Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apple Days Mill Hill Biathlon

The Apple Days Mill Hill Biathlon (5k run/15 mile bike) is one of my favorite races of the season.  It is a small, local race in Greenville, IL that is well run, and brings in some great competition.  This is my 2nd year doing the race, and it definitely will not be my last year!  If you’re looking for a race with a fast 5k and honest bike course, this is your race!  As much fun as the down hills on the bike are, the climbs (okay, so they aren’t Branson-like climbs, but if it is not pancake flat, it is a climb to me) in this race take away any advantage you can get from the downhill sections.

It’s a 200 mile drive from my house to Greenville, so I left Friday after work.  I got to meet up with some of the guys on the Greenville XC team (Sic ‘em Panthers!) for dinner that night (Mario’s pizza is a must stop place in Greenville), before crashing at Alex’s place.  They got to see how much of an old man I am now, because by 10:00pm I was ready for bed!  I don’t know if it was the work day, driving, or the fact that I’m usually sleeping by 10:00pm, but Friday night was no different.

I woke up around 6:00am on race morning.  I like to be up 2.5-3 hours before a race starts, just to let my body wake up.  It was a chilly 35 degrees when I woke up.  Brr! I watched some CMT before getting ready to go.  I have to admit, I was a little scared to try on my one piece tri suit, because I wasn’t sure if it would fit.  It fit perfectly two weeks earlier in Branson, but I had had quite a bit of fast food and candy since then.  I put it on, tight squeeze, but it fit. Phew! I put on my warm ups and headed over to the race.  Luckily for me, the check in/start line was about three blocks from where I was staying!

I got to the check in, and I saw Morgan Chaffin.  If Morgan is there, you know it is going to be a good race!  I also saw Jacob Goldkamp.  I had never been in a race with Jacob, but I had heard about his season.  I knew I had my hands full!  I started my warm up around 7:40 for the race to start at 8:30.  I did a 2 mile bike ride, and a 2 mile jog.  I was slightly worried about the race after my 2 mile jog, because I was jogging a sluggish (for me) 7:35/mile, and it felt difficult!  I couldn’t tell if my body was tired, cold, or what.  I figured hey, I might as well just go out there and have some fun with it, and we’ll see what happens.  My plan was to go out and take the first mile a conservative 5:30 and see what happens from there.  I had decided to go with the one piece tri suit, a headband, compression socks, gloves, and arm warmers for the race. 

In the biathlon, the run is first, followed by the bike.  This 5k (well, 3.18 miles) run is kind of tricky.  The first mile is uphill.  The second mile is mostly downhill.  The third mile is mostly uphill with a nice downhill in to T1.  I had covered these roads many times over my four years at Greenville College, so I knew exactly how to race it.  I took the lead from the gun.  I knew if I wanted to have any chance of winning the race I needed to get out quick.  I knew approximately where the quarter and half mile were, but I decided not to check my watch until I got to the mile mark and just run off feel.  I came through the first mile in 5:04 and I was alone.  I felt pretty strong and was ready to go.  I knew the second mile was down hill mostly, so I knew I could relax a bit and still have a good mile.  Right before the two mile mark I looked back and saw I had a pretty big lead, so I knew I was in good shape.  I came through two miles in 10:14, and it felt very smooth.  The third mile has some hills in it, so I decide to shut it down and save my legs for the bike.  I came through 3 miles in 15:41, and I was feeling great at this point.  All I had to do was finish the .18 to T1 and get on my bike.  Sounds simple enough, right?

I came in around 16:40ish for my 3.18 miles.  I usually have pretty quick transitions in the triathlon.  Well, it usually isn’t 39 degrees for a triathlon, and I’m usually not wearing gloves!  Oops!  I picked up my helmet to put it on, and I couldn’t get it buckled!  I tried probably 4 times before I tried taking my gloves off to buckle my helmet.  Then as I was stupid when taking my bike off the rack, and pushed it to the side…causing another pedal to get stuck in my wheel.  As I was starting to take my bike off the rack it started bringing 2 bikes with me!  Thank goodness Lee (the race director) was close by and was able to take care of the other bikes for me!  My T1 was super slow this year! 41 seconds! I might as well have stopped for breakfast in there!

Now for the fun part, the bike!  Last year I had a decent lead on the 5k and ended up getting 4th, so I was determined to do better this year!  I always end up riding scared in biathlons.  I just got on my bike and took off.  I love the first part of the course; the first 2 miles follow the 5k route.  The first mile gets the legs warmed up; the second is a nice, fast decline.  Then you get a few rollers and such.  I came through five miles and still had not been passed.  Last year by mile five I was in third.  I kept thinking to myself, “Okay, just make it to the turnaround now.”   I got to the turnaround and was still in the lead.—a position I am not used to on the bike!  I started my journey back, and saw Jacob maybe a quarter mile from the turnaround and Morgan not too far behind!  At that point I realized that if I could hold them off for another 6 miles, I would win! I got to mile 10 and decided I was going to just lay all my cards on the table and go for it.  In my mind I was thinking, “Oh brother, 5 more miles, this is going to hurt!”  I got to about 2 miles to go and still had not been caught, so things were looking good, but I knew there was one challenge still ahead of me—Mill Hill!  The King of the Mountain Sprint!  It is a 600m climb, followed by a 600m flat (I say slight incline) to the finish.  As I started my uphill climb, I looked back and saw Jacob coming down the big hill.  Oh shoot!  I was about half way up Mill Hill when Jacob started…not good!  I knew he would be coming in hot, so I had to go.  I was hurting so bad to get to the top of the hill.  I felt like I had battery acid flowing through my veins (I now know what he was talking about in Fight Club), and it hurt.  I made it to the top of the hill, and was breathing so hard, that I could hardly get aero again.  Somehow I managed to get to the finish line without falling off my bike, and earned my first multi-sport win!  It was a great feeling to pick up a win in the town I called home for the past four years, with many teammates there to watch.

Run 5k (3.18)- 16:42 (5:15/mile)
T1- :40
Bike 39:57 (22.5mph)
Total- 57:19

I was so cold after the race that I had to go put 3 layers on to try and warm up.  It was still 39 degrees!  I guess there really is a first time for everything…first time I’ve raced a multi-sport event in 39 degree weather.  I finished 5 minutes faster than last year, so I was really thrilled about that.  All of the hard work has been paying off, but I still have a long was to go!

Congrats to all the other racers.  It was cold out there, and you all rocked it!  Thanks Racemaker Productions for putting on another great race!  I will definitely be back next year!  Honestly, the long sleeve shirt is enough of a reason for me to come back!  Actually, I will be at quite a few of your events!

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