Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To Worlds then Home

This blog post is really late and overdue.  August leading into September was full of family, work, coaching Cross Country and training. This all lead up to my A race of the season, Ironman World Championships 70.3 in Las Vegas on September 9, 2012.

August training was difficult due to the heat and humidity.  There were some great group workouts like Friday morning swim/runs with my club, ONE Multisport at Bartlett Lake.  The warm murky water and hilly asphalt replicated the Henderon, NV course at Worlds.  Fellow Sole Sports Running Zone and ONE teammate, Nick Werski would join me in my bricks at Bartlett faithfully.  I followed local AZ Triathlete Icon, Bryan Dunn's advise to recover up hill and speed the downhills. August training felt more like peak training for a full Ironman.  Not so much for the distance but rather because of the effort.

A highlight was getting to race through the month for TriFamily Racing in Prescott Valley, AZ and for Mountainman Events in Flagstaff, AZ. Both race venues (Sprint and Half Ironman respectively) were in cooler higher altitude climates.  I placed 3rd overall at the Prescott Valley Tri that included a 22 mile bike leg on a cold rainy day.  Flagstaff looked like we might have rain as well on August 12th.  The day was sunny, clear and warm.  As always, I took the 1.2 mile swim cautiously due to the altitude.  As expected, the first 200+ meters were the most difficult trying to get air and acclimate to the lack of air.  My lungs soon got used to my stroke and I moved on to a 35 min. swim leg.  I was hoping for 32-34 but I was ok moving on to the bike.  I have had success on that bike course. Just enough moderate climbing and recovery speed to crank it!  My coach, Nick White with Carmichael Training Systems told me to hit the bike powerfully and work on hydration.  I felt I did both well and came into T2 with a 2:29 bike split for the 56 miler.  Coming into T2 is funny at this race because the Olympic racers are all done and packing up.  You have to run by them all knowing you still have 13.1 miles to run including the 2 mile hill at Marshall Lake.  I felt good and focused starting the run looking for Kona man Erik Svans my buddy and for today, my rival.  He is always going to be in front of me and my only chance today was to catch him on the run.  It did happen heading out on the out and back after Marshall Lake Hill.  He had a bad day and I may never have the opportunity to pass him ever again, so I took a mental picture and filed it away!  I really wanted to try to go sub 1:40 and go after the alabaster Master's Trophy. (40+ Overall Finisher). I won that award last year. My 1:43 run split was good enough for an age group win and 7th overall but no Eagle's head reward!  41 year old, Brandon Nichols from Sierra Vista got it with a minute better finish time.  I didn't know I was that I was that close to him.  Our swims were the same and I out ran him by 5-6 minutes but he blazed that bike course with a 2:22!  The best of the day! 

This all lead to finishing up the last days of training for my big show in Vegas.  The trip to Worlds was amazing and fun.  It was a couples trip along with Matt and Terra Duke. Matt qualified a day after my Boise race in Lawrence, Kansas back in June.  It was also Cristette and my 22 wedding anniversary Saturday, September 8th, the day before the race.  We arrived Friday and went straight to the expo and registration at the Henderson Pavillions. I have had some issues with one of my tubular tire holding air and a flat spot that didn't settle wellwith me.  At the expo, I called fellow Vegas Triathlete and friend, Randy Parr for a recommedation of a bike shop to help me.  He came through so well and within the hour, I was at The Bike Shop in Henderson 10 minutes away from the expo and was able to pick up my bike on the way to the welcome dinner at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Friday night.  CTS hooked me and Matt (and our wives) with VIP passes for the weekend.  Very cool!  Front row seating and open bar!  Vegas Baby! I also hooked up my boy, Elliot Kawaoka for VIP seating that night. 

Saturday we slept in and headed for a practice swim at Lake Las Vegas.  Worlds was a point to point race with T1 at the lake.  T2 and the finishline was back in Henderson at the Pavillions.  The water was confortable and obviously non wetsuit legal.  Matt and I met up with my fellow ONE Elite Teammates, Carlos Mendoza and Sue Meno for a quick ride.  Back to our timeshare on the strip to rest. Matt and I took the bikes back to Lake Las Vegas (T1) before heading out to an early anniversary dinner near the strip.  No wine though.  It was going to be hot and I was hydrating all day until my bathroom stops were frequent and on the hour!  I hindsight, I may go back to my one glass pre race night.  It usually is good luck!  Bed was around 10 pm after stamping race numbers and sponsor temo tattoos for my sponsors, Fitsok Isagenix and ValdoraCycles

Race morning breakfast was an Isagenix Bar with Oatmeal with Bananas and coffee. I took my daily 3 tabs of Extreme Endurance and Matt and I were on our way along with buddies, Mike and Chris to drop us off at Lake Las Vegas.We had to be out of transition by 6:15 am.  This was the classic case of hurry up and wait.  The race had the pros go off at 6:45am.  Then 19 more waves began all the way until 8:00 am!  I was second to the last wave at 7:55 am.  This means the half marathon would be at noon!

