Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not a Bad Result for a Bad Day

This past weekend was the inaugural Tri-Cal SF triathlon at Alcatraz. While most associate a triathlon in San Francisco with Escape from Alcatraz, Tri-Cal was determined to make a statement with their own version of “escaping from Alcatraz”, and that they did!

I along with about 1,000 other competitors, braved a slightly shorter, but equally as tough 1.2 mile swim; a long 40k bike (as opposed to 30); and an agonizing 7 mile run – which included the deepest sand I’ve ever run through.

Race weekend called for incredibly windy conditions, those of which stirred up a 4 – 5 foot swell in the bay the day before the race, 57 degree water temps, and a 7am start (an hour earlier than EFA).

We dove off the side of the Hornblower Yacht and I immediately found myself in a dog fight. Another difference from the original Alcatraz triathlon (EFA), was that as opposed to starting 1 minute before the hoards of age-groupers, they jumped off 15 seconds behind us which meant they were breathing down our necks!

I exited the water just inside the top-30 and headed out onto the bike sopping wet and freezing! I had noticed prior to the race that a lot of competitors were sporting arm warmers. While at the time I deemed that to be completely unnecessary, once out onto the bike, I realized I was dead wrong! The day before the race, I had spent three hours at a local bike shop trying to figure out what was wrong with my bar-end shifters and why while riding my bike, it wouldn’t stay in the gear that I had chosen, particularly while going up a hill! To no avail, we were NOT able to fix the problem so the next best solution was to switch out the Campy shifter with a Shimano fluid one and ride the race without one or two gears available to use. Nonetheless I worked my way through the course and came into T2, around 20th.

For the first 3 miles of the run, my feet might as well have been two frozen blocks of ice, because I couldn’t feel anything! I guess the cold wind exposure during the extra 10k on the bike really had a major impact on whether I could feel/use my extremities at such a vital time like this. I didn’t know if my toes were in the right places, or if I had rocks in my shoes or what, but I soon found myself offering my feet some verbal motivation such as, “come on feet, WAKE UP!” or “let’s get GOIN feet!”

The issues I was having with my frozen feet soon materialized in my upper Achilles tendons as sharp, tightening pains, which made it death defying to run down hill. I thought to myself, “maybe this is how the numbness is working its way out of my system...it can’t go down any further so it might as well go up.” I eventually found that finish line, having passed about 6 guys on the run and finished 13th in a time of 2:24:50.

Despite all the confounding variables, it was NOT a bad result. And despite being the toughest race of my career, I thoroughly enjoyed it! But that makes sense because as triathletes, we are supposed to take on whatever comes our way and some how defeat that obstacle(s). It is simply why we have found a competition that fuses three sports into one!

Up next will be Tri Cal’s Pacific Grove on the 11th of September, the last race of my 2010 season!

Hope everyone is swimming, biking and running! Talk soon.


Race Results: http://raceresults.eternaltiming.com/index.cfm/20100829_San_Francisco_Triathlon_at_Alcatraz.htm?Fuseaction=Results&Class=Long+Course+Professional~MElite

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Last ITU of '10 Season!

I returned earlier this week from my final ITU race of the season, in Kelowna, British Columbia. It also happened to be the Canadian National Championships so the start list was chock-full of worthy competitors!

Race morning was cold, windy and wet, as the rain had fallen upon us and the water temps were hovering around the wetsuit cut-off of 68 degrees. It was a 2-lap lake swim, followed by a 6-lap bike with a TOUGH hill, and then a pancake-flat 4 lap run. Like my last race in New York, I was determined to crush the swim, regardless of whether it might compromise the rest of my race. And that I did!

During the first lap, I was hanging onto a few swimmers’ feet but eventually lost them by about 10-15 yards headed into the second lap. We exited the water, ran around a beached cone and dove back in. At this point, I knew the other racers’ heart rates were through the roof, LIKE MINE, and it was merely a matter of who could dig deeper and fight through that pain! Halfway through the second lap, I not only found those pairs of feet but I swam right past them and didn’t stop! I exited the water in 48th (out of 64), my best swim result to date!

Out onto the bike, I was ready to eat up the road ahead of me when it was quickly put on hold during my mount out of T1 – one of my bike shoes had flown off my pedal and I had to stop, turn around and retrieve it! Once I was headed in the right direction and with all the equipment in the right place, my group of 5 riders and I started eating up the stragglers! Soon our pack had grown to 15 and we were making up ground, despite the unrelenting sub-par weather conditions! I came into T2 in 41st and was ready to unleash the beast on the run!

As I mentioned, the run was pancake-flat and quite scenic, as most of the run was along the water’s edge. Being a weaker swimmer on the ITU level, when I get to the run portion of a race such as this, nothing but desperation drives me to the finish. It is an almost panic-like style of running, because I have such a deficit to make up. Whatever you want to call it, it worked for me, because I crossed the tape after having passed 14 guys en route to a 27th place finish (7th American) in a time of 2:03:19.

Despite not having reached my top-20 goal, I was pretty pleased with my performance for a couple of reasons. One, being the Canadian Nat’l Championships, this race drew quite the quality field which I faired pretty well against. Two, even though I’m still pretty far back in the swim, this result showed that I’ve been making some serious progress in the water and it’s a good predictor of things to come, especially after my upcoming off season where I plan to swim 400,000 yards in 3 months! And lastly, this race was coming off of a two week sinus cold of which has materialized in my lungs and I’m still working it out of my system to date! Points or no points, it was a great experience and I look forward to ITU ’11!!

Race results can be found here: http://www.triathlon.org/results/results/2010_kelowna_itu_triathlon_premium_pan_american_cup/4934/

Up next will be my final two races of the season – Tri Cal’s inaugural Alcatraz triathlon this weekend (Aug. 29), followed by Tri Cal Pacific Grove on the 11th of September. And last but not least, a fun relay at the Nautica Malibu Tri on the 12th of September!

Hope everyone’s racing season is going well. Keep up the good work and thanks again for all the support, it is simply invaluable!

Talk soon!