Sunday, May 9, 2010

New England Season Opener Sprint

Elizabeth Santorella

Triathlons seem to be rather complex and confusing things. I knew I would have no trouble completing any of the distances, so I shot a little higher than “I just want to finish” to “I just want to do things right and not fall off my bike.”**
4:20 am – 8 am: Cold.
8 am - ~8:40 am: Cold. Feet cold. Swimmers struggling. Police boat flipped?
Beginning of race: Swim canceled for last three waves. Run to transition area on numb feet. Try to do things with numb feet and numb hands. Let wetsuit get bunched up around ankle, get stuck, watch everyone leave transition area while tugging at ankle.
I think I biked a bit slower than I should have, but my goal wasn’t to race super-fast, so whatever. Since I started at the back, I spent nearly the entire race passing – I barely was on the right side of the road – but four years of high school running taught me that if I was passing people, I was probably going too fast, so I didn’t push as hard as I could have.
I had a 2:21 T2, which was probably the best I could’ve hoped for since I’m… slow.
The run was quite interesting. I didn’t suffer the infamous “jelly legs” or feel particularly tired, but I was frozen from the knee down. I couldn’t feel my feet, and they worsened from numb to feeling oddly lumpen as I ran.
I should probably put a nice conclusion here, but… I crossed the finish, and my feet were cold.
Next up: Something longer! With swimming!
Lessons learned: I think learning how it works was pretty valuable. Many thanks to Andrea and Rachel for going over everything with me in minute detail.
You all are amazing as athletes and as people and I’m proud to be a part of this team. :)
*I don’t sleep well if I don’t expend my energy. I had to keep ramping up my mileage just to sleep. Ask me if you want funny/concerning stories or elaboration.
**This has been a problem and is a running joke in my living group.

Seniovio Shish

The most exciting part of the season opener, from the "Newbie wave" perspective, happened before our part of the race even began. First off, we noticed that the splashes from the first wave of swimmers became sprays that the wind carried 20-30 feet. Second, the buoy marking the swim course was actually a moving target, pushed 30+ yards down the shoreline by the wind. Third, the high winds caused a safety boat to capsize and a kayak to smash into the rocks. At that point, the race director decided that we had a serious problem and the swimming portion of the race would be cancelled. So I'm 0/2 on completing a triathlon with an official length swim.

Despite these nuisances, my rivalry with Scott Landers would continue. We began the race on the beach as if we were just exiting the water from the swim. The transition area was less hectic than we thought it would be with such a mass start, but before I was able to get my bike shoes on Scott was already out of transition. It took me a couple of miles before I could see him, and a few more before I was within passing distance. Distractions included numerous bumps/imperfections in the road (at one point I was almost jolted out of my handlebars) awkward turns, and winds as strong as Nationals, but less predictable due to hills/trees. When my front wheel finally overtook Scott's about half way through the course, he actually didn't drop back but pedaled harder! This was clearly a cutthroat race. I managed to pass. In the mix of people going about the same speed were some serious-looking bikers with fancy frames and aero wheels, some of whom we BOTH passed. Scott passed me again, but when we got back to the hills near the finish, I was able to prevail on that segment of the course. (I think my hill climbing abilities improved thanks to some 'training' on the monster hills of the ECCC road race two weeks ago, and a no-nonsense spin session with Katie Quinn).

During my Bike-Run transition I tried two things that improved my T2 time from nationals: 1) removed feet from shoes prior to dismount (I practiced the night before) 2) put my running shoes on with no socks (I had planned to put on new ones, but they were wet due to some spillage near my transition are). The run felt strong, and I saw that Scott was only 20 meters or so behind at the first turnaround at mile 1. He was able to catch up by mile 2 and I could tell he had no intention of sticking around and chatting. I was pretty happy with my performance so far and decided not to pursue right away - maybe I would just sprint and catch up at the end. That was a FAIL. As you can tell from the pictures, Scott was definitely hucking it in the last 100m and there was no catching him at that point. I congratulate him on a race well won (for a Newbie)!! I strode in 5 seconds later.

