Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Great way to end the season...

There is something about the Kirkland Triathlon that has such a draw for me. The early morning clouds with downtown Seattle skyline glowing in the back ground. I was feeling great and relaxed before the start, energy in the crowd was electric. I saw Chris Tremonte run by my rack and just thought, "this is going to be a great day"...
For this course, the bike is king. The hills and the handling on the descents make or break time loss and gain. Too much energy output or knowing how to sling shot up the kickers so you can leave the max effort for the big pushes and bigger gains.

The swim was by far one of the most brutal swims I've been in. I fought for position starting about 20 yards out and finally had open water with about 100 or so yards left. The middle part of the swim was two on the left, two on the right, one in front and one or two behind grabbing my legs. At about halfway I made a move with two other guys, but was swimming too hard for that part of the swim for myself so I went with them to get out of the pack we were in then let them pass me and settled into my planned pace.

At the last turn for the swim I caught the two I let pass and as planned gave a good estimated 2 minute burst of about 90%. This felt great, I cleared out of all the swimmers around me and started to quickly pass the wave in front of me, seeing a few white caps (my wave) in front and felt close enough to catch in transition.

Why it pays to recon and course, even the swim!

I knew from swimming there before you had to swim right up to the shore because it’s too rocky to run in, with the rocks being about the side of baseballs, up to about 5 feet from the run out. So as I got to shore, about 10 yards their were about 6-8 people walking out trying to balance their way as I, even through just in about 2.5 feet of water, swam up passed them all and ran like hell out of the water.

There is something, and I know I’ve wrote it before, about just running out of the water in an almost sprint. I love that! I must have passed about 15 people from the waters edge to the transition entrance.

My swim time was about 20 seconds off from what I wanted, I was a bit reserved on the swim and also having to fight so much in the water in the beginning took a bit of time out of me. Mostly though I was on the verge of burning out on swim training, only putting in 4 swims in the last 3 weeks.

Swim: 15:07

T1 - pretty uneventful, which is good...

As I jumped on the bike, swinging my leg over as I ran through the mount up area another rider just off to my right totally hit the deck and ate crap on his bike. Missed him by about a foot, whew....

I was feeling great on the bike, last year I lost focus on the bike and I know that cost me my overall goal of last year. However, I had all the focus this year and had been out on the course really pushing it for training.

In previous years I’ve told myself that the bike doesn’t start until the flat at mile 4ish. Before then you have about 4 really good hills, the last one of them being the longest and hardest. However, this year, I wanted to start on the climb before the flat part, so as soon as I passed the railroad tracks, it was on.

I had a good rhythm on the climb and was catching groups of other riders and passing them pretty quickly. At just below the crest I upped the tempo to the top and got in front of the last person in view. At the top there is a good downhill, but it ends with a really shape left hand turn. I figured, force the up hill and recover on the downhill to the flat.

Once on the flat I saw only two riders up and caught one quickly, but couldn’t close on the second. Not a surprise, flats aren’t my strong suit, but was still able to hold 23.5 MPH. I had great speed and was only using about 80% perceived energy, because Slater Rd was just around the corner, very hard uphill.

Going into Slater you have a sharp right turn and can’t carry too much speed with you because you’ll over shoot the lane into oncoming traffic. This was were I was planning to use the hardest effort of the day. I saw this interview with Chris Carmichael a few years back and he said “ You can rest when others rest, but you have to attack when others are struggling” I guess that has always stuck with me during races.

Starting on Slater there were about 15 riders about halfway up, I moved and just kept dancing on the pedals until one other rider and I hit the top before the pack. Legs were burning, but I stood up and forced the flat section to get back up to speed.

I had about two minutes to maintain before reaching the next important part of the bike course, the part I lost focus on last year, ggrrhhh! This time, I stayed tucked and focused, no one passed me, I sprinted the last part to reach the BIG downhill first and just flew down. Top speed 43 MPH

When I’m on the bike I usually have a song running through my head to kept tempo, yesterday was, “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups....

Bike: 38:53

T2 - ran into 3 people on the way back to my spot, felt like I was missing something, but headed out on the run...

OK, so the thing that I learned from Lake Stevens was that I didn’t do enough bike to run bricks. The thing that I realized as soon as I got on the run was, “ I haven’t done enough bike to run bricks”
Out on the run I immediately saw Alley and the rest of the posse in full gear running towards me, cheering me on. I was thinking, you’re all running faster than me, one of you finish this up for me : )

The thing I was feeling like I was missing as I left T2 was my inhaler. At mile one I had a crushing feeling in my chest and knew instantly this was going to hurt, at the same time it wasn’t getting any worse. I was running in a group of about 5 people and the guy I targeted as my rabbit was slowly pulling away. I figured, legs hurt, lungs hurt, why the hell not! I went from 7:20 pace up to 6:55 and dropped the group I was with. I held this for about 2 minutes and realized, I can hold this, let’s start hunting : )

I had two friends on bikes meeting me along the run course cheering for me yelling for me to keep bridging the gap and hold pace “you’re reeling him in” my lungs, legs and stomach were completely on fire as I saw my pace steady at 6:25. Had to push, season over in less than a quarter mile, crested the last rolling hill back to the finish and heard my gang “PICK IT UP” “CATCH HIM” - I love it............

Run: 20:09

Overall - 1:17:00 - 71st overall

The race was great, left it ALL out on the course, great friends, family and support. Beautiful day and not one regret about prep or effort used.

I had a goal of placing top 50, but ended up in 71st place. I feel OK about that, because I still PR’d over last year’s time. I had a different focus for the majority of this years training, from sprint to half-iron, so I knew there would be a little rust on the faster harder pace of a sprint.

The most important take away from the day was that I didn’t lose focus on any part of the race and kept pushing even when I wanted to stop because I hurt.

Also, let’s not forget that it’s just so much damn fun! All Photo's by Alley Kloba

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