Saturday, July 14, 2007

Home Court Advantage

The day started early, with Christy and I rolling out about 6:00 am to head for her Iowa Games Triathlon at Don Williams Lake. There was a huge crowd at Don Williams! In addition to the 400 athletes, there must have been at least that many spectators.

I also saw all types of competitors and bikes. There was everything from full carbon Cervelos and Quintana Roos, to grandmas riding hybrids and kids riding suspended mountain bikes. It was great to see them all out there competing.

Christy did great! She had a little trouble with slower swimmers, and settled for their pace rather than hers, but it was her first tri, and that’s all a part of the learning experience.

I hated to do it, but she made me leave for the mountain bike race as she was transitioning from the bike to the run. She later told me that she finished strong.

So I got to the race at Peterson’s with just enough time get signed in, dressed, and do a little warm-up (I didn’t really need a pre-ride, as I could ride the place blind folded). During my warm-up, I tried to size up my competition. Hmm, Bruce Brown, Bruce Reese, and Sterling Heise have all been faster than me lately. I also picked out CICC roadies Tom Eaton and Shawn Loomis as guys to watch.

There must have been 40-50 people in the sport class (and only 10-12 in expert). I lined up on the front row next to Sterling. At the gun, I jumped on his wheel. The pace on the gravel on the gravel was surprisingly comfortable, but since I was already where I wanted to be (5th) I resisted the urge to jump ahead. When Sterling started to fade, I moved around him. I think I was sixth going into the woods, just behind Tom Eaton. During the woods leg, I chatted with Tom about the dust from the leading bikes. I was surprised at how relaxed and composed I felt, and how I wasn’t out of breath. In the next gravel section I went by Tom, leaving just Bruce Reese, a Bike Masters guy, and the two leaders in front of me.

When we came out of the little section off the parking lot on the east side, the two guys in front were starting to get away, so I yelled to Bruce that we should jump on it so that they didn’t get a gap. We tried to close the gap on them, and in the process passed the Bike Masters guy. Bruce and I tried working together, but even then we couldn’t do much to close the gap to 1 and 2.

We stayed that way until somewhere in the second lap when Bike Masters guy got around Bruce and I. I tried to get past Bruce a few times, but just didn’t have enough to do it. He was faster in the open stuff, and I would catch back up in the tighter stuff. This was mostly because, like I said earlier, I can ride the place blindfolded. I had a home court advantage, and was trying to use it however I could.

In the final lap as Bruce and I tried to catch the Bike Masters guy, I also heard someone on my tail from time to time (I later found out it was Shawn Loomis). He would also gain on me in the open areas, and would gap him in the tight stuff. Fortunately the section before the finish was somewhat tight, so I used that to build the gap again, and held my place into the close.

I finished in 5th place overall, and 2nd in my age group (who knew the Bike Masters guy was so old!).

Sorry I was so long-winded on this one, but I was pretty happy with my performance, and wanted to get it written down.

What did I learn from this one:

  • The Salsa was flawless today. I was one with the bike.
  • The 29 inch tires were greate in the sand.
  • The NanoRaptors were also great in the sand.
  • I seem to be racing my way into shape. I’ve raced five of the last seven weekends. My performance seems to be getting better each passing weekend.
  • I took the Chris Hansen approach to preparing for this race. No, I didn't have a hangover, but I did do it on 4 hours sleep.
  • Early in the race I vowed not to fade and lose the position that I had work so hard to get. I only lost one. Unfortunately it was to the Bike Master guy. He got Gold – I got Silver.
  • I forgot my heart rate monitor for the Green Days Crit. I haven’t worn one since. I’ll still wear it for training, but I don’t need it for racing.

Next up in the Iowa Games Road Race tomorrow morning. I’m doing the short (25 mile) race, and so is Bruce Reese. We’re already working on our plan for world domination . . .

5 comments:

Bruce Brown said...

Great race, Paul! Home court advantage or not - you did yourself proud on Saturday.

Paul said...

Paul, this is GREAT news. You are really doing great. I wish I could be racing with you!

Paul Varnum said...

Bruce,

It's about time I finished a race in front of you. You've had my number this year.

Paul,

Thanks. You shoulda been there, since its in your back yard also. Next year . . .

Christy said...

I actually faded badly in the run and finished 5th of 5 in my age group. I did finish ahead of 16 (3 of them men) and 35 DNF's. Hey, finish is the key word here!

Paul Varnum said...

Christy,

No worries. Some can swim, some can bike, and some can run. It takes a real nutjob to do all three in the same day. You done good!