Two words. Hard Work. Who would have thought that hard work and consistent training would make all the difference? Not the shiny new bike or the fancy new kicks. I guess I have been doing it wrong all these years.
I have been training hard over the winter. Lavaman was my reason to keep training during the winter on a structured plan. I certainly didn’t want to travel that far to do poorly due to under conditioning. Well that hard work really paid off during the season opener triathlon this past weekend. Our season opener is the BreakUp Triathlon, which is for Fairbanks, Alaska, an early season event. Because it so early season for us we do our swim in the University pool instead of open water. The ice that still covers all the lakes it a pretty strong deterrent from swimming.
I have run this race every year since it started and my time has been fairly consistent within 3-5 minutes. But this year, all bets were off and I knew I could run a course PR based on my performance at the Lavaman Olympic distance.
Race day started out a little chilly, which always makes it hard to know what to wear. I decided to go with my club kit. My club Tri-It Together is based in Temecula, CA so I hoped it would bring a little luck and a lot of the So.Cal sun and warmth.
I bought an early lane bid. I hate circle swimming and will gladly pay the charity donation in order to avoid it. And the bonus is I get to start in the first or second wave so I finish early instead of rolling the dice as to what my start time will be.
Swim was uneventful. Just right about where I normally am, so no surprises. Glad my lane partner was a little faster than me, it pushed me to try to keep up which kept my speed up. Transition was slow’ish which is normal for me, but I got out on the bike easy peasy.
Now is when it gets interesting. No socks, so my feet immediately get cold and stay cold and clammy. I felt a little off the first two miles or so. Turns out I was in the small chain ring instead of the big, like I should have been. Crap no wonder I felt like I was spinning out of control. Get that taken care of and honestly struggle a little though the first half. I felt really slow. Then notice, crap, I forgot to start my Garmin. Of course I did. I buy a fancy Garmin 920 and half the time I forget to actually push the button. So I have no gauge on the bike to know how I did. The course is flat-hill-rolling-flat. With the hills around the turnaround. After the turnaround I felt a lot better and was able to pass the one racer that passed me going out. I passed her and did not see her again until the run portion.
Head into T2 and get my socks on my clammy feet and grab my hat and head out. My feet are like frozen blocks. This course is pretty brutal for a sprint in that a huge half mile hill is the first thing out of the gate. I ran 3/4 up then conserved a little energy and walked up the last 1/4 which is by far the steepest part. I did try to power walk, but walking was the right thing to do. Helped my feet as well. I crested the hill and was able to run the remainder of the course with no issues. Its always the first mile off the bike that is the hardest then I can normally find my groove.
About 1/2 the lady I passed on the bike whizzed by. But I was able to pass one other runner, which felt good. Then my team mate John passed me 3/4 of the way to the finish. I was so hoping to hold him off, but I just couldn’t keep up. Maybe next year I can beat him. At the finish John said, wow, you were really fast this year. Considering I had no watch time or clock time I told him maybe 5 minutes or so. But John disagreed and said it was way faster. I guess he was right 🙂 Note to self: Never argue with another scientist. I finished in 1:38 which was a major improvement over the prior year of 1:53. OMG, I totally killed it. So much happiness that I was able to that much better.
The rest of my team finish, and all of us did better this year than last year. This race was bittersweet though. This will be our last race with our teammate and colleague Georgina. She is off to a new adventure in the lower 48. With that in mind I am so glad we all had one last chance to race together and enjoy the camaraderie. As you can see we were a very happy group of racers.
I guess the moral of the story is consistency really does pay off. I have another race in a few weeks, also another local’ish sprint tri. My goal is to do at least 8 minutes better than I did last year. That may be a little optimistic, but I think I can do it.
Running has always been my strongest, at least until about 3 years ago. I have been spending a lot of time working on my running and I think that is paying off. Even just a minute a mile really pays off!