Chasing Unicorns -Seaside Sprint Triathlon Report-

Last year I did this race as a backup after I crashed and burned at my first tri of the season the weekend before.  It was more of redemption race, and certainly wasn't planned.  I enjoyed it so much last year that I decided I would do it again this year.  The course suits me since it is completely flat and closed to traffic and I had a new confidence after my performance the week before at the Ridgefield tri.

Pre-Race:  Looking around in the morning I noticed something.  All the guys I normally compete with for the top spots weren't there.  Now there's always a possibility of someone new showing up or someone who had a good off-season popping up in the ranks, but for the most part I knew everyone there.  This was the first time I really had a legitimate shot at my first overall win.  My teammate Chris also had a shot to take the overall title as well so I knew if I did win I would have to win it on the run, but I was prepared for that.  I wasn't the only one that noticed, one of my long time tri friends pulled me to the side before the race and had a little conversation with me.    "This is your race, no one here is better than you today, race hard, you deserve it"  I appreciated the encouragement, but at the same time it made it real, and I knew there was a possibility that she wasn't the only one thinking that.

Swim: .5 mile... (.48 GPS) 11:54  24:57/mi

I knew coming into the swim that Chris was going to have a big lead on me, 1 maybe two minutes so once I had my mind around that I was comfortable knowing I would have to push the bike and run to get even.  I wanted to avoid the freak-out that I had at Ridge field so I started a little over to the right and let everyone go, planning on a lightly contested swim.  The first wave was all men under 44 so it was going to be a testosterone fest.  The sent us off and there I was working my way slowly from the back, not really caring about saving energy, but just wanting to have a pleasant swim, by the first right hand turn I had moved to the middle of the field, and I still had pretty clean water, keeping my pace I seemed to be passing everyone.  Coming into the last right hand turn back to the beach I could see the lead pack, and I wasn't too far behind.  I kept my pace nice and steady and ended up coming out of the water in the top 10 in my wave.

T1: 1:36

Nice and smooth as I exited transition I asked a friend of mine, who was volunteering, "how many" and she said top 10.

Bike:  10 mi (9.77 GPS) 24:31... 23.9 mph.. 292 watts.. 165 avg hr

I knew I had at most 9 people in front of me, but I didnt know how far ahead the actually were.  I immediately passed the few guys that came out of T1 with me and didnt look back.  The out and back nature of the course lets you see how close you are to the competition at all times, which is both a blessing and a curse.  I would get to see where I stood 4x on the bike.  I started to see the leaders by the first turn around and I estimated they had about 90 seconds on me.  I could see that Chris was in the lead and that he was looking strong.  I took the first turnaround and went on my mission.  I attacked in a controlled manner, passing a few more on the way.  By the second turnaround I could see I gained about15-20 seconds and I was closing in on more.  At this point the later waves started to spill on the course and I had to be careful to not run into them while chasing.  At the third turnaround I wasn't sure I gained anything as it looked like the group I was chasing had picked up their speed as well.  I put my head down and just kept hammering and finally caught the lead female who had also put 1:30 on me in the swim.  At this point I knew it was only a matter of time before I caught the rest of them.  As I came into T2 I could see the back of Chris's jersey leaving in clear sight and I locked in, I wanted to get out as fast as possible. This is also where I made my biggest mistake of the race.

T2: 18:37  In and out... 2nd fastest of the day by 1 second.

Run 3.1 Mi (GPS 3.11) 19:05 6:08/mi pace  166 Avg HR

As I started the run I heard 4, I knew I had 4 guys to run down and it was all mine.  There were two other guys ahead, but they were clearly relays.  I could see my victims and I was planning on taking them down, one by one in a controlled fashion.  As I eased in to my first mile I could see the backs of the other runners getting closer.  Mile one was about 6:06, about 1.2 miles I had run myself up into 3rd place.    At 1.5 miles I could see Chris at the turnaround going the other way and thought if I played it smart I would be able to catch him.  As 2 miles came and went I edged closer to Chris and I thought I might be able to catch him.  My plan was to pick it up around 2.5 miles and gun it to the line.  It turns out he had the same plan.  I never ended up catching him and we ended up crossing the line 2nd and 3rd overall separated by :20 seconds.    After recording my highest triathlon finish ever, I immediately got penalized for not wearing my bib # on the run, as did Chris. It turns out that I was so focused on the chase, that I neglected to put my number on in T2, my 25 second T2 ended up being more like 2:25.    So second and third place become 6th and 8th place.

Post Race: I analyzed this race as if I didn't have my two minute penalty.  In that case I still would have lost the race on the swim.  I came out of the water 1 minute behind the eventual winner, and that would have been his margin of victory.  Could I have run a little faster, absolutely, but not a full minute faster.  I'm swimming a bit more now and I'm hoping it will pay off in my later season races.  I have decided next week to race the Northeast Regional Championships to see where I stand against the best of the best and get another Olympic distance race under my belt!