts way up. As I headed out I was fairly pleased with how I was feeling so far, with HR where I wanted it and watts pretty respectable. The course was and out and back with small loop in the middle for the turnaround, and while I was expecting an eagleman-like bike course, it had surprisingly more undulations than I anticipated being right next to the lake! Still, I would have to consider it a flat to rolling bike course, and has the potential to be quite fast. There was a little bit of a cross-wind, but nothing too bad for being a lakefront strip. Some of those little risers stung the legs though, that's for sure! In the second half of the bike, my HR and power dropped a little, but not too bad considering the way back was the "downhill" trend and my lack of training tailored to holding this kind of effort for extended periods of time. Bike split of 1:02:25, avg speed of 24.0 mph. While it was a considerably different course than my last olympic bike effort, I am much more satisfied with this ride.
T2 = 0:58 seconds. I was off onto the run along the beautiful lakefront. I was getting a little recon from an F1 competitor that I had caught towards the end of the bike, who exited transition with me and was filling me in on the guy in second who was trying to chase me down. This helped as I initially had no idea that this guy in the olympic race was slowly reeling me in on the merit of faster transitions and a slightly faster bike, and was only confused because there was the sprint/olympic/F1/duathlon all going on at the same time. I set off, picking up the cadence, weaving in and out along the beach, marina, pier, and numerous parks that the run course navigated. The run was a 2 lap affair, like the swim had been. I started getting chances now to see my competition at the few out and backs, and to begin taking time splits. I was putting a little time on my primary chaser, but the race was long from over. My form started falling off a little in the second 5k and I sensed the overall fatigue from the week and the intense racing of the day - Pretty uncharacteristic cardiac drift for me, but then again this is an olympic and not an ironman (!), and I managed to keep it together and crossed the finish line in first overall for the olympic race, getting a great BallouSkies shout out from Mary Eggers, the Score-This! (event promoter/director) announcer! Run time was 39:01 for a 6.45 mi run per my garmin, for a 6:05 pace avg. Take a little (swim), give a little (run), it all works out in the end! Total finish time of 2:02:09. I was hoping to go under 2 hours for this event, but given where my total training picture/focus is at, I'll take it and I feel pretty much normal again today. Jocelyn took home the win in the women's race in 2:17:56 and was 6th overall - tremendous day for Team Cornman and Team BallouSkies!
After the race and a random, broken recovery run that caused us to miss the awards ceremony (d'oh!), Jocelyn and I went about getting to know some of our fellow racers, the Score-This team, and finally met Mary, who writes for Xtri in addition to her own amazing blog. Mary has also profiled some of our BallouSkies teammates and I am told is planning a piece on the whole charity coming up very soon! All in all, Jocelyn and I had a great time in Dunkirk and this was a great first year event. This event is bound to flourish with this venue and with such friendly local residents and racers from that region. Jocelyn and I met so many great people and had such enjoyable conversations, I didn't think we were ever going to get back home! Long story short - great fitness stimulus, great race, great people - great day!