2011 Update

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here on The Triathlon Man, and even though I’ve thought many times about changing that fact, I just never seemed to make it a reality. So, first of all, if you’re still here, or perhaps even found the site for the first time, I want to thank you for your support and tell you how encouraging it has been to receive your comments in the interim.

What I really want to do is take the time today to both bridge the gap between my last race report and 2011, as well as offer a hint of what I’ve got cooking for the coming year.

I’ll start with the former.

The Year of 2009

2009 was my first full triathlon season, and it began just after I returned home from Afghanistan. I came home in a fury, ready to take my frustrations of being away from home out on the open road, hoping to both make a dent in my local triathlon circuit and if I was lucky, qualify for some bigger Ironman races.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to achieve my goal of a Clearwater qualifier, or reach the top 10 in my NCTS age group, but to be honest, I achieved much more than I probably deserved. I placed 15th in my AG in the NCTS, even though I refused to taper and raced almost every weekend, and almost broke 5:30:00 in my 2nd 70.3 of the season, which also happened to be my last race of the year, and a 2 hour difference from my first 70.3 in June.

I put everything I had into this season, including a lot of cash for training and equipment, 15-20 hour training weeks, and countless early mornings driving to and from race sites. Thankfully, I was blessed to have my family follow me every step of the way, but even then, in the end, I remember crossing the finish line at Augusta and thinking about how tired I was, and more than that, frustrated at my inability to reach my goals for the season.

Frustration, and Burnout

At that point, I had given all I could give and still came up short. I went through a bit of a lull, where I was half-bummed and half-ready to have my life back. I was also working to get out of the Army and become a full-time entrepreneur, so I had a lot of things on my plate.

I was taking part of the winter season off when suddenly spring hit, and I realized I was behind on my training. So, I tried to get back into it, in between setting up shop for my new business, and trying to get out of the Army. Needless to say, I just wasn’t into it, so I listened to my body and decided to take the year off in order to get my business up and running, with the plan of returning in 2011.

2011

So here I am, in 2011, but things are different now. I forgot to mention that sometime in between all of this, I moved to Tampa Florida, where the weather is perfect for training almost year round, and I’m so close to the ocean that I have no excuse not to bust out the wetsuit and get some open water training in.

And that’s what I plan on doing. I’m currently focusing on a mid-spring return to form, focusing hard now to get my run back, followed by my bike and swim.

I’m really excited to get back on the circuit and back into form, and even more excited to have a new scene to join. Yes, I’m really bummed that they moved the 70.3 Championships from Clearwater to Las Vegas, but hey, I could use another trip to Sin City.

Keep on training, and hopefully, I’ll see you out on the road in the coming months.

Augusta HIM Race Report

Wow, what an experience. Sure, I could spend some time complaining about the logistical nightmare of picking up my packet and setting up my transition area, but I’d rather talk about the fun I had on the course. Honestly, although I would have loved to earn a Clearwater spot, the two biggest reasons that I competed in this race were:

  1. To get the REV3 monkey off my back. My first HIM was in June and I had just returned from Afghanistan. I wasn’t ready and it showed. My total time was over 7 hours.
  2. I wanted to see if I could race, rather than just finish, a HIM. Doing that would help me understand the commitment needed to get to Clearwater and to learn how to pace myself for such an effort.

I think I accomplished both of those goals, and although I didn’t come anywhere close to earning a Clearwater slot, I think I know what it takes to get one. That’s a goal I plan on tackling this off season. I’ll take my shots at HIM Florida and Eagleman.

Pre-Race

I normally try to be at least an hour early to races, but for large events like this I like to show up a bit earlier than that. My wave started at 7:42 and I got there around 6AM. I took the bus to the transition area and took some time to get my bike, bottles, and food ready. I put on my shoes for a run warmup, and then downed a Hammer Gel before I took the bus to swim start. The lines were long, but I got there with enough time to put on my wetsuit and watch the pro’s start.

