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Saturday, July 24, 2010

YMCA Camp Thunderbird Triathlon at Lake Wylie

Yesterday my family packed up and embarked on a brutal drive, which included at least one major detour due to faulty directions, to Charlotte's outskirts for the Lake Wylie Triathlon. It seemed like it would be a relief to get to our hotel, but much to the dismay of everyone involved our room was akin to a furnace when we walked in. Clearly the hotel was struggling financially and they had either turned off or failed to repair their A.C. system. That made for a restless night...
I awoke after a "refreshing" four hour sleep on Saturday morning excited to race. This would be my first race in the awesome ITU racing suit that Mr. Cardoso at Inside Out Sports helped my parents purchase for me. Paul Sullivan at Winskins did his work well and when the suit arrived, the graphics looked even better than I had imagined they would.
I was taking a different mindset going into this race- typically I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to win, no matter how fast my opponents are. However, today I purposely tried to let go of external goals and just focus on racing my best. Even though Lake Wylie was a C-priority race for me, it was still tough to get over my desire to win. I knew that there were a lot of other fast guys racing today- my teammate Brad Perry, Kevin Lisska, Donny Forsyth, Joe Niccolini, Duncan Chapman, and many others, so it was critical that I change my outlook so that I wouldn't be disappointed if I got my butt kicked.
But I digress; back to the race. After an abbreviated warmup which was predicated by 90 degree temperatures (at 7 a.m.!) I got into the lake, which felt like a hot tub. Unfortunately, the open wave had to soak in the tub for twenty minutes longer than we were expecting due to the late arrival of local law enforcement who were officiating the event. When the gun went off I had barely gone 100 yards before my lip was sliced open by someone's stray foot. I tasted the blood ('a la' Bruce Lee) and got some extra motivation to move up. I found some feet and was swimming very relaxed until we rounded the first turn buoy and I saw the two leaders ahead. Deciding I could bridge the gap, I surged and caught on to Brad Perry's feet. I simply followed the train until I didn't turn sharply enough at the final buoy and lost the draft. However, I utilized some strategic dolphin diving to exit the swim in third, only six seconds behind Mr. Lisska and three back of Mr. Perry. I got through T1 quickly and got on to the bike course with the lead. Two miles in, I was still holding first place when I took a turn too fast- and fell. I was riding my road bike instead of my tri bike, so I felt comfortable cornering a little faster than usual. What I didn't take into account was the effect that using a borrowed disk wheel from my dad would have, and the wheel slid out from under me. I landed on my right side HARD... so hard, in fact, that I bounced off the ground and flipped over to my left side. As I would later discover, this earned me two holes in my beautiful new uniform, one on each hip. For a short time I was lying by my bike in shock. When I'd realized what happened I was up and screaming "OWWW!" repeatedly, channeling frustration more than pain as I jumped back on the bike, only to discover that my chain had come off. By this time Brad Perry had passed me for the lead. I hopped back off and put the chain on, Andy Shleck style. Unfortunately Brad Perry had shrunk to a small dot way down the road by now, but I wasn't ready to give up. I decided that I wasn't going to let myself have any excuses and that I was still very much in the race. However, I struggled to regain a rhythm until Duncan Chapman passed me a little over half way through. This caught my attention, and though I sat up and went really slow on all of the downhills and corners, I worked hard to try and reel him in on the flat sections and climbs. When I reached T2 I was about twenty seconds behind him and my mom called out that I had lost fifty to Brad Perry. After another efficient transition I had gained ten seconds on Duncan Chapman and I moved past him early in the run. The run course was not only about a quarter of a mile long, but relentlessly hilly and hot. It was nothing short of brutal out there and I really felt like I was jogging as I struggled against fatigue, a side stitch, and flawed form. Unfortunately, my run form is still very much a work in progress. I did some serious heel striking on those downhills and my torso was writhing back and forth like a Floridian retiree doing the boogie. I'm glad that there aren't any form judges in triathlon, because I was looking pretty ugly! I really wasn't very confident about catching Brad Perry, but after the two mile mark I could see that I was closing on him. When I passed him I was determined to make it final, so I decided to really redline for a bit and hopefully discourage him from trying to stay with me. I was able to get a gap and cruise home for the win. Brad Perry got second, Donny Forsyth was third, and Kevin Lisska was fourth.
In the women's race, my IOSTS teammate Stacey Richardson took first, Melissa Bell was third and Alysia Lovgren was fourth. Another impressive performance came from my brother Jackson. On a whim he decided to sign up for the race last week, despite having been on a twelve week hiatus from any cycling or running. He had a strong comeback race for first in his division and is looking forward to getting back to training again.
All in all, I gained a lot from the race today, my last this year in the excellent IOSTS series. I successfully overcame the (forty seconds or more) setback of a crash and I learned that perhaps I'm better off putting less pressure on myself; it certainly allows me to race more relaxed. This knowledge is a valuable tool to have going into Junior Nationals only three weeks from now! Its time to put my head down and hammer those last key sessions before the big day.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention my incredible raceday hairstyle...

