Date: August 28, 2010

Location: Mission Bay, San Diego, CA

Distances: Swim 1 mile, Bike 38.3 miles, Run 8.4 miles

Today’s race was a repeat, with some modifications, that the Tri Club had put on last year. Last year’s race was approximately ½ iron distance, so this one was a little bit shorter. The swim was located in De Anza Cove in Mission Bay. The bike route started from De Anza Cove and headed South on Mission Bay Drive to Fiesta Island, where we did 8 laps of the “big loop”, and then exited the island to transition at De Anza Cove. The run headed counter clockwise around the eastern half of Mission Bay.

A week ago yesterday I started to feel the fatigue from my large training weeks. The past week I only did a fraction of my planned workouts because I was so exhausted. I needed the rest, there’s no doubt, but with only a few good training weeks available before my taper for Kona I was trying to squeeze the most out of the time I had. I started feeling better during my Thursday and Friday swims, and worked in a decent ride on Friday too. I’m a bit cautious now, not wanting to fall apart in the next few weeks. I didn’t know what to expect from the race today, but decided against any warm up or taking the race too serious. I figured I’d start each leg easy and work into it as I felt.

I decided to swim without a wetsuit. There are no wetsuits allowed at Kona, and I need to start figuring out what I want to race in. Today I raced in a single piece tri-suit. I usually don’t do triathlons with my heart monitor strap but figured today I’d collect some heart rate data. At the start of the swim I dolphined into the water and the strap immediately slipped down to my waist. That was a bit annoying, and I decided that I would just take it off as soon as I finished the swim. I also noticed that there were several swimmers that seemed to get far ahead from the start. I knew there were some fast swimmers there, but couldn’t believe how far ahead they got in just the first few minutes.

I cruised the beginning of the swim, and after about ½ of the first lap (of two laps) I was feeling good so I picked up the pace. By the time I was heading into the second lap I realized I wasn’t swimming faster than the guy next to me, so I just settled in on his feet. Fortunately he seemed to hold a good line to the buoys. I could tell he was a little annoyed when I’d occasionally tap his feet. I really wasn’t intending to hit his feet. I’d rather he didn’t know I was there. The visibility was so poor though that I never saw his feet and was only trying to stay in his draft. When I tapped his feet he would kick harder, which only helped me stay in his draft. By kicking harder he probably created a bigger draft, and he also created more bubbles that made it easier for me to see where he was.

Onto the bike… My transition was fair, not especially fast because I was dealing with the heart monitor strap and I took an extra couple seconds to knock some of the sand off my feet. My power starting off was pretty low, but I wanted to ease into it until I got on the island. Once I was on the island I was holding 270-300 watts and feeling pretty good with that. After about 3 of the 8 laps on the island I realized that the bike was probably going to take just over 90 minutes, and that this would be a good opportunity to set a new best 90 minute critical power (CP90). My average power at that point was about 284 watts, and I knew I could bring it up because the first 5 minutes was less than 250 watts. I brought my power to 290-310 watts. I brought with me a single water bottle that contained about 200 calories of Carbo Pro, and decided I would drink from it after 2, 4, and 6 laps, which is exactly what it took to drain it.

During my 5th lap I was approaching several triathletes, and a green truck that was maneuvering past them. The driver passed some riders on her right, and it looked like I could probably pass fairly easily on the right. As I was rapidly approaching, she suddenly cut over to the right, looking like she was going to turn off the road. Most people do turn off to the right, because that is where the water is, and there aren’t a lot of turn outs to the left. Well, as I quickly decided to swing over to her left to pass, she turned hard to the left, cutting me off. I slammed on the brakes and yelled, and quickly decided to go off the road into the sand instead of hitting her truck. This was absolutely the best move. If I had ran into her my race probably would be over, I’d be injured, and there would be insurance/legal stuff to deal with. She was apologetic, I was dirty, and only had a minor knee contusion. My Garmin flew off the bike and the chain fell off. I quickly got back on track. The total stopped time was 42 seconds, but with the slowing and starting back up I definitely gave up a good minute.

I must have had a good adrenaline rush though following that, because my power quickly went up to 340+ watts, and I was able to hold that for the rest of the ride. My CP90 history includes 284 watts, which I did 12/17/2009 and 1/30/2010, and today I set a new best: 294 watts. This is a great measure of my improved muscular endurance. I had already improved my CP180 recently, from 253 watts on 11/22/2009 to 258 watts on 7/24/2010.

Onto the run… I wasn’t expecting much from the run. My running has not felt good nor been fast for a while now. My first mile split was 7:10, and I thought “Nice, but I’m not going to worry about pace. Just relax and keep good form and cadence.” The run actually felt pretty good, but I was concerned that it might fall apart soon. I pushed it hard on the bike to get the higher CP90, realizing that I may be sacrificing some running ability due to the extra fatigue. At mile 5 there was an aid station, and I didn’t see Matt Dixon, or any other runner coming yet, so I decided that it was time to be concerned about pace. I didn’t want to give up the win at this point. I ran the rest at sub 7 pace, finishing with a 7:07 average pace for the 8.4 miles. Overall time was about 2:58, and I held off second place Matt Dixon by about 2 minutes. It feels great to be getting back into shape!

As always, the Tri Club, race director Brian Wrona, and the volunteers put on a very smooth race. These club events are some of my favorite events. I’ll be looking forward to the next one!