Saturday, August 30, 2008

Titanium Man

It’s been a busy race season and what is essentially my last important race of the year has come and gone. I’ve done this race five times now, placing no worse than 2nd in the previous four attempts. Not only is it a competitive race, it’s the season finale for the 3rrr series. I have been digging myself out of the hole from my first race, an off road duathlon. It’s where I learned that I suck at mountain biking. In this final race, I needed to finish ahead of Brown by ~1:23.

Leading into the race, I did everything right from sleeping to eating to training to recovery. Race morning I woke at 4AM, but unlike the norm, my gear was already packed and good to go. Amanda and I had breakfast en route to make sure we got there as early as possible. We were one of the first on scene at 6:30 for the 9 AM race. I took my time to fuss over all the details and make things perfect.

I did my warm-up and waited on shore for the one-minute warning. Races sometimes start late and I didn’t want to swim against the faster than usual current for an indefinite amount of time. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a one-minute warning and the race started on time. Those way out from shore in the speedy current sped off as I jumped a few rocks and got on my way. They ran out of caps, so race series participants had to bring their own caps. Ryan had the only green cap and was easy to spot. He normally swims my pace, so I figured I’d draft for half the swim and take off. After making my way to him, I saw a swimmer 10m off the front of the pack. It was a great opportunity, so I surged and caught him. Although he was fast, he would virtually stop when sighting. I ran into him a couple times before realizing this and drafted much more effectively after that. He often put in surges, but I kept up. The effort was just about right. A small group I never noticed escaped off the front, so I was 7th out of the water and 3rd individual in a time of 13:05.4. Keep in mind that 1500m swim is in a current. I’m sure 24 people can’t break Grant Hackett’s 14:10.10 short course meters world record.

Coming out of the water, I knew I needed every second. My goal was to make the bike turn with him. I raced T1 in 34.8 seconds, good for 2nd, excluding teams. Ironically it was 2nd to Ryan Brown by 1 second. I brought my A game and he got me in T1 for the first time this year. Leaving with a 38 second lead was about twice what I expected, so I was pretty happy.

I flat out hammered the bike. There were some teams to reel in that kept me pushing early on. After I caught all but one, which I couldn’t see until the turn, I could do little other than figure how much faster Ryan was if he were to pass me at a certain time. Frankly, my lead lasted longer than I expected, but the pass came too early. I stayed with him for about 3 minutes before I just couldn’t hang any more. He hit the turn at 36:55 and I was 35 seconds back after just 12 minutes following. We had a big gap to the 3rd individual, but my race was only with him. The distance wore on me, but I fought as hard as I could without blowing up. I made it back to T2 after 1:02:51 in the saddle. It was the 4th best to one team and two solos. The best split came from Sean Howard, who’s probably the fastest TT biker in the state since Eric Anderson moved and Andrew McDirmid stopped competing. He’s a cyclist, not a triathlete, so he’d lose too much time in the swim. Ryan on the other hand, is probably a bit slower than Adam Jensen and a bit faster than Roger Thompson. He put 3:31 on me earlier this year in 30K. I’m biking a lot better now, so in this 40K, he was only able to outsplit me by 2:42.2. It’s a small victory by nearly slashing his advantage in half.

I couldn’t see him as I approached T2. I had no idea what the gap was. T2 was 31.8, good for 3rd individual of the day to a couple guys who biked in their running shoes and simply ran through T2 (I had to ask). My cumulative time was 1:17:03. I was 3:09 ahead of last year’s pace. A decent run time could put me under 1:53:00. More importantly, I was told my deficit was 1:53. That meant I had to outrun him by 3:08 for the series or just try to catch him. I’ve run that kind of time out of him before, so it was time go hunting.

