Toys can be replaced; racing opportunities can’t be replaced, just replicated? This was my general thought and decision making process when 15 miles into the 24.9 mile bike leg, my expensive Garmin bike computer and water bottle launched off my bike due to a rough patch of road. Good news, we drove back and found it!
On to the race – This was my first time racing Folsom Lake International Triathlon. Why? I’ve never been in race shape in earlier May because the tax man wants his money by April 15th. In January 2021 I changed jobs. New year, new job, new me. I remember my college running coach, Gary Towne, talk about consistent quality training as money deposits in a bank that accumulates over many years. Post college, I’ve been making a lot of withdrawals. Coming into this race, I’ve put together 24 straight weeks of 5hr+ training weeks. This is the most consistent I’ve been post college and it feels good to be making net money deposits in the training bank.
I race best when I’m relaxed, focused on gratitude, and when I race on feel and not predetermined paces. I wanted to trust the training I’ve put in, which means putting yourself out there. It’s what makes sports great. It’s not about being 1st place, it’s about getting the best out of yourself, and discovering/evolving who you are under pressure/challenge.
Okay, enough pontification – onto the swim. Due to drought conditions, the lake level is very low. It’s a .6 mile trek from the swim exit to the transition area, which favors me since I’m not a strong swimmer and I can use the long run to transition to make up time. The gun went off and into the 74 degree refreshing water we went to swim 1500 meters. I didn’t have a great swim (says most triathletes). I continue to struggle mentally with open water swimming. It’s just not comfortable for me. I need more open water swimming practice (i.e. get comfortable being uncomfortable). Despite what I thought was a poor swim, my wife, Ondi, said I was still in the top 5 out of the water in my wave (30-39)…everyone needs to work on their swim 🙂
I shook off the negative thoughts and pressed on to T1. The bike course is awesome. Rolling hills, mostly smooth roads, and CHP to block cars. I experienced my first “legal draft” during the ride. About 15 minutes into the bike, a dude with quads the size of my waist passed me and I jumped on his drafting wake. Even at 12 meters (i.e. three bike lengths apart), it’s surprising the draft benefits you can get. I did my best to contribute to the strategic partnership. After the race, I thanked him for the strong ride and he gave me a beer and we had a nice chat: good vibes! As mentioned in the first paragraph, I lost my bike computer and only water bottle. Rather than stop, I pressed on towards glory and my new strong bike compatriot. I estimate my bike split to be in the high 1:07, low 1:08 range- I was really happy at the power output, averaging just under my FTP.
Onto the run – this is where I really needed to trust the training. The first mile of a tri run is hard and deceptive. My experience has shown me the first mile is not indicative of how I really feel coming off the bike. The first two miles of the run are relatively flat, miles 3-5 are really hilly and the 6th not too bad. I hit mile one and saw a nice run split (6:16). Rather than pull back, I pressed on and hit a 6:18 2nd mile split. As soon has I hit the first hill during the 3rd mile, I felt a small twinge in my quads (i.e cramp). Given the fact that I lost my bottle on the ride, and the temperature was rising, I pulled back the pace a bit for the next few hilly miles. I ended up averaging 6:39 per mile. I have mixed feelings about the run. Part of me wishes I had just rolled the dice, and ignored the small leg cramps on mile 3…
I ended up 5th overall and 1st in my age group. A fun and great day. Shout out to 4th place, a 49 year old dude who beat me by 9 seconds and whose total bike/run time was better than mine. That’s inspiring! Shout out to my wife and kids who were so supportive and cheerful! It was also a lot of fun seeing so many Chico Triathlon Club members racing as well. On to the next one!