It was this time last year when I was blogging excuses about the amount of time between posts and my racing challenges.
Old habits die hard.
2 for 1: The Summer Sequel.
Part 1: Custer's Last Stand
800 swim, 12 mile ride and 4 mile run. All Dirty
I spent the winter revising my strategy, strengthening my areas of sucky and looking forward to attack at the first multi sport event of 2010.
The swim was your standard of skinny dudes dressed in tight black neoprene grunting, breathing heavy and doing a very poor job of not hitting and kicking one another. The only major difference was the added excitement of going head to head with Cyclocross Superstar Barry Wicks. I approached him and asked if anyone else had recognized him and he said no. Must be tri geeks do not spend the fall and winter months jumping barriers with bikes and watching videos of bikers jumping barriers for fun.
Back to the race…..
I tried to stay in the hitting kicking thick of it for as long as I could. By the time the group hit the first buoy I was spit out the back of the pack and left to splash uncomfortably with the other newb sauce swimmers. (Newb Sauce: Someone new to any sport, as defined by a K-zoo dirty riding bad ass)
After two laps in the water I looked forward to what was once my safe haven, the bike leg. I made the decision this past fall to scale back on my bike training to build up the other areas of need. The price for this was paid over the next 12 local singletrack miles where I struggled to comprehend the lack of "go juice" in my legs.
The run was much of the same as I cruised slowly over roots, rocks and rolling hills in for a 5th place age group finish. A special thanks to my wife, inlaws, nieces, nephews and dog Sam for making lots of loud noises as I went in and out of the pits.
Part #2: Wrestling the Sea Horse
1600 swim, 25k bike, 10K run (Olympic Style)
In September of last year Spaghetti and Meatball Racing tried their hand at the Olympic distance. I shuffled to a 2:46 finish and needed work.
Fast forward to memorial day weekend 2010 and S and M racing was back at it in Coldbrook park. This race was a special occasion because my meatball counterpart is making the move south with his family to pursue career opportunities and this was his last Michigan Triathlon for some time. It needed to be something epic. Mother nature and 3 Disciplines did not let us down.
The swim was long and sunny with lots of bodies bumping and water splashing. I did my best to hang until the first buoy and after the turn the pack split. Meatball exited the water 20 spots and several minutes ahead of me. I needed a quick pit and fast bike split to pull some time back. I entered the transition just as he was exiting but still needed to wrestle out of my wetsuit and get suited up for the ride.
The bike was hilly and riddled with pot holes. I decided to try another strategy, as suggested by my bride (who drove 8 hours the day before so i could be rested for the event.) I was going to take it easy on the bike. Did you hear what I just said? Take it easy? Was that possible? I put tropic thunder in a comfy cruising gear and just stayed steady. Not too hard. Not too soft. A cadence and gear ratio that was just riiiiiggghhhhtt. The toughest part of taking it easy on the bike was resisting the urge to crush everyone with disc wheels and compression socks. Something about railing past someone with a $10K bike that makes me smile. I pulled Meatball back but it took some time. He had logged miles this summer and was on his way to a personal best bike split.
I kept the tempo pace for two loops and pulled back several strong swimmers.
As I entered the pit I was looking forward to the lactic acid wall that awaited. Coming off the bike and into the run has always been a struggle. I slipped on my wool swiftwick socks (great for easy on/easy off) and took off for the 10K 6.6 mile shuffle to the finish. I was surprised with the spring in my step, but I knew it was too good to last. The course was hot, humid and hilly. I would crash after a mile. Maybe two? First 5k lap down and I still had fresh legs. I turned it up just a bit. Mile four was going to do me in for sure. Nope. Could I pull this off? Was I going to finish my first olympic triathlon without death knocking at my door? Mile 5 came and went and I was feeling frisky. I kicked and reeled in two guys in my age group. I exited the trail with 1.5 miles to go and Kevin was heading out for his second run lap. He looked at his watch and told me my split. He yelled sub 2:40!! If I kept this pace I was going to beat my personal best by almost six minutes. I turned it up. I came to the paved section, .5 miles from the finish and the Franck family was cheering me on. I don't remember if they said I looked like a freight train or jet liner, either way I gave it my all for the final uphill to the finish.
I crossed the line in 2:236:11, 10 minutes faster than last fall and on the podium for the first time in 2010. Meatball cruised in shortly after bringing a successful conclusion to our reign on Michigan Triathlon Racing.
A special thanks to my wife, Meatball, the Franck family and my sponsors Team Active, Swiftwick, Headsweats and Brooks Running Shoes.