Swim

The swim was down the Savannah River with a slight current and a bit of seaweed to contend with. If I remember correctly, the water was around 68 degrees, which was perfect for a wetsuit swim. The 30-34 AG had 2 waves, but each was huge and there was a lot of fighting over good spots in the water. When the gun went off, I spent a good 2 minutes dodging feet, trying to get a clear spot to actually start swimming. From there, I got into a pretty good rhythm and eased my way into a moderate, but manageable effort. I didn’t want to blow up early, as I remember the REV3 swim feeling like an eternity. Once my nerves settled and I started feeling good in the water, I picked up my stroke and tried to keep up with or catch some of the swimmers in front of me.

Since the shore was to my right, which is my favorite side to breath, I gave up on the bilateral breathing effort (water was too choppy anyway) and focused on just breathing deep and going fast. I had to make sure I used both arms properly, because I noticed my left arm getting tired first. It wasn’t long until I saw the swim finish buoys and I remember thinking about how quick the swim seemed to have passed. I still had plenty of energy and for the first time ever, as I approached the ramp, I felt like the swim was too short. What a change from past races!

I looked at my watch and almost did a cartwheel when I saw I finished the swim in under 30 minutes (29:46). Sure, there was a current, but this meant that I was ahead of my goal time by 5 minutes. I decided to take it easy during transition to make sure I didn’t miss anything, as 56 miles on the bike without proper nutrition could have been disastrous. They had a wetsuit pulling detail, but I opted to skip it and do it myself. Piece of cake. I got my gear on and took off towards the mount line. T1 time was 4:07.

Bike

The bike was where I blew up earlier this year and I was determined to avoid that in this race. Although I was much more prepared for the distance this time, I paced myself early to make sure I had enough left for the 2nd half of the bike and the half marathon afterwards. I was cruising at around 20-21 mph and people were still passing me. The competitor in me hated this, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I had some Perpetuem on the downtube, which I took in at 15 minute intervals. My Profile Design Aero Drink was filled with water and served me well for staying hydrated. I also had two Hammer Gels taped to my stem, and I took them at the 1 hour and 2 hour marks.

There were a few hills  on this course, but nothing compared to what I faced in Middlebury, CT in June. I maintained a speed of 18+ for most of the leg, including the rollers, and slowly upped my pace after the halfway mark. Looking at my watch, I knew I was looking at a 2:40:00-2:55:00 time on the bike, which was right around my goal time of 2:45:00. I tried to push it a bit harder towards the end, but I could feel the fatigue in my legs building, so I backed off slightly. I got to the dismount line and crossed the pad at 2:51:04, which put my total time at just over 2:25:00. As I spent the 2:05 in T2 getting ready for the run, I had visions of a 5:15:00 or under finish, but I knew I’d have to push it on the run.

The Run

This is where things started to go wrong for me. I felt great getting off the bike, but for some reason I started to feel bloated and I felt my HR going up. I slowed down to give myself a chance to ease into the run, but I still couldn’t get my HR down. I thought I was going to puke and I was having trouble breathing, which isn’t normal for me. I thought maybe I took in too much water on the bike, which might have been the case. I also think I should have taken another gel before the run, because  it wasn’t until after the halfway mark when I took some Gu Chomps that I started feeling better.

Still, I gutted through the early portion of the run with a slow pace, hoping I would feel better. I walked through a few of the aid stations, trying to take in some Gatorade and water. The iced sponges were a lifesaver! The sun was out now and even though I was drinking plenty of fluids, I felt extremely dehydrated. The Endurolytes were helping a bit, but not by much. Still, there were so many spectators on the course that I didn’t have a choice but to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Finally, around mile 9 or 10, the bloated feeling passed and I had my legs and lungs back. I picked up the pace a bit and worked my way towards the finish line. I could hear the music blaring and I was ready to get that finisher’s medal!

I crossed the line at 5:39:38, with a run total of 2:12:39. I didn’t meet either of my goals (5:15:00, 5:30:00), but I blew my REV3 time out of the water. My family was there to welcome me in and I felt good knowing that I’d improved by so much in such a short period of time. With a little bit of work (who am I kidding, a LOT of work) this off season, I’ll be ready for a sub 5 next year.

The good news is that I got the REV3 monkey off my back and I’m a bike to run transition from being able to race the entire HIM distance.

