Sunday I raced at the Breath of Life Triathlon in Ventura. I raced my first Olympic here last year and placed 8th overall and 2nd in my age group. I was thrilled. This time I did one better: taking the overall victory!
Before I get to the race report, I want to mention how much fun it is to win (see my last post, “It Makes It Really Fun,” on David McNeill’s winning ways). While I have been a fairly successful runner throughout my 17 years of competition, winning has been tough to come by since I entered high school. I have run on state championship high school teams and top-10 collegiate squads. I have been surrounded by very talented, hard working teammates and have chosen to compete against the best around. Because of this, I haven’t found myself in a position to “go for the win” very often. Sunday I had that opportunity and I was able to seize it. Even if it was a relatively small race, it is always fun to win.
Alarm went off at 5am. Didn’t sleep too well… my mind was going too fast thinking about the race (“Sometimes an on/off switch would sure come in handy.”). No worries, eat-well-sleep-well night was Friday. I looked to my window and was surprised how dark it still was, just 6 days into summer (I am always very aware of the Summer and Winter Solstices). Yep, it is early. I followed the same morning meal as last year: a bowl of oatmeal with 1/3 cup of dried cranberries and a tablespoon of brown sugar, a bagel and a banana. My mom and I left the house around 5:30 and I made it to the transition zone by 6:30.
The first wave was scheduled to start at 7:15, so the transition area was actually already getting a bit crowded. Racks were zoned off by which wave you started in, and to my luck, my wave was right near the bike in/out.
Chris Baird and I jogged about a mile after getting everything set up. About 15 minutes before we were supposed to start we got our wetsuits on and made our way to the Pacific.
13th in 20:35, 1:43 behind the fastest
My story of the year continues to be my improvement in the swim. Last year I was only the 56th fastest swimmer in a similar size field. Of course there is still plenty to improve upon — notably my start. I got punched and kicked a couple times in the goggles (luckily they didn’t fill up with too much water) and was nearly “swam over” by some bigger fellows. I think I need to be more aggressive getting into the water and then just sprint pretty hard for a minute or so.
2:25 (according to Garmin)
The transition was a bit of a run from the beach. Once I got into transition, I wasted no time getting on the bike. Since my last triathlon, I purchased new tri-specific cycling shoes with only one strap to allow for quicker transitions. I mounted the bike barefoot and had no problem getting strapped in quickly. I will definitely not be going back to strapping on cycling shoes in transition.
15th in 66:54, 4:39 behind the fastest
The bike felt much better than my last race. About a mile into the race, Jordan Bethke, who recorded the fastest bike split at the Collegiate National Championships in Lubbock Texas a few months ago, passed me. Knowing he was a far superior biker, I didn’t let it get to me and I was able to get up to about 24 mph and hold that for much of the race. My Garmin recorded a 1:04:25 bike split of 25.48 miles at 168bpm (23.7 mph). The course consists of three loops which can get pretty crowded once the slower waves mix in there. I kept looking for people that started in my wave, but never found anyone. In the end, I didn’t pass anyone on the bike and Jordan was the only one to pass me.
I’m happy with where my biking is at considering the amount of volume I have been putting in. In the future I will probably have to get in more time on the saddle, but I am not willing to sacrifice my running volume until I am done with my eligibility next year.
1:01 (according to Garmin)
Like my last race, T2 went well and there were no issues. I rode the last quarter of a mile or so with my feet on top of my shoes and had a quick dismount. Race belt and racing flats on.
1st in 34:00, 6 seconds ahead of 2nd and 3:42 ahead of 3rd
As I left for the run my parents told me I was about 3 minutes back from the leader. I figured Jordan must be leading, and knowing that he is the brother of NCAA track and cross country standout Brandon Bethke, I had no idea if I could pull that in. What the heck… I’ll bite. I felt good the first few miles hitting 5:10, 5:14 and 5:18. I had passed a few other guys, but knew I still wasn’t in first. I pressed on with a couple 5:12s and then about 5.5 miles into the race I found Jordan. Maybe he has some speed? I surged passed him. Just as I went by, my left hamstring started pulsing. Oh shit, I’m going to cramp up half a mile out. I then eased up a bit in hopes of making to the end in one piece.
As I came near the finish line, my parents seemed pretty excited, so I thought I must be in the lead. But then as I crossed the finish line, no one seemed to take notice. Shit, someone kicked my ass. As it turned out, they had some computer problems at that moment and I had indeed won!
The Garmin had 34:02 for 6.5 miles at 170bpm (5:14s).
1st of 414 in 2:01:25
After the race I had a great time mingling with some of the other competitors, talking racing and training. Shout out to my buddy Spencer Marcus. He’s been telling me I gotta go for the win for the last couple of weeks. His motto: “Someone’s gotta win.” Truer words have never been spoken, Spence.
Next up on the race schedule is the Strawberry Fields Triathlon on July 18th. Last year the field was more competitive than Breath of Life’s, so it will be interesting to see where I stack up. Can’t wait!
My mom shot some video with my little HD camera, so I’m going to put together a movie with those videos and some pictures. I should have that up within a week.