Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tri California Triathlon at Alcatraz

The Tri-California Triathlon at Alcatraz is one of my favorite races of the year. It is a very challenging and fun course to race on. This year, with my focus being on Hy-Vee, Alcatraz presented a good chance for me to race at the end of what has been one of my best training blocks in my short career as a triathlete. My training up to this point has been right on track and I was very excited to see what I could get out of my body on race day.

As we filed out onto the side of the ferry boat I started to realize that water was suddenly a lot choppier than I had ever seen before; although this was just my 4th time swimming from Alcatraz. Believing in my swim strength I thought that this could only help me in achieving my goal of moving up one spot from last year’s 2nd place finish and winning this race. That optimism changed about 5 minutes into the swim when I somehow managed to loose the lead pack and end up on an entirely different route in the bay by myself. I decided that I would stay my course because I believed that it was more of a direct line to the swim finish and if I had any chance of catching that lead group of swimmers it would be to take a shorter line than the curve that they were taking. I still don’t know if this was the best decision but I ended up exciting the water about 3:30 down on the lead group. This was very unfamiliar territory for me and from there I went into panic mode.

Exiting T1 I had a choice; either ride as hard as I could and try to make up as much time as

possible on the bike and go for the win, or play it more conservative on the bike and go for a podium position. I really wanted to win this race and I decided that I would go for it on the bike and put myself in the best position to win. I felt really good on the early steep climbs and knew that I had to be making up time. When I reached the first turn around point I saw my competitors heading in the other direction and realized that I had made up a good chunk of time. However, that came at a cost because I was unable to keep up that pace and made up less time over the second half of the bike. Exiting T2 I was in 5th place and 1:50 down from the lead.

My legs were a little more wobbly than usual after the huge bike effort and I struggled to find my pace early in the run. After getting my legs back after the first mile and a half I reached the hilly part of the run course thinking that I could still run myself into a podium position. I attacked the course with what I had left and unfortunately came up short in the end. I finished in 5th place overall but ended up only about 30 seconds back from a podium spot.

With my goal of winning this race a 5th place was disappointing. However, with my preparation for Hy-Vee I was very happy with my effort for this race. I had a swim that put me out of contention but I gave the course everything that I had that day. I am excited to finally get some rest and sharpen up before what will be the biggest race of the year.