Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First race in FL

As you may or may not know, I recently packed up and moved down to Clermont, FL (land of the triathletes). The move was exciting, but most of all it was a wake up call. Many pro triathletes call Clermont home and my WI winter fitness wasn't cutting it down here. It took a few weeks in the warm weather to get some semblance of fitness back. It is still very early in the season and Anna and I decided to try a local olympic triathlon to test our progress. The race was Moss Park Spring Fling Tri. We had high hopes going into the race after talking to some friends. The race was in Orlando (a good hour drive from us), so the morning started fairly early. We arrived at the state park in pitch black and used our headlamps to make our way to registration. We were feeling pretty good until we saw Heather Gollnick picking up her race packet. She was just passing through the area and thought it would be fun to do, normally you wouldn't expect an athlete of her caliber at a small race like this. She ended up starting the race in the male wave with me. As the sun rose over the lake we lined up for the starting gun. I hadn't been swimming much but figured I could hold my own. BOOM, and we were off. I started close to the front to avoid getting caught in the pack which was a good idea due to the right hand corner we had to navigate shortly after the start. After only a few moments I was in the lead and found my pace at the front. As we were finishing up the first of the two loop swim course I felt someone nipping at my toes and sure enough Heather Gollnick was there for the pass. I stayed with her most of the second lap but couldn't catch her draft and let her go for the last part of the swim. I exited the water 20 sec back of Heather but almost 2 minutes ahead of the second place male. I made a quick transition and was trying to keep Heather in my sights. About 1.5 miles into the ride I made my move and passed Heather. I'd heard some of the other athletes were strong cyclists so I wanted to ride hard and not give up too much time. I didn't know the course that well so the first lap was rather slow as I slowed up for many of the corners to figure out which direction to go. I help the lead the rest of the bike and had the 2nd fastest bike of the day (59min).

My legs hadn't been feeling so great the week leading up to the race so I started out comfortable on the run trying to maintain a steady pace. I held the lead the whole first lap and figured I might be able to win the race outright but as I started the second lap of the run the pacers on bikes around me kept looking over their shoulders. It was nice to have them there but I could tell they were seeing a fast approaching runner. With just over 1 mile left in the run I was caught. I had nothing left in my legs and he was moving too quick to try and run with so I let him go. I kept pushing but my legs were telling me no more. I wanted to be like Jens Voigt and tell my legs to "shut up" but I also knew I had to go right to work after the race and stand around all day so when another runner passed me with just .75 miles left I eased off and cruised in to the finish. I was happy with 3rd and had a faster run split that I had guessed but I had conceded the lead and 3 minutes on the run. I was happy that I lead most of the race as it was great for my sponsors (PowerBar and CycleOps). I heard many cheers from spectators yelling "Go PowerBar." I finished in 2:00:30. It was my fastest Olympic race but the run course was a bit short (5.6 miles). Overall I was happy with the race and hope to boost my run performance in the next few months leading up to Vineman.

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