Monday, June 22, 2009

How do you like THEM apples????

As those of you who read my blog regularly know I have been in somewhat of a racing funk lately. For whatever reason during my first two multisport races of the year (Duathlon Nationals and Gulf Coast) I was unable to put it together on race day and it lead to a disappointing result in Richmond and a DNF in Panama City. Last weekend I raced at West Point Lake in the Olympic distance event and while basically equaling my time from last year I did feel like I had a much stronger race (the swim course being long might have had something to do with that also). This past Saturday continued that trend as I was able to pull of a great race at the Sgt Audie Murphy Sprint Triathlon at Ft Rucker, Alabama.

Before I get into the actual race report a brief history lesson on Sgt Audie Murphy. This is courtesy of the Ft Rucker Audie Murphy Club website:

Audie Leon Murphy, son of poor Texas sharecroppers, rose to national fame as the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II. Among his 33 awards and decorations was the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." He also received every decoration for valor that the United States offers, many of them more than once.He also received 5 decorations for valor by France and Belgium. Credited with killing over 240 enemy, he became a legend within the 3rd InfantryDivision (Rock of the Marne). After enlisting as an Army Private, Audie quickly rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, Murephy was later given a "battle field" commission as 2nd Lieutenant. During his time in combat, Murphy was wounded three times and fought in 9 major campaigns across the European Theater. On 21 September, 1945, Audie was released from active duty with the Army. During this same time, actor James Cagney invited Murphy to Hollywood in September 1945, when he saw Murphy's photo on the cover of LifeMagazine. His first starring role came in a 1949 released film by Allied Artists called, Bad Boy. In 1950 Murphy was signed to a contract with Universal-International (later calledUniversal) where he starred in 26 films, 23 of them westerns over the next 15 years. His1949 autobiography To Hell And Back was a best seller and Murphy played himself in a film of the same title released by Universal-International in 1955. To Hell and Back held the record as Universal's highest grossing picture until 1975 when it was surpassed by Jaws. In 1965 Universal chose not to renew Murphy's contract. This gave him the opportunity to work with other studios and independent film producers. In the 25 years that Audie spent in Hollywood, he made a total of 44 feature films. Audie Murphy also wrote poetry and realized success as a songwriter. He teamed up with talented artists and composers such as Guy Mitchell, Jimmy Bryant, ScottTurner, Coy Ziegler, and Terri Eddleman. Dozens of Audie Murphy's songs were recorded and released by Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Charley Pride,Jimmy Bryant, Porter Waggoner, Jerry Wallace, Roy Clark, and Harry Nilsson. His two biggest hits were Shutters and Boards and When the Wind Blows in Chicago. Eddy Arnold recorded When the Wind Blows in Chicago for his 1993 album Last of the Love Songs currently released by RCA. Audie suffered from what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was plagued by insomnia and depression. During the mid-60's he became dependent on doctor prescribed sleeping pills called Placidly. When he recognized that he had become addicted to this prescription drug, he locked himself in a motel room, stopped taking the sleeping pills and went through withdrawal symptoms for a week. As an advocate for the needs of veterans, he broke the taboo about discussing war relatedmental problems after this experience. In an effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, Audie Murphy spoke-out candidly about his personal problems with PTSD, then known as "Battle Fatigue". He publicly called for the Government to give more consideration and study to the emotional impact war has on veterans and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental health problems of returning war vets. On May 28, 1971, (Memorial Day Weekend) he was killed at the age of 46. A private plane flying in fog and rain crashed in the side of a mountain nearRoanoke, Virginia. Five others including the pilot were also killed. On June 7th Audie Murphy was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. His gravesite near the Amphitheater, is the second most visited gravesite behind that of President Kennedy. In 1996 the Texas Legislature officially designated his birthday, June 20th, as Audie Murphy Day. On June 9, 1999 Governor George W. Bush of Texas made a similar proclamation declaring June 20th to officially be Audie Murphy Day.

Now on to the race report!

I arrived at Ft Rucker on Friday afternoon and went out to Lake Tholocco to pick up my race packet and pre ride the bike course since it was on an area of post I wasn't familiar with. This proved (at least in my opinion) to be the key to the race. Although the bike course was only 10.6 miles long it was hilly, I mean REALLY HILLY. I went out at an easy pace and was surprised at how steep a couple of the hills were. After the turn around on the way back in I realized that the out portion was the steeper and that I would be able to hammer it back in to transition. I also did a quick transition run off the bike which turned out to be a good thing also. The road turned from paved to gravel/dirt after about 1/2 mile so it was good to know that ahead of time. I actually thought of switching to a heavier shoe (I was planning to run in my flats) due to the dirt road but I hadn't run in the other shoes without socks and didn't want to risk blisters.

Pre-race meal was a nice juicy sirloin, sweet potato, and broccoli at the Santa Fe Roadhouse in Enterprise with my buddy Steve and his wife and daughter.

