Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yeah 1st OA...oh wait...stupid waves

From my last post..."For some odd reason, the week leading up to my first triathlon (Clermont Olympic) for 2012 I was pretty blah...not physically blah, but mentally blah..." That was gone!! Yeah, I was so pumped for my next tri...Escape from Ft. Desoto. I love racing in Ft. Desoto: swim is well marked with plenty of buoys, bike is on a closed course will scenery of the gulf, and the run has some trail/beach.

Also, racing in Tampa area, the Sarasota Storm tri club brings a huge gathering of members, which means friendly competition with friends.

Coming into race week, I was pretty much smashed. The weekend started with a Friday long ride in San Antonio hills with Ambrozic, track session on Saturday with SHS track, and a triple on Sunday with 90 minute run, 1 hour trainer ride, and 2100 yards in the pool with cord work. I
was feeling pretty sore until Thursday because another hard track session on Tuesday with 8x400 all under 75 seconds. Therefore, I hit the hot tub and roller a lot over the week to get ready for Saturday's race.

Race Morning
Abby and I woke up earlier than usual because of the new policy by Ft. Desoto to charge $5 to enter the park, so we both saw a huge bottle neck occurring to get 1000 people through 1 gate, so alarm was set for 3:50 am! We got going at 4:30 am to head up. I noticed a lot of wind in Sarasota, so when we got to the race site it was even winder because we are right on the gulf. The wind was coming from the east at about 20-25 mph. It got me a little worried about having my aero wheel cover on, but decided to keep it on because the majority of the bike was either into or with the wind.

My typical warm up for most races start with 15 minute spin on the trainer with 3-4 x 0:30 pick-ups, get my bike into transition, 10 minute run with drills, and then dynamic flex (ala Dr. King). This usually gives me about 30 minutes of down time to relax and get my swim gear together in this case...wet suit!! Yeah, don't remember having more than 2 races to be wet suit
legal in one season...this year I should have a total of 4. Grabbed my SBR Trislide to lube me up and got my wet suit on. Ft. Desoto races are notorious to start late because again, you have 1000 people going through 1 gate...anyways I head in the water for my warm up and adjust by suit. I felt great! Ready to rock!

The swim is straight forward like most gulf swims-start either north or south of transition and head in one direction. For Ft. Desoto, we walk north to the swim start. My age group (30-34) was in the 2nd wave at 3 minute intervals. There were a total of 13 waves with the first being male and female of 15-19 and the last being males 25-29 (foreshadowing). The swim is 0.50 mile with plenty of buoys (6) for sighting. For the start, you head straight for about 50 meters and turn left, then just hammer till you have to turn left again to exit. I got a good start. Not much of running into other swimmers. I started out fast to get to the first buoy and found plenty of clean water with little people around me. The first quarter of mile went by super fast...so I felt great. I got to the last buoy and found about 3 other people with me so I just cruised in on their feet. It's just not worth the extra 2-3 seconds you'll gain by trying to sprint pass them. Swim time was 9:52.

Transition 1 is a run up the beach into the parking lot. Plenty of time to start getting your suit stripped down to your waist and for me I get to pick some people off during the run up. I came out of the water 4th but left transition 2nd!

The bike is probably my favorite part of any Ft. Desoto race. It's super simple and gorgeous views of the gulf and bay. It's just under 10 miles and just hammer the pedals! I carried about 10 ounces of fluid that contained powerade, water, and Powerbar Kona gel in my aero bottle container. I really didn't have a wattage number in mind for the bike just to go out hard into the wind since I would be able to make up more time against the weaker bikers and then hammer coming back with the wind...whatever the power numbers come out, then that's what it is. So I head out of T1 and wanted to catch as many
people as possible from the 1st wave. The crosswind wasn't too bad. I definitely felt it, but kept a good position. Once I started heading east, the wind was like a brick wall...speed went down from 25 to about 22, but I wanted to keep my power higher into the wind. I got to mile 4 and noticed the pace car was not even at mile 5 so I was within the 3 minute interval of the 1st...boom more confidence. Got to the turn around circle, shifted to my 11 tooth and hammered on! It's pretty awesome going 31-32! I made my way down to the last circle turn around and pace car was maybe 30 seconds ahead...game on. So hopped off the bike into T2 and super excited to chase someone down. Finished bike with the 2nd overall bike split at 22:19 and a normalized power of 293 watts. Average speed was 26.4 mph.