Wilmington Triathlon Race Recap

It had been several weeks since my last race, and I could feel a bit of rust in both my pre-race prep and in my performance. I didn’t expect to kill this race, as I found it more important to shake the rust off for Augusta rather than peak for this little sprint.

I got there late and had very little time to set up my transition area and warmup. In fact, as soon as I pulled my bike out of the car I noticed that my front tube was flat, which meant I had about 5 minutes to throw my spare on and get over to the swim start. I managed to get the tube changed and get ready for the race, but it cost me my warmup, which is something I value tremendously. Had this been an earlier race, I probably would have panicked and missed my start, but having been through various stressful pre-race situations, I was able to pull it together. I got to the swim start at 7:01…my wave went at 7:05. Close call!

Swim

This swim was the strangest I’d experienced this season, as it was a 1500m swim that relied on the current to reduce the length. We swam through a causeway, which was filled with boats and docking areas, making it very difficult to sight and to stay on course. There were also a lot of people in my wave, so the crowd was pretty big and the water very choppy.

I took it easy ont he swim because I wasn’t sure where I was going, and I could feel the current pull me to the side near the docks. I couldn’t tell if I was on course or off, but I knew I had to be close because I saw a few blue caps in front of me. Rather than panic and try to speed up, I just kept sighting the best I could and hoped that I’d make it to the end with a good time.

Unfortunately, my time wasn’t very good (28:22, which includes a long run to the mat), but I came out feeling pretty good knowing that I still had plenty in the tank. My T1 time was 1:18.

Bike

The bike was interesting, as I had another issue with my skewer not being strong enough to keep the wheel out of the cutout (I need to check my limiter screw), but I only lost a minute or two there. I pushed hard and tried to stay with anyone that passed me on this flat course. I passed several people and was wishing I had more time to catch up when I reached the dismount line at 35:45. I spent 1:28 in T2 and moved quickly to the run.

Run

I came out pretty fast on the run and noticed that I ran my first mile in just under 7 minutes. There was a time when I thought I would run the 5k in under 22 minutes, but I fell a bit short of that goal. Again, I passed quite a few people and tried to keep up with anyone that passed me by. The run also felt rather quick…I came in at 22:33 for a total time of 1:29:25, which was 264 male division, 468 overall (1300 people entered this one), and 35/71 AG.

The key for me in this race was to improve my NCTS standings, but more importantly get ready for Augusta. I realized rather quickly that I was a bit flat because I was still peaking for next weekend, but overall I’m happy with the result. I’m currently 11th AG in the NCTS this year, and I think that I can reach 10th with a strong showing at Pinehurst in October.

Mayo Lake Triathlon Recap

Woke up at around 4:45 to get a quick breakfast of toast, yogurt, and a banana. Felt pretty good knowing that I didn’t have to drive further than a few hours and was looking forward to taking a look at a different series. When I got to the site, I noticed already that this race would have a very cool hometown feel and I was pleased to see spectators lining up all down the road.

I got there later than I wanted so I didn’t have time to do much but a warmup consisting of some sprints and a lake swim. I had my Hammer Gel and got setup as quickly as I could, which was difficult with all the families in the transition area. At the time, I was sort of upset about that, but looking back it was pretty cool to see all these people that had never watched or seen any part of a triathlon before.

I was in the first wave, which seemed to be overloaded. We didn’t have a big area to spread out and I knew that unless I sprinted to the first buoy, I would be engulfed in the madness waiting behind me. When the gun went off, I went as fast as I could and knew instantly that I was out of my comfort zone. I felt like I was going to drown and even entertained thoughts of slowing down and not competing. Luckily, the fire in me wouldn’t let that happen and once I hit the first buoy I started passing people every few seconds. This was something I wasn’t used to on swims and it continued to fuel my desire to kick the hell out of this race.

