Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lake Stevens 70.3 & Solana Beach Triathlon Stories

I know most endurance athletes have had an injury that’s held them back at some point in their lives, so I really don’t need to stress the point far, but damn… injuries are annoying. I lost a little over 3 months of my year to a lower leg injury (or gained 3 months of solid swim/bike fitness..). The good in this is that I feel MEGA fresh at the moment and am chomping at the bit to work hard and race now that I’m running again. I’m going to make a solid push in fitness for some “late season” races and hopefully get back to where I was at before my leg decided to be a party pooper.

Lake Stevens 70.3

Yes, I'm in a women's tri suit.
I love everything about this race. The location is rad; It’s like racing in the middle of a forest. The swim course is in a lake with rowing lines to follow (which, with my Stevie Wonder sighting, is a game changer). The bike course is a challenging one, to say the least; with lots of technical descents and punchy little climbs. The run is a relatively flat course with a few slight grades thrown in to keep you honest. Talking with my chief advisor, Mitch Hall, it was agreed upon well in advance that I’d only do 5k of the run because I had just started running, pain free, that week. So my goal was to hit the bike leg hard and win the “bike split bet” I had going on with James Walsh.

The trip to Washington was sweet, and it was great to see a lot of my family (thank you all for being so supportive)! The weather was unpredictable & ominous though. It seems like whenever/wherever I travel to race, I always get there and the weather is insane; then the locals always say the same thing: “It’s not normally like this”, while throwing their hands up in the air as if to gesture “Don’t shoot.. it’s not my fault! I swear it’s beautiful the rest of the year”. The night I flew in, it was sunny skies and 78 degrees. The next morning it was pouring and cloudy with thunder & lightning storms.. What?!? The weather decided to stay lame like that the rest of the trip. I stayed with my family in Edmonds for a night then headed a little closer to the race site and stayed with James, Beth, & her parents for the two days preceding the race. When doing a preview ride on the course the day before, no one said it, but we all knew, bringing a disc to ride on this course was a bad choice.

Race Day:

I had the swim I was supposed to have in Hawaii. I felt good and ended up leading the wave from start to finish. 26:06

Most likely taken before things got stupid.
Despite the rain and wet roads, I started hard charging the bike course and was feeling fearless until around mile 20. I was maxed out and flooring it thru a downhill section and noticed a sweeping right-hand turn ahead. In normal conditions I’d have had too much speed to make it without braking, and with wet conditions, knew I definitely would’ve lost traction on the road trying to hang on. I tried to slow, but my cork brake pads didn’t grip my carbon rims in the rain, so I had a minor freak out and yanked my rear brake, full force. My wheel locked up (as I should’ve known it would) and I started fishtailing off into the other lane. Luckily, I picked the best section of the course to “pull a triathlete” on. I had a fairly controlled bail out into a grass ditch on the opposite side of the road and had slowed enough to make me look/feel only half retarded. It was more hurtful to my pride than it was to me physically. I just felt stupid for not being able to make that turn. Two guys passed by me while I was getting back on my bike and the second I started pedaling again I was completely “over” the course. I was so shaken up that every descent I took was at 1/4th of the speed I’d have normally taken it at and I just didn’t have the drive to push hard. James caught up to me around mile 50 (his wave started 3 minutes back) and I was so stoked to see him. We rode hard the rest of the way together (legally).
No Caption Needed

The picture sums up what my 5k was like; James and I, nonchalantly frolicking around while out in front of a 70.3. We ran a conversational 6:15-6:20 pace for the 1st 3 miles then I dropped out when we got back into town and quickly found the café for some coffee and donuts to watch the sufferfest from the sidelines.

Post race:
I dominated the Jacuzzi Marathon back at the Walsh’s pad. It seemed like (and probably was) hours of hot tub/pizza/beer action. Good times with friends after races is what it’s all about.

Solana Beach Triathlon

I wasn’t too serious about this race, but I felt it would be a fun one to do since B+L was sponsoring it, & it was in my new backyard. Mostly, I just wanted to beat up the stingray who took me out last year.

