My last race as a 35 year old proved to be one of the best of my life. It’s much more than the race, its life supreme; being grateful for my youthful vigor, wonderful family, rewarding job as a Y coach, and lifestyle choice of: moving your body and breathing more. Can we truly appreciate each breath we take?
“Celebrate your existence”
The largest moon in 18 years hovered over the pre dawn landscape and the thirty plus pro men began warming up in the delightful Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve. The sun’s illumination allowed us to see the swim course clearly for the first time and then the starter signaled. Most of us were caught slightly off guard and we were spread out over about 50 meters. The free space allowed one to focus on pure speed.
One of my weaknesses last year was getting out fast enough in those first few minutes and a focus for this winter has been on improving. This race proved a perfect test with many of the fastest swimmers in the sport, John Kenny, Cameroon Dye, Ben Collins, Kyle Leto, and Brian Fleischmann were just a few of the guys who had been gaping me early in swims.
You can tell immediately if you are out fast enough and I was. This set the tone for a fun race and allowed me to settle into a comfortably fast pace. The water temp being 72 felt just right. I took more than a few moments to just simply enjoy swimming in the water. Apparently, there were several dolphins showing us how to go faster.
One swimmer, John Kenny, pulled away from the pack and I came to shore with about 10 other guys 30 seconds down on the leader. We had a 500 meter plus run to T1 and Charbot went by putting in a relentless sprint. I threw caution to the wind and matched his pace. It was an all out sprint and in hindsight the toughest part of my race. John’s lead evaporated with a slight miscalculation for the mount line allowing me to cross it first and turn the crank on the SCOTT Plasma.
Wow, I didn’t expect to be the first athlete on the bike course.
Knowing my biking fitness would be suspect today, I went at a pace that would have someone else taking the lead role. In a month or two I will salivate with the same opportunity and go for it…let’s see what this ole’ 36 year old bucket of bolts can do. Ha.
Being yo-yo’d is not a good thing and I kept getting too far behind and catching back up. With Leto slightly up the rode and Dye and Collins about 30 meters up on me, Bevan Docherty scolded me for letting the gap happen. It didn’t bother me, matter of fact, I’m proud to be racing in his radar and to know that the two time Olympic medalist is hurting too.
The bike was hard for me and I dipped over the redline many times and lost focus several times. Put a couple races under my belt this season and we’ll have that fixed.
Lieto caught Charbot (30 meters ahead, again with the gap) and I around 18 miles. He hung around for about a mile and then revved up his motorcycle to 40 some miles per hour. We were going with the wind and I was flying at about 35 mph but he was zipping ahead with monstrous speed. He caught up to the lead group, about a minute ahead of us in about two minutes!
Coming into T2 and worried that I had done myself in with too much effort on the bike, my legs surprised me with some spry. I guess they were happy to be off the bike and doing something they were more akin to this winter, running outside.
I ran hopeful of catching some of the athletes in front. Bevan and Charbot lingered just in front of me but I didn’t have any illusions of running them down. At the first turn around I was in a comfortable spot, with the leaders probably just out of reach and only Matt Reed in striking distance behind me.
Just after the half way point Reed caught up and quickly pulled a few seconds in front. For the rest of the race he hung like a carrot, keeping my pace honest but also discouraging an attempt to pass. When the day started getting hot with my body protesting I thought of Lola and Hortense. A smile could be seen forming on my face while strength came from somewhere within and I could charge ahead with renewed purpose. I must be strong for my friends and family. The finish line came quickly and taking stock on my body and emotions; joy was the prevailing theme.
I am over the moon with the race; training is going well and the body, mind and spirit are poised for some special races in 2011.
Thank You Bowens for your hospitality. Without it, I wouldn’t have raced so well and with out your generosity, I wouldn’t have even been able to race. Thank you, thank you!
Also, thanks to my sponsors for keeping me in the game: SCOTT, Louis Garneau, Kiwami, F2R, Therapeutic Associates, Idaho’s Shu Co., RestWise, Wild Rockies and my family.
Thank You to the Treasure Valley Y and all of the participants in the Swimfit, TriClub, and Youth Swim*Bike*Run program…you keep me strong.
Pro Men’s Field:
1. Matt Charbot, 1:44:04
2. Bevan Docherty, 1:44:30
3. Benjamin Collins, 1:44:40
4. Cameron Dye, 1:44:48
5. Chris Lieto, 1:44:50
6. Kyle Leto, 1:45:15
7. Matty Reed, 1:46:15
8. Kevin Everett, 1:46:34
9. Jordan Jones, 1:47:04
10. Brian Fleischmann, 1:48:04