Race morning started with a 5 am wake up and arriving at transition at 5:30am. Transition racks were first come, first served and I was able to grab a nice spot beside the Bike/Run out. I met up with Kraig and we went down to the lake for a warm up swim. The water was warm and not the least bit refreshing. It had already started to get humid so we knew it was going to be a challenging day.

Swim-The swim was 4 waves starting 3 minutes apart. The under 30 men started first followed buy the under 30 women, then it was us old dudes, and finally the cougar brigade to round things out. My wave (of course) was the largest so it was important that I get off to a good start from the front. The course was advertised as 1/4 mile (~440 yds) but it looked long just eyeballing it during the warm up. Kraig and I seeded ourselves up front and decided to go all out on the swim since it was so short. The horn sounded and off we went! I saw several guys ahead of me in green caps and I knew Kraig was just off my left side so I tried to keep them in sight and not sight off the buoy. By the time we hit the first buoy the "world beaters" had petered out and I only saw one green cap ahead of me. We started catching people from the previous two waves before the second buoy and by the time I hit the beach I thought that there was only one green cap ahead of me, but I wasn't 100% sure. I felt great during the swim and knew that I had really rocked it even while going close to 100% the entire time. I didn't wear a watch again so I had no idea what my swim time was until after the race. When I saw 9:03 I knew it was longer than 440 yds. This was confirmed by another athlete who was a college swimmer and only did a 7:00 swim (which was the fastest of the day). My swim was good for 2nd AG and top 5 overall.

T1-There was a small hill up to transition, but I was able to get in and out in a flash (0:39) which was good for 1st AG.

Bike-Here is where yesterday's recon ride payed off for me. Initially I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to push the bigger gears on the bike due to the fact that I had done 102 miles on Wednesday and was still feeling some residual leg fatigue during my recon ride Friday, luckily that was not an issue on Saturday. The RD told me the day before that a guy from the All Army team was racing and he started in the 30 and under wave which gave him a 6 minute head start on me. I also wasn't sure exactly how many in my AG were ahead of me after the swim either since they started all 30 and over men at the same time. Basically I got on the bike and went as hard as I could for the entire ride hoping to pull back any 30 + men that had managed to get ahead of me and take as much of that 6 minute head start back as I could from the young guys. Somewhere between the 3 and 4 mile mark I saw the All Army guy coming back toward me and I knew that I probably wasn't catching up to him unless he completely blew up on the run. It was a good 5 minutes at least until I saw the next guy on his way back which gave me some hope to at least grab 2nd Overall. Just after the turn I caught what turned out to be the only 30+ male ahead of me (although I didn't know that at the time) and proceeded to put a good amount of time into him on the way back. By the time I got back to transition there were only 5-7 people total ahead of me on the course, what I didn't know though was if any of them were in my AG. Bike time was 29:16 (21.75 mph) which was good for 1st AG and 2nd fastest overall.

T2- Here is where my rack selection payed off big. I was already out of my bike shoes so I didn't have to run in them and I was right by the exit so I slipped on my flats and was out on the run course. Time 0:28 1st AG

Run-Two of my goals for this race were to finish in under an hour and run sub 20 off the bike. When I ran out of transition Steve told me that I was at 39 minutes elapsed time so I knew that I had to have a good run to go under an hour. I also still wasn't entirely sure that there wasn't at least one more person from my AG out in front of me. I took off and my legs felt surprisingly good considering how hard I had just gone on the bike. I passed one guy by the 1/2 mile mark where the road changed over to dirt. I checked his calf out and saw he was under 30. I was able to pick off another guy before I saw the All Army guy headed back in to the finish. I knew that there was no way I was going to run fast enough to make up the 6 minute buffer but I was still determined to run sub 20 so I pressed on. I started seeing guys coming back from the turn around and checked each one's calf out to make sure that they weren't in my AG as they passed. I hit the turn around and passed another guy and had one more in my sights about 100 yds ahead of me. Both were under 30 so I felt fairly confident that I had caught everyone in the M35-39 AG on the bike. I was still running strong but it was starting to get hot and I was ready to be finished. I hit the paved portion of the road, kicked it up a little and ran across the finish line. Run time 21:07 (6:45 min/mile) 1 st AG. This was a little disappointing since I have run sub 20 in my last 3 open 5k's but given the heat and humidity I will take it.

Final finish time was 1:00:33 which was good for 1st M35-39 AG and 2nd Overall. All Army guy (who I later found out swam at West Point and has a Pro card) was 1st Overall in 54 minutes. I was next at 1:00:33 and then the next closest competitor was 1:03 and I won my AG by 6 minutes.

This was a great race in a great venue. The final count was over 200 athletes participating which was a good showing. I am hoping that the RD gets the race USAT sanctioned for next year so the points will count toward rankings.

I am very happy with my performance and I feel like my bike is back where it should be (considering that I have logged almost 800 miles in the last 4-5 weeks I would hope so). Now it's time to focus on Cardinal Harbour and continue the streak of strong races.

Thanks for reading, Train Safe!

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