Honestly, I thought my season would be over after the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. So once I got back from Tennessee I downloaded the game “Stardew Valley” off of steam, and proceeded to put in close to 30 hours over the next 2 days. After a while I got bored and decided that since I was still in shape I should just keep training and racing until I got a job.
With that decision made I set out to register for the local Oktoberfest sprint triathlon, but when I went to the site I found out that age group spots were all filled up! Thankfully I graduated very recently so I have a semester of collegiate triathlon eligibility, and there were some spots open there.
So for the next week and a half I started high intensity workouts instead of the long slow stuff I have been doing the last 5 months. It was hard going from 70.3 training where I was going for 3-4 hours on the bike hardly spending any time above 300 watts to short 1-1.5 hour rides with a bunch of hard efforts at or above 400. My lungs were doing just fine, but my legs were not thrilled. After a week of high intensity training I was ready.
The day before the race I joined the rest of the CSU team over at our coach’s house for a short brick and then breakfast. It was an easy 8 miles with a few short race pace efforts, followed by an easy mile run. I went out with the group, but a freshman got a flat so I stopped to help out with another teammate. After getting him back on the road we all went out for the rest of our ride. I did 4-6×30 seconds at 350 watts, which was slightly above my goal for the race. Then when we got back we did the run and went straight over to breakfast! We loaded up on pancakes, eggs, sausage, and some apple cinnamon oatmeal before heading home to chill out the rest of the day.
At 4:30 AM I woke up, had a cup of coffee with my usual race morning breakfast of toast with peanut butter, honey, and bananas. I was out the door at 5 AM with my girlfriend Meghan, who was also doing the race today. We picked up 2 more teammates before heading down to Longmont, CO. It was a little bit less than an hour drive and we got to the transition area before the sun came up, and 2 hours before the gun was supposed to go off at 8 AM. The first thing I did was run over to the transition and claim the closest spot I could to the bike out/in. I did a 2 mile run warm up checkout out how muddy the course was after all the rain we got the previous day. After that I grabbed my bike from our team trailer and went to set everything up in the transition area, where luckily nobody moved my stuff.
After getting the bike set up I went over to the team tent where everyone was putting on their wet suits and discussing how terrible this race was going to be. I didn’t mention it before, but the weather was 45 F and rainy. Most of our podium hopefuls decided to just suck it up and wear only tri kit for the whole race, but I had a different plan. If you’ve read any of my blogs or know me at all, my motto is “always try something new on race day”. Today I had a few new things. I read on the internet that Tiger balm would help me feel warm, and Vaseline would help keep your exposed skin from the biting cold and provide a little bit of insulation. So I covered my knees and elbows with Tiger balm, my legs and arms with Vaseline, threw on my wet suit, and walked down to the start.
I got a brief swim warm up in, we did our team cheer, then lined up at the side near my teammates to start the swim. Under the wet suit every place I put Tiger balm on felt like it was on fire, so I knew the internet had not let me down.
The horn sounded and we were off. I sprinted towards the buoy off to the side of everyone. The start was okay because I was near my teammates, but with the ice cold air and the warmish water no amount of goggle defogger could have helped us. Most everyone was swimming blind, and that meant everyone was swimming over top of one another. Getting to that first buoy was incredibly difficult, even starting at the side. The next buoy things got a little bit better, but some person was drafting a little bit too close.. Normally I’m cool with people on my feet in the swim, it’s faster for both parties and I do it to other people too. But this person wasn’t on my feet, their hands were halfway up my leg. It got to the point where I veered off course just to lose them because it was so obnoxious. After dropping that guy I went off on my own.
The rest of the swim was relatively uneventful, the only noteworthy thing was how difficult it was to breath. I came up for air every single stroke, and every time I took a breath it felt like I wasn’t getting any oxygen. I thought my throat was closed off and I was having an asthma attack, so I stopped briefly and pulled the neck of my wetsuit to try to get more air. It helped me calm down a little and then I went to finish the swim.
Swim Time- 8:26
Swim Rank- 9th
Running up to T1 I had a lot of trouble getting my wet suit unzipped. My hands were numb and I couldn’t get the darn thing undone. Thankfully my spot was in the very back of transition and I was able to get it to my waist before then which didn’t lose me any time. Since I covered myself in Vaseline the wet suit came off easy when the zipper was undone. I put on a headband and socks before putting on my helmet to run out of transition. Putting those on added close to 20 seconds to my transition time, but I’ve got horrible circulation and Achilles issues so I decided that I wouldn’t risk tearing anything again for a small sprint.