My goal was to go out in a reasonable 5:40 to 5:45 pace. That would be fast enough. One mile in, my side started to ache. I had closed the gap to 1:25 with a 5:42, so I could afford to ease up and did. My next mile was 5:57 and I was still closing quickly. My side really started to ache in the third mile, which was 5:59. I eased up some more, but the pain kept getting worse. I was still closing and was down just 25 seconds at 5K. My side hurt so badly that I knew I had to surrender the series and simply try to catch this guy. Unfortunately, the pain got so bad that I could barely stand it. After about a half mile, I had to walk. It kept getting worse as I walked. I hoped it would go away quickly so I could try to get back into this. It didn’t get better. Normally I’d call myself all sorts of mean names for walking, but even that required me to endure a lot of pain. It was a bit embarrassing as a team runner that passed stopped to help me. He stopped in a race when he had a team depending on him to hold the great position they gave him! Please don’t ever do that unless I’m lying passed out, delirious or a broken and bloody mess. It took a couple minutes to pull myself back together. I was still in 2nd place and had a good lead on 3rd with just 2.5 miles to go. I started jogging and wow it was a breathtaking pain. I was clinching my teeth and breathing through them with spit and drool coming out for a pretty gruesome image. Sometimes you just have to do whatever works to keep moving. Sometimes, in order to get to heaven you have to go through hell. I wasn’t even trying to get to heaven, well I am, but I was really just aiming for that finish line. Mile 4 was around 9:30, then I dropped into the mid 8s and finally got down to a mid 7 on mile 6. That last .214 was about as long as they get. Despite hitting the turn with an 18:05 5K, I ran back in 26:15! Although I really didn’t care, I managed to come in 2nd overall with 24 seconds to spare. Although I was wreathing in pain, it was nice to not be racing while I was doing it. Instead, I was able to lay there on the hot concrete.

Looking back, I can’t say that I pushed too hard or made a considerable error that caused the side ache. One thing I used to struggle with was side aches. I got them so often for my first five years of racing that my nick name was Side Ache. I’ve been in the hospital over it before and have had one last for an entire month. So far this one is only on 10 hours, but I expect it to go away after a day or two. On the other hand, I may have pushed too far this time. One of the cures for me was to drink less fluids than most. After the race, I realized that I downed about 40 oz. in just over an hour. The body can’t assimilate that much fluid in an hour and I’m much better suited to drink half that. These things happen and all I can do is move on to the next one. I’ll make sure I don’t have that much water with me to risk it That left me in 2nd for the series. It’s the second big series that I’ve done this decade. The first ended with pneumonia, but it cost me a brand new bike as I nearly beat a strong pro racing the series. This time it was just for a title. Honestly, I’m happy it turned out this way. Ryan’s been trying to win his hometown’s marquee race for many years now and he not only deserved the win, but he earned it. I’ve had the best race results of my life this year. I’ll take 2nd in a hard fought race over a blowout win just about any time because I love racing.

It also goes to show that even when I’m at my best ever, there’s no way to beat top competition on a day when I run a 44:20 10K. In important races I run low 34 to high 35. I’d have to be a top world cup racer to fall apart that badly and still beat someone like Ryan. It takes me back to when I first started triathlon at EWU. I had a bad day in my second year and came in second to a guy I normally outsplit in every leg. The run course was inadvertently extended by a mile and I lost it in the last half mile, which was too far to employ my kick. My goal for the following year was to come in first and break the course record. I wanted to be in such great shape that even with an off day I could make it happen. In 1994, I made an attempt on that record of 1:00:53 when it was still an 800m swim. Although I broke that record by :30, I came in 3rd. It was then that I had my first undiluted taste of what fast is in triathlon. Some guy named Roger Thompson beat me by around 4 to 5 minutes. He took 3rd in Sprint Nationals that year. I learned pretty early on about perspective in this sport. Nowadays I get beat up annually by Tim O’Donnell and know that I’m a long way from the top. This year was a lot of fun and a great one to build on if I’m able to keep the fire over the winter and through the next year. There will undoubtedly be some races, but I’m on a cruise control break for a month or two. Thanks to everyone for all the great races and stories.

Side Ache out ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Apple Capital Triathlon

Another week and race down and the summer is nearing a close. Racing is wearing thin, but I have to enjoy the weather while I can. Before I get to that, I’d like to express an observation, made obvious by those I work with, but apparent in most when looking for it.