I rolled out of bed late and had a productive warm-up, charging the 4-5 miles from my house to the start in my orange and yellow snakeskin/goldfish tights from Rio (thank you, Julie). I knew there were a ton of local fast guys here, but honestly the result didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to have fun and go hard. It was the 1st race I’ve actually been able to finish/race since Oceanside 70.3.

Before the start I went hunting for that damn stingray to give it a piece of my mind, but he flaked and didn’t show. When the horn went off, I tried to give the spectators that were lining the start to the water high fives and everyone was just really confused as I ran by with my hand in the air (fail). I think I got 2 or 3 though. I came out of the water with the front pack of guys in just over 6 minutes (Charlie was 10-15 seconds up on everyone). I don’t know what was going on in T1 but I must’ve been having a solo tea party, because everyone that I came out of the water with was already out on the bike course.
(I hate doing pitches in the middle of my blogs, but…) I have to thank Mark Palmer (B+L) for my new S-works Trivent bike shoes. That was the easiest flying mount onto my bike I’ve ever had. Those shoes are top-notch! This bike course is RIDICULOUS. 6 hairpin turns and 4 right turns in 9 miles is about 6-10 too many. Add in a circus of 1st time triathletes on beach cruisers, unicycles, tandems, big wheels, recumbents, recumbents towing trailers with smiling loved ones, and clown cars…. you have a catastrophe waiting to happen. I caught up to Charlie, who was in the lead, at the beginning of the 2nd lap and then was tasked with leading everyone behind me through the barrage of chaos on the 101. I almost went down 2-3 times dodging & weaving around people (including avoiding disaster at a turn with a 7 year old, who had probably just taken his training wheels off the morning before the race). I probably expelled ½ of my energy yelling “on your left”. I wasn’t even “competitive mad”, I just wanted to make it out of this alive. I’d just like to quickly note: it’s very hard to get any separation on a short & flat course with 6 turns, so I fully expected there to be packs of bunched up cyclists and can’t really complain about it. I think I had the fastest bike split of the day with a 21:40-something.
I got to T2 in 1st, and got onto the 5k run course in 3rd. Hmmm… it seems my transitions skills have disappeared completely. Once on the run course, I caught up to Charlie who was a couple seconds ahead of me and he was struggling with some cramping issues. We ran together for a bit but he dropped back a little. Tristan Bunch, who is a 16-year-old endurance phenom, had put around 15-20 seconds on me in T2 and the 1st mile. Knowing it was my 2nd week back running, I didn’t have too much passion to try and catch him. I just wanted to run strong and not aggravate my leg. I ended up running a steady 17:20 and hung on to 2nd place overall (1st place Pro). Not close to my 5k PR in a tri, but not too bad for being on the sidelines for the last 3 months. I’d like to give a shout out to a cat who was hard charging on the run, Nick Bernal (4th place overall)… ran a 15:16!! That’s pretty impressive coming off the bike. USA ITU needs you Nick.

Overall, it was a fun day seeing people I knew all over the course and racing against some good friends. It feels good to be a triathlete again and not just an aquacyclist.
How many questionable pics can I put in this blog post?

1,2,3 pro field W/ Charlie, and Nick Sigmon
I’m seriously excited to start working hard again and get in some legit training before the 70.3 World Championship in Vegas!! I’ve also decided to add in the SUPERFROG on Sept. 30. I love a good ½ Ironman so close to home! Big thanks to my dog, Kevin, @ B+L Bikes for staying late at the shop till 9pm the night before Solana Beach, to flawlessly glue on a new tire to my disc. It’s, no joke, faultless.. I’ve never seen a more perfect tubular; Kev is a boss. Thanks to my wise coach/advisor for teaching me patience.. Lord knows I’d probably still be injured if it weren’t for Mitch, continuously calling the ‘common sense police’ on me. And finally, a massive thanks to my family for all their support, I love you guys.