Race Report: Thomas Gerlach @ Tinfoilman Triathlon

October 31, 2011 on 1:53 pm | In Athlete Profile, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

By Team TriSports athlete Thomas Gerlach

While most people were busy preparing their Halloween costumes, this week I got to work making myself into a real-life walking zombie.  I knew I hit the mark when I walked into TriSports on Saturday for the Tinfoilman packet pickup, and the staff actually commented on how much I looked like a zombie.  But that was the plan, and with both the Amica 19.7 Sprint Championship and Ironman Arizona fast approaching, I had little time for rest during my hardest training block ever.

The goal of the Tinfoilman was to get in a fast threshold workout and compare it to a race earlier this year on the same course.  Now to be fair, I had crashed 10 days prior to that race, but I thought it would be a wash with the extra fatigue for this one.

Swim (9:59) The Tinfoilman features an 825 yard swim in the University of Arizona pool. The race features 10 waves, with 30 athletes per wave, and 2 athletes per lane.I embraced the news as I planned for an even tougher threshold workout. My wave was up, the gun fired, and I took off down the lane. Surprisingly I had half a length gap on everyone - that is until I hit the wall - and then I found myself suddenly half a length behind. Now seeing as I don't believe in doing flip turns, and nor do I believe in pushing off the wall, I knew that I would sacrifice some time here. I can only imagine what it looks like from the pool deck, but based on the number of coaches that have watched me swim thru the years, I am pretty sure it is a horrid site - but hey it's Halloween!Bike (28:17) The bike is a relatively flat, 12-mile, 3-loop bike course around the U of A campus. The roads of this urban bike course go from smooth as glass to "hold on for dear life" rough, and they can be quite challenging with cars, dogs, and competitors to watch out for.The bike is where I expected my legs to be most fatigued and sadly they didn't disappoint. Nonetheless, I pedaled as fast as I could as I tried to close the gap on Ben. The power on the smoother sections was good at 330, but I couldn't put out any power on the bumpy sections and with all the turns the final power only came in at 279. In better news, as the laps rolled by the split differential was coming down. After the 1st lap it was at 1 minute, by the second lap it was down to 40 seconds, and when I rolled back into transition it was down to 20. This was all good, but I knew I needed a great run to win.

Run (17:17) I got back to transition, racked my bike, and swiftly put on my run shoes.  I had a GPS watch that I was going to use for data, but it served little purpose in trying to chase down a future Olympian.

I took off on the run with the mindset that I was only 20 seconds down – surprisingly the legs felt pretty good.  It always amazes me how much fresher legs feel after short races than the longer races that I am accustom to.  On the downside, fresh legs means there are no excuses but to run fast.

The run is a flat 2-loop course that offers multiple opportunities to grab splits. That first opportunity came at about 1K and I was roughly 250 meters down.  Ben looked strong, but the gap didn’t seem unreasonable so I pressed hard.  I was flying by other participants from earlier waves but my gap to Ben was growing and the signature smile was fading to a grimace.  I continued down the homestretch and could only muster a faint “on your left” as I flew by participants.  I left it all on the table, but in the end I would finish nearly a minute and a half down.

Overall (55:34) I had my best swim ever swimming 825y in 9:59.  That may not impress many – but it continues to show that my swim work is paying off, and a strong swim is key to my success at the next level.  The bike was lacking today but I knew it would be and the run was on par.  Overall my time was 55:34 and good for second place and was a good minute faster than my race back in May at 56:37.

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