Looking for a good race…
After my goal race for the year gets canceled due to some nasty thunder storms in Kansas City, I headed towards New Hampshire 7 days later for some redemption. Alas, the trip to the med tent in Kansas City, lots of travel, and a very early start seemed to steal much of my energy.
Desperate for a good race, upon returning we attempt to sign up for Pacific Grove, my wife and I were disappointed to learn that the Triathlon at Pacific Grove had been sold out. However, my clever wife wrote an e-mail to the race director and was able to sneak us into the event. Thank goodness, the season was unraveling, I had not obtained my pro license and was very motivated to qualify for it and also to race while still close to ‘peak’ condition.
We even hurried to buy a new car for the long drive from Boise to Pacific Grove. We traded in our gas guzzling SUV and bought a Malibu Maxx. 1 week later Katrina hit and gas prices soared. We then had a hitch added so we could put a Thule Expressway rack on the back. We love the new, cheaper car. It is a good thing because it was our ‘hotel’ for the next 3 nights. In an effort to save some money we decided to sleep in the car. I am so proud of my wife. I mean, it is one thing to sleep in a car for three nights while on the road, its another to do so when competing in a major triathlon. She’s one in a million. There is one advantage to sleeping in the car, we were able to park right next to the race venue the night before. When we woke up, we were ready to go after a quick breakfast. The other nice thing about our Malibu is that we have tinted windows, so when we add a sun shade to the front window, as long as we don’t have a light on the inside, no one knows that we are in the car. Stealthy!
The morning was serene, brisk and of course had that ocean breeze with just enough cloud cover to block the sun. After the usual two or three bathroom stops I was ready to warm up. I ended up doing the entire bike course, it was a 4-lap bike course so it was only around 6 miles. The route being so pristine, all along the coast, kept your mind in awe and at ease. I ended up riding a little longer than I would have liked as I had to rush to get my wet-suit on and didn’t get much of a swim warm-up in. I was in the second wave 15 minutes after the first. Moments before it was time to go I was calm, comfortable, and delighted. Amazingly to me, as the countdown began the sun came out in all it’s brilliance. There was a golden reflection on the water showing the path I was about to take through the kelp beds. I couldn’t help but think how lucky and fortunate I was to have my health and the enjoyment of the upcoming race. But it did make it hard to see.
Due to my short swim warm-up I had yet to experience the kelp crawl. I got my fair share of it early and often. Unfortunately, many of the first wave swimmers were into the second lap and swimming in the prime real estate…no kelp. I was going a bit faster so the only way around in many circumstances was through a thick bed of kelp. The first few went pretty well and I noticed that I was actually totally out of the water, on top, doing the kelp crawl. Once, I ran into some thick kelp and came very close to having my goggle torn off, but ended up with just enough water to keep them from fogging up. None-the-less, I kept my head up more frequently after that. On my second lap I went out of my way, zig-zagging, to avoid kelp as it was tiring me out to do the push-up like kelp crawl. I finished with an amateur best of 20:26. Just one second in front of Jay Calvert who I later found out swam distance free at the Naval Academy.
Onto the bike course I began to focus on stream lining through the wind with efficiency. The first lap or two was nice as not many racers had gotten to the bike yet. But after that it was one continuous pass for me. Which is part of the reason I was tagged for a positioning 2:00 penalty. I noticed the motorcycle pull up in front of me as the passenger wrote something down on his notepad. I was thinking, “I hope that’s not for me”, but there was no one else around at the time, so I fooled myself into thinking maybe he was writing the number down of the bike leader. Turns out he docked me for not being on the right side of the road. Oh well, I don’t know how many times I had to yell, “on you left!” and slow down in order to get by some bikers, so I stayed on the left side of the road. It did rob me of a course record though.
My goal coming into the race was to have a good run, and the 36:13 I ran was comfortable and controlled. A 35 minute run would have been nice but I need to be forced into more pain for that. I ended up winning the event with a 2:03:33…plus the 2 minute penalty- 2:05:33. To my elation, I was now eligible to race as a Pro! It is goal that I have been working towards for 2 years as a triathlete, but an achievement that has taken a whole life to realize. It has brought more fulfillment than I would have thought….but I have yet to race as one..