In all, great race, despite the disappointment of not swimming after so many months of training (and I figure it might have given me a >>5 second lead on Scott). However, I think I'm in great shape to build up to the half-iron distance in Syracuse this September. Watch out, Scott!

Katie Quinn

As my first triathlon in 16 months, the NE Season Opener was a great re-introduction to the sport and reminded me why I love racing triathlons! …

Previously, my race would invariably follow a storyline of getting out of the water near the lead (I was a swimmer until I was 15, so it’s nothing to be too proud of); pedaling along while getting overtaken by all the stronger riders and hoping that they didn’t get too far ahead (I could never work much above zone 2 on a bike); and then bounding off the bike and chasing my competitors down in the run … but not so anymore!

The swim went about as well as I expected, though for different reasons. I was really worried about the cold – last weekend I could barely keep my face in the water but, the sole advantage of the race day weather was making it warmer in the water than out! Unfortunately, it also meant that the swim was shortened even further (as it all too often is!) and was no longer in flat water! Nonetheless, I managed to get the swim over with and before I knew it, my wetsuit was off and I was riding up the first hill …
The bike was quite uneventful. I love that I’ve finally learnt how to work on a bike, so the longest leg is no longer my weakest (thanks to MIT cycling!). But I know that I was much lazier than I would have been in a pack race and was sad when the 10 miles was over so soon …

The run … left great room for improvement! T2 was the low point of my race: After overcoming my jealously of Alex R (who pulled off an amazing T2, placing 2nd out of 208), I was so excited that I’d been able to get my elastic-laced shoes on despite lack of feeling in my hands and feet that I started running without my number belt. I’d run out of transition and a good 50m up the hill before I realized that I’d forgotten it, and proceeded to say (loudly, and not just once) a particular word that seems to become a part of my vocabulary in and only in races … before running back into transition to get my belt. I don’t know why I thought that the officials of the NE Season Opener would be so strict as to disqualify me for running without my race belt. Perhaps it was just that I didn’t want to waste all the effort of bringing and pinning my number on it. At any rate, I could have avoided forgetting it if only I'd kept my transition area tidier so that I could see it! Anyway, I finally started running up the hill again (keeping my head as low as possible while running past the spectators who’d heard my earlier exclamations!) only to find that, like most other competitors, I couldn’t feel my feet! This, and the fact that I simply couldn’t find my running legs (anyone for brick sessions?!), occupied my thoughts for the rest of the race. The good part of the run, however, was getting to call out, or wave, or feebly gesture to each of the other MIT racers on the track – definitely my favorite moments during triathlons!

The finish was rather anticlimactic. I guess this is common of triathlons, since they rarely have exciting sprint finishes (unless you’re Scott Landers and haven’t quite yet transitioned into an endurance athlete!). It’s probably also one of the main reasons that I prefer longer races – where, after pushing and doubting and pleading with myself for hours, simply finishing is satiating enough!
Nonetheless, any race finish has a great feeling and I loved having so many teammates around to debrief with! This was my first win in a triathlon, and it was great to share good results with so many other MIT racers (e.g. we were 4 of the top 9 females)!
Next up: More work on the bike (especially individual time trialing), more work on running (and not just long jogs along the river!) and more work on running after biking … Only 27 days ‘til the Mooseman Half Ironman – crikey!!

Lars Imsdahl

While deciding if I should participate in the NE Opener, I went for a run to cough up parts of my lung so I didn't have to do that during the race. I noticed I wasn't quite in shape as I only got some speed after about 5 miles of my 6mile run. Fortunately, my knees weren't in pain as they had been in the last weeks when I had wanted to train.

After IronMan (II), I got about 5hrs of sleep before Chris and Gordon picked me up and gave me advice on the race. It was so cold and windy that I put all of my spandex and Chris' wetsuit on. Luckily, I got a lot of practice in taking off my wetsuit as I couldn't decide how many layers to wear.
Twenty minutes before the race started, I found stickers in an envelope that will remain on my bike and helmet until my next triathlon.

