Monday, April 14, 2014

Justin Bandoro - TriNats 2014

I was really excited to have the chance to race for MIT at the Nationals in Tempe, AZ. Since starting grad school here in the U.S., I haven’t had the chance to travel much and I was just as excited to travel to a new part of the country as I was to race.

Background: I’ve done 7 triathlons before, and this was my 3rd olympic distance event.

Waking up at 5:00 local time wasn’t too bad with the time zone change. Thanks to the sweet airbnb place we rented, we were super close to the race site and had a fully loaded kitchen. I had my usual breakfast of banana oatmeal and a bagel with PB&J. Transition setup was smooth, but there was almost 4 hours between setup and race start as the women raced first. Watching the women race made me even more excited to get into the water. It was fun to cheer for Allie, Sarah, and Morgan when they got out of the water and when they came back from the bike course; it was too bad I couldn’t see them finish since my wave was lining up to start while they were out on the run course. 

SWIM [1500 m, 25:43, 1:34/100yards]:
The swim course was a rectangle lap in the beautiful Tempe Town Lake. The mass swim start went better than expected, although there was a lot of contact in first 500 m I was able to stay calm and kept on the feet of a group of people in front of me. There was a bit of chaos at the first turn buoy, with people swimming over each other. After the second turn, it was myself and two other guys swimming next to each other almost stroke for stroke to the third and final buoy. I felt really good at this point and picked up my pace, starting to kick harder, in the last 300 m. I was happy with this time, considering that in January I was struggling to do 10x100s on 1:50

T1 [2:04]:
I was surprised to see that many of the bikes in my rack were still there. I took some time to put on my socks and shoes and threw on an aero helmet (first time racing with one!). In the future I’d like to practice and learn how to do flying starts to cut down on the time.

BIKE [36 km, 1:04:36, 20.8 mph]:
Of all three disciplines, biking is my weakest, but luckily the bike course consisted of 2 laps that were pretty flat - though there were a couple of sharp turnarounds. I brought two gels with me and took one in at the half way point, and drank about half a bottle of gatorade during this leg. I was passed by so many guys on the bike but I reminded myself that I could probably catch some of them on the run. On the final lap I even passed a few people. It was a great experience to see crowds lined up along the bike course cheering us on. Thanks to Mitchell for the super cool disc covers [see attached photo], got plenty of compliments and made my bike look fast :).

T2 [2:06]:
I still don’t understand how this was slower than T1, but I definitely need to work on my transitions. I threw on my sunglasses and shoes, took a swig of gatorade, then was off.

RUN [10 km, 42:57, 6:54/mile]:
I didn’t feel as fresh as I usually do coming off the bike (probably from the lack of brick workouts in my training this winter) but I felt I could still hold my goal pace of 6:30. I should also mention that I was starting the run around noon so the sun was high in the sky and it was hot, especially coming from the cold Boston weather. The first two miles went well, clocking in at 6:24 and 6:26. On the third mile, I’m not sure whether it was the heat or not, but my legs started to feel like bricks and I had to put so much effort into each stride and completed the mile in 6:50. This was probably one of the hardest runs I’ve done, with each successive mile getting slower and slower. However in the last 5-600 m I saw Allie cheering like crazy and yelling my name which gave me the last boost of energy needed to finish strong. Also, I must have gotten more than 20 compliments on my hair color from other athletes and spectators on the course which was cool. 

FINAL: 2:17:27 
This was my fastest olympic distance race so far, though the bike course was shortened, and was all in all a great race. I’d like to thank everyone who organized the logistics for this and the whole tri-team. I’m going to make more of an effort to come out to all the tri-practices in the near-future and am looking forward to more races in the summer! I’ve attached a couple of photos of the team and me racing on the course.

Morgan Hennessy - TriNats 2014

Hi all:

I've never written a race report before but I believe this was a unique situation for me so I'll give it a go.

