This race has to be one of my favorites. I started doing it 3 years ago and have done it every year since as a kickoff to my triathlon season. The race is kind of unique as it is generally more of a family oriented/ first timers race but it is super competitive at the front of the race. Going into the race I knew I was racing against a stacked field, so I was prepared to find out just how well my offseason training had gone.
Warmup/pre-race: I got to the venue pretty early as I still had to pick up my race packet and I wanted to get a prime spot in transition. I picked a nice end spot right in between the run and bike exits and I went to go register. I had been having some trouble with my front brakes the day before so I had to toy with them a bit to get them all set before I went out for my run. I basically ended up opening them up all the way so that my front wheel wouldn't rub! Once I was comfortable with the new position I went out for my run. I remembered the run course was pretty difficult, once you run out of transition you have a 1.5 mile climb until you get to come back around and start to descend. Just when you think you were at the top there was more! I decided I wanted to see how the first mile would feel, so I ran one mile out, and one mile back. After chatting up a few of my friends I decided to hop in the lake for a quick warm-up as well since I had yet to be in open water this season!
Swim: .5 Mile
Since I had been swimming well lately I didnt know what to expect. I figured I would try to push the pace once I got comfortable. The first wave this year was a bit bigger than in the past with all men under 44, so I wasn't used to having all the testosterone flying so early in the race. The gun goes off and there we go, I try and sit on someones feet for as long as I can until I realize Im out swimming them! I got stuck in a pack and had nowhere to go! I had people that were hindering my swim at all angles, then it happens. Mini panic attack, I can't breathe, my heart starts to race faster, and I have nowhere to go. I finally saw an opening about 20 seconds later and I was able to pull over to the side. I allowed my mind and body to calm themselves and I picked a line to the turn buoy which was void of all but a few swimmers. Once I got in my rhythm I was able to make up some of the time that I lost. I stayed on the outside and just kept swimming by everyone. I came around the final turn and I could see more bodies to pick off, eventually I made it to shore and 14th out of the water in my wave.
Bike: 12.5 Miles
I have worked hard on my bike this offseason and I even had told a friend of mine I was going to break the bike course record he set last year in jest. I came out of T1 and I was on a mission. I could see a few guys ahead of me and I wanted them behind me and behind me fast. I eased into my cadence and started to pick them off one by one. Then there was one guy I just couldn't drop. Him and I would go back and forth for the next few miles until we caught another guy that we just couldn't drop. The three of us ended up taking turns pushing the pace, legally of course, and noone could seem to get an advantage. At some point, probably about halfway through the bike, we all got passed. I tried to respond and I did at first, passing back, but then after another mile or so he took off. I could always see him, but I couldn't get close to him for the rest of the ride. Trying to go with him brought me on to some another rider, Cliff, who is an amazing triathlete and I have had yet to finish in front of at a race. At this point I realized the other to guys that I was riding with were Travis, and Gus, who were both phenonmenal runners. I realized at that moment that if I had any shot of finishing ahead of them, that I would need to push the pace and drop them on the bike. At that moment I went for it. I kept my cadence high and went as hard as I could and hoped it was enough margin to hold on. After pushing the second half of the bike I came into T2 in 4th place overall, with the 3rd best bike split of the day and 19 seconds off the course record that was set last year.
31:07 3/393 290 watts average power, 23.7 Mph
T2: 0:32 3/393
I came in knowing that I had a lead, but the question was how long would I be able to keep it. As I took one last sip from my water bottle I could see them starting to enter transition and I knew I had to go. I threw my water bottle at the ground and got myself ready for the pain cave.
Run: 3.1 Miles:
As I mentioned before I knew that the run course was going to be a tough one, and I knew I was going to be "the hunted" Both Gus and Travis are really stellar runners and I was running scared. Here's where I made the biggest mistake of my race. I kept worrying about when they would catch me instead of focusing on not letting them catch me. I spent to much energy worrying and that could have been put into my run. I hit the first mile and I still had not been caught, but I knew it was coming. I could feel Gus breathing down my back, and sure enough right around 1.2 miles he caught me, as we were still climbing. We also both passed last years winner who seemed to be having an issue with his calf and was walking it home. But Gus catching me in essence "broke" me I knew he was going to catch me, and when he did, instead of trying to respond, I let him go, and just held on until Travis caught me right around 1.5 miles. Again no response. I told myself that once I was caught I was dead in the water, and when I got caught I believed it. So instead of responding like I would have on the bike, I just accepted the fact that they were better runners. Looking back at the results they both had amazing runs and were #2, and #3 respectively as far as run splits go so it's not like my fear wasn't warranted! I finished out my race coming across the line 5th with a 2 minute personal best on the course, besting my time when I was 4th Overall at this same exact race. Gus took 3rd Overall and Travis took first in our age group and 4th overall so I spent the day with some pretty good company!
19:06 6:22/mile 13/393
Overall Time 1:05:26- 7/393
Post Race Reflections:
I was very happy with my race even though I didn't finish as high in the standings as I would have liked and I couldn't hold on to my position coming off the bike. I found a weak link, and I know what I need to work on for next time. Mental skills sessions here I come! Seaside Sprint Triathlon is up next!