California International Triathlon 2013

This was another race that I was doing for the first time this year, I was excited because it is on my old home turf and I would be able to spend the weekend with my family close to the event. Being able to stay in a comfortable place, have home cooked meals and sleep comfortably makes all the difference when being rested and fresh is key for racing well. This was especially important for me because I have had a really rough couple of weeks and I have not been feeling all that well. I got a good nights sleep the night before the race and was feeling refreshed and charged up in the morning.

I made it to the event fairly early and got a good spot to set up. The weather had let up some from the day before which was a relief because the heat had been unbearable for a couple of days. I had consumed close to 10 quarts of water the day before to combat the heat and be fully hydrated race morning. There were lots of people from my team and old friends around so I spent a lot of time chatting and catching up before heading out for a little warm up jog. I got in some stretching, accelerations and recon on the back section of the course which I was excited to find was all on soft surfaces. The water was warm from the past weeks weather and I opted for a very thin speedsuit instead of a wetsuit because I have had problems in the past overheating durring the swim. I jumped in the water with enough time to check out the finish approach and the course's sighting lines before the start. The water was the perfect temperature for a speedsuit swim and I was glad I chose it.

We lined up for the swim wit a big group and I was expecting there to be some really strong swimmers in the group as the east bay is an aquatics hotbed. I started to the far left of the chute so I could see the whole spread of the group at the start and after 100 meters there was no one that was pulling away from the rest of the group so I turned away and set my own pace. I felt good in the water and with my arms free of the wetsuit I felt like I was swimming well so I actually picked it up to a stronger pace than usual in hopes that I might put some time into the faster guys that I knew were in the field. I spent the whole swim out front on my own but there was at least one swimmer just touching my toes from time to time. The finish gets shallow a little early so I put in a couple of good dolphin dives and gapped the few people I knew were close behind.

I didn't have that great of position in the transition area so two or three guys came into transition with me but I got out just ahead of them. The moment I got on my bike and made my first pedal stroke my chain came off, I tried to pedal it back on but it jammed and I came to a stop. I jumped off with one cycling shoe half on and tried to spin it on manually but it jammed again. I set the bike down and tried to figure out what the hell was going on. The chain had gotten sucked up between the frame and the rings but the space between was so small that it would not slide back out easily. I tried setting it on the rail and using the cranks to pull it free but it would not budge. I was starting to panic because minutes were passing and more people were leaving transition to start the bike. Eventually I just grabbed the chain and rings and started yanking on it until I forced it out of the space it was caught in. I got it back on the gears and spun it around to set it and finally got on my bike. In my head I knew that at least two minutes had passed and looking at the times it turned out to be more than THREE! I was livid and as soon as I got onto flat roads I put the bike into my biggest gear and just started pounding on the pedals as hard as I could. My approach this year has been to stay within myself and control my efforts but at this point I was so far back that I knew that I had to go as deep as I was capable and hold nothing back if I was going to claw my way back to the front of the race.

The first six miles of the course has several out and back sections which worked really well for me because I got a good look at how many people had passed me and how far ahead the leaders were. I had lost about 15 places and the leaders were three minutes up but at this point that all became irrelevant because I was so angry I had the throttle all the way open and that was all I could do. I was so far back that even my best might not have gotten them back so it didn't matter if I over did it. By mile eight I had caught all but three of the guys up the road and I had one guy in sight. I caught him a few miles later and then it was just two up the road. There was one more out and back about two thirds of the way through and I was disappointed to see that I had barely taken any time out of them. My hope was that they were putting out so much effort that they might crack on the run and I could real them in there. I hit every turn as hot as I could and kept my effort at my max the whole way back to transition so as not to give up any time.

I got through T2 quickly and left shaking my head knowing that it was still around two minutes to the leaders and it was going to take a great run by me in addition to poor runs by them for that gap to close down. I went hard from the beginning and brought myself up to my absolute limit. The run course is absolutely perfect for me, two loops with lots of twisty up and down sections and all on soft pack trails, a fair amount of which are shaded! I like a course that changes regularly because it keeps my mind occupied and the time passes faster. At the first out and back I figured it was just shy of three minutes to the leader and the guy in second place was less than a minute back from him. They both looked tired and a lot can happen in ten kilometers so I was motivated to chase. I took the short lines through all the turns and pushed all the hills imagining the seconds I was gaining with each passing mile. When I got close to the end of the first lap I could see the guy in second and that gave me an extra boost but when I passed him at the beginning of the second lap I could see that he was fading pretty badly and that meant that there was probably still a long way to go to the leader. At the second out and back section I realized that I had put time into the leader but that he was not fading badly and was still over a minute and a half ahead of me. With less than two miles to go I knew that this was an insurmountable gap so I backed off a bit and ran steady to the finish to consolidate the work I had already done.

I finished second on the day and although it is disappointing to lose so much time because of a mechanical, the time that I spent moving was very strong and the numbers I put up were great for me. I loved the course and I am already looking forward to taking an honest crack at it next year to see what I can do there. It was great to hang with my family and see all my teammates racing well! 

This was my last hard effort before Vineman 70.3, which is my big focus this year. I am very happy with where my fitness is at and I am looking forward to putting it to the test against the best in the world!

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