From the 2nd to 3rd buoy, I felt exhausted, but it was well worth it when I got to the swim finish with a time of 15 minutes flat. I’d improved my time by nearly 2 minutes and I was so excited that I tossed my exhaustion aside and sprinted up the hill to my bike, which is where things started to fall apart. I left transition in 1:15, which was another record for me, but as soon as I mounted my bike, I noticed a big problem…

I just had my new Kuota K-Factor assembled two days before and had performed a fit on my own, which felt just right. The problem is that I hadn’t adjusted the rear wheel properly and it was rubbing against the cutout. I didn’t notice it until I’d started pedaling and heard that dreaded sound. I stopped, fixed it, stopped again to adjust it, and on the 3rd try finally got it right. Going into the bike, I was fired up and ready to dominate. Seeing all of those people pass my while I made the adjustments only pissed me off and I took off grinding as fast as I could go.

I started passing people in waves and seemed to gain energy as the bike progressed. I even remember wishing the bike was longer so I could pass more people. When the bike finally ended, I had passed almost every rider in front of me (at least those that I could see) and finished the bike leg in 45:34, which was a great time for me considering the circumstances.

When I got to T2, I had to carry my bike because of the gravel near the transition area, but I was loving the vibe of the race and the cheers kept me pumped up. I was out of there in 51 seconds, which is another PR.

I took off on the run in stride and felt like a man possessed. The trail portion of this run was difficult and my hip flexors were feeling the twists and turns, but I kept pretending that every person in front of me was in my AG. I sprinted as fast as I could run for most of the run leg and couldn’t help but wish I had more time to keep going. The thing about this race that was so cool was that there were people everywhere, cheering for you as if you were in the lead. It was great!

When I sprinted to the finish, I remember hearing someone tell me that I was “too composed” and for the first time in my life, I felt like a triathlete. What a rush!

I came in from the run at 24:58, which tells me that the run was longer than it should have been. Still, I had a respectable time of 1:27:35, which was good enough for 9th AG and 44th overall.

Now that the main body of my race season is over, it’s time to get ready for HIM Augusta, and the OBX Marathon, with stops at Wilmington and Pinehurst in between.

Bandits Challenge Race Report

First, I just want to say thank you to the awesome staff at the Wilkesboro NC Hampton Inn. They were not only very gracious hosts, but they were also kind enough to offer early breakfast and late checkout on race day. What a deal!

Since the race started at 7 AM and was a 3 hour drive from my home in Fayetteville, I decided to drive out on Friday and rest at the Hampton Inn. This proved to be a good choice as I was able to keep my legs fresh (sort of) and relax the night before. I never sleep well knowing I have a long drive ahead of me and to be honest, I enjoy being alone in a hotel room. Nice and quiet…very relaxing.

When I woke around 5 AM, I had a bagel with PB, a banana, some milk, and some OJ. This is the latest I’d eaten pre-race, which would come back to bite me during the swim. I’d been drinking HEED and H20 most of the past few days and tried to stay hydrated for this International Distance race. I was a bit nervous, mostly because this venue reminded me of my times at the REV3. I didn’t want to bonk on race day and I was worried that maybe I’d overestimated my level of fitness.

I got to the race site at 6 AM and was pleased to be able to park right next to the transition area. This made setting up and closing down much easier! When I got there, I grabbed my packet, got marked, and started setting up my transition area. The fateful hill of pain was there staring me in the face, so I decided to take in on twice before the race got started.

I took a few minutes to run around, doing a mix of intervals and light jogging once I got up the hill. Next I rode my bike up the hill and down the street a bit to get the legs spinning, which felt pretty good. I made sure to leave my bike in the low ring ready to tackle the hill first thing.

I took my Hammer Gel shortly before the race and took 10 minutes to warm up in the lake, which felt like a bath. Overall, a very nice venue. The MO started and then the green cappers (Male 35 and under) got the gun 3 minutes afterwards. I tried to sprint from the outside in, but the field was very strong and I had a tough time breaking through. I got kicked and pulled more than I had in the past, but some part of me really enjoys that.

When I finally hit the first buoy, I felt exhausted and started having nightmares of not being able to finish. I know I can finish these races, but the competitive nature in me views doing poorly as “not finishing,” so I had to remind myself to stay calm and that the race just started. This 1500m swim felt like an eternity, but I finally came out of the water at around 37 minutes. I’m very upset with the time, but it seems about average for the distance when comparing it to my REV3 HIM time.

