Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Austin, Texas

I felt really pretty good heading into Austin. I was feeling quick and confident. I think I had my head on straight and was mentally where I needed to be. I set out on the swim at a fast cruise as I was planning on laying it down on the bike and run. By the first buoy I was away from the rest of the elite amateurs, except one, my new pal Frank. I got out of the water first from that wave and was feeling pretty good and thinking that this day might shape up to be a great race.

I got on the bike and didn’t feel that great, but figured it would come around, so I just stayed on top of my nutrition, put my head down and waited to find my top gear. I didn’t.

Even still I was feeling pretty positive, I had a good lead leaving the water and my bike wasn’t that awful, so a quick run would still keep me in the game. I hit the road and felt pretty good at first, but a few minutes in things just started to unravel. It was a two lap run. I tried to put in some surges to break up my tempo and hopefully light a fire, to no avail. As things continued to deteriorate, I checked my watch as I neared the second run lap. It confirmed the bad news so I retired from the race and promptly found the beer tent (and, incidentally, Frank who also DNF'ed) having accomplished my first DNF in triathlon. Huzzah!

This, on the heels of LA and Grizzly was a pretty big blow, especially given the work I’d put in over the past six months or so, and, truth be told, I am still struggling to gain insight into what happened and perspective on the race. More on that later…

I can’t say enough about Austin. I love Texas, I always have, and if I weren’t from South Carolina, I’d want to be from Texas. I was also treated to a visit and shenanigans with my good friend Annie, with whom I rode bikes across the country. We also met up with our fellow cycling adventurer, Donald. I enjoyed mint juleps served in pewter beakers, excellent food, stunning Southern women and, most importantly tremendous heat, high humidity and unrelenting sun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Peak Triathlon

So, one of the luxuries and one of the reasons I moved to Missoula is to be able to sit down face to face with my coach on a regular basis. Luckily, my coach in one of my best friends, too. At our weekly meeting he says, "Aren't you racing The Peak Triathlon this weekend?" "No, I registered too late," I say. It turns out I was racing The Peak and a mere 4 days later. I'm not sure what happened in the mean time. So that Saturday at 1:30PM I hit the water for a swim-light (this sucks for me) race. This time my morning nutrition was more dialed: french toast and peanut butter. I hadn't been on my TT bike in eleven days, I'd been celebrating a concert the previous evening and was just going to head out there, have fun and race. Ok, The Peak triathlon is a far and distant cry from The Grizzly as far as competition goes, and no one knows that better than I. Having said that, there were some talented athletes including a several time Ironman Hawaii qualifier and USA Triathlon All-American. Also, races in Missoula usually bring out some fast folks no matter what because there are so many here.

In any case, I cruised the swim, having not been allowed to race in the elite heat, I was out of sync with my competition. The bike leg was the bike. I did my best to keep pushing without anyone around me to mark and felt quick and fresh. I felt good on the run, which I think was a kinda tough course.

At the end of the day, I won with a course record (the race is 2 years old), as well as the fastest swim and run splits. There are more competitive races, there always are. For me, however, this was big. This was the first time I had a fastest split other than the swim. It sounds a little like the makings of an ITU racer, which is where I want to end up. Additionally, the course record was my first, so that's cool, too. More importantly, my discipline splits, regardless of the competition, gave me confidence for my Olympic distance abilities.

I felt primed for the CapTexTri the following weekend in Austin, Texas, a new addition to the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Series, which just kinda throws money at the fastest olympic distance athletes in the world.

Onward to Austin with the cool head of Grizzly and the Confidence of Peak.

The Grizzly Triathlon

Yeah, I realize that it happened on April 23. If you want a prompt race report, write it yourself. Here is mine:

Racing at 2PM can be tough. That's about two meals worth of nutrition you have to get down before you hit the water. It's also the Montana World Championships, so all of that extra pre-race time gives you ample time to overthink things. Luckily, I didn't. I did, however, over saltify things... I think. I drank lots of a delicious sports drink (and, yes, I'd been training with it) before the race trying to get some calories down without having my usual bloody mary, eggs and bacon for breakfast, and salad with a slightly dirty gin martini for lunch. Poor choice. I would have been better off sticking with what I know works for a race morning: booze and cheese.

The swim was ok. There is one man in the elite heat that paces the Grizzly swim correctly from the push-off and he's done about one million triathlons, and (Jeff you rock) he races better than his fitness usually allows. I had the fastest swim split but felt a little "dirty" leaving the water. T1 was solid. The first half of the bike was solid but definitely diminishing. The second 1/2 of the bike was an introductory course to the way the run would go. Piss-poor. I usually am so pumped to get off that damned TT machine for the run that I don't care how fast I'm going. This time though, I had a cramp that went from my hip clear up throughout my rotator cuff. Basically I was listing like a sinking vessel, and I'd never experienced such a sensation. I think that the Indomitable and Injured Seeley could have easily outrun me in his union suite with one leg (Meg you rock!) while pulling a wagon full of his kids. A walker with tennis balls on the front and wheels on the back would have gotten me to the finish line sooner than my incorrigible stems. Had there been a bar at the run turn around, I would have planted myself there and waited for the paramedics. There wasn't.

FORTUNATELY, it was the end of Lent which signaled a time in which I could again consume alcohol. (No, I'm not catholic. Yes, I know it's not a biblical requisite. Yes, I did it nonetheless.) I celebrated my poor performance with some great friends and a view from the roof during the first sunny day in Missoula.