For the past 24 hours I've been trying to think about what I would tell my athletes if they had a race like I did at Boulder Peak and how they should react. After taking 8 months off from training, I found myself slow, out of shape, and overweight. Over the last 6 months I've worked hard at dropping the fat, adding muscle and getting my fitness back. I also told myself not to have any pressure on race goals this season. Of course that's complete BS b/c we always want to do our best and when we don't it's disappointing. My goals coming into BPT, and these are stretch goals - but a sub 2:20 race and a top 10 in the AG. I looked at the start list and trust me, I know who wasn't there. There are at least 4 guys I can think of off the top of my head that typically race this race and have gone to Kona, who weren't signed up. I knew the opportunity for a Top 10 was out there. It would take good execution on my part and maybe a 10k run that was a little better than my fitness indicated.
The swim: I started to the left of Dave Sheanin, who I knew would be in the lead pack. But, as it played out at Pelican Fest, he went out slower than me, and I had to look for another set of feet. The guy on my left took off and I jumped on his hip and he pulled me up to Dave's group, which came by a short time later. I only stayed on about 200m before backing off and swimming on my own. I had a train of people on my feet that I unsuccessfully tried to ditch time and again. The first turn buoy was tough to see and I did breast stroke twice to see where the heck I was going. Once I could see the tip of the triangular buoy I was good to go. I made the turn and sighting was easy from here on out. Once I got to the next turn buoy and looked to see how far the last turn buoy was, I knew the swim was long - oh well - that's to my advantage anyway so just keep plugging away. I swam as straight as possible and I made it to the buoy in no time. Once I made the final turn to the finish, I was moving pretty good and I finally ditched those guys on my feet. :) I think maybe one guy in my AG passed me on the swim but that was it. I was out of the water in 7th place in a time of 26:41.
I sprinted up the hill and into T1 -I did see Craig Wilson briefly but he he didn't see me. I got out of T1 quickly and my goal was to get to the top of Olde Stage as fast as I could and if I could make it to the top of Olde Stage without anyone in my AG passing me, I knew that I had a good chance of holding them off until late in the run. I worked the bike hard on the lead up to Olde Stage and I was feeling good. The hills were coming easy, I was staying down on the bars and no one in my AG has passed me yet. Once I crested the top I used the aero dynamics to my advantage and flew down Left Hand, up 36 very quickly and then ripped it down Nelson. At the bottom of Nelson was looking for places to rest and knew this was not a good sign. The hills were still coming easy as I was spinning up them, but my legs knew they were working. I had probably gone too hard at the beginning of the bike, and sometimes it's ok to take chances, and this was definitely one of those times. In order to reach a stretch goal, you have to stretch yourself.
The turn onto the Diagonal Highway was tight with the cones about 2 feet from the edge of the road, but I made it through there without crashing. I was looking forward to the run and seeing what I had left in my legs. Once again the turn onto Jay and then 51st was a demonstration in bike handling skills - but I safely navigated this once again and cruised back to the Res. I swam without a watch, biked without a watch, power meter, HRM, mph etc - I was free of all technology which was a good feeling. I was into the Res in no time cresting that last little bugger of a hill. I always look for signs that my legs are tired, like a lot of lactic acid building up when I stand. This wasn't the case, but my hip flexors were tight - and I knew this might be a problem on the run. My bike time ended up at 1:11:34, good enough for 14th AG and 21.8 mph.
I dismounted quickly and was out onto the run course in 45 seconds. I took the first hill easy and settled into a pace I thought I could maintain until 5k and then the plan was to pick it up. About 1.5 miles in, my legs had other ideas and they just didn't want to move. I wasn't breathing hard, but mentally and physically, I didn't have it. On some days, this is still good enough to reach your goals, but on this day, it wasn't. I chugged along, promising myself I would pick it up at the next aid station, the next hill, the next whatever, but in fact I probably slowed down. I was running a comfortable pace but I just didn't have the energy or ability to run faster than my current HIM Pace.
The last 1/2 mile I was just cruising, looking forward to stopping (!) - really that's all I wanted. Down the hill with 500m to go and two guys in my AG go by me. I don't care at this point - I'm in what 20th place (?) - so I just keep up my 'chug along' pace until the line and I am done, thankfully. My run ended up at 45:05. 7:15 pace and 19th in my AG. A total time of 2:24:54, easily my slowest BPT.
Looking at the results later I see that I am 12th in my AG, and a mere 12 seconds from 10th place. Apparently I was in 10th place coming into the last 1/2 mile, so, I guess letting off the gas wasn't such a good idea. What a knucklehead I am. Oh well. I ended up 70th overall, which may be my best placing at BPT. I know when I was 80th overall in 1999, when I was under 2:15, so either the course is getting longer, I am getting slower, or the competition was a little weak this year. Maybe a combination of all three? ;-)
1. Swimming straight is underrated! By swimming straight you can have a pretty good swim time relative to others.
2. Biking too hard is going to hurt your run more than you think, especially when your run fitness isn't what you want it to be.
3. Transitions in Oly and Sprint races MATTER! I had decent transitions (1:37 combined) and I know that helped my race placing.
4. Don't assume you are having a bad race ever. Keep the pedal to the metal and go hard until the finish.
5. If you miss your race goal be a few seconds, and you are really ticked off then do what I did: Take a nap, and then go ride your bike for an hour in a thunderstorm. You'll feel better when you get back!
Why I love triathlon and I am happy to be racing again in 2009:
You ALWAYS learn something new, every season, every race!
Onto the 5430 LC and maybe another HIM this year - I am not letting Sheanin off the hook that easy - I need him to get to 100% again so we can have a fair race :) - so maybe I'll race the Harvest Moon. Thanks for reading!