Well, it's Sunday night and another exhausting race weekend has come and gone. That's right, yesterday saw me running the Triathlon at Pacific Grove. If you've been playing along at home, this was my first ever race in 2007.
Since that fateful day last September, I've been racing like crazy. In fact, yesterday was my ninth triathlon in 12 months. Does that make me obsessive? I'm not qualified to answer that question.
I decided to return to PG after a year of racing to see just what I had accomplished. What better benchmark than repetition, right? Again, if you've been playing along, this year has seen lots of races, but also lots of injury. Cracked ribs, plantar fasciitis, blisters and cuts and bruises too numerous to recall.
Anyway, how did I do? I crushed myself.
Pac Grove 2007 Finish: 3:10:22
Pac Grove 2008 Finish: 2:49:42
Apart from the overall, what did I want out of this race?
1. Beat my swim from 07. Check.
2. Beat my run from 07. Check.
3. Finish the run with no walk breaks. Check.
Icing on the cake:
1. Beat my Lavaman bike split. (by about a minute and a half)
2. Ran my fastest triathlon 10K. (by about 5 minutes)
3. Cracked the top half of my age group.
That's 3 PRs in one race (bike, run, overall).
Oh yeah, bring on Longhorn.
It was interesting, racing on my own even though the TNT crew was there and they all knew me. I raced in my age group rather than with them and for the first time since I started this, I stepped into the chute not knowing a soul in my wave. I couldn't feed off the energy of friends and had to really pull into my own head for motivation. As I wandered around on the beach waiting for my turn, I could look up at the road and see the wall of purple jackets. Part of me wished I was up there with them, but I went into the water and just stood there for a while. There's an angle you can find where if you look out to sea, all you can see are rocks and water and grey sky. You can hear the announcer and the crowd, but if you tune it out it's almost like you're out there alone.
The swim was solid. I found a good rhythm pretty quickly, though I had some crowd issues. I came out of the water to go around the rock and braced for the next wave to land on top of me just like last year. It didn't happen, so I snuck a quick look at my watch. 13:36 for the first half of the swim. Not a PR but I had nearly 90 seconds to get out of the way before the horn went off for the next wave.
No problems until the home stretch. I was drafting off of a guy's shoulder and he started pulling to the outside, into me, since I was to his right. I stuttered a stroke and let him pull ahead, then cut inside. No problem, right? Well, he turned back inside and swam underneath me. We got all pretzeled up. As I tried to push off of him, he mule kicked me square in the right shoulder, hard enough to stand me up in the water and stop me cold. I gave him a second and finished my swim.
Up into T1 and I got my bike shoes on before I went completely, totally blank. I was literally standing in front of my gear with no idea what I was doing. The i heard someone yelling my name. I looked up to see Tim and Neil from the TNT squad cheering for me. That snapped me right out of it and I suited up and ran out to the mount line.
It was on the bike that I realized just how cool the AG start was. Last year, the bike course was straight out of Thunderdome, with people all over the road on all manner of bikes and no two of them following the same set of rules. In snowboarding, we call that the human slalom. Since I took off in wave two, the road was a ghost town. I had no traffic until lap four and by then it just didn't matter. After IB, I was really worried about my dismount into T2, so I prepped my shoes and slowed down a little early, but it worked. I stuck it and ran into transition. I could even feel my feet this time.
T2 was smooth and I was out on the run. Looking at my bike on the rack, I saw that I only used one of the four Gus I brought, which had me a little worried, but I had a tough time putting it down, so I didn't try to force a second.
On the run, all I wanted to do was run the whole thing without cramping. I figured that meant all I needed to do was find a pace that I could hold and just be steady, forgetting all about speed. This was a perfect strategy for me, apparently. I had no muscle issues, didn't stop at any of the aid stations and finished smooth. The 1:01 time is a PR for the triathlon 10K, so maybe for Lavaman I can get it under an hour. Who knows?
Congrats to the TNT crew. You guys looked great out there. Some of you actually looked like you were enjoying yourself. And the after party...mother of god, you people know what you're doing. I'm still hurting.
Oh, and you guys at Nation's...nice job all of you.
Congrats to Ben on his first olympic distance race.
Thank you to all the SCU crew who came down and to everyone who texted or emailed or facebooked a good luck message. You guys rock.
Well, I think that's about it for now. I need sleep since it's back to the real world tomorrow.