Monday, May 19, 2014

May Is For Racing! St. George 70.3 and Other Stuff

I'm basically breaking up my 2014 race season into 2 halves. First half A race was a return to St. George Utah for the Ironman 70.3 funfest on May 3rd. I really had a great experience last year including my second 70.3 World's Championship qualifier and my first Ironman podium. I went into this race with a goal to improve on my overall time (comparing it to the same course in 2013) and get on that podium again. If I was fortunate to qualify for Worlds again, I would pass it up. Due to my second half of the year A race goal; IM Arizona, there is no way I'm getting to Mont Tremblant in September. 

We had quite the Tri-Geek road trip. The entourage included my partner in crime and CTS teammate, Russ Brandt (we share the same coach - Nick White) another Kona boy and local phenom, Jonathan Coffen, and the buff and young,  Nic Wirski. We all were returning for different reasons, for Nic, it was redemption after struggling last year on the run after a blistering bike. For Russ and Jon, it was check on their 40 plus year old bodies (babies!) and see where they are and where they need to be when all three of us go for it at IMAZ in November. For my goals, re-read paragraph one above!

With four bikes, a Yakima roof shell and a decent amount of testosterone we loaded into my Toyota Sequoia and left for Utah Thursday, May Day.

All four of us shared one hotel room. We became even closer...anyway, Thursday night we found our local pad, George's Pub and Grill and overtook the basement pool room and made it our own. Friday was the normal pick up race wheels, get to the reservoir for a swim and ride. Early dinner (so early, we are again!) and early to bed.

Race Day:
There were 24 waves and I was in the 22nd. The pros went off at 7am. I went at 7:57am. The weather in the morning was warmer than last year do the wait wasn't that bad. The water was perfect at approx 64 degrees. I found my rhythm and felt pretty conservative but ok on the 1.2 Mike counter clockwise course (with LOTS of buoys). There is always a false sense of accomplishment when you find yourself passing previous wave swim caps (Male 50-54 was eraser pink) but te reality is the swimming studs of your AG are actually ahead in another zip code. 

0:33:58. 1:45/100m. 20th in AG.

St. George is a point to point race so you have to keep a clean transition stuffing your wetsuit goggles and cap into the bag where you find you bike helmet, glasses and shoes. Everything went good and I found my spot and got to work. 

T1  Swim to Bike 3:07

Everything about the IMSG bike is patience, speed, hills, scenery and, did I say patience? Russ told me last year that the race really starts at mile 40 as we enter into the hilly and beautiful Snow Canyon. 5 miles of steady climbing but if you take it too hard and play the hero, then you WILL pay for it on the run. Again, no surprises on the up and down course. I always laugh inside at the car and mouse game that happens during an Ironman bike leg. My MO is I beat the big boys up the hills and then the buzz by me on the down hills. Back and forth. This played out over and over again. I work to take in 250-300 calories on the bike per hour. I can do that with one water bottle with a concentrated mix of Fix Performance and Hammer Heed along with one gel flask of EFS Liquid Shot (400 calories) of course, I have water as well. Water is the only thing I take aid stations. I took it nice and steady entering Snow Canyon enjoying (relatively speaking) the volunteer signs along the five mile climb. Signs that said things like "Shut Up Legs!"  He last sign you see at the top said, "Your Face Make a Bad Brake Pad!" That is the cue you are heading home to downtown St. George and if you dare, you can get to speeds over 45 mph. I didn't...

2:45:25. 20.31mph 14th in AG.

At a point to point race you have to be thinking where your T2 bag is racked. Fortunately, I had a great spot near the run out blow up that was easy to find. Again, you pack your bike equipment in the bag you will find your visor, shoes and nutrition. 

T2  Bike to Run 2:29

I LOVE this course. It is mostly asphalt and concrete, an out an back. Exactly like my training routes near home on Happy Valley Rd. You climb right away and I relied on my short stride and high cadence to start a game of "Find my AG and Pass Em!" It kept my mind focused and it was working like a dream. I carry PowerGel Double Latte (2x Caffeine) gels to take one out of T2 then one every half hour. I drink water, and cola alternating at each aid station. I started another new game of "Pass But Don't Get Passed" which was fun since my wave was so late at the start. It's also encouraging not only passing guys in my own AG but also guys with 20, 30 or 40 something scribbled on their calf. There is really no way of knowing what place you are in until you find a friend or your phone after the finish but I was hopeful I was on a good position to podium. I was running 2 minutes faster than last year. With a mile left and a turn onto the last main stretch home, I was smiling and thinking I had done all the road killing I could do for the day. Then...
I look ahead at a fit 5'7" muscular triathlete with a close shaved head that had some very short GREY hair and also a faster cadence than me. I tried to get closer and it took work to try to make out the marking on his calf. I thought, "no way there's still another guy to catch!" " "I'm done!" I told myself in a self pity kind of consolation. I could make out a "0" and I realized the scribble above that wasn't a "4" or "3". Yes, it said "50". I am not known for my finish line sprints! (See my Leadman finishing chute pics!) Then another thought entered my mind. "What I he's in 5th Place?" I will be very upset if I didnt go for it and try to get him. There is an aid station with less than a 1/4 mile to the finish (mainly for those starting the run coming on the other side). The guy did slow down just slightly and that was my chance. I came up right behind him, confirmed his age and as we came to a traffic circle roundabout with 500 yards to go and the finish line in sight. I kept it going and at the Iromman carpet I looked back and he was not going to get me. He WAS in 5th place.

1:31:54. 7:00/mi. 5th in AG.

It took a while to verify the final standing because I passed him so close to the finish. My individual results had me in 6th but the 50-54 AG list showed me in 5th. In fact, there ws only 10 seconds between 4th/5th/6th place. I guess I should've worked one more guy!

That afternoon's award ceremony also gave the Divison 2 Club Award to One Multisport!

We went to the Club Reception then eventually found even more friends like John and Brooke Schohl, Dee Frash, back at our basement at George's to celebrate! 

I credit (of course) my coach Nick White with Carmichael Training Systems for helping me get my goal. I also attribute my strength at the race end to my Endurance work with Coach Will Burkhart and Josh Otero at Power In Motion Crossfit. I can't thank my bike sponsor, Valdora Cycles with Pete and Kendra Olson for the beautiful new PHX2 I broke in at this race. Of course my club, One Multisport and my teammates on the ONE Elite Team for all their support.

Just this past Sunday, it was so great to race locally at the Tempe International Tri.  The level of talent in the AZ 50-54 AG is just amazing. The overall top 30 in the race had the superstars John Poisson, Geoff Cleveland, Steve Rink and Todd Witten. There is no rest for the old and competitive! It rivals anything you find at an Ironman event. Anywhere!

Onward to second half of the season goals that will get me to the starting line at IMAZ and my desire to get that Kona slot. There I said it!

Until next time!