OK, bike secured on the bike rack. Check. Gear bag, helmet, and wet suit in the back seat. Check. Jamie's awake and ready to go. Check. Go out to start the car and warm it up...Click,click,click....oh dear..
THE CAR IS DEAD
More specifically the battery is stone cold dead. We have no jumper cables. We did however have fortune on our side this morning. Jamie had invited our friends Joy and Will to come stay at our rental house in Flagstaff for the weekend. Within 5 min. of discovering the Grand Cherokee wasn't going anywhere, I had my bike in the back of Joy's Honda and we were off to Lake Mary for the start. That was a first!
Jamie dropped me off near Transition and went to find parking while I set up. I found a good spot next to my friends Carlos and Sue and had about 45 min. To kill before the start. We wandered over to see the Half IM wave's and I got into the water with 10min left and did some easy swimming. Water was perfect.
Swim- 24:37, 10th OA
When the horn sounded I took off at a hard pace to get some maneuvering room. Within the first few hundred yards, I could feel every inch of the 7000 feet of elevation. Air was at a premium and I knew I would have to settle down and gather myself. I could see a small group of about 3 guys ahead who were already off the front. I knew that would be pro Lewis Elliot as well as a very fast AG swimmer John Poisson. I was in the second group of about 3 other guys, one of whom I was able to draft off for the long leg down lake. I found a decent rhythm and felt more comfortable with my breathing. I also felt that my draft partner was swimming the right line, a few others were off to far to the left. When we came around to the boat ramp, I popped up and checked my time. Not the worst swim ever but not the best, I always seem to have issues swimming at altitude, but then again everyone does! The course was likely a bit long based on the overall times.
Had a very smooth and easy transition. My shoes were clipped in as the run out if a bit long. I had no trouble with my wet suit and getting into my shoes and up to speed. I think the best thing you can ever say about a transition is it was uneventful.
Bike- 56:37, 2nd OA
I have to say I was REALLY looking forward to this bike leg. I can honestly say I don't think I have ever done an Olympic triathlon where the bike course didn't have a lot of turns, 180 degree turnarounds and technical corners. I finally could just hammer down an out and back. Granted it is at elevation and has about 750 feet of climbing, but it's a great course with great road conditions. I left T1 and quickly spun up to speed. I immediately noticed my RPE was about a 8-9 while my HR was about a 6-7. Whereas in an Olympic I would target about 160 bpms I was more like 154. Again, I knew it was the effect of the altitude and I should adjust accordingly, so 152 became the new goal and it was what I averaged.
The longest climb comes around mile 8 or so just before the tun off for the Half bike course. I caught John here, he had exited the water 2 min. ahead of me, and now was on the look out for pro Lewis Elliot coming back the other way. I just got into sight of the turnaround about a mile down the road when Lewis came streaking by heading back. Now I would have an opportunity to see who was chasing. John was still in 3rd but closing in on him was Carlos Mendoza, the best 45-49 AG'er in the state, as well as a great runner named Josh Terwoord moving up the pack. I had a decent gap and wanted to really open it up on the way back.
There was a slight tailwind and when I came down the hill at mile 17 I hit nearly 50mph, spinning out in my 52/11 gearing, so I just tucked in and enjoyed the ride! The last 5 miles were a bit of a grind and I was pretty relieved when I saw the turn in for Transition. I slipped out of the shoes and rode with my feet on top and did a pretty spiffy flying dismount right at the line for the crowd. :) This was a big PR for my on the bike, my previous best being 59 on the local Tempe courses.
Ran the length of Transition to my spot and my legs felt really good, always a good sign. I wore my ZOOT Ultra Speed, no socks, so I had shoes on and my visor, race belt, and sunglasses in my hand as I ran out which made for a nice fast and efficient transition.
Run- 38:01, 5th OA
As I headed out onto the road, my legs felt great. I ignored my Garmin for the first half mile to allow myself to settle into race pace. When I did check, my average pace was around 6:08. I held this steady pace until I got to the bottom of the hill around mile 1.2. This race is pretty well known for this climb. It's about 350 feet of elevation gain and a little over a mile to mile and a quarter long. I just put my head down and shortened up my stride and attacked. The hill is a switchback with the turn a little before half way. Nearing the top I saw Lewis coming back the other way and gave him a thumbs up.
Once you crest the hill, the course heads down a forest service road for about 400 meters or so to a lone cone and some chalk in the dirt with an arrow pointing back the other way. The climb hadn't killed me and I was feeling great heading back for the descent. As I started down, I could see Josh was just catching Carlos and I was a good 2-3 min ahead. I knew I would have some recovery coming down and then could really push the last mile and keep my lead. Coming down the hill was fast and fun and I received so much great encouragement from my friends and fellow competitors heading up.
I hit the bottom and made the left to head to the finish. I had made myself and my coach a promise for this run. Even if I was all alone and not being challenged for placing, I would continue to push the pace. I have a bad habit when in a race if the guy off the front is out of reach and there's no one close behind, I tend to just sort of sit in and cruise it home. Not this time. I passed the one mile to go and I pushed. I began to run along all the cars parked along the side of the road and I pushed. I could see the turn off for the line itself a quarter mile up the road and I pushed. It was only the last 10 feet before the line that I slowed it down and put up my hands, proud of my effort. Looking back on my HR, after coming down the hill, it did nothing but build all the way in. 38 flat is a pretty good time for this course and elevation but I think I can even get better, I want my run to be a stronger asset in my portfolio and will continue to work on it
Final Time- 2:01:32, 2nd OA our of 285, 1st in AG.
Post race was the usual fun of hanging with all of our friends and eating mini chocolate donuts! Yum! Just a quick note on my nutrition for this race. Knowing the temps would be moderate, I opted to start the bike with a single bottle between my aero bars filled with 3 GU Roctanes mixed with water. My goal was to be sure to finish most of this before T2, which I did. Once on the run, I didn't take any additional aid with my or from the stations. It was a great moring if racing and I feel it really has put me in a great position as I do my final 3 week build into 70.3 Worlds on Sept. 11th. Time to get back to WORK.