Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Matt Mason Memorial "Cowboy UP!" Triathlon Race Report

On Sunday August 5th, 2012, I had the distinct pleasure of racing in the inaugural Matt Mason Memorial "Cowboy Up!" Triathlon.  The race was a sprint distance which included a 500m swim, 10 mile bike, and a 5k run.  There was just under 300 participants at the race, many doing their first triathlon. The weather was absolutely perfect for a race in early August.  Temps were in the mid 60s at the start of the race, which was quite the change from the triple digit temps we've had the last 6 weeks!

Smithville Lake on a perfect day!

The race took place about an hour from my apartment, so I had an early wake up and drive to the race.  Rach and I got there around 6:15am to get everything unloaded and set up.  For some reason, I felt out of sorts this morning, and had a tough time sequencing what I normally do. For example, I almost forgot to pick up my timing chip, which is usually the first thing I do.  I felt like I was wondering around more than I normally do before a race, and ended up not having enough time for a pre-race bike ride to make sure everything was functioning.


All of my crap...

After briefly talking to some race officials about the swim course and the path to transition, I headed down to the water to get in line for the time trial start.  I positioned myself 2nd from the front of the 8:00 minute group, about 10-12 overall.

Scoping out the course
There was quite a bit going on before the race.  If you checked out my Race Preview (or read the title of the post), you know that this race was in memory of Matt Mason, a Navy SEAL who passed away about a year ago.  Before the start of the race, there were prayers, stories about Matt, a gun solute, and a helicopter fly-over.  It really brought a whole other feel to the race, and helped eliminate any pre-race anxiety.  I really felt honored to be there, and was going to try and go hard!

The first swimmers took off at 7:00am, and I was in the water about a minute later!

My goal for the swim was finishing in 8:15-8:45.  At the start, I sprinted into the water as far as I could before I started swimming.  Because of the low water level, my guess is I sprinted about 50 feet into the water. My best start yet!  I quickly found my groove, and started passing the 2 in front of me.  Once I got to the first turn buoy, I got a glimpse of where the 7:00 minute group was, and realized I could catch and draft off of some.  I picked up my pace, and soon got on the heels of the last 3 members in the group.

Highsteppin' almost to the first buoy
I felt really well during the swim, never out of control or pushing too hard.  I think in my last race of the year, I'm going to test myself by really pushing in the swim, but this race went well.  Soon enough, I was swimming to the water exit, and was up and running towards transition.

Swim Exit

The timing mat must have been at the entrance to T1, which added AT LEAST a minute to my swim time (Honestly, probably more).  I was happy with my time and effort!

Time: 9:01
Distance: 547 yards
Pace: 1:39/100y
AG: 2/13
Overall: 17/257

If my T1 time included the run to transition, this would have been lengthy... My rack was the second closest to the swim entrance, so I had a short run once I got there.  I struggled with my tri-top for about 30 seconds, but quickly got my shoes on, helmet on, and took off.  I will definitely be purchasing a trisuit that I can where during swims for next year.... I'm sick of struggling with a top while I'm soaking wet.

Hey my shirt's on!


Time: 0:58
AG: 4/13

Believe it or not, I actually held back pretty well the first 3 miles! I made the conscious decision to do this for real based solely on the rough road conditions heading out of the park, so I knew I had a good reason to pace myself.  After mile 3, the road began to smooth and I began to hammer!

Just getting started....

The 10 mile ride really seemed to fly by.  It was the quickest one I can remember, and I really just focused on keeping a good tempo throughout.  I did get passed a bit initially, but I was able to reel in a few later in the ride.  One thing I was disappointed with was the blatant drafting by a few members of the Wolf Pack racing group from KC.  Tisk risk....

I never really looked at my pace for the ride, and I wish I would have.  I began coasting into transition and spinning out my legs a bit earlier than normal, and I wish I didn't because I would have had my first 20 mph average for a race!!! So close!!!!  Overall, I was VERY happy with this ride, especially following my crappy ride on the course the week before.

Coasting in to transition

Time: 30:18
Distance: 10 miles
Pace: 19.8mph
AG: 3/13
Overall: 55/257 (damn...)

The usual. Fast, smooth, and efficient. Rack bike, bike shoes off, running shoes on, helmet off, grab belt, PEACE OUT!

Let's do this...
Time: 0:30
AG: 1/13

The run was on a paved trail the ran along the lake, which meant that it was mostly flat. Thank God...  I quickly found a good pace with a solid leg turnover, and nailed my first my split of 7:15, my goal.  Descending from there was much more difficult...  Mile 2 seemed to really drag on, and my legs began to feel heavy.  I quickly began wondering if I pushed too hard on the bike, but decided I would just do what I could.  At the start of the 3rd mile, we began going down a slight decline, which helped me get in a better frame of mind.  I began pushing a bit harder, started counting my steps to get my mind off the pain in my legs, and started passing people.

Eventually, I rounded the final corner to head to the finishing chute, and had something weird happen.  There were a bunch of kids holding tiny American flags on sticks, holding the stick-end out on the course.  My oxygen-deprived brain thought the kids were going to poke me, so I drifted to the other side of the trail.  The kids started yelling at me to take one!  Duh!!!

Avoiding the "hoodlums"...
"They were FLAGS!"

I grabbed my flag, and turned up the finishing chute, waving the flag like crazy!

"Why are finishing chutes soooo long....?!"

If this isn't awesome, I don't know what is...

Time: 22:13 (new in-race PR)
Distance: 5k
Pace: 7:10/mi
AG: 2/13
OA: 20/257

Total Time: 1:02:57
AG: 2/13
Overall: 26/257

This was the most dedicated race I've ever done.  I felt like the entire community turned out to either volunteer or race.  It was absolutely amazing, and a great way to honor their fallen friend.  I thought the race itself was top-notch, the volunteers were fantastic, and the venue was awesome (other than the park roads, which you can't do much about).  I was happy to place second in my age group, but really that took a back seat to the purpose of the race: To honor Mr. Mason.  It turns out his parents handed out the awards to each winner, something that I'm sure was difficult for them. But I hope that they were able to see what an amazing event the race was.

If you are looking for an event next year that all proceeds go to a good cause AND you get a great race, please consider this one! I definitely will be again!

Thanks for reading!


Alyssa Duhe said...

Just found your blog. Pretty pumped. Great placing in the race BTW.

ScottyB said...

Congrats on another podium. I'm definitely there next year as Smithville is where I grew up.

Darin Armstrong said...

Hello Mark,
Just a quick message to ask if you would be interested in a 'mutual' following on twitter. I am currently following you now and am awaiting for your follow-back. (#FYI I do RT's for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners #Marathoners & #LIVESTRONG members who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned...)

All the very best for the rest of 2012 and beyond Mark. Look forward to hearing from you...