Transition went well and I was able to run up the hill and get on the bike. Their timing chips messed up and they didn’t get the times for T1 and T2, but what can you do? I made it up the hill, but my HR was sky high and I felt like I was going to puke. For most of the swim I felt the same…I could still taste my breakfast and was feeling a little bloated. I wanted so badly to quit during some of the first big hills, which is not my normal attitude. I don’t know why, but REV3 was really getting into my psyche, causing me to 2nd guess myself and my training.

I persisted though, and pushed as hard as I thought was necessary. My HR finally leveled out around mile 17 and I felt like I could finally push it a bit harder. I started dropping to the big ring as often as I could and tried to make up some ground. I had the BEP’s latest song in my head (can’t remember the name), so I started singing it out loud. I finally smiled again and could feel the heavy weight of the REV3 falling off my shoulders.

I finally came in at 1:38:20 and was quick to don my running shoes and hat. I made sure to memorize my rack placing so that I wouldn’t forget where it was coming out of the swim or off the bike. This proved to be a good move and definitely kept me in synch.

I started round the track toward the big hill and passed a few people right off the bat. I’m blessed to be able to run well off the bike and had no issues getting up to speed. I didn’t push as hard as I usually do for a sprint though because I wasn’t sure how much I’d have in the tank for the final stretch.

Once I got up the big hill, I basically sprinted to the first turnaround…trying to make a mental note of the people in front of me so I could tell who I was passing. The course was an out and back 2 loop course, which meant that people were running in all directions. I saw Carol during this part and wanted to get her back for passing me on the bike. During the first hill on the other side of the dam, I was exhausted. I tried to run the entire way, but decided to walk the 2nd half of it. I finally got Carol back at this point (you and your disc wheel!) and before I knew it I was thinking “I have to do this hill again!?” My 2nd lap went well though, and I sprinted to the finish after passing a dozen or more fellow runners. My run time for the 6.2 miles was 49:09, which isn’t bad, but isn’t as well as I wanted to do.

My total time was 3:04:45, which was good enough for 166th overall, 120th male, and 12th AG. Although I was disappointed with my plus 3 hour finish, looking forward I think I’ll be OK for Augusta.

Amica Triathlon Race Report

We’re Getting Closer!

The Amica Triathlon was kind of a breakthrough race for me, as I placed within the top 100 for the first time at an NCTS event and was only 11 minutes off of the AG leader. I missed getting one of the championship slots by 5 places/3 minutes, but I can feel myself improving. If this keeps up, next year will take me one step closer to achieving my dreams of Kona. However, just having a few solid months of training under my belt since my return from Afghanistan has proven to be the medicine I need to cleanse myself of the dreadful REV3 performance.

On to the race

I had to wake up at 3:45 AM for this one and I wasn’t too happy about it. I had a bagel with PB, 2 hard boiled eggs, and some juice before I left and then sipped on some Heed and coffee as I drove to Lake Wylie. Honestly, I was out for blood on this race because I wanted to get the salty taste of a disappointing finish at Triangle out of my mouth. I felt better this weekend and had everything prepped, including new bar tape on my ride and some new Michelin Pro 3′s.

The race site was very nice, and I was happy not to have to ride/walk for a few miles from the parking area just to get there. I got there a little late, but I still had 45 minutes to set up, get marked, and then warm up.

I had a decent spot in transition, although I kept forgetting where it was! However, I was able to get set up and marked by 7:35 and spent the next 25 minutes doing some intervals, spinning on the bike, and warming up in the water. The lake was not only beautiful and clean, but it was warm, which is always a plus. I had my Hammer Gel about 30 minutes before the start and gulped on some Heed and water to make sure I was ready to go.

For some reason, they put a bunch of guys in white caps, more than I’d seen yet, so the swim start was a little hectic. There were 5 or 6 AG’s in my wave, which in the past would have freaked me out, but now that I’ve had some experience with open water frenzied swimming, I can cope pretty well with chaos. I started on the inside of the pack and when the gun went off followed my typical plan: sprint to the first turn and then find a group I could keep up/draft with.

