A fist bump with Jen just before the start. Amanda in the middle, Cherese in the QR (about to show us what bit-time talent can do with almost zero training), and my friends Laura and Jessica in the lower left. You'll see Jessica in my near crash bike pic later.
The Clear Lake Triathlon is a military-sponsored race. It’s local, so the race was me vs. the clock instead of the usual competition. It’s a 600y swim, 15.34M bike, 5K run and two long transitions. In 2005, I helped organize the the first race, as well as provided accurate race distances for the bike and run.
I was very focused and ready to go. I expected big things today. Things turned out better than expected.
On race morning, I was well rested and ready to go. Thanks to Robin and Morgan at Fitness Fanatics for making sure my bike was ready too. My aero bar elbow pad broke for the third time and I decided to replace the bars instead of fix them again. They got my bike in the morning and had it race ready before I got off work. I could have ridden with my elbow on the hard carbon wing, but it’s pretty uncomfortable and slippery.
At this angle, you can see me on the left with Cherese on the far right (in 2nd) and Amanda just to her left (picture left). Amanda was following my line. They got out of the water about 1:00 and 1:15 back. A closer look and you can see that I have gigantic paddle hands. It's clear from the big races that my hands don't make me a fast swimmer.
My goal was to beat my best time (1:06:48.8). Without serious competition, this would essentially be a TT with a race taking place behind me. This was the last race I did in 2005 before shattering my collar bone. It was a training race, so I never got to test my peak level fitness. Considering how close I am to that fitness level, I wouldn’t make that mistake again. When the swim started, I let loose, blasting to the front and never looked back. Somehow, I was always right on target as I constantly focused on stroke and body position. Rounding the boat and heading toward shore, I realized I didn’t have a sight plan. With the sun coming up and blinding me, I did a little geometry based on the other swimmers in order to find the exit. If I missed, I’d have to backtrack and swim around some boat docks to the other side (I don’t swim under docks unless I’m really desperate). My line led me almost exactly to where I wanted to be. Coming out in 7:13, I was well ahead of last year’s pace.
Being really lean isn't the greatest in the water. A wetsuit helps, but I have to swim very low. I like this pic because it shows that I have a good clean stroke and other than the wake, there's not much of me to see.
T1 took us across the sand, up some stairs, around a picnic area and into the only transition area I know of that’s in deep pea gravel. My feet don’t feel much after a swim, so it wasn’t a bother to me. I just know I needed to beat 1:58. My split was 1:32, thanks to avoiding any mistakes and pushing pretty hard. I was well ahead of pace and simply needed to ride hard. I don’t have a computer on my bike. I have math and RPE.
Eventually I'll have to breathe. Looks almost like a shark fin. This is under water swimming.
Just to the left of the boat docks. It's always nice to stay on course in the swim.
You can't do math without numbers to work with. It's always a surprise to see pictures like this. I've just raced myself to oxygen debt, and come raging out of the water with the water blasting around me, yet I still remember to get a split. This was an all out effort.
I figured I was doing really well, but wouldn’t know until the end the lap. We had a bit of wind, which skews the numbers, but I ride this course a lot. My PR for one loop is 17:59, which was in a Trailblazer bike TT in 2005, so you can imagine how fired up I was to see an 18:05! I planned on averaging 18:45 and hoped for an 18:30. Lap two was 18:06. My combined time was 36:12 (25.42 MPH). To see splits like that on a speed-eating loop was almost unbelievable. My only problem was heading into T2. Spectators were sitting and standing across the resort entrance. People ran and rolled for their lives as I weaved and did the best I could to avoid them while making a high speed turn. I fishtailed and nearly crashed into a fence, but pulled through it with my legendary (ha ha) bike skills. I wasn’t able to break while maneuvering, so I wasn’t sure I’d stop in time. Lucky for me, I was heading for the best place to crash … a boat launch. It would cost me time, but it would be cool and I wouldn’t get badly hurt riding directly into the lake.
Sorry Tiffany. This was as close as they got for my near crash. The guy in red ran forward, the person sitting is actually gathering herself from rolling out of my way. There were around a dozen people scattering. My friend Jessica is watching me fishtail and try not to crash into the fence. I had just lapped her and had to push really hard to get around her before the turn. It was that or slow down and turn behind her, but my bike doesn't let me slow down. It's against the law!
I made the turn and pushed through T2. It was 57 seconds (6 seconds faster than last year). Again I suffered the race leader curse as I rounded the corner to head onto the run. A family of four had the path blocked with two rafts. They jumped into the rafts as I jumped over them. The run starts on a steep hill up to the road. It bogged me down, but I had two numbers to keep me going. If I ran an 18:04, then I’d go under 1:04:00! It’s not a fast 5K, so although a sub 18 is usually automatic, this time it wasn’t. I had been biking really hard and didn’t have much left. My knee held up well and I managed to get through that 5K in 18:01.5 (5:48.08/mile) for a 1:03:56.8 finish! Margins only matter to me when compared to top competition, but it gives you a better idea of how the race went to consider 2nd place was almost 14 minutes back. Amanda continued her string of constant improvements with a 4th consecutive win here in a personal best time, which is a new course record. She was the 3rd individual, about a minute behind the top team and 30 seconds back on the 2nd individual.
This hill really hurt. If you look closely, you'll see three green roofs on the left. The lowest one, between the other two, is where T2 was. I run hills fairly well, but this bugger really ate up a lot of time. Can my stride get any shorter?
I had only once entertained the thought of sub 1:05, which I thought was big-time wishful thinking. To go a minute faster than that and two minutes faster than my goal absolutely blows my mind. I’m almost afraid to put it down for me to read, let alone others, but I really feel like I might have made a big breakthrough in the last few weeks and put it it all together on Saturday. Racing for as many years as I have, A big PR usually means a minute or less per hour. To drop 2:52 is astounding and one of the few times I really get to be excited!
I don't celebrate coming into the finish. If I'm celebrating, then I'm not working hard enough. No need for throwing up the #1 digit(s) in the air and no holering or showing off. That's for special occasions. Respect the race and the people in it.
On another note, my dad, who has been missing for almost three years, showed up just before we started our swim! It’s odd how I was able to recognize his voice in a crowd when I was so focused on the race. He stayed and watched the whole thing and really dug into how my races, among other things, have been going this year. It was odd to have someone else look over my training journal, but fun to see what I’ve been through this year. I wonder how things will go from here.My dad: retired Army, silver star, bronze star and two purple hearts. It's been tough for him to cope with what he's been through.Post race: Taylor (my niece's friend), me, my dad, Amanda and my niece Alecia (moving here from Alaska).