Bringing home some hardware from the place that started is all…. And an example of why you never, ever give up!
Beautiful weather for the BLT this year! I started this sport 5 years ago and never thought I would be very competitive… today I proved I was wrong. I wasn’t on the swim team in collage, I didn’t run cross country in high school.. and I never really had much in the way of athleticism... I’m just not “that guy”… I was the computer geek kid who got really fat in collage eating too many pints of Ben and Jerry’s while programing late at night and trying to figure out why cheerleaders didn’t like geeks. So… today I proved that if I can do this, anyone can. If you are thinking of picking up this crazy sport of triathlon and think you don’t have the body type, aren’t athletic enough, can’t swim, can’t run, etc… well, know that you can overcome all that with some discipline, hard work, pain, and a good team to train and learn with. It won’t happen overnight.. but give it a few years (and a ridiculous amount of money) and you can stand on the podium and see your name near the top of the finishers list (and you can even complete the swim without the breast stroke and drinking half the lake!) So how did it go at the BLT? I raced in the elite wave for the first time and managed to pull off 2nd AG and 15th OA (and this was the 3rd consecutive sprint distance race I snagged 2nd(Black Diamond and Issaquah) so I guess I can’t say it was just a fluke anymore.(and I raced BLT on 7 days rest from a 5:24 performance at Lake Stevens 70.3) There are still plenty of guys out there that are way faster than me.. no question… but after a few years of learning and training I realize I have reached a level in this crazy sport I never dreamed was possible and it’s so much fun! So… never give up and never stop… ever.
The long boring race details (so I can pull them out and read them next year…) .seriously.. if you are reading the below then you have too much time on your hands.. go ride your bike instead.
The Beaver Lake race is where my passion for this silly sport all got started back in 2008. That’s the year I decided to do the race two days before the event.. showed up that morning, registered, then my friend Kevin told me to go set up my “transition”… I looked at him and said “my what?” I really had no idea what I was doing… couldn’t swim (I swam on my back the entire way), I was decent on my bike, and you would be really generous if you called what I did that day a “jog.” I remember looking at the top finishers and their times thinking I could never be that competitive… I wasn’t very athletic and really only knew how to cycle… and there guys showed up with strange looing bikes and racing in a position that looked miserably uncomfortable. Well… I did cross the finish line that day (I think I almost cried when I did!) and I fell in love with the sport… but I figured I would never get to the point where I would be competitive… I guess I was wrong.
Pre-Race – Normal drill.. wake up , breakfast to plan, jump in the car, show up early. Warmed up and everything was coming together according to plan.. but then I had to go change things. I realized the elite wave was really just a chance for the top racers to have a clean race without any wave traffic… so the elite wave was still racing for the normal AG divisions. I’ve never gone in the elite wave.. intimidated of looking like a fool I suppose.. but I figured I have finished 2ND AG in my last two sprint races and if the guys I was racing against for a podium spot were getting the advantage of the elite wave then I wanted in. I ran over to the check in table and asked if I could switch to the elite wave.. they said sure… I was assigned a new number… #3.. wow.. so now I guess I better put together a race worthy of a super low number. Then I realize that instead of 40 min before my wave I now have 15 min before the elite wave.. and I still need to move my bike to the elite rack.. yikes.. a little panic but I moved, got set up.. threw on the wetsuit and I was all set to either look like a total fool racing with pros or I was set to have a good race…
Swim: 6:09 - (3rdAG/61st OA)
Standing at the start of the swim with the other 25+ elite wave racers was certainly different.. the thing I noticed most is that all the other guys looked like they were about 20 pounds lighter than me and about a foot taller… yikes.. this should be interesting. Gun goes off and I decide to swim the fastest 400 yards of my life (okay.. it’s the BLT.. so it’s more like 350 yards!)… at the first turn I had settled into a nice draft off a guy and I was really surprised that we were in the lead pack of 4 or 5 guys.. crazy. At the second turn I finally started to feel the effects of going as hard as possible and not really doing much swim training the last two months so my stroke got sloppy and I was in desperate need of oxygen. Headed towards swim out I could see the guys in the lead who had accelerated off the front… they went into T1 and it seemed like I was out there all alone.. I was still 75 yards out and there was no one else left in front of me… I really was going to be that guy in the elite wave that everyone claps for because he finally got out of the water and as he runs by they whisper “what the heck was that guy doing in the elite wave?” I finally get to shore, run out and I hear a few people start to clap for me.. in my head it was a golf clap not a “you rock” clap… Oh joy.