Three weeks prior to Nationals I was in a crash in a road race in the ECCC Philly Phyler and sustained a Grade 1 (almost 2) AC separation -the equivalent to a sprained ankle, but in your shoulder.  It was quite painful and I was unable to really move my left arm until about 1 week before the race without a lot of pain.  One week before the race I was able to swim ~400m so I figured racing was not out of the realm of possibility.  Leading up to the race I took naproxen religiously, and iced my shoulder a lot, trying to rest it as much as possible.  I did very little training those three weeks, and had just come off of a rest week, so essentially the month before my race was ruined for training.  I mostly rode on the trainer and went for some short runs, but even running really hurt my shoulder.

The day before the race was the first time I had ridden outside since my crash.  I set up my aerobars, taped on my homemade disc wheel (thanks Mitch!) and grabbed my aero water bottle and aero helmet, and we headed out to pre-ride the course.  My legs felt supah-fresh having not ridden in like, 3 weeks, and I was cruising easily at >20mph on the flats with my sweet aero equipment, feeling like a total aero-weenie.  We also had a practice swim in the delicious Tempe town lake, replete with dead floating fish.  The practice swim left me feeling optimistic but not overly excited to swim 1500m - my shoulder was still sore, but at that point I was determined to make it through (and had been given the all-clear from my PT that racing wouldn't cause further damage).

On race day, I woke up right on time and ate my favorite pre race meal of oatmeal and PB.  Our wave was to start at 7:40am, and the weather was looking perfect, 75 and sunny.  Allie, Sarah and I set up in transition and had a quick warmup swim before being herded into the starting gate with the other 500 girls ready to start the race.  I downed my caffine-laden pre-race gel in one gulp.  This was by far my biggest mass start swim of all time (about 150 women).  It was a floating start, so I positioned myself in the back corner of the holding pen to avoid as many thrashing limbs as possible, and took off with the gun.  I felt pretty comfortable during the swim and averaged a bit over 2:00 per 100m, which was definitely slower than my hoped-for time, but I know my injury was holding me back.  I finished in 32:21 (PR).

T1 was difficult because having a sprained shoulder doesn't make getting a wetsuit off very easy, but I got out to the bike in 2:18.

On the bike, everything was perfect.  I felt so incredibly fresh and strong, I continually passed women on the course.  No one beat me up any of the hills, or through any of the corners.  I stuck to my aero position and averaged ~157W on the 36K course for a time of 1:07:35 (also a PR).  I'd estimate on the whole bike course I was passed maybe 5 times (which is huge for me, I'm usually not the one doing the passing!).  At mile 18 I forced myself to eat a gel, but I am certain I did not drink or eat enough (was too focused on reeling in cyclists in front of me!).

Coming into T2, I again had some difficulties fumbling with things (unpracticed) and had a measly 2:12 time (woof).

Then it was out to the run course and boy, was I dreading it.  4 weeks without serious run training was going to bite me in the tush.  And it did.  For as good as I felt on the bike, I felt that much more terrible on the run.  I ran most of the way with a girl from UVA but probably everyone I passed on the bike passed me back on the run.  It felt horrible, but I focused on just crossing the finish line and getting ice on my shoulder, which was starting to throb considerably.  I walked one of the last aid stations to gulp down a few cups of gatorade and upped the pace as much as I could for the final 2 miles.  I finished the run in 1:01:46, not my best performance, but also certainly not my worse.

I wanted to especially write this to encourage new or beginner athletes to consider competing this summer.  I certainly do not come from an endurance sport background (I played tennis in high school and was a mathlete), but I have gotten so much out of training,racing, and hanging out with the team, that I believe endurance sport is now a part of me for good.  Nationals just reaffirmed that.  Triathlon, for me, is a personal pursuit - I try not to compare myself too much to others.  One of my mantras is "This is YOUR race" - I repeat this to myself all the time, especially when I'm swimming, because it's easy to get caught up in the thrashing and forget to fall into your own rhythm.  At the end of the day, I'm just happy to make personal improvements and enjoy the sport for what it is - fun, ridiculous, challenging both physically and mentally, and fulfilling.  What you put into training is what you get out in a race, and that is satisfying for someone who, as an MD/PhD student, often watches a lot of hard work come out as failed experiments (which is simply the nature of biological science!).  SO JUST DO IT.  Register for a race, make a plan, and stick to the plan!  You'll soon be wondering what you were doing all these years without training and racing!