It worked pretty well actually, and although I had to climb over a few people, I made it to the first triangle buoy feeling pretty good. I made the turn and stayed in between 2 groups of swimmers so that I could be sure I wouldn’t miss a turn or buoy this time. I hit the 2nd buoy in stride and then sprinted to the beach. The swim seemed to take forever, but by the time I finished I was feeling pretty good. My legs were under me when I climbed out of the water and I hit the first pad at 16:46 (a little slower than I’d like, but considering the monster swim workout the day before I am happy with that time).

I knew my T times would need to improve, so I sprinted to my bike this time in order to shave 15-30 seconds in T1. It worked and I found my stride early…spending only 1:23 in T1 and getting on to my bike with no problems.

As I took off on the bike, I had to deal with a few guys taking it easy, which made it difficult to get past them until the road opened up. I spent most of the ride in the big ring mashing away and only had to come out of aero a few times. There were a few hills that slowed me down, but as opposed to before, I found myself gaining ground rather than losing it there. What a relief to actually see signs of progress!

The course was fairly easy and I was able to pass quite a few more guys than passed me by, many of which were in my AG. I couldn’t figure out how some of these guys had beaten me in the swim, but I made sure to make a mental note of that feeling so it wouldn’t happen again. I did experience one issue with someone blocking on a decline, which pissed me off. Still, I got by both riders and never saw them again.

There were a few guys I thought I’d have to pass on the run, but for the most part I felt pretty solid on the bike. I came in with a time of 30:47, which was 10th AG and 96th in the men’s division. I could have done better I think had I not been training so hard for Augusta, but this was supposed to be a tuning race, not a priority competition.

I hit T2 in stride and dismounted quickly and efficiently. I ran as hard as I could to the rack and grabbed my belt, visor, and shoes…spending only 1:39 in T2. I need to improve here, and I think a pair of Tri shoes would save me some time. Also, remembering where my rack was might help :)

As I hit the run, I knew I’d have to punish myself to get ahead, but I didn’t expect the course to have the same goal in mind. The course was brutal and I was amazed to see so many hills and so many people walking them. I never slowed down and kept trying to improve my pace as I passed runner after runner. I was getting better on the hills thanks to a few bad ones in my neighborhood that I run on a weekly basis. Although I felt exhausted, I knew how much I could push myself without collapsing.

On the final stretch, I kept hearing someone right on my tail. I tried to keep him off for probably a mile, until he finally passed me with about 800m to go. He seemed to relax too much, as I passed him on the final sprint to the finish. There was another guy that tried to catch me, but I was able to hold him off too. It felt great to have some fuel in the tank for the final sprint. A year ago I wasn’t capable of that.

I finished the run in 23:04, which was 10th in my AG and 59 out of all men in my division. My overall time was 1:13:36, which was good enough for 15th AG, 85th Men’s Division, and 99th overall. Clearly my run is my strong leg, although it could still be improved. Overall, I just need to get better, but at least I’m seeing improvement. I’d like to thank my coach Shane MacLeod for that.

Next up, find a way to improve my bike or pick up a better ride should my budget allow. I’ve got Bandits in 2 weeks, so be ready for another report soon!

Triangle Triathlon Race Report

My 3rd Tri of the year, 2nd sprint, started off with a bang as the parking situation was intense and I just couldn’t find a rhythm mentally both during my race prep and on the morning of the event itself. Still, aside from a few mistakes on my behalf, the race went well overall. I didn’t hit the top 20% yet, but I’m slowly closing the gap.

Pre-race routine:

I woke up at 4:15 and had a bagel w/ PB and a banana. Also had a glass of milk for some extra water/protein.

We got to the race site at approximately 6:30 and fought traffic into the parking lot, only to have to turn around and drive back a few miles. My wife was kind enough to drop me off and I used the ride to the transition area as my bike warmup. Once I got my race packet and prepped my gear, I went for a slow jog, mixing in some intervals and butt kicks to get the blood flowing. When I got the the lake, which was extremely murky, I had about 10 minutes of swimming before we had to exit for the first wave prep.

