I picked up my race packet during the week and got my stuff ready Saturday afternoon. This season I've put words or themes on my bike for each race. For Montauk, I wanted to get aggressive. I wanted that race where I just went hard from start to finish. So I went to a great source of inspiration, a friend Sam Cila, and this single word echoed in my head:
On Sunday, Wingman and I got up at ass'o'clock to make the trek out to Montauk. The race has two different transition areas so he drops me off at the lower transition so I can setup my bike and get ready for the start, then he heads up to the upper transition to setup my run gear. He leaves the car there and takes the spectator bus back down to meet me at the swim start. Like every year/race, I am grateful for his help!!
In transition I had the good fortune of being on the same rack as a woman I knew from my previous job, Erin. She's an amazing runner and it was good to catch up again. We made the 1/2 mile walk down the beach to the swim start. Oddly enough, I was unusually clam before the start, as if I was just going out for a swim workout. I was reunited with the Wingman before the start. He wished me luck and I went into the water. I wished Erin good luck and swam to the start buoy.
The water was perfect! We had a little chop to deal with, but once you found the rhythm of the water, it was easy to swim fast through it. Each stroke felt powerful for me. I was really moving through the water with ease. I noticed after a couple of hundred yards that if I went another 10-15 feet out into the ocean (we swim parallel to the shore line) that the water had less swells, but I had a rhythm and opted to stay put. I didn't feel like I was being slowed down so I stuck with my plan. I was at the mid-point buoy before I realized it. I was also catching the guys in the swim wave ahead of me. I counted how many more buoys to go and hammered the rest of the swim. I don't think my cadence picked up, but for sure my pull/stroke got stronger.
I made the last turn and approached the beach. I was able to stand up easily and make a run for it up the beach. I peeked at my watch when I exited the water and noticed my time was ~3 min faster than I've ever swam at Montauk. But the timing mat was further up the beach so I had to run hard to actually record a fast swim time. Once up the beach I striped the rest of my wetsuit and made my way out on the bike.
Leaving transition, heading out on the bike
There was no wind which was good and bad. The good news was no headwind to slow me down, the bad was no tailwind to take some of the load off me. This ride was going to be all up to me, which is how I wanted it. I stood up and powered out of the turn to get started. I just hammered down East Lake Drive to head to Montauk Highway. This course is fairly flat for the 1st ~9 miles so I knew I had to work to maintain my pace. I was passing riders on the road. I didn't want to get caught settling into someone elses pace. I was on a mission to bury myself today.
Once I got onto Montauk Highway I headed west towards West Lake Drive. Again, I stood to power through the turn and not lose speed. I raced along the highway and then headed north along West Lake towards Gosman's. There's a loop down there where you turn around and head back up to the highway. This was my make-or-break moment. I knew I was riding well, but I couldn't let up. The course was about to get a little harder. There is one big climb and a smaller climb behind it, but first was the false flat. I kept shifting my gears to help keep me spinning. Before I knew it I was at the climb. It didn't look as intimidating as years past. This time I opted to "attack" the hill and I stood to power up it. Once over the top, I flew down the other side. I opted to not pedal and I tucked low to not lose speed. I used the momentum to carry me up the next hill, then flew down the other side.
Now I was in the home stretch leading to the run. I kept my effort level up all the way to the bike dismount. When I got off the bike, I remembered Wingman's description of where my stuff was laid out in transition. I found my run gear and started running before I even crossed the timing mat. I had to find my run legs.
Start of the run
The first half of this run is hard. It's slightly uphill and that's always a challenge as you are just starting out a run. But I knew I had to keep going hard. I made my way into Camp Hero and was looking for people to chase. I wasn't worried about being passed, but I wanted to be sure I was giving it everything I had. I wanted to be very uncomfortable as I ran. When I made it to the halfway mark, I was running side by side with someone. Again I thought "Can she handle as much pain as me?" and then I put in a surge. Out of fear of being caught I couldn't let up, I had to keep up my "attack" and finish. Before I knew it, I was getting closer to the finish. I passed the 2.5 mile sign and noticed someone ahead of me that started in the swim wave ahead of me. I knew if I kept him in my sights, I would actually finish faster than him. He started 3 min ahead of me, but when I was doing some quick race math and calculating how long it took me to get to landmarks he passed I knew that unless I was walking, I would post a faster time.
I exited the Camp and made my way to the lighthouse. This course just throws one last punch at you to finish:
Finish line is up the hill
I gave a few fist pumps towards the Wingman before the final turn as I knew I was having a fantastic race. I crossed the finish line with no regrets this day. In each event, I got stronger/faster. My bike power numbers went up as the ride went on. I was able to negative split the run (went faster as the run went on). I was thinking near the end of the run how everything seemed to click for me. I've had good races, but I've never felt like I've executed all 3 disciplines well. This was the first race in a looooong time where I can truly be happy with how I performed. I was firing on all cylinders today. I PR'd this race by 2min 36 sec, which for a sprint is a nice time difference.
I'm happy to have finally had that near perfect race. It doesn't come along often, but when it does, it's like magic! It gives me a nice confidence boost heading into my training for my last two races of the season. And confidence is something I was sorely lacking this season.
"Attack!" will be my theme for the rest of the season............
Me and the Wingman
(I'm thrilled that I don't have any post race cankles)