Since my last post:
It’s been a while since my last post and so much has happened! I earned my pro card, got a job, and moved to enemy territory (Boulder). The last few months of 2017 and the first few of 2018 weren’t the best for training because I was getting settled into my new job and didn’t want to let triathlon interfere with the thing putting food on the table. Once I figured that out though my training has been great! I’ll try to write another post about what kind of actual training I’m doing, but for now you can look at my Strava.
Since earning my pro card (and graduating) I realized that I had to put some thought into what race I actually wanted to do. Before I would race the collegiate circuit from August to April, and throw in a local race or two over the summer. Originally I was going to chase points in the Ironman 70.3 circuit to try to qualify for worlds, but traveling so much just when I got a new job wasn’t going to work. My old roomie and pro triathlete recommended that I save some money and do some competitive local races and build up some experience before lining up with the worlds best. After thinking about what he said and remembering the draft fest that was 70.3 Worlds I decided to take his advice.
A few days after making that decision I signed on with Team Worksighted, a company that made a tri team to get more active in the West Michigan endurance scene. This was great because I had been wanting to go back home and compete in a few races now that I had gotten faster, and now I had a chance to represent them at the Grand Rapids Tri and Michigan Titanium 70.3 races. Those were only two races though, and I wanted to do more in Colorado. Fortunately I found out that Without Limits, a triathlon race company in Colorado, had a 3 race series for only $300.
Being used to the college budget I am all about getting more for your money so I signed up right away. This race included the Colorado Tri (Sprint), Boulder Peak (Olympic), and Harvest Moon (70.3) triathlons. The first of which was the Colorado Tri, which is what I’m writing this race report about now.
With three 70.3 races this summer my training since January has been geared primarily towards endurance, so going the distance of a sprint triathlon was no problem. It wasn’t until about 2 weeks before that I really started working on my speed. I had been hitting up the track once a week doing 70.3 pace work, but to get top speed I started incorporating fast strides at the end of every practice. My Achilles doesn’t like entire workouts dedicated to speed so this was my compromise. As for biking I would go to Olde Stage road (has 24% grade for parts) and go up and down a few times with 400+ watts for a few minutes, sometimes I would go to Left Hand Canyon for more repeats and bike up for 10 minutes holding power above race pace. Two weeks of this wasn’t enough to be incredibly prepared for a sprint tri, but I figured it was enough to not embarrass myself as a pro. Though I did forget about brick workouts until the morning before, so that embarrassment wasn’t off the table just yet..
This was a pretty normal race morning. I woke up at 5AM, made my signature breakfast of toast with peanut butter, honey, and a banana. Then I checked to make sure I had all my race gear again before chucking it in a bag and heading to the course. When I got there around 6AM I picked a nice spot in transition, left for a mile warm up jog to a port-a-potty on the course with no line, did some dynamic stretches, then ran back to go for a quick spin on the bike to make sure everything was in working order. Everything was fine so I put on my sunscreen, body-glide, and wetsuit and went to the water to warm up for the start of the race!
The start of this swim was a wade in, which I prefer to the run in because people seem to get way more hyped up in those. Normally I position myself off to the side because the swim was my weak leg, but after swimming 3-4 times a week with the Boulder Aquatic Masters team I felt comfortable lining up front and center this time around. When the gun went off I went off in a sprint, there was very little contact with anyone and I put the carnage behind me quickly. I was in 2nd place here and I decided to jump on first place’s feet as I usually do in the swim… Unfortunately he was a little too fast for me so I found someone coming up right next to me and I went with them. As soon I was comfortable I got a nice slap to the face by someone swimming next to me, and my right goggle filled with water. I am as blind as a bat so I wear contacts in the swim, and with all the water in there I could feel it moving out of place so I tried to get the water out mid stroke a few times and get back into the race. When I was good to go I realized I had lost my draft. This was around 300 meters in, so I tried to pick it up to catch back up but was unable to do so. The last 500 meters I swam on my own, I could see the other 3 swimmers together in front of me out of reach but couldn’t do anything about it. I entered transition about 18 seconds back from that pack and 1 minute back from the leader, which wasn’t awful because I’m used to being the underdog biking/running people down.