The swim was uneventful.  Lots of open water and not too much hammering around me.  I did notice a herd of yellow caps coming up on me at the turn to head back.  It was the fast 25-29 males.  Dang!  34:36 Swim 57th AG.

T1 4:17

The fastest part of the bike course was the beginning 10 miles after a big climb out of Lake Las Vegas.  Then it's off to Lake Mead for an out and back hilly and hot ride.  No opportunity to get into any kind of rhythm.  I felt the heat right away.  I drank every 10 mins and took in Salt Stick tabs every half hour. I use a combo mixture of EFS Light Grape and Carbo Pro along with just water.  My gel is EFS Mocha. My goal was 280 calories per hour and as much water as I could handle.  I took in 5 bottles and probably should have taken in more.  I got thirsty and that's not good.  I could have used another aid station.  Both Elliott and Carlos passed me on the bike.  Elliott first and Carlos at just before 30 miles.  It was my race and I focused on consistant pace.  I saw some riders stopped on the route back just head down and fatigued.  My feat were burning hot in my cycling cleats due to the ground temps. The end of the ride is a 6+ mile moderate climb to the Henderson Pavillions.  There were runners everywhere when I got close to the end of the bike leg.  Like a full Ironman, they take your bike for you and you head to grab your T2 bag and head to the tent to change etc.  I felt fine and had 3 guys watch me change my shoes and head out to the 3 loop run course.  2:48 Bike 20 MPH  51st in AG.

T2 2:03

The run was fun to start and the heat didn't really hit me at first.  There were a lot of spectators along the course. My first mile was fast with a sub min pace.  Then that was the end of that.  The couse is either straight up or down on ashpalt roads for ever.  My body was hot and I had some light cramping but not the "stop in your tracks" kind.  Just my pace deteriorated over time.  My HR stayed high.  I passed Tucson Tri Stud and fellow age grouper, Leo Carillo who was reduced to a walk.  I kept going only stopping for cola and ice at every aid station.  They were running out of ice at many of the stations.  Luke warm water doesn't cut it!  Every loop had us pass the finishline chute.  That's tough to have to go left when the finish was just strides away at the right!  My time finally did come and on my last (3rd) lap, I was amazed how many studly World Qualifiers were behind me still trekking on.  ( I found some happiness in this).  Terra and Cristette were in the VIP Zone waiting for me to finish and I loved coming in and being done!  After giving me my huge medal and T-Shirt, I headed to the cooling tents looking for a diet coke (the only thing I crave post race - don't ask)  I found a warm diet coke and Elliot sitting in a chair looking like a zombie!  It's kind of funny now, but all I did in sit on the floor under his legs and I stayed there for a while.  I;m not quite sure for how long we stayed there not saying a word.  Battle Zone graveyard!  1:57:11 Run 55th in AG.

5:25:28  Finish Time. 55th AG  674 Overall.

I really would like to get to that course again, now that I know it.  We'll see what happens next season!

This past weekend was like coming home with the Red Rock Co. Nathans Lifetime Tempe Triathlon.  Great day to race.  I was happy to see Xterra World Champ Jamie Witmore and her husband, Courtney Cardenas who emceed the weekend.  I sang the National Anthem and then it was off to the races.

I felt like I was racing hard but I was happy for the Olympic Distance length vs. all the Half Ironman 70.3 milers I have endured this season.  My swim felt faster then the time shows (story of my life!)  No issues and a lot of feet to draft off of.  Those stairs leading out of the water are something I never get used to!  29:02 Swim 13th in AG.

T1 1:56

The bike felt fast and flat!  I took off picking off swimmers for the first loop. My Valdora PHX2 was feeling powerful and my pace was 23-25 consistantly.  Just like old times, I had Carlos find me right before the end of lap 1 of 2.  Then came the 40-44 phenoms from the 4 minute behind wave, Russ Brandt and Jonathan Coffen (all Kona Qualifiers) for a star studded lap 2.  This helped push me to stay with them and I came into T2 ready to run.  Still no Leo Carillo or Erik Svans. Did they swim THAT Well? They did!  1:03:55 Bike 23.33 pace 4th best in AG.

T2 1:09

The run is very familiar. 2 loops around the Tempe Town Lake.  I actually felt slow on the first lap keeping Carlos in sight but not able to gain. in fact, he pulled away.  I figured I was running 7 something pace but was surprised to see 6:50 for the first mile.  I was running faster than I thought.  Just holding my postion.  I lost sight of Carlos and never saw Leo.  He has redemption from Worlds on his mind!  He is a work horse!  Strong and fast!  The second loop was much more crowded with 1st loopers starting their runs.  This is where I noticed my pace was better than I felt it was.  Heading over the Mill Ave. Bridge to the finish, I had idea where I placed.  I knew Carlos was in front and I assumes Leo was done, changed and went home.  Was there any out of town spoilers here today like at Marquee or Soma?  Not today!  42:11 Run 6:47 pace 2nd best run in AG.

2:17:30  3rd in AG 33rd Overall.

What a great season!  And it's not over yet!  Soma next month and other races and events along the way.  Worlds was a great experience! I can only imagine what Kona is like! I will find out someday!  But...there's no place like Home!