Monday, June 4, 2012

Race Report: Escape The Cape '12

Elle: This past weekend Webb and I participated in the 'Escape the Cape' Max Performance sprint triathlon. Or so we set out to...

Checking the weather as we leave
on race morning
Webb:  This was the third year for Escape The Cape and our third time doing it. The race features a .3 mile point-to-point ocean swim, 10-mile out-and-back bike and 3.1-mile double-loop run. We had briefly considered doing Rev3 Quassy Olympic, but the lure of a Max Performance event and chance to compare our progress over three years proved too much to resist.

Elle: We woke up at 5am, and managed to get to the race site by 6:45am for registration. Since it was raining, the helmet number wasn't sticking, luckily, Webb had packing tape in his race bag (my boy's wicked smaht). We finally got to transition, a little later, but better late than never. I was rushing to set up my area when Tim Richmond, the race director, got on the sound system for an announcement: Due to inclement weather, strong ocean currents and dangerous rip tides, they made a last minute decision to cancel the swim, and convert the race to a duathlon (run-bike-run). This news was received differently by all the athletes - some were relieved, some were upset, I was just glad I hadn't already put on my wetsuit, like most of the other racers who had gotten there on-time.

Webb: I was in utter chaos-mode from the moment we arrived. I don't know why; we had time. Maybe it was the rain, and the shivering and the general feeling that I had not obsessed enough over my packing list the night before. I was looking forward to putting on my wetsuit just to warm up. That was the main reason I was disappointed to hear the swim was canceled and replaced with a one-mile run. (Later I would have a different reason.) I continued to organize my transition area without actually organizing my transition area. I did not want to put everything out in the rain just yet. That was pretty stupid because they were not going to get less wet. What can I say? I was not thinking clearly.

Escape the Cape Duathlon

Our friend Nate wins it all!
Webb: With a field close to 500, the race officials decided to maintain the swim wave start. Since I moved up into a new age group bracket this year, it was going to be the first time I started after Elle. She was going to have a 1:00 head-start. She is generally faster than me on the run and I am faster on the bike. So it was going to be interesting: Would I catch her on the bike; would she catch me on the run?

RUN #1: 0.9 miles

Elle: The change from triathlon to duathlon really spoke to my strengths. I know that the swim is my weakest discipline, but this race really drove that message home. The fast, 1-mile start was a bit strange, but I came out of that a heck of a lot higher in rank that I ever will for the swim leg. That put me in a good place. I've never come into T1 with all of the bikes still on the rack! So that felt good.

Webb:  I, on the other hand, was feeling oddly anxious. On Thursday night I ran a one-mile time trial with the SEAC running club. It was the first time I ran a timed mile on a track since, I think, my junior year of high school. Even though I am no longer nervous before races, this particular mile-test rekindled long dormant pre-race anxieties. Damnit if I didn't feel something similar prior to the start of the duathlon. Maybe it is just the idea of running one mile hard right out of the box.

I wasn't sure how to pace myself for the first leg. We lined up at the start. There was a distinct gap between the guys up front who were competitive and the rest of us. With about :10 to go, all the guys in front leaned forward in unison like it was a 1920s foot race. You could almost hear Chariots of Fire playing in the background. The airhorn sounded and we were off. I ran hard, holding back a little. I was very aware of how wasted I was immediately after my timed mile Thursday night and I did not want to have to sit down in transition.

BIKE: 10 miles

Elle:  The bike went well - I was on my Trek Speed Concept 7.5, and this was only the second time I'd ever ridden it out on the road. Things were going well, until a car got out on the race course and brought things to a bit of a halt. It forced me to slow down. That sucked, all the work I had done to get out in front was lost as everyone caught up. We were finally able to get around the car and continue on with the race. I have to say, I really think all of those Sufferfest workouts really helped. They taught me how to attack when necessary, and then continue on with a strong effort.

