Monday, July 28, 2008

NJ State (Sprint) Triathlon

Did the NJ state triathlon on Sunday in and around the very pleasant Mercer County Park. Since the race started at 7:30am and packet pickup was required the previous day I drove and split a hotel room with another DCTri guy, Rudy. I kind of liked the general organization I was forced into because of this, though I'd still prefer my own bed (and free accommodations). After a 5 + hour drive that should have been 3 I made packet pickup with a 1/2 to spare and then hit the DCTri dinner of pasta and salad. Perfect pre-race experience and I got to meet a few more DCTri'ers which is always a good thing.

Got everything set up that night and got to bed around 9:30 or so. Didn't sleep great but that's pretty much my M.O. the night before a race. Woke up to a bagel, cliff bar and headed to the course. Set up my transition area and walked the swim to T1 course, the T1 to bike course and back to T2 and finally the T2 to run. Pretty simple and straightforward so I downed half a banana and headed to the swim start about 300 meters down the shore. Got a nice 250 or so meter warm up in the water to try and get rid of the initial shock of the swim.

My wave started 3rd and I did what I could to tread towards the front of the pack. The start was a bit crazy and the swim was the most aggressive I've done yet. A lot of pulling, scratching and general crap going on in the water by people all over. I felt like I was swimming alright but despite my efforts to go a bit harder then I usually have I still ended up 90th overall on my swim time. I swam up on the group in front of mine but that just made things more difficult since at no time during the swim could I get clear of the rest of the pack. Not sure if that was due to the short distance or what.

500 meter swim: 8:25
Overall Swim Rank: 90
T1: 1:49

T1 felt like it took me forever, though I'm really not sure why. It took too long to put on my helmet glasses and race belt but it shouldn't have. I may have just been a bit winded from the run from the lake since I sprinted past a few people on the way up the hill.

The bike course was a great fast and flat course made for high speeds. It did feel like there was a pretty solid headwind the entire way but I feel like I had a pretty good ride. I continuously passed people on the course, some on mountain bikes and some on sweet tri-specific rigs with aero helmets (or sperm helmets as my girlfriend likes to call them) and zipps. If I had to guess I'd say I rolled up at least 50 riders though I wouldn't be surprised if that were a low ball estimate. The course was packed and I was certainly not surprised to see some drafting penalties issued from what I saw. A couple of times I dolled out some watch the drafting warnings when I'd pass some larger groups of riders. Probably should have ridden the turns a bit more aggressively but with the number of riders that were on the course, and more importantly the number of shaky riders, I stayed a bit more reserved. At the finish of the bike I pulled my feet out of the shoes since there was a longer and somewhat hillier re-entry to t2 which went smoothly though may have taken a bit longer then necessary and a few guys I'd just passed passed me back to the dismount.

11.5 Mile Bike: 29:00
Speed: 23.8 MPH
Overall Rank: 16th
T2: 1:14

T2 was better then T1 though still should have been faster. I had a little trouble getting a hold of the lace to pull it tight with the new lace system but not too serious. Should be solidly under 1 minute in both transitions though, especially t2.

The run portion I wanted to make sure I didn't go out too hard since I didn't know the course at all and at General Smallwood I basically cracked from going out to hard to start. I felt pretty good on the start though didn't get moving too quickly. I still was moving well though and was running down people in front of me pretty regularly. I noticed one guy ahead who was keeping a steady distance between us and made it my goal to pick him off. It took probably 2 and a half miles but I did manage to catch him. During the middle of the run I definitely lost focus as my stomach bloated a bit from trying to throw what I thought was water but was actually heed down my throat. The cold towels at the aid station felt incredible though despite the fact it wasn't nearly as hot as it could have been. When I caught my goal runner I ended up unfocused and just running right behind him for a little bit before waking up mentally and picking up the pace to run by and drop him quickly. My final mile was almost definitely my fastest as I regained my focus a bit more there but still I didn't break the 20 minute mark. The fastest runner on the day ran a 15:59 (overall winner) followed by 17:11 (2nd overall) so I've definitely got some room to improve on my running. The fitness is there though, it's just the mental part that kills me.

5k Run time: 20:47
Pace: 6:42
Overall Rank: 32

Overall another solid race with with strong run and bike and a somewhat less then stellar swim.

Overall Time: 1:01.14
Overall Placement: 15th out of 1020 finishers
Overall Men: 14th out of 549
Division (Men 25-29): 2nd (3rd?) out of 33

The second I assume was out of registered age groupers in my division while the 3rd is overall age group. The first place in my age group was 2nd overall (7+ minutes faster then me) and the 2nd place of my age group was 4th (about 5 mins faster) though so I've got some serious work to do on catching those guys... Once again though I see where the time can come off when I put my mind to it. Mentally I need to get better on both the bike and run (especially the run) and physically I have GOT to work on my swim!

Results Links: Overall

No pics up yet... Brightroom was there though. I was bib 352.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A question on crash liability.

I really wanted to comment on one of the Post articles on this accident, but by the time I got there hotter heads had already taken over with comments like "One less obstacle on the road". Once that crap happens any discussion becomes entirely useless. So instead I bring it home to a much less visible location.