After a serious bee reaction, and I’m not talking about the vitamin, I also had to fight off pneumonia. The bee’s stinger might have been as big as a baseball bat because I felt like I was beat to a bloody pulp with one. I was so ill that people could see it when they first saw me, which made the usual cues of illness unnecessary. Despite all that, some seem to think that if I can run, then I’m clearly not sick. Some resign themselves to bed, which is a good idea, but I have goals I won’t compromise. A real question a US troop can ask is what he/she would do if wounded by the enemy. I can only answer for myself by saying I won’t surrender just because I’m wounded. I will fight until I win or they do. Although every situation I face in life certainly isn’t life or death, I measure myself by it. I’d imagine that like everyone else, I feel pain, illness, etc. Pushing through it makes it harder, but oddly gets little sympathy. That doesn’t make sense to me. How I handle it doesn’t make it any less real. I guess society doesn’t seem to think that “tough” people need sympathy. Although that and some understanding would be nice, I’m not going to curl up into the fetal position and wait for life to get better. OK, I’m done with the venting.

This is not how I like to wake up in the morning! It does the trick though.

My plan for the weekend was to get some good quality in to make up for a couple weeks of taking it easy. I wanted to go hard Friday, race Hell’s Gate Saturday and Apple Capital on Sunday. Friday went as planned. Saturday didn’t because I didn’t want to sacrifice about 8 hours for a 1-hour workout. I needed sleep and would workout hard at home instead. Sunday I forced myself to get up and race because it’s the best training.

After years of racing, I commit as little time as possible to “B” races. Sunday I got up, ate breakfast and did all my organizing and packing that people usually do the day before. After 16 years of racing, it’s a pretty easy task, so I was driving away at 4:46. It was a nice drive, but took almost 2 hours 30 minutes to get there. I had to work at noon, so the Olympic race was out. I figured I could do the sprint, which started 20 minutes earlier, and be driving away before I’d be done biking in the Olympic. I was suspicious of the distances because the previous year’s splits looked slow. I’d find out why soon enough.

The swim was supposed to be 450y. I can do that in about 5:20 to 5:30, but would be fine with a sub 6. I stayed in a group of three to the first buoy, then pulled ahead and broke away. I rounded the 2nd buoy and headed for the shore in a pretty straight line. Despite being first out, my time was 7:56.3! That would be over 1:45 per 100y! I’m guessing it was 600 to 650y. I wasn’t really working the angles as much as I was forcing myself to get my third hard workout in three days, so I fumbled a bit in T1. It wasn’t great, but was enough to get me on the bike with a lead.

I'm not sure if I'm coming or going. I think I'm heading out for a tough ride now that I'm awake.

We started by climbing a hill to the highway and my legs were quick to remind me why it’s not a great race strategy to prep for a race with two hard days leading into a race. My legs felt like rubber pretty quickly, but I kept it under control and recovered. It took until the run, but I did recover. My expectation for the bike was to hit the turn in 15 minutes. I wasn’t pushing 100%, but was working it pretty hard, so a 30:00 20K was reasonable for me on a hilly course. I didn’t get there until 15:54. Yikes! I expected to see a host of riders coming as I started heading back, but I saw open road to the top of a hill I had just descended. It took 2:00 to meet the next rider, which meant I had about a 3:40 lead. That was a nice surprise, so I just focused on my riding and constantly battled the hills that dominated the sprint race before the flats the Olympic race must have enjoyed. A cautious descent into the park gave up a lot of time, but I was 14:59 on the return. My official time was 31:21.1. It’s possible that it was a 20K with the hills, tired legs and cautious finish, but I’m guessing it was a little long.

Finally! Coming around a corner and down a little hill into the finish. Now that I'm awake, I'm tired enough to go back to bed.

My goal for the run was to run sub 5:50 pace. With the hilly run course and not wanting to risk an injury with a week to go before my season finale, I didn’t want to push any faster than that. The run was as tough as I remember it from the race’s first year (2000) when they only had the Olympic race. Still I got it done with a 5:47 pace (17:56.1). It helped me meet my other goal of going under an hour with a 58:27.1. The record was 1:03:14.77, so I was pretty pleased. There was no time to think about any of that though. I had to go straight from the finish to get my gear, pack my car and get on my way to work. I wasn’t aware, but they had a premium for the best bike and run times as well as some overall prizes. They handed some of it to me on the way out. Jessie Sullivan was nice enough to get the rest of my loot for me. A while after I got to work, 34 seconds late, I saw the results. Apparently Sean Williams of Spokane outran me by 6.9 seconds. If you’re out there Sean, let me know. I have $50 with your name on it. I wish I had known about the premiums, because I would have pushed harder, but it was a nice surprise. The race is going to be a good one with Jason Jablonski taking over. He’s a real elite athlete and seems to have things turning in the right direction, so give it a try if you’re able. It will only get better. Perhaps they’ll have more accurate swim and bike distances next year. They certainly had awesome post race food, drink and snack selection.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sting, Pneumonia, Work and 3-Race week!

