I woke up at 3am on race morning and the first thing I thought to myself is, "what am I doing?" Why would anyone want to get up super early, drive in the dark, and jump in a lake just as the sun is coming up? But after a little while I got my mind and body going, and I was ready to race. Yes I was a little bit nervous for this race, but it wasn't a bad thing.
This year I have been struggling with my wetsuit. Is it too small, am I putting it on right, or am I just a wimp who needs to suck it up? I think my questions were finally answered at the race on Sunday. I made sure to spend extra time putting on my wetsuit, and doing a very good job of putting it on. I made sure to pull my wetsuit up as high as possible. The idea was to bring as much material to my upper body to loosen my shoulders. This worked well. For the first time ever I started my swim pain free, and my shoulders felt great! User error, go figure :).
As I headed out on the dock to start the swim, I was excited. They delayed the start for 10min due to fog on the lake. Even with the delay the fog lingered and they decided to started the race. I decided to position myself right next to the line that was placed under the water and follow it from the start. The start of this race can be summed up in three words, Wham, Bam, and Slam. It was a rough start!
I pushed hard to get out of the chaos, but I think every swimmer wanted to be on top of the line. I constantly had people merging into me the whole swim. At one point I found myself smacking some dude in a speedo right on the butt, and I decided that was enough I am out of here! I looked up and saw that a lead pack was forming into a single file, and pulling away. I pushed to try and catch this pack, but I was always about 10 meters behind. At the turn around the lead pack was gone, and I could not see anyone ahead of me. It was actually kind of nice to have clear water ahead and no one merging into you. Coming in from the turn around the conditions were beautiful! It was cool to see the warm sun slowly rising, and patches of fog scattered on the lake. It was a moment where I just thought to myself this is cool.
Lines running under the water are a good thing, especially on foggy days. I think I would have swam straight across the lake, and missed the first turn buoy if it wasn't for this under water line. As I got to the boat ramp I was happy to be done. This was not my fastest swim of the year, but I would consider it one of my best. Most of my other races I found myself constantly getting passed by other swimmers, but on this day I was the one that was constantly passing. It finally felt good to be in control of my swim, and be pain free.
It always feels great to be out of the water. My transition went well, and I found myself heading out for two loops of the bike. The night before I planned the points where I would ride easy, and the points that I would attack. I waited about 4 miles until I started racing. The Temps were still a little cold, but bearable. At around mile 6 I found myself riding up on the back of the Female pro's. All I can say is Female Pro's are tough. I don't know how many times I traded the lead back and forth with one athlete. At one point I told her sorry as I passed her for probably the 10th time. She smiled and told me I was fine. I was passed by 4-5 athletes from my wave fairly early on on the bike. I wanted to go with them but decided to stay on the pace I wanted to ride.
The first loop was a little shaky. It might have been the cold temps but my legs were hurting pretty bad. My gels turned to logs as I tried to squeeze them into my mouth, and I had a hard time tearing them off of the top tube, due to the fact that my hands were freezing. At this point I wasn't sure what to expect.
Shortly after finishing the the first lap, things started getting better. Riders that I let go on the first lap were coming back and my legs suddenly felt great!! If your legs feel good it means its time to go hard. The second loop was fast, and the best part was I was smiling the whole time. I was having a blast.
After you complete your two laps on the bike course at Lake Stevens, you then turn off and head about 4 miles back to transition. I decided at this point to just pace off of a rider that was about 400 yards ahead of me and just keep a steady consistent rhythm. Heading into transition I had a moment of where is my spot? For some reason I knew I was on the second rack from the end, but I could not find my tag on the racks. Its a weird feeling to be one of the only people in transition with tons of people staring at you, and you are just staring at the racks looking for your spot. after about 5 seconds of staring it clicked and I found my spot. My transition area was a mess!! Honestly half the stuff in it was not mine. Luckily my shoes were still in the vicinity of the area, and I quickly put them on.
Heading out on the run I was excited. My energy levels were high, and I was just enjoying the day. I knew my plan I wanted to execute for the run, and I started at a conservative pace. It didn't take long before I heard footsteps quickly coming up behind me. The second I got passed I knew exactly who it was. Matt Sheeks a Stellar athlete that ran for Portland, and beat me at Boise 70.3. His pace was blistering and for about 600 yards a tagged on to the back of him. As I ran at this pace I knew in my mind that I had to let him go. At Boise he ran a 1:16:00 off of the bike, and knowing this I decided to let him go. At this point I needed to run my race, and maybe there is a chance he will come back.
As we entered the next aid station I slowly dropped off the back. The plan was, the race does not start until I finish the first little loop section and enter back into town. I was feeling awesome at this point, and really wanted to hammer, but still decided to wait. Once I hit this point I decided to let loose a little. I picked up the pace and still felt super relaxed. I was having a blast, and enjoying my race.
The next out and back section was where I made up some ground I pushed the up hills, and went even faster on the downs. As I hit the second lap I knew it was time to go. I picked up the pace even more and continued the pursuit of athletes ahead of me. As I entered town again I saw a familiar sight, Matt Sheeks was just up the road and I was slowly gaining on him.
I kept my pace steady, and knew I had plenty of time to make up ground. With about Two miles left in the race I decided it was time to make my move. Sheeks was only about 5 feet in front of me, and I knew I had to make a statement. I waited until the next hill and made a decisive move. I was now gaining ground on my competition. It was at about a mile to go I finally started to feel the race catch up to me. I was laboring hard to keep my pace, and was worried that sheeks was on his way.
At half a mile to go reality caught up, he was back. Sheeks returned my favor and I had nothing left to go with him. At that point I just worked on holding it together and finishing the last half mile.
The finish line was awesome, I looked down at my watch and saw 4:24:00 and was more than happy. This was a great time for me and I had one of my most enjoyable races to date. This race was a huge learning experience for me, because I am starting to learn to race my race. Don't go after every rabbit that flies by. If you are patient hopefully your competition will come back. Not only was I excited about my overall finishing time, but I was super excited about my run. I Finally ran where I wanted too, and It felt great. A huge thanks to everyone that was there and everyone that cheered for me. It was so cool to see faces I knew out on the course. Nate, Matt, Greg, Natalie, Jessi, Merissa, Craig, Erica, Michael, my sister, Borther in law, and my Parents. You guys are awesome, The cheers and support you all gave me out on the race course definitely got me through the day. A huge thanks also to the Crew at fitness Fanatics, without a doubt I have gotten more than I payed for every time I visit that store. They are always willing to help in any way possible and answer any questions I may have, and I appreciate that a ton.
Total time-4:24:28 (5th amateur, 18th overall)