Sunday, March 28, 2010

2010 California Ironman 70.3

Exciting day yesterday! First big race of the season and I picked up right where I left off in Florida last November. I ended the day in 3rd in the 20-24 division and 65th overall out of 2,300+. Right from the start I knew I was going to be "on". I felt fresh but not overly rested & sluggish. I tapered really well this week and all of the glory goes to God for any accomplishments in this race. I qualified for the 2010 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida again and I cannot stress how stoked I am that I qualified in my first race this year.. takes the pressure off for the rest of the season in that regard.

The Race:
For some reason the organizers decided to put my start wave LAST in the men's division. Yeah.. this means the faster swimmers are swimming through packs upon packs of slower age groupers. I don't see this as fair, because the younger guys generally swim much faster than the older age groupers. I knew it was a disadvantage but everyone in my division would have to deal with it too. Luckily, it was an in-water start and I LOVE in-water starts because you don't have to battle others running & diving into the water for position. Also, I have a fairly good sprint to get away from the group, and move out in front early without having to battle the others. So when the horn went off, I bolted, actually led the swim for around the first 200+ meters before another guy caught up to me and eventually passed me (which would be the guy who took first in the division). Just as promised, the swim was chaotic, having to work through the cluster-you-know-what's of slow swimmers. I actually came to a dead stop to look around and find a clear path 3 times. Still managed to have a great swim with a time of 26:04.

Getting on to the bike I was happy that my bike legs finally decided to show up at a race this year. I played it pretty conservative for the first 40k (in just under an hour). Keep in mind we had a slight tail wind and I knew the road back starting around mile 30 would be windy and hilly so I didn't push the pace much early on. It was also hard to gauge my speed/effort because I was still weaving through packs of slower age groupers (and would do so the entire ride), so I didn't have any strong cyclists to pace with. I had a pretty decent bike split at around 2:30.. with a few lower back cramps from being in the aero position the entire time. Around the last 10k a guy in my division passed me (who was actually the only person to pass me) at a pretty good speed and got to T2 around 30+ seconds faster than I.

As I started the 13.1 mile run, my legs felt decent but I couldn't utilize the faster muscles that I normally run with, as I had been using them pretty heavily on the bike. So I had to improvise and switch up my running style a bit to focus on leg pull. I caught up to the guy who passed me on the bike, pretty quickly around the first mile. The mistake was passing him right before a hill. As we hit the hill together, he saw I was in the same division and he turned on the "overdrive" just as I turned on the "survival mode- just get me up this hill, Lord" button. My run belt broke which didn't make things any better and he passed me once we reached the top. I slowed down to fashion it back together by tying it around my waist (which hurt) and he passed me. I trailed him by 5 - 10 seconds for the next 3 miles and then my engine died (you like these car analogies?). My legs felt dead and I realized there was no way I could keep this pace for the remaining 9 miles. As the pros ran in the opposite direction, it was comforting to see that they looked about as tired as I felt. I kind of went into auto pilot to regain some energy until I reached the turn around back at the harbor. It was nice to see my family and friends there waiting for me, but they all caught a glimpse of just how fatigued I was. As I passed my Dad, he yelled to me that I was in third. This was the first time I had any idea of my placement and it gave me a huge mental boost. I was not going to loose that podium spot. At this point the muscles turned back on and I started pushing the pace again. I ran through mile 9 in just under an hour (averaging 6:40ish) and saw the guy in front of me at the turnaround. He probably had 1-2 minutes on me at this point and I knew I couldn't catch him but I had no idea who was behind me or how close. The last 3 miles were disgraceful to say the least. I hadn't even ran a consecutive 13.1 miles since last November so my legs were really tired. At 10 miles I was at 1:07. Pshh.. I couldn't even run an easy 21 min 5k to finish off. A little disappointed at that, non-the-less, ran a 1:30 on the dot 13.1, on not the easiest of run courses.

Finished with a 4:30 total time, so I was pretty happy, but don't feel like I've even come close to my potential.. Plenty of room to improve, but it's nice to see that I'm making significant progress with each race, especially in cycling (which was by far my weakest sport last year).

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Post

(Picture links in blue)
Since this is my first post, it's only necessary I start off by saying that I am truly blessed by God to have the opportunity to race and compete in the sport of Triathlon. My background in athletics is virtually none. I celebrated in high school when I broke a 10 minute mile. The first twinge of any "strenuous" activity came a few years ago when I picked up a surfboard and fell in love with the ocean. Shortly after I started surfing, I noticed that I'd beat a lot of people to waves and a competitiveness that had never been apparent started to emerge.

I don't really know where the passion for Triathlon first came from (probably because I wasn't sober, to be honest, when I decided to do one). At a party, some friends and I were joking around about doing a triathlon and I was the only one that actually followed through. After my first race, having only a month or two to prepare, I found out that I had some hidden athleticism that I never realized before. I finished pretty well in my division (Men's Collegiate). At this point I thought I'd actually try a little harder for my next race. I was improving at all three sports so rapidly I couldn't help but be overly excited. With the support of my parents, I was encouraged to keep pursuing Triathlon and pushing myself further. I'm extremely grateful for their (as well as my whole family and friends) support and encouragement. I ended up qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater Florida last November and had the best race of my life to date. Last season was a great eye opener for me in endurance sports. I'm learning more with every passing day and excited about the upcoming season because I'm injury free at the moment. At almost every race last year I had some knee/leg problem, so I'm excited to see how far I can push myself on healthy legs.

This season so far...
No thanks (or thanks) to sickness, I was forced to take a month or so off from training completely after Clearwater. It was kind of nice to take a little break but I've been back at it since mid January. So far this season I've done 3 smaller Collegiate sprint races to get my racing legs back and finished decently but nothing impressive (12th overall, 5th overall, & 12th overall). The problem with these shorter sprints is that I'm not really a sprinter.  The California Ironman 70.3 is less than 2 weeks away and I'm pretty stoked to do a 70.3 so close to home (Oceanside). Every Ironman 70.3 I've done has been in another state... so hopefully I can have a decent race without injuries holding me back. I have some really cool races lined up for this season... including: Collegiate Nationals, Wildflower, Ironman Hawaii 70.3, Vineman 70.3 (with a few smaller ones sprinkled around). So it should be a fun year! I'll try and update the blog before/after major races and keep it up to date.