Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kinetic Half IM - Race Report - Larry Bowers

Kinetic Half (70.3 miles)

11 May 2013

Wake Up Race Report (Larry Bowers)



It was a dark and stormy night.  Wait, that was the lead line for the Shamrock Marathon race report except that one also included the term “cold” in it.  Well, it was a dark and stormy night before the Kinetic Half.  The lightening lit up the skies and the rain ponded the tin roof of the bed and breakfast that my wife and I were staying in at Mineral, Virginia, just a mere 7 miles from where the Kinetic Half would start.  As expected, I did not sleep worth a flip that night but managed to toss and turn and develop a nice head ache by time the 445AM alarm went off.  I departed for the race while my wife slept in.  The bike course would go right by the bed and breakfast so she would have a front seat view starting at 0835 when the hot dogs would come blasting by at about mile 22.  I told her to expect me by 0850 to 0905.  I surprised her by coming by at 0847 or so … it was all uphill then, to mile 32 or so.

So why a “wake up” race report?  Well, this has been the season that hasn’t.  It’s been cold, and wet, and cold, and wet and just endless.  By this time last year, I have been able to log a bunch of bike miles but not so this year.  Heck, I rode more in January (when it was in the high 60’s) then I was able to ride all Spring, plus my Kinetic Half training buddies Rob and Shawn were bowing out of this year’s race.  So … the “wake up” is the transition from completing two sprint races this season (Smithfield and Richmond) and rolling smack dab into a Half.  Yeah, it was a wake up call alright.  Hello 5 hour event, good bye 1 hour event.


Gorgeous.  Short of being in Colorado or northern New Mexico, the setting around Lake Anna in Spotsylvania VA (half way between Richmond and Fredericksburg) is stunning.  Think rural and think lake house.  No hustle and bustle of the big city, just the opposite.  And not flat, but lots of rolling hills and lots of green lush fields on each side, or hardwood forests.  Road surfaces are very nice also (no heavy traffic beating them up like in Hampton Roads).  There are lots of tri’s at this location and after you go there once, you quickly know why.

Note About Timing

Setup Events hosed something up (timing chips 400 to 600 were missing), so the times below do not include separate T times.  They are combined.  Darn.  I can’t quite compare my results to last year’s results.  I have to assume my T times were about 1 min 40 sec to 2 min.

Swim (including T1 – 39 min 57 sec, 5th in AG) – 1.2 miles

Ok, how about this for a wake up call?  Go from 300 and 400 meters (past spring) to 1.2 miles (Half) which is about 1,931 meters.  Amen, alas something I could stick my teeth into.  On the way to the swim, I just happen to hear someone comment about their timing chip.  Ding, a light goes off.  Guess who forgot to get their timing chip?  Me.  That was close.  A first for me, and hopefully a last.  I take a practice swim in the lake and yes, it is cold.  At 0712 after 3 or 4 other waves have departed, my AG is up and ready to go.  I take off and settle into a nice easy pace and continue buoy sighting every 50 meters or so.  No major problems but I do note this is one very long swim.   And we are heading into the wind with some good surface chop.  Half way through it, I slam into some swimmer who was treading water.   Sort of woke both of us up but I doubt I am the only one that hit that same swimmer.  After the second turn buoy (triangle pattern).  The wind was behind us and it was time to do some wave surfing (Daytona style) and go all out for the last 0.4 mile to the shore.  I keep looking up to see where the green caps are (my AG) and I don’t see many, which means either I am doing fairly well or I am so far in the back of the pack than I can no longer see them.  Later I find out that I cleared out of the water at number 5 of 40 in my AG … yeah.  So I hit the beach and this is where I really like to launch.  I have a mission and want to get in and out of T1 fast but I have at least 3 guys in front of me and blocking most of the running path into T1.  I think, for about 1 nanosecond and yell at each one to move right because I am taking the left side.  Suprisingly, they yielded and I then floored it to T1 to tangle with a wet suit and get my bike gear on.

Bike (2 hr 36 min 17 sec, 3rd in AG) – 56 miles

Coming out of T1, I run into the same problem I had getting into T1, I was being blocked by at least 3 more slow moving guys trotting with their bikes.  We had to stay on a path to the mount area and this time there was no way to get around them so I held my yelling.  I mounted the bike and I knew what was waiting for me, 2.5 miles all up hill road until I got out of the Lake Anna State Park.  So as I was climbing, down dumped the rain.  This is what worried me the night before – rain and possibly cancellation of the swim or the bike or the entire race.  So I guess it was time to get thoroughly wet on the bike, not fun but manageable though you do have to throttle back a bit due to the slick road.  From that point the rain would come and go until about mile 40 when it traded places with a strong head wind.  More joy but at least we had a level playing field.  The bike course, like the setting is stunning.  And this year, the bike course was different; it circled the entire lake and actually crossed it 4 times.  For each crossing, you would come descending down it at very high rate of speed, hit a bridge and prep for a cross wind, scan the amazing view left and right and then get ready to climb back above lake level on the other side.  This was repeated 4 times and it was way cool.  As stated previously, from mile 20 to 32 it was all uphill and there were a lot of “small ring” hills out there.  As soon as I drop below 20 mph (and certainly 18 mph), I quickly add two gears on the back and drop to the little ring up front to keep the cadence on a roll … plus to keep a straight chain tension and minimize wasted watts.  And there were a few 8 mph uphill portions that would really get your attention.  I got blocked by vehicles a few times and my options were limited – draft them (a no no), pass them on the right (could be dangerous), pass them on the left AND cross a double yellow line (another no no) or chill and hope they get the heck out of the way eventually.  I decided to chill (this time) but it almost cost me a sub 5 hr Half (details soon).  At mile 45 the roads finally dry up but now I have a strong head wind as the route heads south back to the lake.  As I enter the park it is 2.5 miles down and its brake burning time (now that is a waste of energy).  I check my watch and calculate that I should be off the bike at 3 hr 15 min which gives my 1 hr 45 min to T2 it and run 13.1 miles.  I might be able to break 5 hrs was my thought but I recall doing this race last year and having the run kick my buttocks so I decided to chill and get on with the run and gauge things later.

