Even if I were not improving at all...even if I never did well, what I am most happy about is that my enjoyment of the sport of triathlon has improved dramatically over the past year or so and that has meant more to me than anything. This weekends event highlighted many of the reasons why that is and it was such an awesome experience. On sunday I raced the Silicon Valley International Triathlon put on by USA Productions, which takes place at one of my favorite venues Uvas Reservoir. The lake is tucked up in the foothills west of Morgan Hill and it is a beautiful area. The lake is clean and warm and the surrounding area is beautiful with windy scenic roads.
I rode over with some friends in the morning and we got there earlier than expected which is always a relief to me because I always seem to run out of time on race morning. The air was a bit chilly pre-dawn but I had gotten so much prep stuff done the night before that I was set up and ready to go warm up pretty quickly. I went out and jogged a couple of miles with some buddies of mine and did some drills to loosen up my legs and warm up my lungs. This is a relatively local event for me, coming from Santa Cruz, so it was fun to trot around and see a bunch of familiar faces and catch up with people. I got my wetsuit on early and went down to the water to get in at least fifteen minutes of swimming prior to the start as I take a long time to feel warmed up for swimming.
The water was perfect temperature, not too hot for a wetsuit and not cold enough to be at all uncomfortable. I swam out to the first turn buoy to get a look at the course and conditions and then swam back to the start. They had the Elites starting with the first age group wave, which was fun because I got to start with a bunch of guys I knew and we all had a couple of minutes to joke around before the start.
At the gun we all jumped on the gas pretty hard and there were six or eight guys charging all spread out to the first turn, there was a little bumping and nudging but nothing too bad. At the first turn I was third around behind Yuta Sano who was smashing everybody then Brian Anderson was swimming just ahead of Yoni and I. The group stayed like that for the rest of the way and we all came out within fifteen seconds.
Yoni flew through transition and was out first, I was about twenty seconds behind him and could see him a little ways up the road. He is on really good form and had stellar performances at collegiate nationals the previous weekend so I was stoked to have him in sight. He started off fast from beginning and I followed the pace all through the rollers that follow the lakes edge. We traded off setting the pace on different sections of the course which was awesome because we kept the pace high and pushed each other. Yoni definitely spent more time setting the pace and at times I was just trying to hold on and keep him in sight. There were some changes to the bike course this year and I loved the new route, the roads were all in good condition and there are some great sections where you can really work and keep the speed high.
We came into the second transition together and I had a really quick switch into my running shoes and got out onto the run course with a little bit of a lead. I started out trying to keep my feet light on the ground and keep my tempo high and figured I would kind of wait and see what Yoni was feeling like and if he would catch me. I knew there were some strong runners back in the field but figured we might have a good gap on them because of how hard we rode on the bike. Yoni passed me about half a mile into the run and went by moving another fifty meters up the road but after that the gap stopped growing. He was just inside of ten seconds ahead of me but was running strong and I just tried to keep pace with him. In the third mile he looked like he was dropping his tempo a little and I tried to push the hills a little to bring some of the gap back. After the turn around it was clear that we had a big gap on the rest of the guys and so I focused on trying to slowly bring him back. Every time I picked it up a little though and got some time back I had to ease off and recover some and the gap would go back out.
Inside the last mile I realized that there was nothing I could do to bring him back and I just tried to stay smooth into the finish.
It was a great battle and I loved being able to actually battle the whole way. It was a ton of fun to race and also to get to hang out with a group of such awesome people for the day. Everyone raced well and I am stoked to be a part of such an enthusiastic and fun community of people.