Official Swim Time: 12 minutes
Current Place: 6th
I’m used to being a slow swimmer and doing draft legal races so my transitions are generally on point. This time was no exception. I ran in, took the wetsuit off, put the helmet on, and was out in 46 seconds. The fastest T1 of the day.
Current Place: Still 6th, but a little closer to everyone else.
This course is uphill the first 6 miles, and downhill/flat the last 11. Since I’ve only got a 52×11 I wanted to hammer the first part in ~340 watts and then come back home in around ~320 watts. I figured this was a good idea because I’d likely spin out going downhill. I could see the group of 3 riding pretty closely together about 200 meters up, but decided to stick with my power plan instead of trying to get to them as quickly as possible. I couldn’t quite hold my planned 340 because I wasn’t used to pushing that hard right out of the water, but I was able to hold 330 and pass 2nd/3rd place before the start of the downhill. The other guy from their group had created a gap and the distance between him and I hadn’t grown any smaller, but it didn’t really matter because I was going to try to stick to my plan. For miles 7-11 I held second place, but I couldn’t shake off the other two guys I caught and one ended up passing me. I recognized one guy from my last race (Oktoberfest), he was in a different wave than me that day but his run split was a second faster than mine so I knew I couldn’t let him get away no matter what. So for the last 6 miles I was a little ways back, but I kept him in sight. I ended up holding 310 watts for the last 11 miles, so I was pretty consistently with my plan. The three of us came into T2 within seconds of each other, and it was a footrace from there.
Official Bike Time: 39:29 with ~26mph for around 17 miles
Current Place: 4th
Knowing how fast of a runner the other guy was, and that the other one was also a pro I knew I had to put some time on them here. I ended up in and out of transition in 38 seconds, which was the 2nd fastest of the day but gave me 10 seconds on the two guys I came in with.
Current Place: 2nd and 40 seconds back from 1st
I wasn’t sure how this would go. Generally running is my strongest event, but I hadn’t done a serious brick since last year and also hadn’t been doing work faster than threshold.. But once I looked at my watch and saw I was going a 5:15 mile pace out of T2 I knew I could still run fast off the bike, though if I could keep up the pace for 3 miles was another question altogether. I found out later the answer to that was no, but I was able to make up the 40 second gap and take first place before reaching the half mile mark. After a quick word of praise for the former leader’s race so far I went ahead. A mile in my legs were tired but my lungs were feeling okay, the lead biker next to me told me that I had about 15 seconds on the fast guy and that it might turn into a running race. There wasn’t much I could do with that info, my legs were moving as fast as they could so I just had to hold on. Once I reached the turnaround I could actually see where he was, and I actually had put a small gap on him! It wasn’t over yet though, because I was still only about 25 seconds ahead and starting to fall apart. My stomach was cramping and my chest was tightening making it hard to breath. My legs which were my limiter just 5 minutes ago were doing far better than the rest of my body right now. My first mile I ran in 5:24 with a slight uphill, my second was 5:35 and flat, but thankfully that meant my last would be a slight downhill. I kept looking at my watch and then back to see if he had made ground, but it looked like I was holding on alright. When I made the turn into the finish line stretch I saw I had it won so I straightened up for the finish line photo (that the cameraman wasn’t ready for) and then went down the slip and slide. My run time ended up being the fastest of the day with 17:04 at 5300′ altitude. The other guy finished 19 seconds after me, and we congratulated each other on a great race before heading off to hydrate and cheer for our friends still on the course.
Official Run Time: 17:04
Final Place: 1st
As soon as the race ended I got some dry shoes and socks and ran five miles along the Olympic course, getting both my tapered long run in (8 total for the day) for next weekend’s half and cheering for those still out on the course. When I got back I got in line for the post race pasta and sat with my friends. After a while they had the award ceremony and I got a nifty gold plaque!
Overall I was very happy with this race. It would have been nice to come out with the leaders in the swim, but I know I’ve been slacking in the water the last month or two to focus on my bike and run. Both transitions and bike went almost exactly as planned. Looking at previous year splits I thought I’d have a pretty comfy lead, but this year had some really solid competitors! Running that hard may have been a mistake with my half next weekend, but it was worth it to stand on the first place podium spot for the first time ever.