Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Race Result: 2011 MinneMan Triathlon

Event: 2011 MinneMan Triathlon (USAT)
Date: Saturday, July 2, 2011
Location: Oak Grove, MN
Hotel: Home, sweet home
Weather: 69F; sunny & clear; wind from WNW at 8-9 MPH; beautiful
Official Results: Overall results

Personal Results

Goal: 1:07.26
Official Time: 01:07.15
Overall: 30th overall (342 total); 18th in Males (175 total); 3rd in 50-54 AG (24 total)

I'm setting up in transition on a very beautiful Minnesota day. There is cycling extraordinaire Rick Christenson to my right. Across from me is the legendary Charlie Roach. Nearby is Scott Erickson. And then Terry Anderson shows up. I might as well just phone it in because there is no way I'm making the podium. But I recall back to a week earlier when I was saying the same thing about Waconia. And that ended well. So, chin up old man. You never know how it will play out.

And it played out very well. This was my best overall effort since January 23 when I made the podium in Houston at the Frost 'yer Fanny event. To be sure, my run is still way off what I should be doing but then it was my run at MinneMan that eked out the podium spot. But the swim was again surprisingly solid. And my bike is back in the mid-22 MPH average range meaning I should again be toying with 23 MPH average by seasons end.

I woke up at 4 AM feeling superb. There were no lingering doubts or the urge to grab just a few more moments of sleep. I wanted to get up and get out the door. A premonition to a good day, perhaps. And I had been playing this race over in my mind all week. I wanted to have a solid swim, get back over 22 MPH on the bike, be under 20-minutes on the three mile run.......and not think AT ALL about the pelvic stress fracture that I have been working my way back from.

And I think I met each of those challenges well. You be the judge. Time for the personal report.

Swim - 0.3 miles

Goal: 08:21
Official Time: 07:58; 3rd in AG (24 total)

You never know what kind of swim you will get at MinneMan. Sometimes the water is low and you have to run through yards and yards of water before you can even think about taking your first stroke. Other times it is weedy as heck. Other times the wind is so bad that the course is shortened a bit.

This year it was pretty much back to its proper distance. The weeds were a non-factor. And I only had to run through about 20-yards of water. Hey, at my age it is more tiring to dolphin dive than just run.

As usual, I stayed pretty wide to begin with. Traffic was minimal until we hit the turn-around and by then I was catching the previous waves that had been let go at three-minute intervals. But I didn't get kicked, maimed, or scratched. I swam until I touched bottom and then it was off to the long transition to T1. What is it with Minnesota and super long transitions?


Goal: 02:30
Official Time: 02:28

I was 2:31 here in 2010 and I just wanted to beat that time. The run took forever and a day.  While I came out of the water in 3rd behind Erickson and Alexander (who swims at the same Lifetime I do), Roach beat me out of transition so I was in 4th knowing each of those three are faster on the bike and that Christenson would be passing me at some point. I was looking at 5th for the day. But I kept the attitude positive because for the first time since Texas, I actually had some kick in the bike legs.

Bike - 13.0 miles

Goal: 35:08 (22.2 MPH)
Official Time: 34:52 (22.4 MPH); 4th in AG (24 total)

This time I was ready to ride. I went out hard and kept it that way. No bonk, no muscles cramps. Just good riding. We had the wind at our backs for the first three miles and I wanted to really build up speed before we turned into the wind. By the time we made that turn I was averaging 24.2 MPH. Nice.

Post race, others were saying the wind was bothering them on the back stretch of this loop bike course. For some reason, it just didn't bother me. I guess the stars were aligned. I mean, some race days you have it, and some race days you don't. On this day, I had it. May be a completely different story 15 days from now.

The thing I dislike about MinneMan is the final four miles. You loop through twisty-turny neighborhood roads. Your speed scrubs off no matter how much you try. Then you actually have to be on a narrow bike path for a half-mile or so. I happened upon severe congestion and tried to pass by going into a corner too hard and almost pulled a mulligan, but kept the bike upright and just swore a bit. Right before this nasty stretch, Christenson came roaring by me (all he did was average just under 25 MPH) and I just tried to keep him within my sights. So I was now sitting in 5th as far as I knew.


Goal: 01:30
Official Time: 01:45

Another loooooong run to transition. I was 1:25 here last year and wanted to be about the same but I had a little trouble with one of the tongues on my LunaRacers. And as with Waconia, I put on socks. Those blisters from Rochester are still healing.

