Final Stretch Inc. (FSI) has the results pretty much straightened out so here's my recap...
Last years top two were not going to be at the 2010 version of the T-man (click for 2009 results) leaving the top two spots open, essentially. I was 6th last year and wanted to better that position. Ok, I wanted the "W". I knew number 4 (Hannon) and number 5 (Sinnwell) were racing and had a feeling number 3 (Jesse Nelson) was going to be there as well. In all the times I have been in the same field as Nelson and Hannon, I finished after them so I had to strategize a bit to out race them. Sinnwell crushed me here last year so this was going to be a challenge. Basically, if they all raced at about the same speed as last year, I would have to be about 2-3 minutes faster this year compared to last years race. In addition, by the time the race started the field was over 10% bigger than last year which increases the chance of someone even faster showing up.
It was fairly simple on paper. Undoubtedly all three of the above mentioned contenders would outrun me in Run 1 so I would have to catch them on the bike and build a gap so that going into Run 2 after the bike I would have a cushion that they couldn't overcome. I'm not the slowest runner in the world, but they are all FAST. Really fast. Over the course of 21.6 miles on the bike, about halfway up Genoa Hill is the "12 Mile" marker. My best chance of winning was to catch everyone by mile 10, get up and over Genoa, then lay it down and build that gap.
Once I got to the race venue and set-up my bike, it was evident that Jesse Nelson wasn't there. That was one less person to worry about. However, an unexpected day-of competitor showed up. More on that later.
RUN 1- Clockwise 3.3 mile run. First 1.4 on the paved Douglas trail, then about 3/4 mile on gravel, then the rest on pave roads and sidewalk. It started fast and I was in second position for about the first 100 yards of so. The pace was too fast for my liking so I slowed a bit. Shortly after we got thru the gravel section and onto the pavement again I was in sixth position. I would still see Sinnwell, but not the guy in front of him. I was perfectly happy with where I was. I hit T1 and prepared for the grueling bike loop.
RUN 1= 19:37 (5:57 pace)
BIKE- I got thru T1 pretty quick (for me)-- 42 seconds (top time was 27 seconds!) This was a 21.6 mile loop. The first mile or so of the bike we cruise down mainstreet Pine Island then get on CR 3 which is pretty wide open, very smooth with a couple hills, very little traffic, but two long false flats lie just ahead once you're out of town. When I turned left on to CR3, I saw two riders up ahead (3/4 mile up?). I started gaining on them as I had still had some flat road left as they were in the middle of the first false flat. It was Hannon and Sinnwell. There's a dip between the falsies and I gained more road on them. By the time we hit the top of false flat # 2, I passed them both--this was just before mile 4 (goal was to catch them by mile 10). Remember that unexpected competitor??? He was up ahead--far enough to be out of site. Skip ahead to mile 12. I was near the top of the steepest section of Genoa Hill, looked back, and saw Hannon/Sinnwell about 200 yds from the base. Once over the top of the hill I hammered at puking intensity to take advantage of the time I got to cruise down hill, while they were on the slowest part of the course. A couple rollers were next, then a right turn on to CR5 which has a handful of rollers & gradual hills. I got thru town and criss-crossed with the current leader as he was heading out on the the 2nd and final run. I needed to get thru T2 fast and get out there and hold off any chasers.
BIKE 2= 54:54 (23.6 mph)
NOTE: According to the cumulative time they have posted, I reached T2 almost 2.5 minutes ahead of the closest riders in pursuit. However, I was just about 4 minutes behind the leader. WHAAAT?!?! 4 minutes!
RUN 2- I quickly transitioned (34 seconds--fastest was 25 sec!!) and got out on the run. Run 2 is the same route as Run 1, but in reverse. No, you don't run backwards, the course runs counter clockwise. I wasn't a block out and saw Hannon coming in on his bike. Then Sinnwell. I didn't know it at the time that I was over 2 minutes up and thought it was just "a matter of time" before they run me down. At every turn on the course where there was a volunteer I asked if they could see anyone behind me. I heard "Nope. Can't see anyone" or something like that from the first few. This was encouraging, but I couldn't let up. FSI always has a lot of volunteers, one of their strong points, so I was able to check behind me about six times throughout the run without looking back myself. I got thru the gravel, which has a pretty decent hill in it and hit the last 1.4 mile paved path (the one we started on). It goes hard left and you can see the gravel road you just ran off to the left. I didn't see anyone on it--not even at the top of the hill. I knew I had a big enough lead on anyone behind me to not worry so I slowed a bit, took some deep breaths, then resumed pace. When I could see and hear people near the finish line I slowed down just a little and cruised in. 2nd place overall.
RUN 2=20:52 (6:20 pace)
TOTAL TIME= 1:36:37
The unexpected competitor that won was Kevin O'Connor--former Elite, ranked in the top 5, not in the state, but in the country. How do you compete with that? I am perfectly happy with my finish and the strategy worked well. I also lowered my time from 2009 by 3.5 minutes. Also, if Nelson had been there, it would have been close--his time last year was about 45 seconds off of my 2010 time. That would have been fun!
FULL RESULTS: http://onlineraceresults.com/race/view_plain_text.php?race_id=16291