First off, I can only imagine what Allison experienced in those last few seconds and what her friends and family are left with. I'm so sorry for their loss; no matter what anyone may say, it is a senseless and heartbreaking loss, accidental or not.

In an attempt at an unbiased look into this situation, I'd like to pose the following question.

My assumption (I know the investigation is underway and nothing has been said about how this happened, this is simply my slightly uneducated, educated guess) is that Allison was riding along in the cross walk, either she or the trash truck came up on the other and she ended up riding beside it in the blind spot. No blame laid here, just as with a car in a trucks blind spot does not entail blame. The truck pulls a right turn while Allison is right next to it leaving her no time to react. We all know where it goes from there.

Assume the case is the same truck on the highway, with a car riding in the lane next to it in the blind spot. The truck moves over to the right lane, hitting the car in the process. The truck had signaled but the driver of the car could not see this since it was in front of the rear lights but still in the blind spot. Where does the blame lie? With the trucker who moved over into the car correct? Criminal blame? Not so much but legally speaking the trucker was responsible for the accident.

Now consider a vehicle driving down a 2 lane, one way street in the left lane. Suddenly they turn right at a street, cutting across the right lane to do so. If they hit a car in that lane (or more likely a car runs into them as they cut across their lane), who is to blame? The vehicle that made the turn. Obviously. Still not generally a criminal offense, though if there was a death, I would guess an involuntary manslaughter ruling would not be out of the question.

So, what would make this case any different. The bike lane should be treated simply as another lane of traffic. Laws, and more importantly legal settlements should represent this. I'm saying there should be criminal charges here but in the case I've assumed, which is something that happens to many cyclists, though not to the extreme outcome of this case, the truck driver would be at fault. The insurance company would be liable for damages in the car on car incident. So should they be in the truck on bike.

Am I just way off base with this? Why do I doubt there will be any liability assigned on this case though?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sunday I got my first ever "podium" finish in a race (aside from my single greenbelt C race win), though it was only in my age group. I did the General Smallwood Sprint Triathlon down in Indianhead, MD and had a pretty decent time of it. I slept horribly the two nights before (like a grand total of maybe 4 hours) and didn't eat well Saturday but luckily that didn't come back to haunt me too much. I think I felt it, especially in the bike when I was mentally losing my drive a little bit but I managed to get through it.

The swim was pretty fun and interesting. The water was 85 degrees so wetsuits were banned. I'd luckily gone out the day before and picked up a singlet which I liked a lot more then my two piece and it definitely was a lot better for drag in the swim. The grass was filled with a lake sea grass that was thankfully not slimy since I swam through every single tall clump out there on the way back in. Despite my lack of swimming since Nanticoke I did well; not as well as I'd thought but well enough. Swim was 3rd age group and 24th overall.

The run from the swim finish to the transition area was a bit of a trek which I practically sprinted and not pulling off a wetsuit was pretty great. My T1 time was 2nd AG and 5th Overall.

The bike portion could have been a bit better for me this time. I went out pretty solidly but pretty quickly hit some rollers that hit back. I gave a bit more in the swim and the run to transition took a bit out of me as well so the hills which caught me by surprise were a bit of a bear to get through. I was still moving and passing people all over so I didn't feel too bad mentally yet. The turn for the Olympic vs Sprint almost caught me off guard but I noticed the markings at the last second and went the right way. Now after passing one more person I was out alone for a while before someone was in sight behind me. I could tell the guy was catching up and this is where i started losing mentally.

I was pretty physically drained at this point and this started to break me down mentally as well. After he passed I saw a whole slew of guys coming up. When they passed I finally realized they were the leaders from the Olympic distance and not my competition so I relaxed a bit and got my mind back under control. I finished up the bike strong catching a couple of guys who'd caught me previously, dismounted on the fly and ran into transition. Bike was 3rd AG and 11th Overall.

My second transition was also fairly quick, 3rd AG and 10th Overall.

Hitting the run leg I was immediately excited when I realized my calves weren't cramping up like they'd always done previously so I ended up going out pretty hard and passing a few guys. The we hit the hills again and I slowed drastically. One or two of the guys I passed ended up coming around me with one in my sprint race. Hit the turn around and then turned off the main road onto some "off-road" trails which also caught me by surprise. I pretty much coasted through the run, consistently losing time to the guy in front of me but keeping an eye on the guy behind and making sure he didn't catch me.

Came through the finish in 8th overall with 2nd in my age group. Overall pretty satisfying race though I know I can do better. Always room for improvement and this race was certainly no excepption. I'd like to think that with a couple of good nights' rest I'd have been a bit more mentally capable of overcoming things in a couple of places but how much of a difference that would have made in my placement I don't really know.

I stuck around for my first awards ceremony (well over 2 hours after I finished in the blistering sun without knowing anyone there) and got a folding chair for my time. It felt good to get called up though I'm not sure I'd want to stick around that long again for the ceremony. I guess though since I've lost all my chairs before now it was good to get a new one.

Age Group Results

Overall Results

Photos will soon be here

Oh and if you feel like looking:

Pics from Kinetic Sprint

Pics from Nanticoke Sprint