 The bike was fun. This was my first time outside on the tri bike this season. Even though the roads were wet and fast, I felt like I had good control of the bike. (At least one person crashed out of the race.) Starting in a later wave meant I had a lot of opportunities to pass people. Like a good triathlete, I focused on a steady effort and for me, a high cadence. About 3 miles in I also found myself stuck behind a/the car. When I finally had my chance, I sprinted around the car and right into a deep pothole. Blam! Thankfully I didn't flat out as I initially thought. I couldn't be sure how far out in front of me Elle was. As I approached the turnaround, I finally saw her headed back the other way. (Nice! She was having a good bike leg.) I shouted some encouragement and then re-focused on my own task. I passed some more people, was passed by some others and maybe even some who I had passed earlier. I finally caught Elle with about 2 miles to go. We had a little chat and then I pressed on.

Elle: By 'chat', he means that I yelled at him as he passed by, "I knew you were going to catch me, you rat bastard!"

RUN #2: 3.1 miles

Coming into T2 was tough. I had a seriously difficult time dismounting and running to my rack. My legs felt useless. I finally made my switchover and DAMNIT there were the two people I passed at the end of the bike beating me out of transition. (Oh well, I never caught them.)

I knew what was coming on the run. First there is a climb, not steep or long, just hard enough on tired legs. At the top of the hill I saw our friend and eventual overall winner Nate running at the front headed for the second loop. I coughed out a "nice job" or something and headed for the first loop. After the short descent you run around a loop, which is up and then down a modest hill around the 1-mile mark. This is usually where I start to hurt. From experience I know if you can suffer through the hill you'll have the worst behind you. I tried to keep a steady pace and look for Elle as I doubled-back. I didn't see her anywhere. Thinking I had put some more time between us on the bike, I guessed she was :30-1:00 behind me. When I didn't see her, I assumed I had slowed way down and she was closing on me. I didn't sense that she was bearing down on me though. I just knew I had to keep moving.

Elle: I was right behind Webb leaving T2, but he didn't know I was there. My plan was to hang out behind him for a while, and then sneak up and pass him at some point. So I just shadowed him for awhile. At some point after the first mile, as I was passing people going the other direction (after the turn-around), several people shouted at someone who was apparently behind me,
"Go Kim!", "Good job, Kim!", "You've got it, Kim!"
Now, I don't know who "Kim" is, but apparently she was on my tail, and had a lot of supporters. I decided that when she passed me, and I had a feeling she would, that I would say to her, "Good job, Kim!," just because everyone else was. Well, Kim did finally pass me. She turned to me and smiled as I gave her encouragement, and that's when I saw the blood. On her face. On her shoulder. On her leg. Ouch. Looks like Kim had a really bad fall on the bike. But she was booking it on the run! She passed me, and before I knew it, I couldn't even see her anymore. Go Kim!

Webb:  After what seemed like forever, I saw the 2-mile mark. It wasn't long after a woman with fresh road rash, we'll call her "Kim," methodically passed me on my left. As she pulled away, I gathered myself to put it down and finish the race. I had no idea how fast or slow I was going. I just knew I was at max effort for someone who had a mile left. I kept trying to increase my pace as the mile worn on (and wear on it did). I finally crossed the finish line and almost collapsed. I caught my breath and turned around to wait for Elle.

A podium finish!
I guess 3rd place couldn't stick around...
Elle: I kept meaning to make my big move, but for some reason that I don't even know myself, I didn't. I just followed Webb the whole way, and crossed the finish line just seconds after he did. He didn't see me. Even when I was standing right in front of him. As usual, he had put everything into it, and was trying to recover from his big effort. And I wasn't. This is a problem. I need to start putting it all on the line, and for some reason, I'm not. And when the race is over, I feel regret about not pushing harder, because I'm pretty sure I could have. This is something I need to work on. Strangely, though, my time was good enough to put me in 1st place in my age-group, and 5th overall for women.

Webb:  I think the switch from triathlon to duathlon hurt my chances to place well. This is insignificant because the only race I have entered where I thought the podium was a possibility was St. Croix earlier this year. Still, it is hard not to wonder if I am a better swimmer relative to the guys who finished before me. I know it is a waste of time to do that, especially since the same holds true for the guys who finished behind me. What I'll take away from this race was how much fun I had on the bike and that I took a minute off my 5k run from last year's race.

Elle: This was our last sprint of the season. Looks like "fun time" is over...

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