I rarely ever enter a race series. My schedule just doesn’t allow it. However, I really wanted to give the 3 Rivers Road Runners series a try this year. I’m a club member of the Tri-Cities running club, which had a few races that I’ve never done. My resulting battles with Ryan Brown have been my toughest this year. The next to last race was the Aquaman. It’s a 2-mile run, half mile swim and 3-mile run. Although I’m faster on the bike than I ever have been, he can still put plenty of time on me, so it was nice to have a race without a bike leg. I’ve done several training sessions to get ready for the fright of a hard run followed by swimming instead of collapsing and sucking wind.

Things got pretty interesting starting with my sting on Sunday. Just when I was at my best fitness ever, I had to reconsider my approach to the race. That little sting brought about a significant allergic reaction, which weakened my immune system. That left me primed for illness and I managed to catch a wonderful disease called pneumonia. Fortunately, my body is where pneumonia goes to die. Unfortunately, pneumonia doesn’t disappear over night. Also unfortunate is my warrior spirit. If I were born ages ago, I would have been a gladiator. Despite a monster head ache, terrible chills, a mild temperature and bloody mucus covering my lungs, I managed to survive a very easy training week and 41 hours of work.

I had been doing all I could to get myself ready to compete during a time when moving at all feels completely terrible. I was still suffering terrible chest pain from the sting. It felt a bit like my chest was beaten thoroughly with a meat tenderizer from the inside. I didn’t complain and am not doing so now, but details tell the story. Rather than sleeping in, I actually had a Friday morning race at Fairchild. It was the Commander’s Challenge. Each squadron sends five runners and I couldn’t let my team down. Although this particular course had been raced a few times, I have never competed on it, so I brought the GPS. Prior to the race start, some guy and gal were talking up a storm about how he was going to win. They were saying that anything other than first was last and if you’re last, then you’re a loser. Now I don’t mind some good pre-race humor. If it was someone who was clearly out of shape and unable to win, then it would have been fun. I may have misunderstood, but I wasn’t the only one and he looked to be in good shape and seemed serious. It appeared that all who heard it were pretty turned off.

When it comes to racing, I’m fierce, but I respect everyone who comes out. Some people aren’t as fit as others and require a bit of personal bravery to toe the line. They don’t need to start a race thinking the guy who will win thinks they’re losers. He was the loser and I wouldn’t have any more of it. In a raspy voice, broken with coughs, I said “218 (his number). If you simply ran without all the talking and won or came close, then it would be respected. On the other hand, you just hung a giant arrow over your head pointing to a big target on your back. It’s going to be embarrassing to lose after all that talking, especially since it’s going to be to a guy with pneumonia.” I really try to avoid talking to anyone like that, but someone needed to end his show. There were some “oooohs and aaaahhs” and some quiet cheers for shutting him down. Long story short, I hung behind him and another runner to mark their moves for .75 miles, then picked it up to 5:24 pace and pulled well ahead. Although it wasn’t a good one, it was still a course record. Seeing 218 come in 3rd was better than winning.

Following the race, I went home and took a 3-hour nap before final preparations for the 6PM Aquaman. Knowing I couldn’t rely on my fitness as much, I had to exploit every advantage I could find. I brought my fastest racing flats, shaved my arms, legs, face and even my head with a razor! It was hot, so I was very well hydrated and got there early to warm up and be fully ready. When we finally got under way, the pace was brisk. I have to admit that I was a bit distressed to be struggling to hang on. Ryan was in front of me, which was a bad sign. It was 102 degrees and my mouth was almost completely dry in under 2 minutes. It got so bad that I wiped my forehead to lick my hand for moisture. We hit the turn (with a water station) shortly after I had gapped all but one runner. It was some guy from BYU. I tried to stay with him, but he was way too fast and ran the 2.08M about 30 seconds faster than I did. I hoped to average between 5:30 and 5:40, but came in at 5:18. I can run faster than that, but pacing is really important for overall time and I was certain to pay.

