Since my last post related to training or racing, I have been in my off-season. The last few years I have spent late October and early November scrambling for any last bits of fitness I could acquire before the big dance at the NCAA cross country championships. Sadly, those days are gone. Now I am already looking ahead to next year — and beyond — and looking at what I need to do to be a competitive professional triathlete. More on my off-season training to come…
While speaking with a lifeguard at my new home-away-from-home (a little hint of my off-season focus), I heard about a race down in Phoenix — Chandler to be exact — called the AMICA 19.7 Sprint. I decided to look into it, and found out that the entry fee for professional is comped! This pro deal is better than the jelly of the month club! With nothing to lose, I decided to jump in the race to get some free race experience, a good workout, and take a crack at the $10,000 prize purse (1st place won $2k, and it paid through 5th).
My set up for this race was anything but perfect. NAU had a recruit in town, and since Mo was going to the Arizona high school state cross country meet down in Phoenix, I was left to entertain. This also meant I had to drive him down the mountain. I drove a beautiful 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid rented from school down to Phoenix on Saturday evening. My bike was not going to fit in that car with four passengers, so Mo had to take it down previously. I was able to stay at her wonderful Aunt and Uncle’s house, making things a little easier on me.
Since I wasn’t able to get down to Phoenix until the night before, I missed the pro meeting at 3:00 that afternoon. Luckily the race organizers allowed me to meet with a USAT official at 6 am on race morning. After checking in I put my bike together, took a look at some of the bike course, and finished warming up.
Swim (0.5 mile)
4th in 11:02, 1:05 behind the fastest
The swim was in Firebird Lake, which is known for its boat racing, not its swimming. It was definitely the grossest water I have ever swam in. It tasted saltier than the Pacific, and I’m fairly certain it is supposed to be a fresh water lake. Gross. Anyway, I felt like I got out pretty good and was right in the mix to the first buoy. After that I had some trouble drafting, but was able to get in a good rhythm in some open water. I really didn’t know where I was in the race as we were finishing just as some people doing the Olympic distance event were finishing. After the race I was surprised to see I came out in 4th.
10th in :38, :15 behind the fastest
It was a fairly small transition area, but the elite athletes had our own racks so we had plenty of room. I grabbed my bike and ran pass some age groupers before doing my flying mount. Apparently I haven’t done one of those on my time trial bike in a while, as I didn’t get my trail leg high enough over the seat and almost ate it. Steeplechase failed me. But I recovered nicely and was on my way.
Bike (16.1 miles)
11th in 39:05, 2:18 behind the fastest
The bike course was pancake flat, but included about 10 90 degree turns and about half a dozen 180 degree turns on each lap of the four lap bike course. The air temperature was in the high 50’s and I was COLD the first couple of laps. I didn’t feel like I had much power on the bike. When I really tried to push it, I couldn’t sustain that effort for very long. This is likely because of the two weeks I took off the bike following my race in Myrtle Beach. I spent most of the bike leg going backwards and got into T2 in 10th or so. (I think it is also fair to blame my poor bike split on a lack of race wheels. I need to get some!)
9th in :31, :08 behind the fastest
Coming into T2 a couple of guys got ahead of me and they aggressively fought for position. One of them ended up dropping his bike right in front of the rack and it was a big mess. I was cool as a cucumber and racked my bike, put on my shoes and was onto the run. While putting on my shoes I noticed a little blood on my left big toe. Later I realized that I had stubbed my toe during the bike mount and took some skin off.
Run (3.1 miles)
3rd in 15:19, :16 behind the fastest
My feet were very numb coming off the bike, which was probably due to the cooler temps. It took a couple of miles for them to start to feel normal. My first mile I felt like I was going really hard and my breathing was pretty out of control. Around that time James Burns came by me. I decided to try to stick with him and didn’t let more than a 3m gap open up. With a little less than a mile to go, I remember thinking This isn’t that hard. I can run with this guy. I began to creep up on his shoulder, and he responded by pressing a little more. We ran side by side until a sharp left turn, where he took a better line and opened a gap on me. I couldn’t close that gap, at it lingered all the way to the finish.
During our duel we passed another athlete (Flo Kriegl), but unfortunately there wasn’t anyone else to chase down. We were both rolling pretty well, and it would have been nice to have a string of guys ahead of us to mow down. That’s what I get for not taking care of business on the bike.
I’m pretty sure the run course was a bit less than 5k, but I was still happy with the split considering the training I have been doing.
I ended up finishing 7th in 1:06:38, just 26 seconds out of “the money.” Still, it was a fun race and I was happy with my performance all things considered.
My toe ended up being fine, just a flesh wound. Some paramedics at the course cleaned me up and as far as I know, I didn’t contract anything from the lake through my open wound.