I have three weeks in a row of travel for races and triathlon events going into the end of my season. The first weekend has already passed, but some pretty cool stuff happened, serving to fuel me for the remaining two. I’ll cover the weekends as they happen, so this is just about weekend numero uno. So let’s rewind to Friday 9-23…
Last Friday I had my SBR session to get ready for Saturday’s race. Yeah; you read that right. I don’t take a day off going into a race or I get stiff and sloppy; instead I hit all three disciplines to ready myself to race. After the training, I spent the next 90 minutes on the phone with my coach, Tony Hammett, discussing my race, as well as other things that I’ll leave shadowed in secrecy. Finally around 6pm, I left for my hotel in northeast Georgia. That would be my bedroom for the night, and I just hoped I could sleep a little before I was to race Tugaloo olympic tri in the morning.
Alarm at 5:31, and I shot up after a surprisingly solid race eve slumber. Coffee, bathroom, breakfast, and into my TRAKKERS uni before heading out the door. A short 10 minute drive to the race site to my race-day playlist, and then into complete darkness. It’s dark at 6am when there’s no light pollution from any cities. That actually worked really well, because it gave me time to focus on the mile walk to transition. Nothing but my playlist and my thoughts as I walked through the inky early morning, and found myself finally back in the light at T. It was perfect, because being back in the light symbolized what was going on in my head too; I had complete focus and tunnel vision for the race. With my set-up in transition finished, I took the last 30 minutes to warm up on the bike and run, and familiarize myself with how the bike-in/out and run-in/out would look during the race. 20minutes to race start, I got into my TYR Hurricane life jacket, I mean wetsuit, and headed down to swim start with about 10minutes to go. Yeah…it took me 10 minutes to get into my suit. It’s hard to get into something that’s like a second skin when you’re sticky from already sweating. Anyway…down to swim start to get in a dynamic swim warm up before I went off.
TT swim start, and even though we didn’t have to go off in order, I went off in the first wave of 2. Without the actual swim warm up, I went moderate to the first buoy so I could drop the hammer the rest of the swim. Well that didn’t happen; without the pre-race swim and this being the first time I’d been on my wetsuit in like 6 months, my shoulders were not cooperating. 200m in I felt like I had been doing super sets of military press and delt raises for hours. My mind set switched to, “You stay uncomfortable and push; not like you need those muscles after you get on dry land”, and that’s exactly what I did. 29:43 swim (yeah…there’s still a big disconnect from the pool to open water and from open water to races), but I had to put that out of my head. I had a lot of time to make up. So one error-free flying uphill mount, and it was on to the bike leg.
Tugaloo is known for being a tougher course, but I say it’s probably the best local course I’ve raced to show how well rounded you are. Above to the left is the official Tugaloo elevation profile; the right is the elevation profile from my Garmin. The bike profiles are pretty close, and we’ll just get to the run in a bit. Back to the bike leg…This is a fun course to ride. Even more so for me since I ride a lot of hills and cycling is still my strongest discipline (running is coming along nicely though). I had the instructions to keep it around 90% FTP, but I felt really good. Not once did I push myself to that point where all you feel is the burning of lactate acid in your legs that takes time to recover from. I still averaged 21.7mph over the leg, and my favorite part being playing tug of war with a lady in her 40’s. Not on purpose, but she had a climbers’ body, so she’d slip past on the inclines, then I’d slip back by on the flats and downhills. This became a little dangerous about 10 miles in though, when we hit the lead group with the official next to us. All of us would jump a few places, then have to fall back to avoid drafting penalties. It went this was as the official shadowed us until about mile 15, at which point most of the group started hammering for position. My thoughts? “You have fun running after this”. Which was right on, as I came off the bike in 1:12:17 and 94% FTP over the 42k course with fresher legs. And back to the hills.
Here’s the REAL run profile. I really don’t mind running uphill, but coming out of transition up hill isn’t as much fun. The plan was to take it easy…ish…to start the run until my legs were under me. Seeing the hill, I thought about 5minutes would be sufficient. I also immediately found a pace booty for this time, and because of that it was more like 3:30 of moderate running before hitting race effort. The first hill I decided to start really pushing, even though my legs weren’t completely there. Definitely didn’t feel like I was gliding as I do with fresh legs and good form, but I was moving so I just forced it. Seems my pace booty didn’t take it easy out of T2 though, because she fell off pace about a mile in. That or maybe I was just pushing harder than she was. So then became the fun of finding each new person to pick off. I actually found the lady I had played tug of war with on the bike around mile 3, and her bike effort was starting to show. So I flew past her, legs finally deciding to show up, and actually felt like I should when running. My pace stayed constant throughout the run, though my form did improve for the last 5k, which makes me think maybe I could have gone harder out there. Either way, I went full out and emptied the tank around 9k ,and sprinted down the finishing chute for a 46:48 hilly 10k.
2:30:33 over all. That’s 20minutes and change faster than the last time I raced this course…TWENTY MINUTES!! I thank my training and focus given to me this season by Tony. And with him helping to build the engine, it was my TYR, Kestrel, EFS, and AVIA that got through the race that fast. That ended up being 46/357 OA, and 3rd in my AG; my FIRST olympic distance podium! There were other kids technically in my AG out there, but were racing for the collegiate club division, so in reality I was 13/28 in my AG, so I’m counting it as half a podium. But with such a huge division for my AG, it definitely shows me how far I’ve come and how much further I have to climb. And it’s the later that really excites me, because 2weeks after Tugaloo, I’ll be racing the olympic at REV3 South Carolina. I wonder how much I can leave out there on the REV3 course… I guess we’ll find out in 10 days!