This race is one of my favorites because the venu is so nice. The whole thing is centered around Uvas Reservoir in Morgan Hill, I get to race a couple of times a year and I love it. Not only is the water clean and warm, the roads are in great condition...but best of all is that it is close by so I get to sleep in my own bed the night before! I say sleep because that is what one should do the night before a race but I have not been sleeping all that well so I really didn't get much sleep at all. My body had been feeling good for a couple of days though so I just stuck to my routine and told myself I could catch up on sleep after.
All of the pre-race routine stuff went well and I started with warmup early knowing that, having worked hard this week and not gotten a lot of rest, my body would need a long time to get going. I jogged a few miles and did some drills/accelerations to make sure my legs were fully warm and loose. With twenty minutes to start I went down to the water and got in to swim out and recon the course and get my shoulders stretched out. I swam out to the far turn buoy and just checked out where the course was going to go and some sight lines and then swam back in to the start.
There were only two other elites racing, both about my speed and both very fit, Andrew Bauer and Brice Winkler. The three of us race together a bunch so we had a little chat before the start and caught up. With just three guys it was nice to get a clean start and I kicked hard from the start to make sure I got clean water to the first turn. I went around the far two turns alone and was swimming hard so I didn't check to see if I had a gap or anything but I knew I was at least in front which is always a mental boost. Something I struggle with is that I am always redlined in the swim and I can hold on to that effort but I really feel like my lungs get worked because of it and I always feel like I have an elephant standing on my back. I was glad to be leading out the swim though and it went by pretty quickly.
Out of the water I felt a little disoriented and I fumbled in transition trying to find my rack and getting my wetsuit off. Once I got situated though I realized I was leaving transition and neither Brice nor Andrew had entered yet. When racing, there is a big advantage to being out of sight; it is way easier to pull someone back if you can see them and work on the visual distance. With this in mind I pushed hard from the start. I should spend more time finding objective measures of my percentage of maximal effort because, as with the swim, I think that with my initial surge on the bike I put myself over the limit. The first 4 miles roll up some small hills and I definitely think I could have backed off a little and been faster and more consistent but there are some downhill sections that I knew I could catch my breath on. As planned, I pushed one gear harder than I usually would because I wanted to test some ratios I had been playing with this week. I stayed on top of a solid effort, pushing the flats and hills then recovering on the descents.
Coming into the second transition i definitely felt like I had given my body a good thrashing but my energy was still good and I had planned on just racing as hard as I could for as long as I could. Through the second transition smoothly I got up to speed as fast as I could and focused on keeping my tempo high and my foot-strikes short. I felt like I was running really well...it really hurt but I was able to keep my speed and turnover up which was great as I have not felt like that in a long time. I still had not been caught by the guys behind me but I was on the limit as it was so I didn't bother looking back...if they caught me at this point then they would just be outrunning me and there was nothing I could do about that. I checked in with the lead cyclist around mile two to see if there was any chance that I was on pace to try for the record and I was a couple of minutes off so I gust kept my head down and held on. After the turn-around I saw Andrew coming the other way but I was so deep in the pain cave that I had forgotten to check how far back he was. I guessed a minute or two but knowing how strong he is I just kept trying to keep my effort as high as possible and chew up the last of the real estate.
With a mile to go I looked back and no one was within sight which is always a relief and keeping yourself going becomes a lot easier. The last mile felt smooth and I came in feeling very pleased with the effort and the day. After the race the three of us went for a cool down jog. It is nice, because I train alone all the time, to be able to hang out with guys doing the same thing I am and commiserating about the odd life of the recreationally elite triathlete. As always, it was a great event and I am already looking forward to doing it again next year.