Sunday, July 15, 2012

Working the plan

This morning was the 17th annual Montauk Sprint Triathlon. I've competed in this race just about every year since 2005. I missed it in 2006 when preparing for Ironman Lake Placid. This is a great local race that I love coming back to every year. My last race this year was June 24th, the Philly olympic distance.  Since that race, my workouts were built around not repeating my lackluster performance in Philly. Today was the day that I would put my feet to the fire and execute the plan.

Last year I had a great swim. I put in a lot of work in the pool and then more in the open water prior to the race. This year, not so much. We had a favorable sweep current last year to push me along a bit. This year we swam into a slight current. The last few open water swims  sessions I had, I put some work into changing my stroke. I found some serious deficiencies and worked to remedy them. And it paid off. I felt much more balance and powerful with each stroke. My stroke cadence didn't improve, but more importantly, my distance per stroke improved. I felt great for the 1st half of the swim today. About halfway through, there were a few swells to deal with. Once I got a feel for the timing, I was motoring along. I also was a little more aggressive on the swim. Normally when I come upon some feet or a bottleneck I'd wait it out and then pass. Not today. As soon as I swam up on some people I immediately swam around them. I didn't want to lose any time on the swim if I didn't have to. I just moved as swiftly and smoothly as I could through the swim. When I got to the end of the swim, I did have a little 'hiccup' trying to get out of the water. I stood and tried to get out of the water, but I quickly noticed that the ground below me was not level and I fell over. I got up again and lost my footing a second time, but did not fall. I made it up to the transition area and prepared for the bike.

Once on the bike, there would be no holding back today. I tried to move quickly through the bike course. It's relatively flat, one hill. You can really open it up out there, but with so many other racers, you have to be careful. This is where I failed in my last race. I was too careful and held back too much. I had specific instructions to rip it up today. My workouts were even designed around it. I felt very fluid on the bike. I've been battling shoulder pain in the aero position, but today I didn't notice a thing. I seemed to be firing on all cylinders on The Beast. I was passing many people and passed by only a few. I didn't even hesitate when I came behind someone. I just looked over my shoulder to make sure my path was clear and then pulled around the rider in front of me. I repeated this process over and over.  I finished the bike course and all I had left in front of me was a 3.1 mile run.

In my last race, I had some serious burning foot pain. I took it easy to start the run today so I wouldn't irritate things. The run starts with an uphill run out of transition. Once on solid ground, I wanted to get into a rhythm. The hardest part of a run is the first 5-10 minutes. After that, it gets a little easier. I feel I get stronger as the run goes on. Now I am waiting for this moment, for it to get easy. With each stride, I could feel a little more zip in my step. I made my way through the park, grabbing water at each aid station to pour over my head or down my back. I wore arm coolers for my last race, but didn't bring them today. Rookie mistake. I was overheating quickly out on the course. Even though there was a lot of shade, it was still pretty hot out. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I hit the turn around and knew that the end was getting closer. The hardest part was yet to come. The last little stretch on the course is uphill to the lighthouse. I was so hot and tired at this point, but there is no way you can walk up this hill. There are too many spectators and there would be too much shame if I walked. I did make it up there, but not sure if you would call what I did running. 

Once I crossed the finish line, I looked back and was satisfied with what I did out there today. I ran the best race I could with what I had in my body today.

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