Sometimes knowing what to expect from a race course is worse than racing a course for the first time and not knowing. Since I knew what to expect at this years race, I was preparing for a tough day with lots of heat. Last year this was the first triathlon I ever won, and I wanted to come back this year and see if I could defend my title.
Pretty excited about getting up at 4am
Getting my sweet B70 Helix on
This has to be my favorite part about racing in lake Chelan, the water is so clear and clean. All night the wind had been blowing pretty hard, and as we got ready to start the race the wind was not giving up. The water was choppy and wavy. The waves had moved the swim course buoys into an odd curved shape, and even though there was a line to follow under the water I decided to start on the other side of the crowd and just shoot straight for the far turn buoy. The race started and I pushed hard to get ahead of the main pack. With some luck I broke out the front of the main pack, and found myself swimming behind the leader for quite some time. This was awesome because he broke through many of the big waves for me. As we swam toward the far buoy I felt super relaxed. Getting closer to the far turn buoy I noticed we were also slowly creeping towards the underwater line, and as we got closer I noticed there was another swimmer parallel to us swimming along the line. We merged together right before the turn, and just before we made the turn I lost both of these athletes feet. I was actually ok with this because I knew I was still in 3rd overall. After the turn buoy I swam solo for quite some time and I eventually decided to take a look back and see who was behind me. Looking back I noticed about 4-5 athletes in a line behind me. I kept pushing hard. The waves that I thought would now be at our backs were actually hitting us from the side. You could almost say it encouraged some great side to side rotation ( only to one side though) in my swim stroke. I continued to swim solo for a while, but eventually one of the athletes in the pack behind me decided to pick up the pace and take over. I happily let him go buy and hopped on his feet. The only real goal I had at this point was to stick right on this athletes feet. Coming close to the end of the swim there was a pile of rocks that the race director warned us about. I went to the right of these rocks while the athlete ahead of me went left. We then found ourselves merging into each other, and our strokes were definitely colliding. At this point I just wanted to keep my straight line, and pushed harder to hopefully get ahead. The other athlete was probably thinking the same exact thing as we swam side by side, smacking arms with almost every stroke. As we came to the swim finish I stood up and noticed that the other athlete I was swimming with was John, a great athlete and a great guy from my home town. At Boise 70.3 we came out of the water at the same time, and I thought it was funny that it happened again.
I was really happy with my swim. John was 3rd out of the water and I was 4th. My time was about the same as last years, but the conditions slowed everyone's times down. Last year I was 21st out of the water at this race, and this year I was 4th so that is a huge improvement that I was very happy with.
Swim time- 30:30
If you look close you will notice there are two swimmers side
by side in this picture. I am the one on the right side, and
John is on the left.
Exiting the water
T1 is always frantic
I really did not have a lot of pre race plans for this race, but one goal I had for the race was that I wanted to have the fastest bike split of the day. Coming out of T1 I could see my competition up the road, and I relaxed knowing I had time to slowly gain on them. This course starts with an out and back section that has quite a few rollers, then after you come back you take a right hand turn and complete two large climbs. It didn't take long to catch up to the leader, and after trading the lead with him for a while I decided to stay about 100 yards behind. Shortly after the turn around that gap started to grow and I was very slowly loosing ground on first place. I knew there wasn't time to worry about the leader slowly slipping away, and I focused and what mattered. Focusing on strong efficient pedal strokes, and I pushed onward. Around mile 30 I had lost more ground on the leader. I had actually lost site of him, and he had more than a half mile lead on me. This is the point where the two major climbs began. Both climbs really aren't that steep, but they are pretty long. It didn't take long before I could start to see the leader on the first climb, and as we descended down the backside of the climb I found myself again about 100 meters behind him. As we started the second climb (the biggest and longest of the day) I decided this is where I wanted to finish the race, regardless of how it would effect my run. I worked up and passed the leader, but on a flat section he passed me back. We hit another small climb and I passed him again, but again it didn't take long for him to pass me back. I knew we had one more climb left and I really gave a solid effort. After this long climb is a steep descent with a sharp left hairpin turn. Descending fast is free time, and I took the descent in a fairly risky fashion hoping to make up some more time on my competition. Once at the bottom of the descent my legs actually felt great! It was about 7 miles from here back to T2, and I was riding pretty hard. I was surprised at how good my legs felt at this stage of the race. Coming down the last long straightaway to T2 I glanced back and found that 2nd was no where in sight. In short I was very happy with my ride. It was the fastest ride of the day, and that what was on my mind leading into the race.
Just leaving T1
Heading back into town after the two large climbs
Throwing down a great bike split is cool, but there is something I have learned watching triathlons. The best bike split does not come from the person with the fastest time on the bike The best bike split comes from the person who wins the overall race. So starting the run I knew I needed to make sure my effort on the bike was not in vain. For this run I tried something new. I took some nutrition with me as I ran (and ate less this race on the bike). I left a bag of Gu chomps lying on the ground in transition and as I ran out I placed them in my back pocket. This worked out really well! As I ran I would just chew on one chomp at a time, and I tried to spread them out throughout the first two thirds of the race. I started this race pretty conservatively. I will be honest and say that if there was one thing I was dreading from last year it was the run course. It is a great course, but It tends to be very hot (no shade at any point), and for the half iron race it can get pretty desolate at times with nothing around. I just kept telling myself to stay relaxed all the way to the turn around. I got to the turn around and felt great. As I looked at my watch one thing was now on my mind, The course record. I knew I would have to work for it, but I wanted to give it a go. Starting at about mile 8 I picked up my pace substantially. Every time I crossed a mile marker I would look at my watch and try to do the math in my head. The only verdict was that it was going to be close. By mile 10 I felt like I was running sub 5:30 miles (I still felt great though). The funny part of it all, was that at about this point Michael Gordon (the course record holder) was out spectating the race and rode by on his bike. He gave me some words of encouragement, and continued on down the course to cheer on some more athletes. He is an awesome athlete and a great guy. If he would have been racing, I am certain the course record(his own) would have fallen. By mile 11 I felt like the record was going to be a couple minutes out of reach, but I still kept a heavy pace because I really did no want to just give up. Mile 12 came and it suddenly looked like the record was within reach. I knew was that this was going to be close. I could see the park where the race finished. All I had left was a long straightaway down a hot road, a short steep climb, and a left hand turn to the finish. Even being only 2oo yards from the finish it was still very close. But when I entered the finishing chute I was certain. I had just missed the course record. I was 43 seconds off of it to be exact. I had given 120%, and in all I was still super happy with my day. I walked away with another win and defended my title form last year.
Total time 4:28:04
At mile 2 on the run
B70's new tri suits are amazing!
A huge thanks to my sponsors and the crew at Nuun for supporting me. I would also like to thank my parents for coming out and cheering me on.