What a fun race! The most beautiful bike/run course and having a friend do the race too, made this event perfect for me to get back into the groove of racing again. With the exception of a late season full Ironman I did last year to keep my pro card, I haven’t been ready to race a triathlon in almost 2 years. A silly mountain biking accident is to thank for that. Needless to say, I rarely hit the technical stuff when I go off-road anymore (my MTB skills are severely lacking).
5 days before the race, my friend (and fellow pro triathlete) Jason Pohl flew to the island and stayed with us for a few days. It was fun to have someone around to train and talk triathlon with. I have hardly trained with anyone in the last few years, so I tried to soak it all in. I will admit it was too bad we were tapering; it would have been so much fun to do some longer/harder sessions and put the hurt on each other.
The day before the race, my wife and I drove down to the athlete village so I could check in, attend the pro meeting and get in one last 20 minute ride on the bike course before heading back home. I always try to get out of the athlete village as fast as I can. There is so much nervous energy there; I find it very draining. We picked up some Ikea furniture on the way home and I spent the rest of the afternoon building a desk and a TV stand (boring, but it took my mind off the race!).
Race morning for me started at 3am. With the race starting at 6am and being about a 1 hour away from where I live, that was unfortunately the time I had to wake up at. I kept breakfast pretty simple- a couple of fried eggs, a Cliff bar and a coffee. When I made it to the race site, I started to set up my bike and transition area. Usually, I will sip on a weak electrolyte drink once I get to the race site up until the race starts. This day, half a scoop of Hammer Heed in a bottle of water did the trick. Jason actually had his bike set up right next to mine, so we talked a bit, cracked some jokes and once we were in our wetsuits, jogged down to the beach so we could get in a quick warm up before the race started.
My plan for the swim was to not get caught up in the pack, confident I could swim 1:25/100m pace by myself. Well, once the countdown started, the race day atmosphere got the best of me and I said, “fu#$ it, let’s see if I can hang on to the fast swimmers”. That wasn’t the greatest idea, and I ended up being kicked out the back of the pack only a couple hundred meters in. The swim course was one of the most simple and easiest courses to swim, but at the time, I was having a hell of a time staying in line with the buoys. Once I hit the turnaround buoy, I thought I was all by myself, but no, I started feeling someone hitting my feet every couple of seconds. Eventually I looked back, and it was Jason! I smiled to myself and it instantly put me in a better mood. Even though we were both a couple of minutes back from the pack, it was fun to swim the last 500m side by side with my friend. We exited the lake side by side and had the exact same swim time (and a wicked photo to boot!)
Jason ran through transition like a boss to get to his bike! Once I got to my bike, I had a seamless transition and got out onto the bike course a few seconds ahead of Jason. Once out on the bike, I quickly passed the lead female about 10k in. After that, it was a very lonely ride, not seeing anyone else out on the bike course for the rest of the ride (except for an out and back). The bike course was beautiful, has 42 turns and about 870m of elevation gain. Taking turns/corners like you would on race day is really only something you can practice and get good at through doing more racing. I was certainly rusty with my technical skills and more than likely lost 1+min to the riders in front of me. Power wise, I put out 260 watts (I weighed 140 lbs on race day) over the hilly, technical course. Quite a bit lower than I had hoped, but I’ll bump those up by next race! Nutrition on the bike consisted of 2 bottles of 2 scoops of Hammer Nutrition Heed each. I also had 2 Hammer Gels while on the bike. Coming in off the bike, I had no idea what place I was in, but was ready to go to work and start reeling in whoever I could catch. My bike to run transition went fast and I was ready to get after it on the half marathon trail route.
It took me about 3k before my body relaxed and settled into a good running pace. Being relaxed is so important! The faster you can relax when you start the run, the faster you’ll run. I started to feel decent, and ran the first lap as well as I could, hoping to get some good news when I passed Kayle before starting my second lap. As I ran past her, she let me know I was in 11th but well back from 6th place (last podium/money spot). I saw what I could do over the next 6km, running close to 3:30/km, seeing who I could catch. Kayle wasn’t kidding, I was well back. Even dropping the pace that much, I didn’t catch anyone. I decided to slow down the last 5k to hopefully save my legs and cut some recovery time down in the days that followed. I’m glad I made the decision; it’s currently two days post race and my legs are actually feeling really good. Nutrition for the race consisted of 2 Hammer Gels. Actually, I would have been fine with just 1 gel, but I got really hungry with about 5k to go so I decided to take one more just to make my stomach happy.
Once I hit the finish line, I felt like a huge cloud of stress disappeared. It’s been so long since I raced and I forgot how fun it can be. Yes, I would have LOVED to mix it up with the top guys, but I will get there. The volunteers and crowds were fantastic and the atmosphere was so positive. I’m ready to get back to training and see what kind of race fitness I can get before the Great White North triathlon on July 2.
A big thank you to everyone for all the support. Four Sigmatic and Raw Elements for keeping me “on shrooms”. I’ve been taking different mushrooms for different things (no, not the magic kind) for many years and they are a staple of my life and diet now. They help my immune system, athletic performance, and ability to focus, and the reishi mushroom is probably my most needed and useful- it helps me to relax! Thanks to Hammer Nutrition for keeping me fueled and recovered properly both on race days and training days. Hammer Nutrition products were the first products I was introduced to when I first started triathlon. I’ve used almost every brand you can think of over the years, but Hammer Nutrition has always worked really well for me. A big thanks to John from Velofix, too, for getting my bike race ready and giving me some support this season. I was so happy the first time John fixed up my bike, knowing I had found an awesome bike mechanic that drives the Velofix van right to my house and tunes up my bike right there!