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Gateway Cup

The Gateway Cup has been a fixture in St. Louis on Labor Day weekend for 22 years. I raced the cat 4/5 and the masters events on Monday in the Benton Park neighborhood. Larry Johns also did both races. The 4/5 race was marred by crashes as usual. The first major crash occurred in a narrow chicane. I bridged back, but it took some effort. The second crash occurred along the start-finish straight - a careless touch of wheels near the right barrier. I thought I could get around the left side without touching the brakes, but then another rider went down in the center of the road and rolled left. There was only 1 lap to go and I could not close another gap as the pace quickened. I pulled away from the other riders that were caught out by the crash, finishing solo in 15th. The masters race was uneventful, but fast. (Lap 2 of this race was my fastest of the day.) Larry and I were 2 of only four cat 4s in a field of about 50. I only lasted a couple laps in the pack, but riders were dropping off regularly. I had soon picked up 4 riders. We worked for several laps before it was announced that we had 1 to go. The lap counter showed 6, but we were getting pulled. One rider took a flyer. The rest of us kept working together but could not catch him. As we rounded the last corner, the rider on the front dropped off and announced that he was not racing. I was in second wheel and stayed there until about 200m to go. It seemed rather silly to sprint for 37th place, but this was “my race” and I could use the experience. I unleashed what I had. A few seconds later, Richard from Michelob Ultra started to come around, but I hit the line with about a half a wheel to spare. (I suspect he let me win because he was the first rider I picked up.) Any day of racing with the rubber side down is a good day, but I may refrain from future races with the “crash 5s.”

Results: http://gatewaycup.com/assets/Benton-Park-Classic-Results-2013.09.02.pdf


Friday 4/5:
Other than a crash on the second corner, the race was uneventful for most of the time.  It was very hot, as were all the races I was in.  2 laps from the end I saw an attack get free, so I attacked on my own and bridged up to them.  It was only when I looked back that I realized that my effort had pulled the entire field up to them (oops).  I was about 8th coming around the final corner, but there was a long way to the finish.  I sat in for a bit, then attacked when I saw others attacking up ahead.  I passed all but one by the finish, missing first by a few inches.  Larry finished 6th.  In hindsight I should’ve attacked a little earlier.

Friday 4:
I was on an adrenaline rush from the 4/5 race, but Soon after then start I realized that I was still tired and not as strong as I was in the 4/5 race.  I had a hard time making my way to the front, and a hard time staying near the front when I got there.  I was planning to lead Rick out, so he grabbed my wheel with about 3 or 4 to go.  I unfortunately managed to wear myself out trying to keep him near the front, and blew up with 1 or 2 to go.  Rick finished 9th, and I rolled home with the field.

Saturday 4/5:
As soon as the race started I realized I had still not recovered from Friday.  For most of the race it was all I could do not to drop.  However, on the last lap I must have found something and was able to move up, and get close enough to salvage a 5th place finish in the sprint.  I think I need to do more long rides next year so I can handle multiple races better.


Posted by Karl on 09/11 at 11:07 AM • (0) CommentsPermalink
Mattoon Meltdown!

While Jeff and Kelly were winning State TT Championship titles, Martin was down at Lake Mattoon on August 31, where the annual Great Illini Half Iron Distance Triathlon was held: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike TT, plus a half marathon to finish it up. 

The good news: my transitions were excellent (about a minute each), I won 1st place in my age group by 40 minutes (!!), and I came in 7/98 overall, my best finish so far in that race.

The bad news: It took me an hour longer than usual for the 1/2 Iron distance!  Things were already muggy in the morning, and heated up to 97 F at high humidity by the end of the run.  I started to worry on the bike, when I could squeeze only 21.3 mph out of a heart rate of 156.  To put it in context, at thr Tri National Championship I rode 24.1 mph at 155 bpm, and my usual 1/2 IM bike is 23-23.5 mph.  It was so hot and humid at Lake Mattoon, pedaling just got really tough.  I must say, I’ve never experienced it quite like this before - even the deserts during RAAM were ‘dry heat,’ as they say.  Then came the half marathon.  A mile into the run, my head began to overheat, and I had to slow to an 11+ shuffle.  Every time I tried to speed up, my head would feel like it was cooking, and I had to slow down to avoid heat stroke.  Tony Garrett, the race director, wanted to take me into his golf cart, but I mustered my strength to talk and smile, and he was convinced that I was not an immediate medical case, and drove off to take others out of the race for assistance.  Later into the race I finally discovered a trick that allowed me to run at 9:30+ instead of walking: after every aid station I flipped a cup of ice onto my head so the cubes would not fall out, and continuously rubbed it over my head to stave off heat stroke. Woe to me whenever that cup ran out before I reached the next aid station!

