Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Boilerman Race Report

This was my first Boilerman, an Olympic distance event (1500m/40k/10k).  I didn’t know it existed, as I have done the Powerman duathlon the past two years.  Though I am disappointed that event was not offered, I don’t miss the cruel conditions it offered the previous two years.  Especially the first one.  You can read about them HERE-2010 and HERE-2011.

Anyway, back to Boilerman.  I was beginning to have reservations as I considered the weather potential: last day of September, cold and rain that week, wind.  The thought of swimming in whitecaps, combined with being soaking wet and nearly naked on the bike with sub-50 degrees and high winds, and maybe rain.  Oh wait, that was Powerman 2010, without the swim.

Anyway, the weather was sunny and cold in the morning, but it warmed up to a near perfect temperature.  The wind picked up, gusting pretty hard on the northbound legs on the bike, but overall, was a great day.  Check in was easy.  I got my stuff, though I was disappointed they ran out of swim caps.  How does that happen?  X entrants=X caps.  I thought Purdue focused on math and engineering…  There were large contingents represented from Purdue, Michigan, Grand Valley State University, Wabash, and others I cannot recall.

The Swim 25:03 1:31/100m pace (NOT)

The swim was interesting.  I hadn’t trained for a swim.  At all.  I did swim 1000m a few days before, just to swing my arms and see if my pace was what I predicted.  It was.  The swim was three waves, separated by three minutes.  Wave one was collegiate, wave 2 was AG 39 and under, wave 3 was AG 40+.

The swim was a little weedy at the start.  I had long strings of “seaweed” caught on my arms, which made me laugh.  I tried to pick a line that kept me clear of carnage, yet I was steamrolled a bunch of times.  I was glad my goggles were tinted, since the sun was in my eyes for the first third of the swim.  I had done everything I could to ensure my wetsuit was pulled up high enough to keep it from pulling me into a curl.  It seemed to work.  But I didn’t get “warmed up” until probably halfway.  And my head was cold until then too.  It was hard for me to sight where the buoys were; I just tried to follow people.  My attempts to draft were fruitless as well, since my speed was not fast enough.  Any eight year old girl can beat me in a short distance.  But I can go a long distance, albeit slow.  Funny thing about open water swims like this: it takes me a long while to get comfortable and in a groove.  During the first five minutes, drowning is a thought.  Odd.  I can swim just fine (but not fast – technique stinks), and tread water for hours.  Why does getting beat up during a swim affect me this way??

The rest of the swim was uneventful, though there was a person who kept hitting and crowding me for quite some time, even though there was plenty of room around us.  It was making me mad.  I exited the swim and had a long run (300m?) to T1.  My observation about the swim course is that it had to be short.  Very short, given my time.  The entry point didn’t agree with what was shown online, so maybe that was it.  But there is no doubt in my mind that it was no 1500m.  My estimate was 1100m.  My 25 minute swim should have been 33 minutes.

T1 2:34

No issues here, except the grass had been cut and I had tons of grass stuck to my feet.

The Bike 1:09:32  21.5 MPH

The bike started odd.  I was sleepy for the first ten minutes.  Huh?  I was passing people most of the race, though near the end I was passed by two people.  My back started to hurt a bit, which hadn’t happened on any other ride.  The only change was my new shoes.  The ride was a bit windy, and for about ½ of it, on roads I have ridden before.  It was very windy towards the end; strong winds came from the north and made me fight for 16mph.  I stayed at a comfortable pace – maybe too comfortable, for most of the ride.  I should have been faster.

T2 0.58

The Run 46:01 (7:24)

I started the run feeling good, and quickly got into a groove.  I wasn’t quite in the pain cave, but I was in zone 4 for sure.  The first 4 miles were through a neighborhood, and though I was passed by two people, they were going pretty fast.  I was running in the 6:30-7:00/mi pace for some time, only slowing because I wasn’t paying attention.  A guy caught up to me and we spoke briefly.  He asked what my age group was and I told him.  He said “Shit, me too.  I can’t sustain this pace.”  We fist bumped and said good luck.  I then left him.  As I hit the last section around the lake, it really slowed me down.  For the last 1.75 miles around lake; ½ of that was lumpy field grass.  I ran okay, but the grass run slowed me down.  My pace was 8min/mi; on the pavement below7 min. The grass was ankle busting for me, but probably carpet for a trail runner.  I picked up the pace on the hard pack, and passed a few people in the last 200m.  I had to look back a few times to ensure nobody was going to sprint by me.  As I exited the finish chute and turned in my timing chip, the guy I had passed finished.  He had closed a rather large lead I had on him by not slowing down in the grass.

The Finish 2:24:07 5/14 AG 78/243 overall

Overall, I think I did okay, especially since I hadn’t trained for it.  I was disappointed that the swim was short, because I wanted to have another benchmark in the deck.  This clearly is not a 2:24 Oly tri for me.  The post-race food was clearly for the youngsters.  There were dozens of pizzas, bagels, and fruit.  I looked for the results and found I was not getting on the podium.  I packed up my stuff and rode the 1.5 mi back to my car.