Transition went poorly as I couldn’t get my shoes off very well. When I was finally ready to swim, I zipped to the water with Ryan still out running. Some guy jumped in front of me and blocked me from swimming because I didn’t have a swim cap on. It’s pretty tough to explain the bee sting to pneumonia from a weakened immune system and possible hypersensitivity to things like latex on a freshly shaved head while sucking wind and trying to escape Ryan and catch another guy. Without that kind of conversation time, I simply said I was allergic to latex, but he persisted in blocking me after a couple more passive attempts to get past. Ryan’s an awesome sport and would probably petition to give me some time back if it came down to him passing while I argued, but I didn’t want it to come to that, so I was done discussing it and was taking that guy swimming with me if he didn’t get out of my way. I drove him toward the water and he moved aside.

That swim was brutal. I did my best, but just couldn’t crank it up. Air is too important when swimming without a wetsuit, getting little air due to mucus in the lungs and the coughing didn’t help when trying to synchronize my breathing with the short time I had my mouth out of the water. I did what I could, but had hoped for so much more. I was so dry from the heat that I actually drank a little river water. Later I found out that nearly everyone did. I caught the leader about 2/3rd through. T2 went pretty quickly and I was out on the run. It was about then that I wished I hadn’t left my fuel belt in my car. Who would think it would be needed in a race that short!

On the second run, I basically cleared a path completely scattered with people, strollers, carts, bikes, kids lying down, etc. It was madness. It slowed me down a fair amount, but was pretty fun dodging back and forth. Mr. BYU used the clear path to catch me after about 1K and congratulated me on my swim and encouraged me to come with him. It took only a short distance for him to put a huge gap on me as I struggled mightily to hold any sort of speed. I needed time on Ryan to get a lead in the series, but he was catching me for about a mile. At the turn, I had 43 seconds and pushed even harder on the way back. I’m not sure I went any faster, but I tried. BYU destroyed me with sub 5:20 miles to my 6:08 average on the 3.15M second run and Ryan managed to hold that 43 seconds. I was impressed ... with them. My 2nd run was pretty terrible for me, but I was pleased with my effort, which is what counts the most with me.

It was a lot of fun to go out there and do battle on a hot summer day. That was a lot better than staying in bed. Honestly, I feel better when I get up and move around a bit when sick. Racing twice in one day is definitely over the top, but I couldn’t skip either due to an obligation and an annual goal. Although it was nice for BYU to say things would have been different had I not been hacking up a lung, it wasn’t necessary. I show up to a race and do the best I can on that day. Only I’m responsible for my health. If I get 2nd, then I’ll live with it. If we all raced perfect races every time, then we wouldn’t need to race because we’d know how it would turn out. Although the goal is to win, it’s pretty cool to see someone outrace me like that. I’m happy for him and inspired to do better next time. The next day I was sore, but didn’t feel quite as ill. There was a race I wanted to do on Sunday (The Ultimate Runner), but being sick and not having a good reason, I chose to sleep in like the more sensible people do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sometimes you're the windshield ...

sometimes the bug is. Before I get to that, I have to comment about the weekend.

Whether you saw it or not, the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon was absolutely spectacular. The field was stacked with pros and elite amateurs with very few notables not toeing the line.
I was all over the place, doing my best to see the race unfold. It was a bit confusing, but I had a great time. It was just like I expected it would be. The only thing I really didn’t like was that Seeley flatted. Athletes make mistakes and have to pay for it, which is part of racing, but a flat is pretty much beyond one’s control. Darling still beat everyone else with an awesome performance. My friend Steve Finley managed to win the team relay for the 8th consecutive time.