Run (including T2 – 1 hr 43 min 37 sec, 2nd in AG) – 13.1 miles

Shawn and Rob both know what waits you as soon as you get off your bike at lake level.  It’s nothing but uphill on the run, for the first full mile.  How about that for another wake up call?  But at least this time I knew what to expect and my mantra was “baby steps dude, baby steps” … or high cadence short choppy steps and lean forward.  It worked apparently because by time I hit the plateau at mile 1, I was able to take off.  The run then goes up “and” down for the next few miles, and then goes around a circle drive (camp sites) that drops steeply in the back, which means it rises steeply in the front.  It is just one challenging run anyway you dice it.  By the way, it repeats THREE times.  The last 2 miles of the loop is downhill and the last half mile is deep in the woods on a very narrow paved and winding path.  You pop out at the beach where you started (T1 and T2) and then re-start the loop all over again.  Same dreaded uphill for the first mile, same up and down throughout the next 2 miles and the same downhill pounding for the last mile or so.  It is a very humbling run course.  So I forget to check my run times because I just want to make sure I don’t choke/cramp, etc.  Everything is firing well, no quad cramps like last year.  By mile 11, I check my watch and run some mental numbers in my head.  And this time, unlike last year when I was 4 minutes beyond the 5 hr window, I saw the numbers and said I can do this.  It’s time to go sub 5 hours but it is going to be very close.  I have to pee and quickly surmise that a pee break is not a good choice.  Time is the essence now.  Am I going to lose this mission because of my mediocre T1 and T2’s?  Who knows, it’s all up to last 2 miles now.  Chilling behind the vehicles on the bike course cost me precious time.  Being careful on wet roads also cost me precious time.  Having to pee now was not an option.  I assume “some” people have pee’d while running to save time but I absolutely was not going there.  I keep a good pace and ramp it up when the slope starts heading down, yeah.  By time I hit the narrow running trail in the woods for the final half mile, I recheck my watch and see that this is going to be an all-out battle to go sub 5 hours.  Shockingly, there are no cramps (or twitches) kicking back when I ramp it up, it’s just overall fatigue that is starting to kick my butt.  The last 400 yards is on the same narrow trail that is wet with leaves and it is winding.  And then a side walk with stupid rails that I thought I would flip over because it was also winding.  There was no straight shot to the finish line so I gun every corner I can find and also dodge other runners who are on lap 1 or 2.  I go for the finish line and check my watch after I cross what I think is the timing line/mat.  It appears that I missed it by 8 or 9 seconds.  Crap.  But I forgot that I started my watch 10 seconds earlier then the swim wave gun so that I could overlap my wet suit on my watch.  With all the math I have taken in my engineering career you would think I would get the numbers right.  Your watch is 10 seconds FAST Larry, not 10 seconds SLOW Larry.  So the margin was in my favor, and when the dust settled, another 10 seconds came out of somewhere (time warp?) which gave me a final time of 4 hr 59 min and 50 seconds.  Nine dad gum seconds to spare … that was close but it put a big smile on my face.

Best Part

Obviously, the best part was that my wife finally was able to attend a race with me.  Attached are the fotos to prove it.  She was present at the check in process the day prior to the race and she saw the awards ceremony.  She also was able to cheer on a lot of cyclists at mile 22 in front of the inn.  We enjoyed the bed and breakfast (though there was no breakfast for either of us – I got up to early, and she can’t eat gluten products … we did bring chow though) and I would recommend it for anyone.  Other triathletes were present at the same inn.  It’s called the Littlepage Inn.  Check it out at:

The entire Lake Anna setting is just plain nice and peaceful; I will certainly be back there again.

PS1 – I was loaded with Hammer Nutrition products the entire way including prep 4 days in advance and recovery.  You have seen the nutrition plan before so no need to repeat it.  Zero GI issues, plenty of energy, no cramps, I am a believer.

PS2 – I had a long email exchange with the race director on this issue.  The catered post-race food of last year (excellent and healthy wraps, and bean salads) were replaced by, yep, pizza.  That was my only major disappointment.  At least he forewarned me that pizza will again be served at the Patriot Half (yes, I asked) this year.  So much for the wraps, and even the great meals provided at the two earlier sprints.  Oh well.

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