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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Loveland Lake-to-Lake Triathlon Race Report

Two things were clear after the Boulder Sprint Triathlon:  first, my running needed work, and second, so did my taper.  To be clear, the latter was more a result of a week of poor sleep leading up to the race than training too much.  To mitigate the first, I had my coach, Billy start giving me structured running workouts.  Read more about that here.  In reality, it's too far into the season to expect awesome results from the running but I had to try.  My run workouts had been going well (arguably at the expense of my bike).

We adjusted my taper accordingly and I made damn sure I was in bed as early as is possible every night with two young kids.  As a result, I went in feeling fairly fresh.

The race was an hour from my house and a wave start time of 6:30am meant getting up at 3:30.  I don't remember what time I got there but I was definitely one of the first few competitors and got a really good rack spot right by the bike-in/out.  Set up was uneventful and with the several bathroom breaks I didn't have to worry about what to do with my time.  With about 50 minutes until go time, I got the bottom half of my wetsuit on and walked the 1/4-mile to the swim start.  (Yes, 1/4-mile.  Which meant after coming out of the water, there was going to be a nice run to get to T1.)

I got the rest of my wetsuit on and started warming up.  I felt awesome and fast.  I knew I was going to have a good day.  This was also the first time I was going to wear a watch in the race so I could get power data on the bike.  But rather than just keep it on the bike, I wore it the whole race.  This can be a mixed blessing because it's easy to get in one's head if you're not hitting your numbers.

In retrospect, I probably should have gone over the course maps because I realized about a minute before the start that I had the wrong swim course plotted.  Thankfully the elites were paying attention and I got behind them at the start with about a minute to spare.  We got a 10-second countdown (which was nice as usually there's a 30-second warning and then a horn).  Right away I found some fast feet and for the first time since I raced Vineman 70.3 in 2008 I had feet the whole way.  One take away from the swim is that I need to be a lot better at sighting when I'm following in case the person I'm following leads me astray.  I had this thought at some point during the swim and tried to be good about looking for the buoys but I wasn't as good as I should have been.  The second turn on the swim had us swimming directly into the sun and I couldn't see shit.  I just trusted the guy in front of me could and wasn't going to lead me astray.  He didn't, but it was still really unnerving.

I don't recall knowing where I was position wise until I got out on the bike with the two lead elite women and looked at my watch.  I knew then that'd I'd really rocked the swim.  The bike course is hard and it bites right away with uphill rollers heading west out of T1.  With some short downhill recovery, it's basically a climb all the way to Horsetooth Reservoir.  Eventually the lead female started pulling away but I passed and dropped the second place female in the first five miles.  I'd never been this close to the front of a race before and it was really weird only seeing one or two other riders.  At some point I realized that to this point, only three other riders had passed me to this point and I was feeling really good.  I crested the first major climb about half way through the bike and ripped down the descent knowing the next climb was a lot shorter before the long, screaming descent into Ft. Collins.  About 200m from the top, I felt my back tire get a little squishy and realized that the worst thing that could have happened (short of an accident) had happened and I got a flat.  I had put tire sealant in the tubular but my guess is that it didn't kick in until too much air had escaped rendering it essentially useless.  I probably should have tried to refill it to see if it would hold air but wasn't thinking straight and all I could think about was getting the tire off and switching it out.  Instead of using glue, I used Tufo tape to adhere the tire to the rim.  And it's tacky.  REALLY tacky.  I couldn't get the tire off even though I'd left a several inch gap with no tape opposite the valve stem.  It felt like it took forever to change but in reality it was like 6 minutes.  But during that time, all the riders I'd been ahead of were passing me.  I was pissed and any semblance of a race plan went out the window (as indicated by my wattage from that point on as it was all over the map) and I stupidly tried to make up for lost time.  I even yelled at a guy to stop drafting (he wasn't).  The last stretch from Ft. Collins back to Loveland is on S. Taft a very straight stretch of road but it's very exposed and has massive rollers (which doesn't help with trying to maintain a consistent wattage).

The rest of the bike was fine but I was a mental wreck.  I flew into and out of T2 and ran the first mile faster than I should have and finally my body was like "enough" and I struggled through the rest of the run even having to resort to walking a few aid stations on the way back - something I NEVER do.  I was just holding on when I crossed the finish line.

My biggest takeaways were that my taper and recovery were spot on and I need to be able to deal with shit that happens during a race.  Pro triathlete Ben Hoffman raced Ironman Coeur d'Alene on Sunday and flatted twice on the bike.  He could have said "fuck it" and quit or coasted the rest of the way.  But, despite losing 15 minutes on the bike, he ripped off a 2:43 marathon and ran his way to 3rd.  That's how you deal with mental issues.  I got lucky, as I only lost one place due to the flat and the bike course was really hard - which is a great equalizer.  Also, I wonder if my run would have been better.

Thanks to my coach Billy Edwards, my team Foxtrot Wheel & Edgemy teammates, my sponsor GU EnergyColorado Multisport, and my wife for the support.

Race Results:

79th overall, 58th male (185 men total, 338 total athletes)
7th out of 28 in age group w/ flat (6th w/o)
Swim (1500m):  23:57, 2nd fastest in AG and 14th fastest overall
T1: 1:06
Bike (30 mi): 1:35:49 w/ flat (1:29:06 w/o, 7th fastest in AG)
T2: 1:08
Run (10km):  53:38, 18th in AG

Total:  2:55:40 w/flat (2:48:57 w/o)


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