Sunday, June 22, 2008

Warmaug Sprint

I had a Ferris Bueller weekend beginning Friday evening with the Warmaug Triathlon put on by by Mandy Braverman and Endureit Multisports. I had been battling a head cold all week and had a very busy weekend ahead so I wasnt to motivated about racing on Friday morning. But I committed to the race and I also had a fun little rivalry going on with John Hirsch ( http://www.johnhirsch.org/ ), so I packed up my car and headed up to the venue. I had never done the old Warmaug course, and hadn't raced a sprint since Griskus in 2005 or 2006 - it's been awhile. The new course began about 2 miles uphill from Lake Warmaug at a pond/lake that sits on top of the small mountain range just north. I arrived early to preride the course and try and blow some congestion out of my head.

The two mile descent from T1 to Lake Warmaug was exhilarating. The road was steep and fast and I had to remind myself the whole time to stay focused since it's so easy to become distracted by the spectacular views of Warmaug sitting below in between the hills. I cruised along part of the course around Warmaug and did a few pick-ups to test the legs. I felt sluggish from the lack of activity that week but didn't put too much weight into it. I came off of Warmaug and climbed the 2 miles beginning up Strawberry Hill and back to T2 and knew that I was going to love this course.

I went through all the prerace junk but mostly caught up with a lot of familiar faces. It was great seeing a bunch of the same guys I had been racing with for a long time now, as well as some athletes I coach.

We lined up at the foot of the pond for the countdown. It was a competitive field, yet the countdown was so mellow! I'm used to edging in during the countdown from ten and usually, by five, someone leans forward slightly and I'm off. But here everyone was civil and counted down right to one. I glanced to my right then my left quickly and jumped. I had an awesome start, getting out really quick. My plan was to take the first 200 meters out really hard. I have swam four times since last November, so needless to say, my swim fitness was lacking. I knew that I couldn't give up too much time in the swim in a sprint if I wanted to win, so my plan was go out fast and then try to get on some fast feet and just suffer for the remaining eight minutes or so in the water. This plan worked well. There were only maybe eight or so out of the water ahead of me. I had a relatively quick T1 and began the two mile descent. I passed a few guys during these early miles by staying aero and not touching the brakes. Once we got on the rolling course around Warmaug, I figured I'd just lock in on the next athlete up the road and hunt them down. The problem is that when racing this road, you realize it's a bit twisty and you can't see anyone up the road. I also had to be a bit cautious on the corners since I knew I had a slow leak in my rear tubular. I found this out the day before but wanted to race on the new sub 9 Zipp disc and didn't feel like changing the tubular, so I came up with the foolish plan of just pumping it up to a very high psi and hoping for the best. Yes, Greg P. chastised me with good reason for this!

I caught John at about the five mile mark and asked him who was up the road. He mentioned one guy who was riding well. I hammered on, yet I didn't feel any snap or form. Funny thing is, by around the nine mile mark near the camp ground, my legs started to come around. We've all heard the expression of "blowing out the cobwebs" and this was certainly the case here. I made the left onto Strawberry Hill and saw the leader just up ahead. He was out of the saddle and appeared to be really working it. I knew that this was the early part of a 2 mile climb, so instead of feeding my ego and driving by him on the ride, I just sat about 20 feet off the back and rode a steady tempo. I thought that I could save my legs a bit and nail him on the run.

I had a pretty quick T2, but not compared to this guy who was in and out like lightning. The first mile of the 5K run began along the pond on grass and then you ran up a steep hill onto a field which we were to circumnavigate. For some reason, I came up the hill and ran to the left, only to look across after five seconds and see the lead runner following the "leader" cyclist the opposite way around the field. Hindsight, I could have continued and done the loop the opposite way since we exited this field where we came in, but I turned and drove up the pace a bit to make up the lost 10 seconds. This first mile continued on grass and went up some really steep short hills that were quad killers. On one of the out and back sections, I could see John really working a downhill chasing in third - he had me running scared. After mile one, we popped out onto the main road where we ran downhill for one mile to a turn around and then back uphill to the finish. I took the lead early in the second mile and opened up a gap by the two mile mark. As I made the turn and was ascending towards the finish, I could see that John was going to overpass this guy for second, but also knew I had the race, so I eased a bit, saving some energy for the rest of the hectic weekend.


I have raced a bunch of sprints in my time and I can easily say that this was the best one I've ever raced. the venue is second to none, and the course is scenic and challenging. Mandy did an exceptional job with the directing and organizing.

I razzed John a bit at the finish which was necessary. He is definitely fit though and is going to have a great day next week at the 1/2 IM in West Virginia.

Matt C. had a great race as did Bill K. from Cannondale (by the way, I rode the slice for the first time in a race - I am doing a review of this bike for the site, it's definitely a fast ride!). Greg Pelican from Bethel Cycle showed that he is very versatile. He has an incredible running, cycling, and duathlon resume and is learning to swim now and is already competitive in triathlon, winning his age group here. Kenn Vohls had a great day, finishing as he said "early enough to see most of the racers finish".

Greg had a Bethel Bike/Cannondale tent set up and since one of his title sponsors is Heineken, I thought I should stick around a bit and enjoy a few.

It was great to be racing again, and to renew myself with the hurt, go balls to the wall from the gun of sprints.

I made it home sometime after 10pm, unpacked, showered and was in bed around midnight, only to be up at 3:30am to meet John Brennan to head to NYC early. I was representing MyAthlete for quick piece on the CBS morning show. It was quick, but still cool. John mentioned to me on the ride home that he hoped I enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame. I said that I think I still have 14 minutes, 50 seconds left.

I got home in time to shower and head off to catch my sons last soccer game of the season. The rest of the day was jam packed, but I won't bore you anymore.

Cheers,

EH

7 comments:

Amanda C said...

Awesome Job, E-Rock! It was an awesome race to watch unfold and it was great to have you out there! Your athletes are always impressive and kind (something I REALLY appreciate!).

Keep an eye out in the Waterbury Rep, Danbury News-Times and New Milford Spectrum for coverage - they'll have a number of pictures of your dominating win!

Congrats again - and your last post gave me a huge laugh.... for some reason I've had garbage thrown at me a few times, cigarette butts and such... A water gun/slap on the butt would be a huge improvement!

Anonymous said...

Great account Eric. Love reading your stuff. I see John is racing Mountaineer, I'll be down there too. I looked up his registration, and I see he's not racing Amatuer Elite. Tell him to make the switch at registration. Nice small swim wave and you get to race from the front.
Cheers,
Kevin Park

Anonymous said...

EH,
After looking at John's page, maybe he's racing Pro.
Kevin

Eric said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for reading! John is a pro.

Tear it up down there in WV.

By the way, I'm riding the Syntace base bar - it's great!

Cheers,

EH

Anonymous said...

Eric it was an awesome race. Thanks for coming out of sprint retirement. Now retire again! Man you really had a great race, and a great swim. Your a smart coach and made a great race plan for yourself.

John

Ps to Kevin, yeah I race as "pro", I hear great things about this race and am really looking forward to it. Ps want to car pool? if so email me at hyctn [at] aol [dot] com

BuckeyeRunner said...

nice race. I am a Cleveland area triathlete...I am a slow swimmer, average biker, and mediocore runner....can't understand why I am not winning races :-) You have a cult like following here in CLE!

PS. Don't think you can jump on the today show without people seeing you! I see how you tv stars are.

Mr Buckeye

Eric said...

Thanks for the comments Mr Buckeye and for reading. You Cleveland triathletes are great with this!