Transition 2 was ok for me. I always try to focus on getting things done correctly more than speed. This actually was my favorite moment of the race. Like I said, there were 13 waves. I was in the 2nd wave, so people are still coming out of the water into T1. So I grabbed my hat and number and sprinted through T2, a volunteer at the exit yelled out "hey you forgot your bike!" It gave me a smile for my run. I wasn't sure if he was serious or kidding, but I found it funny.

The run for Escape from Ft. Desoto actually goes up and over the fort, which makes it more interesting then a typical run. It's a little longer than most sprint runs being in the range of 3.5-3.7 miles. My garmin for some reason wouldn't turn on in the morning so I was in the running
gods hands of running by feel and my regular timer watch. Coming out of T2, I see the pace bike about 400 yards ahead. All I was thinking was I got this...he has nothing on me! So I decided to cruise the first portion of the 1st mile until I get closer to the leader. Each passing second I was getting closer and closer so when I got about 10 yards to him, I decided to increase my pace and zoom pass him. When you're passing someone it's a mental game. You want to look like a million bucks. I want the person to think they have no shot catching me. You want perfect form and breathing is under control. You just have to do that for a few seconds. I passed the young triathlete and congratulated him on a good race and took off. I pass mile 1 under 6 minutes so I was pleased, but now this is where I made my mistake. I have the pace bike in front of me. I was in no man's land. No one to work off with. No one to challenge me. Yes, I should challenge myself, push harder. I was mentally weak the last 2.6 miles of the run. I ran well. I was hitting the mile markers at low 6's. I was trying to push the cyclist a little by putting in some surges to force him to go faster. It is a great feeling being lead by the pace car/bike. Heading into the home stretch you turn off the beach into the parking lot and the finish line, which was lined with spectators and my Abigail.

It's an amazing feeling crossing the finish line first. Spectators cheering! I finished the run well with 22:12 just 5 seconds off my bike split...thought that was interesting. Most people said they got around 3.6-3.7 miles for the run so that would give 6-6:10 minute pace.
I actually thought I was first overall. I mean, come on I'm in one of the toughest waves and I killed the bike. But triathlon has waves and the last wave did contain a fast group 25-29 year olds. So I head back to the car with Abby and we go off for a run. I wanted to get some more miles in because I knew I probably won't get any on Sunday. I head out for 6 mile run and reflect on my race. After my run I head over to the results just to make sure and BOOM...I wasn't 1st overall! I double checked my age group and my name was on the top. Checked the times...I was beat by 1 minute by 26 year old. I was a little disappointed, but I had to rationalize that I had a great race and my goal was top 5...not overall. I went through many emotions, but nothing I could do about it. If we were in the same wave, would the result be the same? Never know. Would I perform differently if we were running together? Probably, but that's the sport of triathlon with waves. You have to be mentally stronger and push yourself. You cannot rely on others.
Finished 2nd overall, 1st in Age Group with 57:36

I would like to thank Rev3 for everything they do...actually today a group of athletes are finishing up the Run Across America to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund. Also thanks to Tempo Cyclery for their awesome support, mix1 for helping with recovery, SBR Sports, Powerbar, and of course my Abigail!

Next up - Rev3 Knoxville Half (bring on those hills)!


  1. Nice work John! Reading this REALLY got me amped up for my first sprint in a few weeks. Love short races like this. Such a different scene.

  2. Great job out there John! I've been pushed down a place by folks in the later waves before and it's always a bummer :D and you are right it is much easier to run as fast as possible when you've people to chase.