Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tale of 2.5 4th Place Finishes- Part 3

"Fourth seems like it would be nice, but it’s the worst place you can imagine ..."
-Taylor Phinney,
 American Olympic Cyclist
2012 London

This quote was taken shortly after Taylor finished 4th place in the road race in London. A few days later, he would go on to compete in the time trial. He finished 4th in that race as well. My last couple of races, I have put forth Phinney-esque performances.

This post is the third in a 2.5-ology...

The Rochester Triathlon

If you plot the location of Part 1 and Part 2 of this tale, Part 3 is geographically between the 2 races (albeit closer to Part 2). The Rochester Triathlon takes place at Durand Eastman part, nestled on the shoreline of the semi-beautiful Lake Ontario.

I did this race last year. While the event was efficiently run, I vowed that I would not do it again unless they changed the bike course. As evidenced by my return to competition, they must have read my post.

Furthering my pleasure for this race, the Wife made a triumphant return to sport. It's been a while since I've gotten to race along side of my hottie. She's been struggling with a chronic knee problem making running much more difficult. For those of you who do not know, many triathlons offer a relay option. The Wife did the swim and the bike but she enlisted a lady friend to do the run. The girls called their team, "The Double Ds", because well, both of the ladies had, umm... last names that start with D.

Since the Wife was joining me on the 20 minute trek to the beach, I was required to get their early. That was until I started racking the bicycles and noticed that my rear tire was flat. Could that have happened 2 days ago when I didn't have the stress of preparing 2 racers? Nope. I opted to change my tire in the garage since I had all of the tools, stand, and a lazy boy recliner to park the woman while I worked.

As a consequence of my incredible inefficient mechanical skills, we showed up to rack our bikes late. I mean, they already made the announcement to exit the transition area, late. No worries. The volunteers who worked the enclosure were pleasant and helpful. On our side was the fact that the first wave of the race still had 30 minutes until the gun. I don't understand why we get kicked out so early and I may never get it.

We worked our way down to the water area. It was a gorgeous morning. The sun was coming up. The winds were calm and the lake was peaceful. This year at the Roc Tri, they added an Olympic distance event. I was in the sprint. As with most races, the Oly goes off first. Unlike most races, there was yet another 30 minute time gap before the first wave of the sprints. So, basically, I had to hurry up and exit transition to stand on the beach in my wetsuit for a full hour.

To be honest, I don't remember much about the swim. Maybe that's because I've waited so long to do the write up. Maybe that's because I've got the gray matter capacity of a 10-week old shrew. Maybe that's because there wasn't much to report. We, the group of about 10 or so of us that I happened to join, swam out, turned left, swam across, turned left, and swam back.

Here's what I do remember... I really need to train more. My arms were a little more than toast when I exited the water. Just like before, I opted to remove my wetsuit in the drink. My swimmates got away from me a little bit. That's alright, I still made it out in 9th place. Officially, I posted the 12th best swim time. I'm not sure how much credence I put in the official results. My time was 13:10. Like a geek, I wanted to see how fast the first place swimmer got out. Her time- that's right, I got beaten by a girl- was 23 hours, 48 minutes and 31 seconds. Just for the swim alone. Sorta makes you wonder how the official results put her ahead of me.

I made it out of transition blazingly fast. I was a little nervous about my flat tire earlier that morning. I couldn't help but feel like I was forgetting something. That something made itself blatantly clear as I ran my bike to the mount line. One of the nice foam thingies, that I use to keep my bike safe from the Wife's while transporting them on the rack, was still attached to my ride. I took a moment to untie the little doodad and toss it to a volunteer. I was ready to roll.

The RD found a way to close the entire beach front access road. There was absolutely no traffic on the first part of the ride. They even gave us a personal lane. Finally orange cones on a road that didn't make me cringe.

One aspect of this course that I really enjoy is the new bike route is on my old stomping grounds. When I lived 5 miles from the starting line, I used to ride this route on a regular basis. The initial part of the course lines the lake front. Then there are some challenging yet short ascents. The course rolls for a while and ends on a nice downhill stint. If you were in the sprint, you repeated the course twice. If you were in the Olympic, you repeated the course 4 times.

On race day, the wind was in our faces on the way up and at our backs on the way down. If I had the option to pick, which God has not yet granted me but I feel is right around the corner, I would choose the opposite. I was able to manage a smidgen under 22 mph for the ride. That was good enough for 8th place overall and a personal race pace record for me! I still suspect something is amiss with the official results. For example, the bike leader finished well down in the pack and was able to maintain an average speed of just over 32 mph. Compare that with the overall winner who held a measly 22.5 mph.

I've been having a Lemony Snickets version of transition 2 lately. First there was the Towel Incident. Then there was a Shoe/ Wetsuit Interference call. The way I see it, I was due for some luck. Sure enough, I was in and out to the run in 36 seconds, including putting on socks. Finally things were going my way.

As I left my bike, I heard the announcer yell out that I was in 3rd place. I've been here before. I now knew that there were 2 people out in front of me and a couple a hundred behind. There is no time for dilly dally in triathlon. The podium has eluded me my entire life. I wanted to make this one happen. I hustled.

You really cannot ask for a better run venue. The lake front pedestrian path is well taken care of and gives amazing views of the beach. If you look at the bike route pic above, the run was an out-and-back that went from the red box to the blue bubble. It's mostly flat.  I got passed right around the second pond in that pic, or near the 1 mile mark.

The guy who ran by was clearly a better runner than me. He would go on to finish second. My only hope for a podium spot was to pass the #1 or #2 guys. It should come as no surprise that these 2 blokes were also faster than me. I was able to hold a 6:50 pace per mile on a warm and humid morning. Alas, my opportunity for the overall podium was gone. I was, once again, in 4th place. This was confirmed by the printout posted on the board.

I'd like to take this  opportunity to offer up a big congratulations to the boobs Double Ds for their 3rd place finish in the relay division! The Wife posted a swim time that would have been in the top 5 amongst the open ladies. She also posted a bike time that would have been in the top 50 amongst the ladies. The other D, whom I coach, set a PR in her 5k (I think).

As it turns out, some older dude in the next wave beat me by 9 seconds, solidifying my hatred for wave start events. I maintain that should this guy and I gone head to head, he would have beaten me by only 2-3 seconds and made for one hell of a photo finish.

The biggest problem was that I had already told everyone I knew that I finished in 4th, because that's what the race day results sheet had listed. The official results weren't posted for another couple of hours and I have a big mouth.

So Tayler Phinney, I think you've got it all wrong. A 4th place finish is not that bad. Especially when you think you have placed 4th and it turns out you were actually 5th. That feels much worse. Take it from me. I know.

1 comment:

  1. Wahoo! Go Sis!

    I so need to get me a swim coach and a running coach..... hmmm a bike technique evaluation would probably be a good idea too. When can I arrange another Banter visit?

    We can ride to "End of the Earth" road. Yes it exists.