Race Reports

You know it’s been too long since you’ve updated your blog when you have more than one race to report on. Well here it all is!

It was a great weekend for a race. Our friends Ian and Anna joined us for our typical Vermont camping excursion on this trip. We rolled into the Moosalamoo State Park camp grounds around 4 or 5 on Saturday afternoon. Set up camp, went into Middlebury for some dinner, and stopped on the way back to camp at the grocery store to get some S’mores fixins. When we got back, camp fire and S’mores and commenced as we enjoyed the starry night to the sound of a half dozen drunken campers blasting the worst compilation of music I’ve ever heard at the next site over. Fortunately, there are rules in Moosalamoo that stipulate quiet time after 10!

No need for a wetsuit today!
After a cozy night’s sleep in our spacious four person tent, I was up at the crack o’ dawn chomping on clif bars in the dark at 5AM. My entourage got up about 40 minutes later and we all headed over to the race site. For an 8AM start, I generally have found 6:15 to be way too early to arrive at a race, but I wanted to try getting in a solid bike and swim warm-up before the race started. After 30 minutes on the bike and 20 minutes in the lake, I was actually one of the last people to set up my transition area, but I was definitely feelin’ all loosey goosey. At 8:15 or so we were off to the races.

Love this shot!
The swim: As per usual, I was just about the only person not wearing a wetsuit. The water was a comfy near 80 degrees, and I didn’t feel like roasting by the end of the swim. The swim felt very strong, and I came out of the water about 2 minutes ahead of the next guy. That’s about all there was to the swim.

This is me making myself
too tired to run.
This is me being too tired on the run.
The bike: I was a little distracted on the bike from the torpedo bottle cage mount between my aerobars. One of the screws popped off, and my bottle was bouncing around between my arms the entire ride. That said, I did a sprint version of the course about a month earlier, and I pretty much exactly doubled my bike split. That means I either went way to slow in the sprint (I did), or I went a little too hard this time around (also, probably true).  Either way, at this point I’ve done this course many times, and this was definitely the fastest bike split I’ve turned in on it. (woohoo!)

The run: On the run it became pretty clear that I probably went a little too hard on the bike. My legs were DEAD! It could have been nutrition, or a combination of a handful of other factors, but fortunately, I had a big enough lead that it really didn’t matter that I was barely averaging under 7:00 per mile. I slugged my way in to the finish, and enjoyed my first victory of the season.

Momma and Poppa Nichols joined us for this race, and were kind enough to spare us the rental car by picking us up in Boston on the way up. We made the trip on Friday evening, and enjoyed an event filled day of leisure on Saturday. In the morning, I hit the beach for a little ocean practice. Old orchard beach is a BEAUTIFUL place to swim: gentle but substantial waves, but otherwise very calm water. The size of the fish I could see swimming beneath me was a little unsettling, but I minded my own business and so did they. Then, after briefly admiring the sweet 4ft banner of myself (which is now hanging in my apt), I attended the pro-meeting, took advantage of the free food, and headed off for a short bike/run while Emily and my parents stuffed their faces with boardwalk food. (Soooo jealous.)

In the afternoon we headed up to Portland for a little stroll around town to find some very delicious Mexican cuisine. I was pretty tempted to suggest grabbing a burrito at the Chipotle across the street from our hotel, but I’d never seen so many places to eat in such a small city. It was both a wonderful and challenging process to decide where to eat that was ultimately decided by the fact that we could only find one place where the average entrée was less than $25. Those Portlanders sure charge a lot for dinner! It was the earliest I’ve ever gone to bed before a race that night (9PM), and it was magnificent.

Sunday morning I got up at 4 and quietly ate my breakfast in the bathroom (a) so I wouldn’t wake Emily, and (b) so I could put on my race tats. By 5 we were on our way to the race, by 6 I had pooped twice, and by 7 we were in the water.

Second from the right, I'm the guy that looks scared of the giant just in front of him.
The swim: This is only the third time I’ve lined up on the pro start line, and it was my first beach start with pros. As I stood there on the front line next to this monster that turned out to be 4-time xterra world champion, Conrad Stoltz, I wondered if my mad dash to be the first in the water would be wasted as the giant “cave man” (that’s actually his nickname) beside me just ran me over and left me face down in the sand. Turns out he’s a pretty gentle giant. It got the jump off the line, but by the time we were diving in, I was in front, and I sprinted out ahead of the field. I had clean water around the first buoy at which point I settled in to my pace. Two guys came around me, and I hopped on their feet for most of the swim, while we put a pretty good lead into everyone else. At about 1000m, they zigged and I zagged, and I lost touch with them. I came out of the water about 10 seconds back and 15 seconds ahead of the next swimmer out. I was very happy with how the swim turned out.

The bike: I was 3rd out of the water, but 5th or 6th out on the bike. That was in part because I ran the wrong way through transition… oops, I’m an idiot. On the bike another 7 people passed me. I felt fine, but I was going much slower than everyone else. Not sure what happened there. As my mom would say, I must have left my balls in transition. It was ok though, because I remembered to strap them on for the run. J

The run: I felt pretty solid right out the gate, and there were a few guys in sight. I put my head down and charged toward them. One of them ended up running away with the second fastest run split of the day, but I caught the other about 2 miles in, and never looked back. 36:48 isn’t quite what I hoped for, but it was my best run so far this season, so I’ll take it.

Post race, I took the governor off the diet. Chili cheese fries, and pizza… mmm. Needless to say, it was a bit of a gassy ride home.