Sunday, June 24, 2012

Billy the Kid Tombstone Olympic Tri

I'll add a quick blog about this "new" race at Sumner Lake near Ft. Sumner.  I think this was actually the 3rd year for this event, but it has been a relatively small affair and it never fit into our schedule, so we hadn't gone to it before this year.  Chasing3 added it to their "open water series," so it got put on my schedule right then and there.  They also have a sprint version of this race that was quite popular.  So, there's something for everyone.

The trip to the lake is not so bad, as Hwy 285 gets us down to I-40 so quickly, then it's just a quick trip to Santa Rosa (also a great place for some training with all of their lakes, and one of the venues for a new open-water sprint race in August).  It's about 38 miles from Santa Rosa to Sumner Lake, so it's quite easy to stay there where there are far more amenities.  But, Ft. Sumner is kinda cool with the Pecos River flowing through it and there being some very nice quiet and scenic roads to ride on.  I love riding down to Bosque Redondo and Billy the Kid's grave from town and back.

Mila playing on the cool rocks that ring much of the lake.  It's a pretty venue.
Anyway, this race is directed by the local school superintendent.  It's a great venue with LOTS of potential.  As is somewhat the case with many rural areas of NM, the roads are less than smooth, so that is the main drawback of the venue.  It's not that bad, but the road is a little rough, much like NM-4, actually.

The lake is on the Pecos River, so it's a little murky but nice water.  It's also not all that chilly.  The swim course needs to be altered.  They ran it as an out-and-back style course with one buoy on the far end and one on the near end.  That caused a lot of messes with the two-way traffic.  One more buoy just a little off of the swim line would have helped tremendously.

Racers getting ready for the swim.  They didn't provide any swim caps...not a big deal, but kinda different...
A wider angle shot of the random swim start staging
I had a somewhat crummy swim for me -- my back had been bothering me from before Jay Benson and I aggravated it the week before.  Otherwise, the rest of me felt pretty good.  I was just off in the swim due to the tender muscles and didn't pull 100%, nor evenly.  I ended up in a not-so-great group that didn't sight well and so we didn't have a very good swim time relative to the leaders.  This would affect the entire race for me.

This shot says it all.  That's me all locked up and trying to move after a lousy swim.  My back bothered me pretty badly that day.
The exit from the swim is up a typical NM boat ramp, but not as steep as some of the others.  The transition area is in a nice, although rough-pavement, parking lot.  The state park is not that big, but nice and scenic.  The roads are rough with some speed bumps that are a minor nuisance but not that bad.  It's important to use good tires at this race.

Out on the bike, I put the hammer down (I had made a mistake in getting out of the park and it cost me probably 20 or 30 seconds overall).  I was going WAY too fast over a roller that led down to a sharp curve going over the dam.  I nearly didn't make the curve, twice actually, before getting my mind in the game and getting over the dam.  The road is narrow and open to traffic, so there were some cars behind some of the other racers who were faster on the swim than I was, so that was a little sketchy getting around all of that.  Then, it was open road.  I felt good, but saw that I had a HUGE gap to make up on the front-runners.  I didn't panic and just did what I had to do.  Fortunately, my back wasn't bothering me on the bike and I was able to really crank it out.

Coming back to the lake, we made a turn-off of the route out to an even narrower road that went down and around a curve that many of us nearly missed, as there was a dirt road leading off the apex of the 90 degree bend.  It looked like the way to go, so I over-cooked it and had to skid and hook a tight, slow turn to get back on course.  I think a lot of folks did that.  It was a bummer, as I was just about to catch the 2nd-place guy (Ken Corigliano) at the time.

Coming in from the bike.  I felt good and hammered hard on the bike.  I forgot my racing suit at home and had to race Tarzan style =)
I finally got off that little road and passed Ken and hauled it back into T2, where it was a bit confusing as to where we dismounted.  My back was bugging by that time and I had a slower-than-usual T2, but not too bad.  I was really locked up and my whole body was reacting to the tightness in my back.  I tried to find a comfortable position to get my rhythm, but it was a significant uphill in the first mile of the run.  I heard footsteps and knew Corigliano was a fast runner.  He passed me with authority and I shuddered to think how much time he was going to put on me if that situation kept up.  I fought hard mentally to not think about it and just focus on getting my body to come around and find a comfortable running stride.

Out of the park and over the first big hill, I watched as Corigliano strode away from me.  But up ahead, I saw Rance Irvin not making any progress on me at all and in fact, was seemingly coming closer into view.  I was heartened by that, so I worked on getting my effort going even better.

There was another hill up to the first aid station and so I was able to get two good cups of water.  I had hydrated well on the bike, so I didn't need to drink too much, even though it was hot without much of a breeze.  I put most of the water on my back and legs, and that did something to help my back relax quite a bit.  I suddenly felt myself becoming more comfortable and moving faster.  I was pleased to see that Corigliano was not advancing his gap as quickly as before, and that Rance was also getting closer.  I just increased my tempo and overall speed as my body allowed, and before I knew it, I was really running and feeling not so bad as before.

The return home was great, actually.  I ran well and got closer to Rance and even ran faster than Corigliano for a time, but when he caught Rance, there was an increase in both of their speeds, so I started running out of real estate to move up.  By the end, they both had over a minute in hand on me, but it had been much more earlier.  My bike/run time was better than Corigliano's by about 40 seconds or so, and well over a minute faster than Rance's, even though he had a great bike too and we were basically even (I think I nipped him by one second =).

What started out as a disaster of a run turned into a pretty decent run...I still lost a lot of time at the beginning, but pulled it out by the end.

 So, it wasn't a win, but I was actually not bummed about it.  I fought the entire way and without such a sad swim, it would have been a great race for me.  I like the venue and everything, but there are definitely some details that need to be attended to and some major improvements made overall.  It has a lot of potential as a really good race.  We'll go back if they have it again in the future.  It's a fun event overall in a cool part of the state.

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