Once they announced that we were only swimming in a triangle rather than a square, I thought this would mean there is less of chance for me to fall behind. This was not the case. I swam a less acute angle than most people and had the desire to punch each wave that came my way...which seemed to be all of them. The water was warmer than it looked (~60F) but I probably would have died without a wetsuit (Thank you Chris). I wasn't able to crawl through the waves as desired so I had to quit swallowing nasty brown water and revert to breast stroke, which is when I saw a bunch of orange caps pass me...if Walden Pond had a jacuzzi near by I'd practice swimming in the open waters.
T1: Much slower than I had hoped. I got dizzy and had to sit down to change.

My bike started quite slowly but then I picked it up once I saw a sweet Cervelo. My right hand was frozen white, so I had difficulties switching gears. We passed each other about four times and then I decided to push ahead and was pass only by a dad-age guy with a seemingly cheap bike. On the last hill I felt sorry for a dude with his $5k aero, all carbon Orbea, who was in his lowest gear peddling at 120bpm taking the hill inch by inch. Right before I finished the race a BU dude decided it was cool to do a double 360 with a twist to put some manly scrape marks in his all carbon ride. I wish the bike had been longer and with fewer hills.

T2: My feet were so cold and white, it felt like I was putting socks on a stranger. Again, this took too long.

During my run it took a while to get started. This first mile was painful. The second I almost got lost in a parking lot and the third I kicked ass (nobody passed me on the run).
It was disappointing that I fell so far behind in the swim and have none of the fast people there in the bike and the run.

When finishing, I wish I had powered my way through the race more than I had...kinda like Michael who gained at least 7min. on me.
All in all I felt like I was quite distracted by all of the different kinds of bikes I wish I had and that I didn't know the terrain as well as I should have to have done well.
Hoping to get my see my finishing time soon.

I enjoyed the race and was glad that you guys and gals made it possible for me to complete my first real Sprint Triathlon (the IronNerd was my first Ultra Sprint ;-) ).
Thanks for the picture with Mr. Centerfold: Scott Brown.
Thank you again for the great experience. I'm sure it won't be my last triathlon. I hope you guys did as well as you wanted and I think it's amazing that some of you are going to do a half or an entire iron-man.


Christina Birch

Pre-race (4:30am): Spend 15 minutes repeating the following action: reversing a Zipcar two inches, cranking the wheel, pulling forward two inches, cranking the wheel... Finally free our transportation from it's traffic jam. Breakfast was apple oatmeal and instant coffee (yuck). Cold. Put the wetsuit on in the car (very difficult!! Sorry if I kicked you in the head, Scott). And ran around in the suit for a warmup.

Swim: Chaotic, fun, too busy trying to sight to really work hard... Swells were moving us huge vertical distances while the wind caused the waves to break over my natural breathing side. Two failed breath attempts and breathing on the left side became very desirable. (I now practice breath control, thanks Coach Bill!)

T1: A little disoriented-- made decisions about clothing ("Brave the cold, save the time, skip the LS cycling jersey") while jumping around on one foot trying to put socks on.... SOCKS?? I never wear socks in a Sprint tri. My feet were just too cold after the swim. It ended up being a blessing in T2.

Bike: I had a fantastic mount... ran through the mount line past two stopped athletes, pushed my bike extra hard, jumped up, and swung my leg over and was off... I didn't see those athletes again, and being able to get on the bike fast was an advantage. Then: Strength on hills! I felt fairly comfortable... which means I should have been pushing harder. Of all the people I passed, nearly all of it happened on the bike.

T2: Blazing fast. Racked the bike, slipped the shoes off fast (thanks to socks), and yanked on my newly-elastic-laced shoes (Thanks Chris!) while running toward the transition exit with my race # belt in my teeth. This was the only point of the run where I was in front of Kristin!

Run: Better than I was expecting given my recent plague of knee pains. I kept a constant pace, high heart rate, but should have really tried to open up my stride... Knee didn't hurt too badly.

Finish: 4th in my age group, not quite making the Top-Three-Who-Get-Pint-Glasses list, much to my displeasure. With the exception of the rough swim, this will be a good starting point in the season to gauge my progress over the upcoming months.

Enchiladas y piƱa coladas,

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