Loveland L2L is a good sized event that features both Olympic and Sprint distances. I competed in the Olympic distance (1500m swim / 30mi bike / 10K run)
2:38:35 / 2nd in my division
In fact, the top 4 of us were all within 6 minutes of each other. I expect to see these guys at some other races this year :-)
Overall a great race. Great weather, great course. Felt good in all disciplines.
Paige and Luke came up with me. Loveland is about 75 minutes form my house - enough to want to spend the night. Paige made the hotel arrangements and was so great in getting dinner and supporting me. She's done the course in the past, so in addition to how great it is to be married to another competitive athlete that understands the craziness - she's a pro at this venue.
I like the race in that you can just ride the 3mi in the morning from the hotel, right to the race. Got up pretty early with no alarm. Threw on my gear and scarfed down some boring food for breakfast.
Got to the venue and found lots of people that I knew. Teammates of Paige (and now me :-) that really puts my head at ease.
|Goofing around with Lisa before the race. Warming up with invisible swim bands.|
|Sharon is one fast lady. She took 1st in her division - by 16 minutes!|
Did I also mentioned she kicked my butt too?
|The whole team before the swim.|
Water was like bath water - well, like near 70 degrees. That's close enough.
I started out pretty conservative near the back of the pack. I had been having issues with my wetsuit feeling restrictive and with breathing overall. Paige (who is an awesome swimmer IMHO), game me some good warm-up advice. It's all about really breathing out and getting the exhale firing properly. I also had found some good videos on some tips for ensuring the wetsuit is on properly that really, really helped. What I found was that the suit wasn't previously constricting 'across' the chest, but rather wasn't hiked up enough and was constricting from shoulders to hip (constricting my chest and stomach). Once I had that figured out, it was like night and day.
After about 100m I realized I needed to move up, so I bridged easily to the next pack. Then did that a couple more times and felt progressively stronger on the swim as it went on. Definitely could have gone faster overall - but I think it was smart to start out conservative given where things were at. Next time will probably go out harder.
Felt like a million dollars coming out of the water. Like I had just warmed up. Another good tip from my better half to strip my wetsuit before running the 1/4 mi or so to transition. Did that and ran past a number of folks trying to waddle up the hill. Out onto the bike in a flash. Flying mount was nothing to marvel at, but it was effective and I didn't wipe out.
I had pre-ridden the course, and it was nice to know the turns - especially that it's a bit twisty early on. Started passing folks right away on the bike and especially on the long climb up to Horse Tooth reservoir (there *other* lake in 'lake to lake' ;-) I was passing throngs of folks. It's not that steep of a climb for the most part at 2% - but it's long and steady. Then a few 6% - 8% crests to punch over. I love hilly courses, but it was clear that a lot of people didn't :-)
Had decided to stay on the horns (kind of Boardman style) for the downhill sections. Actually passed a couple folks that were trying to stay on the aero bars. Hit 44.3 mph on one of the sections. Yeah - that's a bit too fast for me to not be near the brakes - especially where it was twisty. Man, that HED 60mm aero front wheel can be a beast through a tight corner. Wants to keep standing up. I was grunting to counter steer it through. But it's steady as a rock at least.
Nice little tail wind on the trek back to town. The ride is a bit longer than a typical Olympic distance (additional 4mi) - but I felt like I paced it well. I had read some good advice that people often save their legs a bit too much for the run, and that hurts the overall time and doesn't really make the run feel that much better. So I experimented by pushing the bike a bit harder and would just deal with the run. Lost my toolkit on a nasty bump about 1/2 mi from T2 but wasn"t about to stop to retrieve it. Lesson learned - strap that puppy down a bit more (ran it in a bottle between the aero bars).
Smooth flying dismount - in and out quickly. Nothing exciting about that.
|Coming out of T2 - on to the run|
So it's not a very 'pretty' run course for the most part. It's an out and back - so you can see if anyone is really far ahead. I actually didn't see the first place guy pass me - but it's hard to guess age sometimes and besides - I was just running my hardest anyway. Saw a couple team-mates out on the course and shouted encouragement. I've gotten to know a lot of Paige's team (and recently just joined Team EMC) - so now they are my teammates too :-) All really nice (and talented) folks.
My run was decent, but still kind of 'meh'. I averaged just under a 7 minute pace - and had really been aiming for more 6:45. I think it was a little warm and I had cooked it a bit on the bike. But even 15' per mile is 90s in a 10K - and I'm sure I did better than that with the bike effort (21.5mph average) - so I still think it was the right strategy.
Had done a LOT of BRICKs and actually my run off the bike has felt pretty solid. Dead legs for maybe a few hundred meters, so that wasn't it.
I've just found over the years of running that the best you can count on with a good taper is 'decent' legs. Sometimes they excel to feel great - other times they just feel a bit dead. I've looked at everything from nutrition to sleep to workouts - no real rhyme or reason to that decent to great feeling. Just is or isn't there.
I tried to pick it up a few times - nothing came. Felt my glut-meds a bit - so maybe a bit of a weakness to work out, but maybe I just need to HTFU a bit more next time.
Felt good into the finish and was able to kick through. Bent over my knees with a slight case of trying not to puke at the end - which IMHO is always a good sign that I kicked what I had for the last few hundred meters or so. Volunteer said she would cut off my ankle bracelet. I thanked her but warned, "You may want to move quickly if you hear me starting to yack"
Nothing really earth shattering. I mean at a 2.5 hours, there's really not a lot you have to do. Good god - I saw people with gels, bars etc... I guess if it makes you feel better but physiologically, it's pretty unnecessarily for something that short. Again, just IMHO. I had done a bagel with cream cheese a couple hours before riding to the start. Then just a couple swigs of UCAN along with a full bottle on the bike (although I goofed and mixed it too concentrated). Probably just repeat it next time. I need to figure out my long course plan for Harvest Moon - but I have until September and have some good experience from the marathon - which I think it tougher on the gut.
Next race is Rattlesnake - Olympic again in a few weeks. A bit closer to home and more of a hilly bike than a climb / decent type course. Then it's on to 70.3 in early September.
Feel like I'm starting to get the hang of this triathlon thing :-)