prior to this race, my coach gave me one race goal: RACE HARD! and that’s exactly what I did.
since the event was right across town, i was able to sleep in until 5:00am race morning. after a breakfast of homemade pancakes, i drove to Sunnyvale Park, found my primo spot in the transition area, and for the next hour or so chatted with my fellow teammates. after a short warm-up run and final check of my gear, i made my way to the water for the swim start. it was a bit cool at about 54°, but the sun was out and i knew it wouldn’t be too cold after a few minutes on the bike.
THE SWIM: the swim for this race was only 400 yards, so my plan was to sprint it the entire way. and despite swimming a tad bit off course thanks to the world’s smallest bouys, i was out of the water in 5:45 and running to my bike. i had to swim through a lot of traffic as there was no elite starting wave, but that’s just the way this race is setup. not a huge deal – you make the best of it – but it did slow me down some. i was originally hoping for around 5:20 or so.
T1: 56 seconds flat, 2nd best of the day.
THE BIKE: the bike course for this race is hilly. and by hilly, i don’t mean a few rollers. there’s rarely a flat section throughout, and a few of the climbs are small gear grinders. my goal was to push as close to 240 watts as possible, and while i knew this would be hard to maintain for the entire 17 miles, i was going to give it an honest go. at 3 miles in, i was averaging around 255. by mile 8, i was still around 252, and nearing mile 13, i had held it to 250 even. HOLY SHIT!!! ten watts above your threshold level might not sound like much, but holding it for nearly 45 minutes is a leg killer. sure my legs were screaming for me to let up, and my heart was ready to jump out of my chest nearing the tops of the climbs, but something told me i had it in me to keep on the gas, to keep pressing as hard as i could.
riding into the transition area, i took one last glance at my computer: 248 watts (3.78 watts/kg). i was pumped, but a bit nervous for the run. 5k’s are hard enough. running one on legs that are annihilated from a crazy bike split just plain hurts.
T2: 1:20 due to the fact i decided to put on socks. i’ve never not gotten blisters while running without them, and with Ironman Wisconsin less than four weeks out, i didn’t want to open that can of worms. the next few weeks are going to be the longest training weeks yet, and doing so on blistered feet wasn’t something i wanted to do.
THE RUN: as i headed out of transition, i caught a glance at my teammate Dani about 100 yards behind me. ‘perfect’ i thought to myself. ‘if i can just pace with her for a bit, i should have a real chance at breaking 18:00.’ NOPE. it took her a few minutes to catch up, but when she did, i could see she was in full on beast mode. a few steps side by side, a quick ‘nice job’, and she was gone. she’s a super strong runner, so i wasn’t all that surprised. my legs were just too tired from both the bike and the half-ironman the weekend before. i did everything i could to maintain a sub-6 minute per mile pace, and just barely held on to the end. finish time was 18:27 (5:57min/mi pace) for the run, 1:11:28 total race time. it was good for a second place overall, first in my age group finish. my teammate Mike finished just ahead of me at 1:09:10, and with nearly 25 other teammates racing that day, it was awesome to have so many familiar faces along the course.
while i now have a break from racing until Madison, i have a ton of work ahead of me. three hour runs, four to six hour bike rides, and nearly 14,000 meter weeks in the pool are going to be my norm until about 1.5 weeks out. it’s a lot, but it’s manageable. better yet, it’s a lot of fun. well, most days are anyways…