Pacific Grove Triathlon 2013

If you were looking for a destination race in a sleepy beautiful costal town, Pacific Grove is that race. Even though it is close by, I don't make it down there very often and every year when I travel there for TriCalifornia's event I am always enchanted by the location. This year we had particularly nice weather which, coupled with the natural beauty of the bay and the cozy character of the town, made for a wonderful day. With the race being relatively local my family, friends, and teammates were all in attendance which always makes for a great day of catching up, laughs and great spirits.

This late in the year I always feel pretty tired so I have been doing my best to balance training and rest to make it to race day somewhat fresh without loosing too much fitness. It is always a challenge but I felt ok the day before and my pre-race routine went smoothly so I was feeling confident. I knew a lot of guys in the field and it looked like it was going to be fast and competitive.

I got down to the swim area early to get in and recon the course and sight lines. Being a draft-legal event, your position coming out of the swim makes a huge difference so I was going to need every advantage I could get. The kelp was not as bad as past years which was a relief and with the warm weather, the sometimes chilly water of Lovers Cove felt almost refreshing! I got out and gave a hug and kiss to my family before the start, then got into position early to guarantee a good entry at the start. When the gun went off I got a good jump on the beach and a good entry. The start is always chaotic and fast and I made it to the first buoy with the front of the group which may have been too fast and when we hit the first bit of kelp I felt pretty tired. The leaders pulled away just like I knew they would...Tommy, Dustin, John and another guy started to build a gap together but we all know we cant keep up with them in the water. Half way through the first lap a group of three guys came by me and I was glad to have a group to work with.

I think the exertion of the first few hundred meters caught up with me and as we were finishing the first lap I had let a little space open up between myself and the three guys I was with. I was hurting and swimming hard so on the second lap I just tried to avoid as much kelp as I could and get back up to them. I put a huge dig in for the last stretch and once I got into transition I was just behind them. I got out of transition less than twenty seconds behind them and hit the gas as hard as possible to try and close the gap quickly. Even with my best effort the gap had grown to thirty seconds by the first turn around. I was really frustrated because I knew my best chance of getting back to the leaders was to be in that group and there was no way I was going to pull them back alone. After the turn around I saw that Nicholas Thompson and another strong guy were less than half a minute behind me and I knew that they would eventually catch me so I sat up. The three of us got together before the end of the first lap and started working hard to make up some time. We set a strong tempo and kept it fairly steady, those two are strong on the bike and we made up a ton of time on the second group. Up the road John had lost touch with the leaders and by the end of the third lap our group had almost caught the group of four.

On the fourth lap our group of three caught the four chasers and at that point there were only three up the road. The leaders had a substantial gap so the rest of us were racing for fourth place so the pace on the last lap eased up substantially. I was relieved about that because my legs and lungs needed a break. We flew into the second transition with a strong tailwind and I had one of my fastest transitions ever! I left T2 in the lead from my group but my stomach felt a little heavy and it took me a little time to get going. Two guys passed me and slowly started pulling away in the first mile and one passed me in the second mile. By then I finally felt like I was getting into a rhythm and knowing how fast the guys up the road were I was just trying to hang on. I knew I was in seventh and I was happy with that so I just tried to keep my turnover up and my breathing under control. Everyone's positions held from there on out and I enjoyed the two loops back through the crowd with cheers from my family and high-fives from my teammates.

I finished as strong as I could although I was really worked by the finish and I know I slowed down pretty significantly in the last few miles. It was a tough race but it was fun to actually be racing with and against people instead of out on my own like most events. By the numbers it wasn't a great performance for me but it was a fun competition and I enjoyed the challenge. In the future I would love to get into one of the lead groups and actually be able to race for the podium but I am going to have to do some serious swimming to make that happen.

It was an unbelievably beautiful day and Pacific Grove is such a special place. The physical challenge definitely feels secondary on a day like that and that is why I love this event so much.