It has been a long, strange journey to this triathlon. Since my first race of the season on May 14, I have really focused most of my free time on triathlon training and getting to the point that I would be comfortable for the longest distance possible during a half ironman distance race. In the month of June, I really stepped up my training and swam 11,400 meters, biked about 855 miles and ran 85.2 miles. Coming from a running background, I am used to working out hard and always being sore or stiff somewhere. I found with tri training, I was never sore or stiff, just generally tired. I loved the month of June and I wanted to see if my training was going to pay off in this race. Before the race, I thought I was peaking at the right time and began my taper 10 days out from my race. I haven’t gotten sick since about April, so things have been going my way.
On the Friday before the race, I stayed up in Park City, which is about 20 minutes away from the race site. My logic was I would be able to save about 80 minutes of sleep by staying in Park City vs. staying at home the night before the race. So, Friday afternoon I checked into my condo and was excited about the kitchen in the room where I was.
I immediately went out to drive the bike course. If you have never been to the area where this tri is held, it is all sage brush and tall grass – that means there are no trees and subsequently, no shade, but more on that later. The course was great. There were lots of rollers to challenge you with trips up a couple of canyons and some rough spots on the road, but overall a fantastic place for a bike. I thought it wouldn’t be a place for a PR, but a fun course none the less.
So I had a buddy call me up who races with me a lot and he decided to stay with me in Park City on Friday night. There was plenty of space in the room, but I will say this: Never follow anyone else’s schedule. I love this guy, but he is late to everything. I really needed to follow my own schedule of getting up early, getting to the venue early and setting up my area early. But, I followed his and it really took me out of my groove for a while. I am not ever going to follow someone else’s schedule on race day again. He and I have a friendly bet of lunch at the races we do, and he is much faster than I am. One of my goals for today was to beat him for once. He has done the Florida Ironman, the Wildflower Long Course several times and many, many other tri’s as well.
So we got up, ate some oatmeal, took some Enduralytes, drank some Ensure, Gatorade and water. I felt hydrated as I was peeing every 20 minutes, and I was ready to go.
This venue was a little different as with the high water at the Reservoir, there was no parking. You had to park in town and ride your bike to the transition area and either carry your gear with you or walk back to your car and get your gear and ride the shuttle back. It was only a mile away, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. A little annoying, but you knew that going in, so why get upset.
We park the cars and ride our stuff into the transition area. Oops, I forgot my race numbers in the car. Why didn’t I take care of that the night before? I am not sure, but it won’t happen again. A quick bike ride back to the car to get my numbers, and I am back at the transition area. I go off to get body marked, hit the porta-potties and come back to my T area. I threw on the wetsuit, checked the gear one more time to make sure I didn’t forget something like my running shoes in the car. Not to worry, those were always in the transition bag.
At this point, I really felt off of my game. I was flustered. It felt like I was really not focused on the task at hand. My goal was to go sub 6:00 and I had a super secret goal of going 5:30. Either way, I knew I needed to focus on my “box” – the six feet in front and in back of me at all times. I took a moment and got my head in the game. Lesson learned.
A really cool moment happened at that point. The RD was giving some last minute instructions over the loud speaker and it came time for the national anthem. A local 10 year old girl sang it. It was very difficult to hear her over the noise that naturally happens on race morning. But by “the rockets red glare”, everyone was silent. It was amazing that all of those people shut up. Everyone, regardless of politics, was united in that moment. It was really cool.
After the final instructions finished, I headed down to the swim start. The RD suggested that we bring shoes for the run from the swim to our bikes, but I thought I was too tough for that. But, that run and the transition were both made of loose dirt and small rocks, which made for a very painful run. Another lesson learned. Next year I will bring shoes.
The lake was warm (about 70 degrees) and I almost thought about ditching the wetsuit, but I remembered how it makes me float and my brain prevailed. Took about 20 seconds to warm-up and got out the start buoys and ready to swim.
2000 m – Watch Time: 35:26.2 – 1:45 m/100 m – 167 bpm Average
The start for this tri was really cool. Since the ½ IM people had to do two laps of the swim course, they let us go first. They started the men and then 10 minutes later, they started the women. There were only 147 people in the ½ IM, so this race was not that crowded. The course was a diamond shape that we had to complete two laps of.
They send us off and due to the lack of people there was not much battling during the swim. My strategy was to go out easy on the swim and just swim. I am a 2:00/100 m guy, so I told myself I would be happy with anywhere between a 40 and 45 minute swim. I wanted to keep my heart rate down as the day was supposed to be very hot by the time we got off of the bike and I wanted to conserve all that I could. I kept finding feet to draft and I got behind a couple of really straight swimmers. I only sighted twice during the swim. The first time was going around the first buoy and the second time was coming into shore for the finish.
I swam until I touched the bottom and then I got up. I looked at my watch and holy cow, I came in at a super fast for me 35:26. At first I was a little disappointed in myself because I really wanted to slow down during the swim. But then I thought, get in the box and don’t worry about it. I took my own advice and began the walk on cheese graters up to my bike.