Getting My Game Face On!
Me and Kris Milobar at the final 1/2 Mile
There is a pretty simple fact that will keep every triathlete humble on any given race day. There are always going to be individuals that can show up at any competition that are faster than you. That is why age group results are so interesting because you can end up not making podium in your own age group but if you were 10 years younger you could've maybe won your AG. It all depends who shows up on any particular day.
This thought process came into my head many weeks as I prepared for the first real local triathlon test of the season; the Marquee Tri put on by LifetimeTri Events. This year, there was no Leadman or half Ironman distance to complete in; only a International/Olympic and Sprint/Super Sprint distance option. That means athletes like Todd Witten, Greg Stelzer, and newly aging up phenoms like Kris Milobar would be racing with me.
It's no secret that the Olympic distance gives an advantage to strong swimmers. I cannot put myself yet in that category. Being a decent cyclists and strong runner sometimes does not allow enough terrain or territory to make up for some of the swim deficits provided by people like Greg and Todd. 10k is usually not far enough to make up 3 to 5 minutes! But what's an old guy to do but give it my best shot and go for it. Game face on!
Race conditions this Sunday were perfect. Overcast skies and cool temperatures and hardly any wind. I am continuing to work with Frank Sole at Sole Swim Solutions this season. I have to practice what I preach and that is good triathletes are always trying to improve on their limitors. Swimming is my limitor! I can't believe it's April already and I had not yet been in my wetsuit. I have so much to work on including stroke and hip rotation but felt that this race would be a good indication just to see how much work I have ahead of me in the swim.
Even with almost 30 years of open water swimming experience, I still tend to be very conservative in the beginning of a race. When the blow horn blew for Wave 5 (Males 50+) I stayed to the right and focused on my long stroke. I must've been thinking too hard because I drifted way to the right of the lake - too far from the guide buoys and too close to the wall. I guess I was enjoying my new Tyr Goggles I just picked up at Destination Kona Friday afternoon. Nothing like seeing so clearly even with overcast skies - even when you realize you have to swim diagonally to get to the yellow turn buoy! No issues for the second half of the swim and (as usual - this has to change) I picked up my pace to make up for the slower first half swim. I knew I had my work cut out for me when I exited the water steps to be wetsuit "stripped" by our One Multisport wonderful volunteers and saw 26 minutes and change.
Post race, I was teasing my crossfit friends at Power in Motion that I had a hard time getting my wetsuit off over my arms now. Ha!
My Carmichael Training System coach, Nick White, made it clear that this race was to be done at time trail mode. An all out speed training day. I was excited to see what I could do on the bike with many indoor trainer watt interval sessions this past month. I want to acknowledge Cyclologic and their expertise for setting me up with race wheels and my tune up. Ron does a fantastic job making my Valdora PHX2 fast and race ready.
The bike course was a fast and flat 2 loop journey with a good share of 180° turns. I picked off many on the first lap and felt strong on the 23-24 mph average range staying at an approx 140 bpm Heartrate. I need to replace my cassette soon and was warned it is needed by Ron at Cyclologic. I now may need to do it before St. George 70.3 on May 2nd since I seemed to skip gears once and a while during the race. The last thing I want (besides a flat) is to lose my chain! I came into T2 at just over 1:04 and saw Kris Milobar's bike already racked and resting. I didn't know where Todd and Scott were on the course, but I was sure there were other 50-54 males I needed to chase immediately - and I only had 6+ miles to do it!
I hardly ever have issues running off the bike. In fact, in Ironman distance races, it is very hard for me to slow down to conserve energy and pace for the long marathon ahead. Today, that was not going to be a problem. I hit the crushed granite on the south lake with a vengeance and when I looked at my Garmin Forerunner 920XT. (product placement plug!) I was running at a 6:10 pace. I doubted that I could hold that kind of pace but I did decide a sub 6:30 average was possible. I am pretty sure I passed a couple of guys I didn't know that might have been in my AG but after crossing the Rural Bridge to head west on the north side of the lake, I recognized the Trisports Trikit of Billy Oliver from Tucson. Dang! I forgot about Billy. He had an awesome bike and as I approached him, I said hi...and bye. There was a good chance I am still in 4th or 5th place. I love my Zoot Team buddies and their neon green uniforms are easy to track. (I mean spot) On the 2nd of 2 laps, I saw another Billy, Billy Jones. For one more season, Billy is still USAT age 49. As I came behind him and passed he said, go get Dirk Ross, also with Team Zoot. Billy also asked me, "Why are you going so fast, you're too old for this?" He was right but I was on a mission! As I came to Dirk, he said "Kris is just up ahead." Just over a mile to go and I really couldn't see him. But then, right before getting on the Mill Ave Bridge for the turn home - there he was. Before I could think about it too hard or long, there were no other triathletes between us. The last climb was enough to put me right behind him. As we came to the peak of the Bridge, we were side by side. (Photo above thanks to Paul Keller) I am the first to tell anyone and everyone that I am a slow twitch animal. Fast twitch muscle fibers elude my DNA. I could only assume I had one shot and as the downhill on the bridge began, I picked it up and didn't look back. Well, until I hit the grass just before he finish chute. There, I turned to the right and saw no one. A sprint finish to hear Garrett Grossi, race announcer, remind everyone that I sang the National Anthem a few hours before as well as proclaim my arrival. My run time was 41:14 for an average pace of 6:28 on the (little long) 6.46 mile run.
Total Time: 2:15:24
Todd Witten was first Scott was 2nd and I got 3rd. I honestly hated the fact that our finish put Kris off the podium but as awards were announced, they pulled Todd to the overall top three male amateur finishers so that put Scott in first, me 2nd and moved Kris up to 3rd in this 50-54 slugfest!
It was a great day! Special congrats to my fellow ONE Elite teammates, Nic Wirski, Michael Whitesides, Branden Turley, Maureen Needham, Lauren Krueger and Jenni Marshall who all podiumed in their race! Of course, thank you to One Multisport, our wonderful club, other sponsors like MyOatmeal, and MDrive which are a big part of my daily and race day maintenance plan. Again, Frank Sole and Sole Swimming Solutions, Destination Kona, and Cyclologic for equipping me to be race ready! Valdora Cycles and CTS along with my friends at PIM!
Onward to St. George 70.3 in a couple of weeks! I plan on traveling with my middle son, Nathan on the trip and am looking forward to the time together!
Until next time, get your game face on and go for it! You might surprise yourself!