We also had the Skyfest. If you missed it, then shame on you. The opportunity to get to see the most amazing planes on the planet show their stuff is pretty rare. We even had the F-22 Raptor, the most advanced fighter plane on the planet cut loose for the first time. It’s valued at $339 million and we had two in action. I spent my 13 hour shifts guarding the Raptor, but have to get permission to post the pics due to security protocol. The Blue Angels flew, putting on an amazing show. Several other planes from the past and present took to the sky to show their stuff. There were several on static display to walk through or around. A personal favorite is the C-5, which is big enough to play football inside! The turnout was incredible as tens of thousands came out for the show. Still some make their daily trip to Starbucks for coffee, but miss out on a show like this. Even if planes aren’t an interest, which is the case for me, it’s a rare opportunity that many missed out on.

After having been annihilated with 7 x 13 hour shifts (91 hour week), I was really worn out after having spent valuable sleep time to watch Coeur d’Alene and go in early to get to see the air show (I work nights). It was very disappointing to not get to participate in such a big race. Things have been going extremely well for me in training and racing. I’m posting faster times than I’ve ever posted and figured I could do very well at Coeur d’Alene. I doubt I could have won, but certainly could have made things interesting. To put my mind at ease, I went for a hard run on Sunday. It was my best time around Medical Lake this year. Next up, I went for a TT around Clear Lake. Unfortunately, I had an encounter with a wasp or hornet about 1K from the end of the TT and 5K from home. It flew into the small gap of my tri top and stung me in the chest. If you remember my Canada story, then you’ll understand I have trouble when stung. I’m not sure if it was anxiety or a reaction, but getting home was a chore. On a bright note, I beat my all-time PR, despite slowing up and nearly crashing as I beat my chest to smash the little monster. Although I killed the little bugger, he got the best of me. Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes the bug is.

Since Sunday, I’ve really been struggling to make it day to day. Breathing problems, aches, dizziness, and so on. I’ve been bed ridden for four days and counting because of a sting. It’s amazing that I can work so hard to build a strong and resilient body, but just a little sting nearly hospitalizes me. I still get up for my daily run, which is embarrassingly slow. It’s not the best of ideas, but it keeps me going (four years, seven months, thirteen days in a row and counting …).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kiwanis: The Other Sprint Nationals

August 3rd may be the day of Troika, but to me its all about Sprint Nationals. Unfortunately it’s in New York. For the first time in five years, I’m just too worn out from work, house/yard work and training to want to take a trip anywhere other than to my bed. Although it’s not the same, I chose Kiwanis on the 2nd as my substitute. My simple goal was to race it like it were Sprint Nationals.
While Matt and Jessie aren't looking, I pour some nitro into my Podium Quest water bottle. It has two compartments, which allows me to have both nitro and water.

Judging from the responses this year, people seem to be interested in stories of humor, suffering and great battles. Last week was nothing like that and its entertainment value seemed to go over like a lead balloon. Although the race may not have been interesting, it was a very rare breakthrough for me. I suppose I can understand the lack of excitement over the success of someone who’s had his fair share of it, but it was more than just another win. To me, it was stunning. Fortunately, in terms of athletic performance, Kiwanis was very much the same. Unfortunately, the story is pretty much the same as well. My apparent lack of passion for telling this story belies just how awesome it feels to finally have a major breakthrough.

Look closely and you can see the zippers go down the side to the ankles. It's the not-so-popular Piel. I've got gear for most occasions and the Piel is perfect for this one. It's faster than going without a wetsuit and transitions much faster than any other wetsuit in the world. Every second counts.

I swam 240m (instead of what I measured at 247m) according to where I was standing when they started so unexpectedly. My time was 2:55.1, which left me rather breathless. I lead from the start and had no idea when the next person came out, but with the swim being so short, we had at least three people in T1 before I left. For the first time in years, I wore the Piel, which has breakaway zippers from shoulder to ankles that can come completely off in six seconds while running. It's perfect for a super short swim. My shoes were already on the bike, so I was in and out in a flash. Rather than taking my split right out of the transition area, I took it when I got to the road (I know the precise bike distances from there). My split for the extra long T1 was a smokin’ 1:10.5.

One of my goals was to avoid the chaos that normally comes at a buoy. With this swim being so short, that turn can be especially bad at just 120m in. Last time I was third out of the water, but avoided getting beat up. Although it would be nice to have feet to follow, being untouched for an entire swim is pretty nice. I have home court advantage. My house is 1200m away (almost directly behind me).
If it weren't for pictures, I'd have no idea how this swim ended up. I normally take a look back from time to time, but was too focused. I'm guessing I have about a :15 lead. Look at the mob near the buoy! That's too much for this hydrophobic to endure. Avoiding that mess is what motivates me in swim training even more than my desire to be competitive.

