Monday, May 16, 2011

Tempe International Race Report

Woke up a little after 4AM to go through the usual motions. The weather was great, very little wind, and clear skies just beginning to be painted with a hint of dawn. I felt good but a bit restless. This was the first time I was racing a triathlon back to back weekends and although I found the week between very relaxing, now I was feeling some anxiety. I knew who wasn't going to be racing, a lot of the most competitive local AG'ers were taking a pass after Rio Salado last weekend, but I was unsure who would actually show up. I had such a great race at Rio could I do it again? I wanted to, I wanted to be on the podium again. Also, this was my 6th year anniversary of my first triathlon, Tempe International 2006. And for the first time since 2006, the race was being held on the north shore of the lake.

I arrived in Transition around 5:30 or so and was amazed how crowded it was. I was thinking the race would be diminished in size due to the close proximity to the Rio race but the racks were pretty full. My wave was scheduled to go off at 7:03, but at 6:30 they announced a delay in the start because the bike course wasn't set yet. Great, now we would be running deeper into the heat of the morning.I went down to the beach and waited with my DURAPULSE friends. And waited....and waited...The one bright spot, as I was fussing with my swim cap, a lovely note from my wife fell out from where she had hid it. Finally at 7:00 they got the Sprint race started and by 7:30, I was in the water on the line.

Swim- 22:30
When the horn sounded, I went hard for the first 200 yards, pretty much until i reached the Sprint race turn marker. Once past that, I settled into a great rhythm and pace with a nice high turnover. My Prophet wet suit is just a complete joy to swim in. I caught the back of the previous waves but didn't have too much difficulty picking my way through. I knew their would be a turn marker coming up I would keep to my right but i couldn't see it due to the glare of the sun, so I just followed the splashing line ahead of me. Suddenly I was at the marker and a good 10 yards to it's right, so I had to quickly swim over to it to make the turn properly. It seems that a lot of people swam down the middle of the course and based on some swim splits, I think many missed this marker entirely.

Once around, the next right hand turn marker was close by and I was on the way back. I kept wanting to swim more towards the shore as the last right hand turn into the beach was very close to shore. When i sighted the Sprint marker, I made sure I kept it to my right although I'm not sure if that was required. Better safe then DQ'ed. I came back under the Mill Ave. bridges and was still swimming great. I swam until my hand on my pull hit the sand and I popped up and ran to the mat which was right at the shore. That was great as it provided a very accurate swim time. And it was so nice to have a beach finish as opposed to the stairs used on the south side of the lake.

T1- 1:23
It was a long way to get to Transition. You had to run up the beach, across a road, and then up a big flight of concrete stairs. I was tired by the time i finally reached my bike! I had my wet suit partially stripped and almost had it off clean but my heels got stuck, so I had to reach down and peel it off. My rack spot was right on the end and maybe 30 feet from the mount line so I made the decision before the race to put my bike shoes on instead of having them on the pedals.

Bike- 58:56
The bike course was similar to Rio's but we had to go up and over Curry and do the out and back up College Ave, so i figured it would run a bit slower and was concerned it would be really crowded. I was wrong on both counts. Although it had two full on 180's, the 95 degree turns were very wide and often allowed for an aggressive, fast approach. After the first lap, I was really able to attack the corners i would normally have to be much more conservative on. I brought my HR up into my target zone of 157-160 and felt great. I had my one water bottle on the bike filled with 3 gels mixed in water. I was very comfortable and powering down the road feeling great, passing everyone. I attacked the climbs on Curry, jumping out of the saddle every time. I wish I could make the story of the bike more interesting, but it went right to plan and I rolled into T2 knowing I had broken an hour again this week.

T2- :37
I got to my rack ad was about to rrack my bike but realized it would be facing the wrong way, with my front wheel on the ground opposite my gear. I wasn't sure if a USAT official would be wandering around handing out that penalty, so to be safe, again, I re-racked it from the other side. Also had trouble with my right shoe. It's not the shoe's or my technique, it's I am a little stiff getting off the bike, especially in my right leg.

Run- 41:13
Well, whereas the bike was uneventful, the run had it's fair share of drama! I'm not sure if the course was long, but we did have to run down stairs three and all the run times are slow. Only one guy went in the 37's and even Lewis ran a 39. So I ran down the same stairs we ran up from the swim and almost went the wrong way at the bottom, the first of many wrong turns I would make. Now it's always the athletes responsibility to know the course and I had reviewed the course map before the race and it all seemed to make sense and was similar to the Rio course and the last time they ran the race from this side of the lake. Well, there were some last min. changes I was unaware. Read on...

So I ran down the north rec path, feeling good and really hitting a good stride. There was a Tri-Scottsdale guy ahead and I slowly began to gain on him. By the time we were crossing the Scottsdale Rd. bridge, I passed him...until I totally missed the turn. He was a good sport and yelled to me and I realized I had passed the area where we also turn coming the other way somehow. I was looking down the road and thought we had to run almost to Rio Salado. Dumb mistake. So I caught back up just after the aid station and thanked him for the heads up. Running the south shore rec path, up ahead i could see a woman in a one piece moving at a good clip. I caught her just before the turn to climb up to the Mill Ave. bridge. I came over the bridge and there was a great crowd of DURAPULSE supporters at the stairs going down. They all gave me a big boost of encouragement and coach Nick said I was looking great. As I started down the stairs, I heard Nick tell me to stay to the right. I wondered what he meant...

So I get to the bottom of the stair and turn right. Well, Nick must have meant that. So I run on the short sidewalk back onto the road under the 202 and an aid station. One of the kids there also said stay right which I assumed meant to the right of the aid station. Once passed it, I turned left to run back up to the rec path for the second loop, feeling great, having fun...Yeah, not so fast there, tiger.

"BRYAN!!!" Hey, it's Nick yelling some encouragement to me from up on the bridge! I gave a wave with my left hand to acknowledge him. "BRYAN!!!" Yeah, Nick I heard you, thanks! "BRYAN!!!!" Something is wrong. I look back and see Nick waving. I was going the wrong way. I run back towards the bridge and Brian Folts, having already won the Sprint race, came running down the stairs to show me where to go. Very class act. Turns out 'keep right" meant run back under Mill and do a short out and back by the beach. Thank God they were there to see me, I would have had to DQ myself otherwise. This addition was not any any course maps and I think the communication from the RD to the athletes was poor regarding this. I figure I gave up about 40 seconds of time and I hoped I hadn't given up any position.

I was very frustrated, even more so as now both that woman and Tri-Scottsdale guy were back ahead of me. So I made the turn and ran back through the aid station again and out onto the north path. When I caught the Tri-Scottsdale guy I said I hoped third times the charm! I ran hard to try and get some time back. Coming back across Mill Ave., I thanked Nick for saving my race. Down the stairs and now I knew the way to go. Instead of the turn, I ran up the road and under the 202 to the finish. Brian and Adam Folts were there and based on their estimate, I was 2nd OA behind Lewis. Hard fought and hard won, it was very sweet indeed.

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