Until next time,
Train smart and race hard!
Mason Boyles

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trispan 5k (It's been a while...)

Well, it's been a while since my last post. I had a very unspectacular race at Kure Beach Triathlon and frankly just didn't feel like writing anything about it. But now I'm committing to a more regular schedule of blog entries. I know that in ten years I'll be glad that I did so because I can look back on my experiences from when I was younger and see what was going through my mind at the time. So here I go again...
I raced the Trispan 5k this morning, the first 5k race in about 6 months for me. This was a C-priority race, as I didn't reduce my training leading up to it. I woke up race morning with no expectations except to get a good workout (with cheering spectators included!) and see where my running fitness is. My coach, Dave Williams, and I have been focusing on improving my swim, so I've only been putting in about 25 miles per week of running.
It was drizzling rain before the 7:30 a.m. start, and the temperature was 78 degrees with some serious humidity. Prerace I saw some of my Hoggard cross country teammates, most of whom were racing the 10k. Both the 5 and 10k proved to be quite competitive- a good group of collegiate runners showed up to contest both distances, in addition to some quick locals.
Trispan is about the hilliest course that you can get in this part of the state. The 10k crosses over three major bridges and the 5k traverses the numerous steep grades of downtown Wilmington's waterfront, zigzagging along the historic streets. After a thorough warmup I positioned myself among the other racers for the start, and at the word of an official we were off. I wanted to make sure I got into oxygen debt early so I started off strong. A few minutes in I could hear someone breathing off my shoulder so I eased up a bit until he caught me. Then I latched onto him and let him dictate the pace for a little while. But I guess this guy didn't want company because he surged pretty hard on an uphill and got a gap on me. Unfortunately, I wrongly assumed that the course would have mile markers and, since I wasn't wearing a watch, I had no clue how much racing was left. I held my gap to the leader constant and kept waiting to see the two mile mark, figuring that I'd just go for broke once I passed it and hopefully reel this guy in. But the two mile mark never came. I just assumed that I was having a tough day and it was making the race seem super long until we reached an out and back section that turned onto the finishing straight. Much to my disappointment, I never got to kick it in during the last mile because, unbeknownst to me, I'd already covered it! At this point I regained the lead because the 1st place guy missed the turnaround and was a few yards past it before the volunteers called him back, but he was breathing down my neck. When we hit the final straight he outkicked me and I crossed the line in 15:29, a close second to his 15:28.
I was a little frustrated because I felt like I had a lot left in the tank which I had been planning to burn once we hit two miles; the next time I race Trispan I will have to remember that I can't count on any mile markers. Apparently the course was a little under 3.1 miles, but my time still converts to 15 and change for 5k. Considering the circumstances I am reasonably happy with my fitness level. I know that there's still a long way to go on the road to Jr. Elite Nationals, but I'm looking forward to the journey.
Until next time,
Train smart and race hard!
Mason Boyles