T1: 1:12 (1st AG)
I run up into T1 and notice quite a few guys still running around the TA.. sweet… I’m not out of this yet… I guess I wasn’t as far back as I thought. I run to my bike, wetsuit off, glasses on, helmet on, set into shoes, run out of T1…. Absolutely flawless execution of the plan and the numbers back that up… 2nd fastest T1 in the elite wave (someone was 1 second faster.)
Bike: 0:39:09 21.15mph (4thAG/15thOA)
I was most worried about my ability to perform on the bike since my legs hadn’t really recovered from hammering out a 2:42 at the Lake Steven’s race just 6 days earlier. The first 5 minutes on the bike were about getting my HR down and settling in.. my HR and breathing were sky high after the swim and I needed to get things back under control. After a bit things normalized and I brought the power up. Passed a few guys and then I went back and forth with a guy in my AG… and as far as I knew he was the only 35-39 in the elite wave. We screamed down the big hill and I passed a few more guys and hammered it out to the big climb. I’d rate my climb as “okay”… this is where I really noticed that my legs weren’t recovered from last weekend’s race and I just didn’t have the power and acceleration needed but I hung in there. I was passed by most of the guys I had passed earlier and that of course included the guy in my AG but we finally hit the top of the hill and I was able to pick things up a bit. Heading towards T2 I chased down 3 guys and thankfully one of them was the 35 year old I was racing… so hammered into T2 in 1st place and I realized I was actually hanging with the elite guys. Average watts came in lower than planned at 247w.. was aiming for the 260-270 range but the legs didn’t have any more today.
T2: :38 (1st AG)
Dismount, helmet off, shoes on, hat on and run run run. Flawless again and this time I was the fastest elite T2 time.
RUN: 0:30:38 7:06/mile (4thAG/40thOA)
Heading out of T2 I knew I was in for a long (4.3 mile) and painful run but I was really in this thing and had a good shot at getting on the podium so I had to just find the pace that would get me to the finish line without passing out at mile 3. The guy I was racing followed me out of T2 and stayed right on my heals… he seems perfectly content just sitting there waiting to make his move and when we got to the little embankment you need to climb up to get out of the park I moved over and left him pass. I didn’t want to do this but I experiencing the early signs of cramping in my quad and I knew that sprinting up that little hill might just do me in.. so I let him by and I climbed up conservatively which was the right thing to do. The course finally started downhill and that allowed my body to recover from the bike and get into run mode… the cramping was gone and now I just had to hang in there as best I could. I was about 30 yards behind the 35 year old and I actually started gaining on him a bit… hmmmm.. maybe this will work out after all. Well… nope… this wasn’t the day for that as he eventually run off out of reach. The rest of the run went fine… I kept a steady pace throughout and I was on the verge of passing out but I was staying to the good side of that outcome.. legs felt good and the brain was telling me I should be sitting on the sofa with a beer not out trying to kill myself. The Garmin says I clicked off Mile #1 at 7:27 and picked it up a bit to a 7:15ish pace for the rest of the race… slightly slower than my normal 5K race pace but that’s probably about right… since this isn’t a 5k! I had planned to go all out at the 4 mile mark which meant 1/3 of a mile at all-out sprint speed. I wasn’t sure my legs, lungs, and heart were up for that but I have been learning to push myself further and so why not go for it. I hit the 4 mile line and kicked it up… surprisingly I felt great… ran sub 6 for the last 1/3 mile and didn’t let up at all. I wanted to finish strong but didn’t think it really mattered.. the 1st place guy was out of reach and I didn’t think there were any other 35-39’s in my wave.. and I hadn’t heard anyone coming behind me. I sprinted into the park and across the finish line… a very different experience than the first time I did this race!.. there is nothing like finding that finish line! I crossed and stopped to catch my breath and some guy puts his arm around me and says “awesome race”… I had no idea who this guy was.. but he then tells me he was in my AG and had been tracking me down for the last mile and he thought he had me till I started my final sprint and he just couldn’t make the pass. So how close was he?.... he missed catching me by 1 second. Had I let up even a little bit at the finish or started my sprint a second later he would have caught me… so never give up.
OA 1:17:47 – 2nd AG / 15th OA (9th Elite wave)
I ended up crossing the line in 9th place overall in the elite wave (15th OA for the race as 6 people in the AG waves were faster) and I had a solid performance on some tired and sore legs. Most importantly.. I went off with the elite wave without embarrassing myself.. and of course I had a blast out there on the course. So now I’ve snagged 2nd place in my last three sprints… 1st place continues to elude by that really doesn’t bother me one bit… one day it will happen(maybe when I am 70 and the only guy in my wave!) and until then I am going to keep learning and training. I’m not sure what’s next… our first baby is due in a few weeks so his arrival will determine my race schedule this fall. and yes, I have already started planning his first kid’s triathlon .