This was a tough week. I had to work more than usual and was tired from the previous weeks training so I felt pretty run down all week. I forced myself to stick to the plan though and I am glad I did because my body finally came around by race day on sunday. If I am not feeling well the week prior to a race I always try to tell myself that another nights sleep might be all I need and not to worry and if I am not feeling good during a race I always remind myself that things might come around later on and to not let up. This race was a good example of why that is a good piece of positive self talk to have in my repertoire.
I felt good race morning and with warm coffee in my belly I headed off in the fog to ride down to transition. I was the first one there which was nice because I know so man people at this event that it is nice to have time to chat with everyone and catch up. There were a lot of people coming into town for the race and a strong field had been assembled including two strong veterans of the sport, both with Ironman victories under their belts and I knew it would be a battle. Spirits were high in transition and I was glad to be enjoying the day after a couple of weeks of uncertainty.
I lined up for the start next to John Dahlz who is a long time figure on the NorCal triathlon circuit and a beast of a swimmer...if one thing was certain we would all be chasing him once the swim was over. My goal for the swim was to be aggressive and minimize the damage John could do and gain time on some of the other guys in the field that I knew were Monsters on the bike. I got a good start and great angle into the water, after a strong entry and aggressive first couple of minutes I actually reached the first turn buoy with John which was a huge boost in confidence. I knew it would not last and slowly but surely he started building a gap on me as we went through the first lap. I saw him exit to run up for the second lap and I figured the gap to be inside thirty seconds which I was really happy with. I was not feeling great but sometimes you can perform well anyway so I just told myself to keep it up. The second lap was tough but I didn't loose much more time and exiting the water it looked like the gap was inside of a minute. I ran up the beach and slowly accelerated as I caught my breath.
I transitioned smoothly and headed out with my bike. The mount line is on a slight slope and I didn't get a good foot hold on the first go so I jumped off and ran up the hill remounting at the top. I gave myself a couple of miles to get into my shoes, catch my breath and get up to speed. There is a 180 degree turn on each lap so after a couple of minutes I got a good look at the gaps. John was about a minute up and the guy chasing me was about a minute behind. I put my head down and kept on top of my gears pushing as much pain into my pedals as my lungs could manage. On the second lap I saw that I had made up time on John and put time into the guy chasing me which is always a big boost and kept me very motivated. On lap three I saw that Matt Russell had made up a lot of time and was within two minutes which I expected but I couldn't believe now that I was watching it happen. I kept the pace up and by the fourth lap I could see John disappearing around turns up the road which helped me stay focused and helped me push myself.
I came into the second transition just as John was leaving and I knew that if I had a good run that was a gap I could get back. I fumbled with my shoes some because my hands were cold and I knew those seconds counted so when I got my feet into them and they were not quite straight I just let it be and took off.
There is a short hill right at the start of the run and John was at the top as I hit the bottom. Up the hill and onto the flats I eased my way up to the lung searing maximum effort I knew it was going to take to reel him in and just held on for dear life. I could see the gap and for the first two miles I thought it might be shrinking but very slowly and at the turn around we exchanged encouragement to each other with a gap of close to 45 seconds. I made the turn and on the way back saw that I had a good gap on the two closest chasers, I thought that would hold so I pushed on in the hopes that John might fade in the closing miles. With around two miles to go I saw that the gap had come down significantly and was shrinking noticeably. With each stride I pushed harder and got back a little time and just held on to the hope that I would not run out of road. With a mile to go the gap was fifteen seconds and I could see John looking over his shoulder. I was so close but already running at my absolute maximum there was nothing I could do about closing the gap. It kept coming down slowly and with a half mile to go it was within ten seconds. In the home stretch it was so close and we both kicked hard, absolutely exhausted, and my best effort fell just a bit short as I came in just behind him.
I was so worked and John turned around at the finish line to welcome me in. It was a great battle and I am so thankful to have had him out there pushing me to do well. It was a good race and I am glad to have done well. The home town races are the best and every year this event reminds me why I love triathlon and all the things that are great about our sport's community.
Swim 14000 yds
Bike 6.75 hrs
Run 20 mi