Although I’m riding a lot faster these days, it feels a lot the same. It all goes back to my line about how we all feel pain, but it happens at a different pace. Despite not feeling very good out there, my times left me pretty happy. I set a PR around Clear Lake and managed to do the entire 10.04M bike in 23:27.9 (25.67 MPH). Coming into T2, I was ready to blaze through as fast as I could. My goal was 30 seconds from the turn off Salnave to the start of the run. It seemed unreasonable, but I almost made it with a 30.9.

For now, I think it's a race against the clock. I always need goals to strive for so I don't get lazy. I don't have anyone to race through T2, unless you count that 30 second goal.
Just as I look up the driveway to Salnave to see if someone is hot on my heels, Roger tells me I have a 5 second lead. I thought it would be a rerun of Snake River Sprint when I thought I was completely alone until Ben ran past as I synched my shoes. I took a quick look at the turn, but with so many people in the park, I couldn't tell if anyone was there or not. Rather than continuing to look, I just judged from the actions of the aid station volunteers. If I got caught, I've always got the afterburners ready for the sprint to the finish.

Starting the run, my cumulative race time was 28:04.4. Roger told me I had a 5 second lead. I have to admit that I hadn’t been looking, so I was surprised. I think he was just trying to fool me. It worked. I thought someone was chasing me for nearly two miles! I was running hard enough that I wouldn't change my pace until passed anyway, so I never took a good look. My run goal was sub 17, so I pushed hard to stay on pace, but knew that could put me in under 45:00. I ran a 16:44.3 for the 2.89M (5:47.51/M). I was pleased with the run considering how hard I rode, but normally expect to run faster. My finish time was 44:48.7. Allegedly the CR was 48:18, set by yours truly. The swim was shorter than the listed 400 yards by 124m (I prefer meters to yards, so I convert), which saved me 90 seconds of the 3:30 under the CR. We’re talking a shorter sprint, not an Olympic or Half Iron. Where did the other 2 minutes come from? How is that possible on such a short race? This race has been done on more than one occasion by a few fast athletes. I can’t find my journal (must be in boxes from moving) from my two previous tries to compare splits. I know I saved a lot by nailing the transitions and biking faster, but this just doesn’t add up. Of course, it didn’t add up last week either, but the Clear Lake bike and run course is exactly the same every year, just like Kiwanis bike and run is exactly the same.
I'm polite, but I find it annoying that people think sprints are easy or think it's a walk in the park for me. At best, sprints have the most potential to be easy because they're shorter. However, everything you experience in a longer race is amplified by the greater intensity. More pain, less air, cramps, dizziness, higher heart rate, blood in your lactic acid, etc. You can work your way through problems when going at a slower pace, but you can't fake your way past the cramps, injuries, side aches, which means you have to slow down and watch the parade go by. To do well at sprints, you have to avoid all mistakes, know your limits, be willing to suffer a lot and hang on tight.

After racing triathlons since 1992, not much comes as a surprise these days. It doesn’t seem possible that I could be that much faster. I’m having trouble believing it and feel pretty uneasy about it too. On the other hand, I’m pretty good with numbers, so I’m left feeling one thing and knowing another. In this case, that’s not such a bad thing, but where was this speed six weeks ago in Estonia when I needed it most? Moreover, it's a shame I can't do Coeur d'Alene next week to go head-to-head with Seeley and Thompson (we're all in the same age group) and so many other great athletes to see how I actually stack up. I have a pretty good idea from how the race looks on paper, but races aren't done on paper.Roger and I talking tri. He's so fast on a bike that I'd need a motorcycle to keep up. We've both been racing really well this year, but unlike me, he gets to test himself against Matt Seeley next week. Can you tell I'm a bit jealous? At least I had Seeley for a house guest and got to pick his brain about training and racing. The next day, he was clearly comfortable in route to destroying everyone in Troika with a 4:02:47! His regret was not pushing the run so he could go under four hours. I'd have to tag Ryan Hall for the run to go sub 4.