This is my 2nd race where the temperature was close to body temperature and the humidity was high, the other being Louisville 2010, where I had similar problems.  I deduce from this that while I’m very good at thermal regulation at 90 F/humid and 115F/dry, I am helpless when it comes to the 97F/humid combination.  My saving grace was that the rest of the field (except the pro winner) had an even tougher time: that’s why the next guy in my age group came in 40 minutes after me, and 1/3 the participants DNFd .

Posted by Karl on 09/10 at 09:41 AM • (0) CommentsPermalink
Jackson Park Relay CX “Lay-al”


Thanks for all your help this past year. Have fun in North Dakota.

Posted by Karl on 08/27 at 06:30 AM • (0) CommentsPermalink
Bloomington Jaycees Criterium 30+ 4/5 Race Report. Wild Card: Ryan Harden, Tom Mathis

I’m gonna admit upfront that I had very low expectations for this race. I did crappy at the TT on Tuesday and then didn’t feel that great on Wednesday Night. My expectations were downgraded when I arrived at Bloomington and saw that 50% of the course was uphill and the temperature was in the 90s. Both of which cause me to struggle.

That said, I lined up with 17 other guys including Tom Mathis and Larry Johns. The first couple laps were fast but not overly fast. I was quickly surprised that everyone seemed to take it easy on the uphill portion. My exciting began to increase as I realized I wasn’t going to get dropped/pulled too quickly. After a couple laps of sitting in the back I decided to work my way to the front. There were a couple tight corners, so I wanted to be close to the front to avoid any issues. By this point the race slowed down a bit. No one was going hard on the uphill portion and most guys were coasting on the downhill portion. I considered an attack but with 14 laps to go, I figured I’d just be the first idiot to blow up too early. The first attack came on the uphill section at 10 laps to go. About four of us shut him down by the top of the hill. He kind of sat up but stayed with the group. The pace stayed tame again for the next 4-5 laps until the next attack. Since I was near the front, I hopped on with two other guys to shut it down. We kept the pace up for a full lap and I assumed we had a breakaway but when I looked over my shoulder I saw we only had like 10 seconds on the group behind us which diminished to zero on the downhill where no one wanted to push.

The last 4 laps got fast on the uphill but no one worked on the downhill. Even though I felt good, I decided to not attack before the last lap. I was sitting high enough for a decent result and didn’t want to lose it by going too early. On the next to last lap the pace got quicker but still not horrible. On the last lap uphill section there was an attack. Two guys went hard and I followed. A few of the guys in front of me didn’t follow and I had to go around them. This put me in a bad position to take the last uphill corner. Luckily the group went wide and I didn’t lose much speed. I “should” have attacked going around the top of the course to get better positioning for the downhill side of the course but hindsight is always much clearer. Once we started on the downhill section I was sitting 7th wheel. The first two downhill corners are pretty tight with no room to pass anyone and by the time you get to the finish straight it’s fast enough that you have to be really close to the guy ahead if you want to pass them before the line. I came around the last corner about 4 lengths behind the guy in front and 5+ lengths ahead of the guy behind. I knew I wouldn’t catch the guy ahead as I was already going 34mph so I just sat up and coasted across the line.

I’m regretting not attacking at the top of the last lap (after the first attack) but at the time I was just happy to be where I was. If I would have gotten around a few guys at the top I would have been able to hold my place to the finish and be in the money. I guess you live and learn.

All in all, it was a great race on a great course. The heat sucked, but once you were moving, it wasn’t that bad. I’d call it a success for my first Cat 4 race.

I was also registered for the 3/4 race but by the time I “cooled down” and subsequently heated back up after the 30+ 4/5 race, I realized there was no way I would be able to race with the 3s with only 30 minutes of rest. I haven’t seen a race report from Chris or Rick, and USACycling doesn’t have results yet. So I’m not sure how it went.

