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!