The Race

I was in the 3rd wave this time (forest green swim cap) and waited my turn while trying to stretch out my sore hamstrings. When the gun went off, I planned on sprinting to the first buoy and then settling in to my race pace for the rest of the swim. The first leg went great and I made it to the first buoy feeling great, thanks to some drafting and improved sighting. However, when I passed the 2nd buoy I made the mistake of cutting in towards shore rather than noticing the 3rd buoy ahead. This was a costly mistake, as I had to swim back after being pointed in the right direction by a lifeguard in a kayak. This cost me several minutes and a few hundred meters of extra swimming. Still, I tried not to let it phase me (which I wasn’t very successful at) and I finished the swim in 17:32, which was right around my AG average.

The sprint to T1 was lengthy, but I was happy to see my wife and kids cheering my on faithfully. I had no issues in T1 and came out in 2:49, which was slower than I’d aimed for, but not terrible.

I was still pissed about missing the buoy and let it affect me on the bike. I lost focus and beat myself up a bit for my mistake. Being that it was my first major error in a race, it was something I hadn’t had to deal with before. Still, I tried to keep going…that is, until I hit the 2nd speed bump.

They promised the bumps would be covered, but they basically just threw down a piece of plywood over top, causing a major impact upon the exit of every single ramp. The first one shook me, but the 2nd knocked my Aero Drink out and it smashed onto the pavement in the middle of the road. I made a quick decision to go back for it (being that it was my only water source) and I think I made the right call, although it cost me another minute or so.

My velcro was gone and I had no way to secure it, so I had to hold it for the first 5 or 6 miles until I could figure out an alternative. That cost me a bit too, both physically and mentally. I tried to mash the entire race in the big ring and was pretty successful, but I could feel my hamstrings tightening up (reminiscent of the REV3) and was worried I was going to blow the run after going too hard on the bike. Still, having lost time on every leg so far, I had no choice.

I passed several guys in the older AG and kept up with and passed many in my own AG. I could tell I wasn’t killing it, but I felt strong considering the circumstances. I finished in 53:23, which wasn’t a great time, but was a time I could live with.

T2 was pretty simple and I spent about 1:43 dropping off the bike and helmet. I probably could have gone faster, but I was worried about the hamstring.

My favorite and probably my best leg is always the run, partly because I have run more than I’ve biked or swam, but also because I’m comfortable feeling the pain of running. I know how hard I can push myself and still make it to the finish line. Knowing I had some time to make up, I started with a quick pace using short steps until my legs got underneath me. I was passing quite a few guys right off the bat, which felt like some sort of redemption. As my coach said, I’d have to pick up the effort from mile 1-2 in order to maintain the same pace, which I did. I held back a bit during some of the flat portions because I wasn’t sure how many hills there would be, but when I hit that 2nd mile marker I picked it up to a 7 minute pace. When I finally hit the pavement once more, I sprinted to the finish, passing another AG’er right at the line.

It felt good to run so hard and still feel great. I ran the 5k in 22:51, which is not only my best sprint run time, but also my best 5k time ever. Overall, I finished the race at 1:38:17, which was good enough for 26/54 in my AG and 211/579 overall (males). It wasn’t my goal time, but I was happy with my effort and even happier that I was only 17 minutes, as opposed to 20, off the AG leader.

Going into Amica in a few weeks, I know I’ll be ready for revenge.

I Made the Amica Wait List

Just got an email that I made the wait list for the Amica Triathlon on July 25, 2009. This will be race #3 of the NCTS for me this year, which puts me 2 from the total I need to get ranked. I’m going to try and get into Wilmington, which is a week before my Augusta HIM, and then Pinehurst, which is at the end of the season. I’ve also got Bandits Challenge slated for the 8th of August.

I’m expecting my times to improve over the season, so my final ranking should be interesting.

What People Don’t Understand

A lot of people have given me shit for having lofty goals. Granted, this sport is extremely difficult and isn’t something to take lightly, but I’ve always believed that if you want something, you have to set a goal to make it happen. My original goal was to qualify for Kona, but as I fell in love with the sport I wanted to make it something more than just “making it.”

Now that I have a few races under my belt, I know that the sport of triathlon will always be a part of who I am. I may never become a pro, but that was never the point. The point of this blog and of my efforts was to prove that ANYONE can get off the couch and go after a dream. I’m not close yet, but I’m closer than I was sitting on the couch and watching others do it. Now I’m actively working on making my dreams come true and come hell or high water I’m going to give it my best.