The nice thing was, I came into the bike racks seeing only four bikes in the 50-54 age group. I came to learn afterwards that Alexander had flatted and rode in on the flat. Otherwise I'm sure he would have figured into the podium. So I exit T2 knowing I only have to pass Christenson to podium. But I am unsure how far ahead of me he is. As it ended up, I was 2:29 behind him. I'm glad I didn't know that at the time

Run - 3 miles

Goal: 19:57 (6:39 pace)
Official Time: 20:14 (6:45 pace); 2nd in AG (24 total)

I took off not quite as hard as I did at Waconia. I learned my lesson there: That my runs legs, while feeling stronger every week, are just not all there yet. I should be running sub 6:15's or lower. And I'm sure that will come. It's just going to take some time.

I start passing people and get the "nice pace" comments I am always grateful to hear from other participants. I'm looking for Christenson and can't see him at all. I just keep telling myself that a person can make up a lot of time over three miles and keep plugging away. Just a little before turn-around, I see Charlie coming back. All Charlie did was run a 17:47 (5:56 per mile pace) Then Erickson. Still haven't see Christenson. On this run course there is a hard left turn and about 30-yards or so to the turn-around. Well before that hard left turn, I see Christenson coming back. He must have a good 250 or 350 yards on me. Or more. Hard to judge, but I'm thinking there is no way I can catch him.

I keep pecking away.

With about a mile to go, I can finally see him from behind. That's all I needed. Blood in the water. With a half-mile to go I pass and I pass hard so he can't respond....if he even knew I was in his AG, I'm not sure.....but there was an initial response but then the footsteps fade behind me.

Now I'm just toast. I may have went too soon. I still have a good half-mile to the finish and I'm totally gassed. I just kept the stride as smooth and easy as possible, looked over my shoulder with a 100-yds to go and just went hard to the finish. Eked out a podium spot by 22-seconds in a very good age group. I was pretty stoked.

Maybe best of all, I ended up only eight seconds off the previous course record. Of course, the 50-54 AG record was lowered on this day. With Charlie Roach clocking a 1:02:52 (Previous record was by Terry Alexander - 1:07:07 in 2009). So, I'm very pleased to have been on record setting pace for a record that had held for two years.

For my efforts, I placed third in the male 50-54 AG and got one of the awards I admired at Manitou but was on the outside looking in.

MinneMan 50-54 3rd place award

OptumHealth Performance put on a good show as always. I really do like the official podium presentation. Nice touch and very classy.

L-R: Brian Maas, Charlie Roach, Scott Erickson

So many faces once again to meet and greet. I got to speak with Tim Litzinger and his son Zach. Zach officially became a triathlete at MinneMan. And I do see that Dad owns bragging rights for at least a little bit longer!!

Officiating this USAT event was the illustrious Bill Nevala. I again enjoyed chatting with Bill and we talked about how he is a Montana boy and how the Well Kept Wife™ and I honeymooned in Glacier. So he shared a photo of Lake McDonald with me as that was the site we first tented at. Yep, honeymoon in Glacier in a tent. Much better than a stupid drunk fest in Vegas....don't you think? Well, we do.

Mr. Chris Hawes was sporting his very sharp OptumHealth Performance and looking very dapper. Chris said he had an off day....but finishing 5th in your age group is NOT an off day in my book.

I also met Nick Morales from Nick likes the various recipes I post here now and then and wanted to ask if he could use some of them on his site. No problem. Always happy to share some nutritional value with the fellow tri-geeks. Nick tells me the Rev3 event in Wisconsin Dells will happen next August (2012). They are just working on the logistics. I think that would be a fun one to do.

Best of all, was yet another fellow triathlete acquaintance from my racing at the Lakes to Pines event these past four years in Park Rapids. Last week at Waconia it had been Neil King who has found the fountain of youth. This week it was David Lewis. All David did was place 8th overall. Once the Elites were thrown out, David was at top of the amateur board. I guess a 17:49 run will do that for you. Wow! It was great to see him again.

Next Event:

Jul 17 - Heart of the Lakes (Long Course) - Swim 1/2 Mi, Bike 21 Mi, Run 5.3 Mi

This will be my first time at this event. And while I thought I had ZERO chance of making the podium at Waconia (3rd in 50-54) and MinneMan (3rd in 50-54), I really do mean it this time. Take a look at some of the names already signed up in this very deep age group (no particular order): Dale Forde, Charlie Roach, Kevin Olsen, Kirk Vesterstein, David Goldberg, and Scott Ransom. Holy merde. And by the time registration closes it could be worse. But it will be fun. If there is one thing I can say about us older, distinguished gentleman of the sport.....there is zero animosity. No egos. We truly enjoy seeing one another and we have a good time.


Christopher Hawes said...

Nice job on Sat and thanks for the support. Another great race for you and great race report.

Mario said...

Great Job against some stiff competition!