As an amusing side point, the field got a warning, and then another guy got relegated because he received an illegal hand up… In a 40 minute crit.

Ryan Hardenimage

Posted by Karl on 08/27 at 06:19 AM • (0) CommentsPermalink
USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships


The city of Milwaukee hosted the 2013 Championships, which began with the Male 40-44 division, the largest at 270!  Scott was ready for a 7:30 am start, which became 7:45 because authorities were late clearing interstate 794. It was an in-water swim start and tensions were high with the delay. Chaos reigned when the horn finally sounded. With the size of Scott’s wave, the full-contact portion lasted about 2/3 of the swim. Conditions were fast, with wetsuits and a large wake. The bike followed the lake shore and Interstate 794, with the landmark Hoan bridge providing two long climbs. After the second turnaround, Scott was swarmed by a virtual peloton of about 10 riders as he sat up to grab a gel. The group slowed and surged over gently rolling terrain, forcing Scott into a cycle of soft pedaling, surging, and careful lane positioning to avoid a drafting penalty. The referees were taking notes and a slew of competitors posted penalties. Scott thought the interruption on the bike left him fresher for the run, and started at an aggressive pace of about 6:50/mile. By mile 4, it was apparent that he miscalculated and dropped to a 7:25 mile, but an approaching finish line is a strong motivator. He picked it up a bit at the end to cross in 2:16:48. It was good for 64th and the top 1/3.

Ron’s 55-59 group followed a little later. Although he’s the “old man” of the trio, the swim is Ron’s forte. When he took off in his 140-person age group, he encountered many more competitors swimming at his pace than usual - it’s Nationals!  For the first 500 yards he was constantly kicked, hitting arms, shoulders, and legs. He eventually found some swimming room, and easily caught up to swimmers from the prior wave. His 21 1/2 minute swim was right where he wanted to be and had been accomplished with very little energy. The transitions were smooth and fast and the bike ride was fun. Ron’s bike goal was 1:09 for the 24.7 miles (about 21.6 mph). He passed a fair number of cyclists from prior waves and got passed by about 10 from his age group. His HR of 143 and cadence in the middle 90’s were well in his comfort zone. Ron was very comfortable with his 1:10 split - close to predicted.  (His Tolono 40k PR is 1:08+ without a swim first!) Alas, a triathlon always concludes with a run. Ron started running in 2010 after 40 years of no running. His 10k tri best is 52. This one was a bit slower at 55:30. Time to add speed in training, as a sub 49 run is needed to compete in his age group. Ron finished 71 of 141 registered and 120 finishers, just about 50%ile. Ron’s next challenge is the AquaBike National Championships in mid-October. He’ll need some serious riding with the Wild Card group to properly prepare for its 56 mile bike leg.

While Scott is winding down his triathlon season, this was the first race for Martin, who earlier focused on the Boston Marathon and RAAM. Martin was happy to learn that his age group drew a late start of 10:00 am, and slept in after setting up a somewhat makeshift transition the night before: USAT allowed no boxes or bags in transition because of the Boston bombing. The race went well for Martin. At 2:19 it was 4 minutes faster than his 2008 USAT National Championship race, even though a minute was lost in T1 prying his stuff from the bike and rack. Fortunately Ron had laid Martin’s shoes on the ground after checking into transition at some horribly early hour while Martin was sleeping. Martin’s swim was sub-30 minutes (well behind Ron and Scott, but not bad for Martin). His legs felt a bit lethargic on the bike with heart rate averaging only 155 bpm, but it was good enough for a 24.1 mph average over the 24.7 mile course. The run picked it up to 165 bpm and Martin finished strong with a 6:30 mile from mile 5 to 6.  98/204 was good for top half in his age group, a nice improvement over the 2008 National Championship.

All in all, it was a successful showing in a nationally competitive field. (Full results at http://www.pigmantri.com/jmsracing/results13/usatage13d.pdf) The race weather was perfect and the Milwaukee venue was great. Lake Michigan tasted fine and left no sour stomachs after the swim. If we could combine the best of our three swim/bike/run legs, we might have a top-18 finish and an invitation to represent Team USA at the World Championships in Edmonton. But Worlds is not a relay race grin

Posted by Karl on 08/12 at 11:02 AM • (0) CommentsPermalink
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