There are always going to be people that try to bring you down to their level, but you have to ignore them. I’ve never been a gifted athlete or a natural at anything…it has always taken a ton of hard work and perseverance. Still, what’s the use of setting a goal if it can be easily achieved? I’m always up for a challenge, even if it takes decades to achieve…what about you?

I never did this to prove my worth to others, I’m only here to prove it to myself.

Kure Beach 2009 Race Report

Well I must admit that although I was much less nervous for this race than I was the REV3, never having done a double sprint before had me a bit concerned about how to pace myself. I knew I could handle each leg of the race, but I was worried about how I’d do on the bike considering the muscle spasms I had several weeks ago. The final swim was also a concern, but overall I felt good going into the race.

I woke up early, about 4 AM, and had a bagel with peanut butter and a banana. I had a glass of Heed also just to be sure I wouldn’t be dehydrated. When we arrived at the packet pickup, I was pretty excited to see the beach and some beautiful scenery nearby. The race site was picture perfect. The only problem was that the waves were HUGE!

Here’s me getting ready to head to packet pickup and then drop my bike off:

Once I got my packet (#170), I dropped off the bike and the run gear at the separate transition areas and started warming up. Next time I’ll bring an extra towel for the run/bike transition and a bucket or tray to place in the swim/run transition to keep sand off my gear.

Like I said, the waves were huge, but the water was nice and warm. I thought about not swimming with the jersey, but in the end I decided to keep it on to cool me down during the run and bike portion.

The race start was rather anti-climactic and although they forgot to bring a bullhorn or air horn, there were people giving us signals to start. During the first swim, I focused on staying next to someone so that I wouldn’t get off course and so that I could pace myself. Considering the surf, I actually felt great. I didn’t have any goggle or nausea problems, which is another positive change from the REV3. I hit the first buoy pretty quickly and just kept swimming. This time, rather than feel people on my heels, I was on the heels of others. I finished the first swim around 10 minutes and had a total time of 10:28 for the leg, including the swim to run transition.

I felt pretty strong during the first run, but I have to admit that my legs were slightly trashed from the swim. Kicking through the surf was rougher than I expected, but I managed to pass a few guys during this stage and hit the bike transition area feeling pretty good.

This transition was a bit tricky because you can get turned around if you aren’t paying attention, but I was able to get out of my running shoes and into my bike shoes pretty quickly. I ran with the bike and mounted on the fly…the only issue was that the cones marking the lanes were too close together and I had a pretty close call. Still, I got on the move and went immediately into my big ring, where I felt pretty strong.

For the first time in a race, I actually felt like I was competing, which was a huge rush of adrenaline. I went through a few gears on the third ring, but was able to keep a high cadence and my speed average was in the mid 20′s. The course was flat at worst, and downhill at best, so it was a great way to test my legs. I actually surprised myself with a split of 33:50, which was 100 overall. I passed a lot of guys and only saw a few sneak by me. I was very happy with the bike result.

Going into the 3rd transition, I was getting stiff, but my legs loosened up eventually. I took quick and short strides to try and keep up with the pack ahead of me. I managed to catch a few, but there were a few quick runners that did the same to me. I’d say I came out better, but not as good as I wanted to. Still, the run was so short that it wasn’t painful for long. I finished that and the transition in 11:58.

When I finally got back to the beach, I was ready to get in the water to cool down. However, the waves were even WORSE this time and they beat me up quite a bit on the way to the first buoy. I couldn’t get in a groove and lost probably 5-7 minutes during this stage. The transition was fine, but I started having some sighting and nausea issues here…mostly due to the fact that every time I took a breath I took a wave in the face.  I tried to beat the guy in front of me, but he snuck by before I could get my legs moving out of the water. Still, I finally made it in and was greeted by a great crowd and my supportive family. My split for the final transition and swim was 15:09.

I finished with a total time of 1:24:31, which was about 20 minutes of the top 3 times. Although I could have shaved a few minutes off overall, I felt pretty good with my effort. I had a much better showing than I did at the REV3 and I was able to keep a good pace for most of the race. I also had a blast and will definitely do this one again.

The winner was a 16 year old and he finished in 59 minutes…insane!

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