T1 Time- 1:10
T1 Rank- 13th
To save some time I taped my sunglasses and gloves onto my bike to put on while riding. The sunglasses came on pretty easy, but the gloves took almost 2 whole miles to get on all the way. In this time I got passed by uber biker Jack. I thought about hopping onto his tail a legal 3 bike lengths away, but decided to continue the struggle for my gloves instead. Once getting those on I did my best to hold my target 330 watts, and that allowed me to pass 3 people in 10 miles, so it was a lonely ride. Despite wearing gloves and socks my hands and feet were numb. I’m happy with my decision to wear them because it would have been a whole lot worse if I hadn’t. Thankfully the Vaseline and Tiger balm were doing their job, my knees and arms were doing just fine. After 10 miles of ridin solo I caught up to my teammate and roommate Wilson and we kept each other within sight the rest of the way.
Average Power- 320 Watts
Bike Time- 31:07
Bike Rank- 6th
T2 was great. I did a solid flying dismount and got to my bike rack quickly. My helmet came off and my shoes went on easily. I grabbed my race belt and hotshot and ran out of transition. My feet were completely numb to the point it felt like I was running on peg legs, but the race last year was similar so I knew around mile 2 I’d get the feeling back. As I turned the corner to leave transition my coach shouted that I was 1:30 back from the leader (Jack), and 50 seconds back from my teammates.
T2 Time- 46 seconds
T2 Rank- 1st
I started the run off by chugging the hotshot liquid, which turned out to be a massive mistake. As soon as I finished it I felt like I was going to throw up. This was another new thing on race day that I decided on a whim. Every race I have done this year has given out that liquid, and I just needed to get rid of the stuff so I gave it a shot (pun-intended).
Anyway after a quarter mile my stomach had settled a bit and I set off on my mission to catch the leader. At this point Jack was winning, and I have run him down at almost every other race this year so I was hopeful I could do the same today. Within a half a mile I had caught 3 people, putting me in 5th. This course is a simple out and back with the first mile at the top of a hill, so when I reached the top I could see the rest of the people I’d need to catch. Jack was out of sight, but I saw two teammates and an Air Force guy not too far ahead. At age group sprint nationals I averaged sub 5:20 pace and that let me catch Jack around mile 2. This first mile was a 5:45 so I didn’t have much faith of making a comeback. But I continued on running the best I could, and at the halfway turnaround I passed my teammates Ian and Shea as well as the Air Force guy. The person at the turnaround said I was a minute back, so I just made it my goal to solidify my 2nd place position.
I came in to the 2 mile marker in 5:31, putting 20 seconds between me and those behind me before going back down the hill to the finish. With a half mile to go I had a comfortable enough lead to where I was going to shut it down, but some guy riding a bike with a GoPro was next to me filming. Obviously I need to look good for the camera, so I stood up straight and picked up the pace to almost a 5 min/mile. For a quarter mile he followed me, I was dying on the inside but he just kept on filming. After a while I told him I was tired and he should film someone else. Thankfully he listened and then rode off to get the runners going onto the course. After he was gone I let my form fall apart and coasted it into the finish.
Run Time- 17:16
Run Rank- 1st
After cheering for my teammates who finished closely behind me I went right to my bag of dry warm clothes and did a deck change. I cheered for another 10 minutes then went to get a coffee and some post race food. I spent the next 45 hanging out at the finish chute cheering everyone on and eating.
For awards the CSU men’s team beat our rival, CU, for the first time ever. CU’s woman’s team swept the podium giving them the win there. They ended up beating us for the combined awards, but the trophy for winning that this year was named after one of their teammates who was killed in a cycling accident this summer. So as much as I’d have loved to have won against the best team in the nation, it felt right that they should have it.
After the awards were over we took a team picture and drove back to our nice and warm houses.
Just wanted to say thank you to all that helped me this past weekend. Meghan, for driving me down in the morning because my car is dead. Coach Mace at MP Multisport for letting me run workouts with you and sharing your tri knowledge. Eric Neilson at FAST master’s swimming for keeping me in swim shape. And of course the CSU Tri team, for not only bringing my bike down to the race with the team trailer, but for being such great training partners and friends.