A few weeks ago, I decided to race one more time before Kona. The race of choice was the Clear Lake Triathlon in Clear Lake City, Texas. The race was Olympic Distance or a 1500m swim, 40k Bike and a 10k run.
I got up yesterday at 3:15 so I could leave by 4:00 am to be in transition by 5:30. I like to get up early, but 3:15 comes real early. My goal for the race was to see what I could do in the heat and just push the pace as hard as I could. Training for an Ironman can be long and tedious, so having a chance to go fast can be a lot of fun.
We were the 3rd wave to go after the Elite (pro) wave and the 40 and older group. For those of you that don’t know, wave starts are determined by the race director and they typically put the largest age group waves first. In most races, the 35-39 wave follows the Elites, but this race was a bit different.
The Elite men had about 4 minutes on us before we started and the 40+ men had about 3 minutes. From the gun, my swim felt strong. The water temp was 88 degrees so there were no wetsuits. I did have on my Blue Seventy speed suit, which makes a big difference. At about the 200 meter point of the swim, I found myself in the front of our wave and was also starting to swim up on the wave in front of us. At about 1000 meters, I caught nearly all of the 2nd wave and was even on the feet of one of the Elite men. I don’ know why the swim felt so great, but I just felt stronger as the swim progressed. As I exited the water, I looked back and realized that I had put minutes on anyone in my age group. I like to start the bike in front and today was no exception.
My bike has not been as strong as it should be in my past races this year. I knew I had the potential to ride fast, but I just have not done that yet this year. I have had good rides, but no fast rides. To try and change this, I went out hard on the bike, much harder than I normally do and was quite uncomfortable. I checked out the power meter and found that I was holding 300 watts and about 25.5 mph for the first few miles. At about mile 10, my power came back to a more realistic level of about 270, but my speed was still 25+ mph. I also felt that my legs were feeling better and my HR was 165 beats per minute which is what I wanted. I took advantage of this and just went with pace and focused on keeping my power as close to 270 as possible.
At about mile 22, I caught up with another guy in the Elite Wave and that got me thinking that I could have a sub 1 hour bike split. I put the head down and pushed the power up to 300 for the last 10 minutes and got home in under an hour. I was so excited to have this kind of bike split, and tried to use my excitement to get me out on the run course as quickly as possible.
The run started fine with my first 2 miles at 6:20 pace. However, at mile 3, I started cramping in my diaphragm to the point where I could not breathe. It was extremely uncomfortable and I started laughing to myself, because I was about to walk in an Olympic Distance race. I walked from the turn around and after about 2 minutes of walking, it went away. It was a good lesson for me, because I now know that if I get something like this in HI, I can get through it and still have a great race.
After my brief walk, my run picked back up and I finished the race in 2:05, my fastest ever Olympic Distance time by over 7 minutes.
When the results were posted at the race, I looked at the 35-39 age group and saw that my name was not there. I was quite stunned, because I knew I did enough to win the age group. Someone said, you need to “look up”, and there I was on a special sheet showing the Overall Male and Female winners. I had my first ever Overall Amateur win and my fastest Olympic distance race ever.
The day ended with a nice trophy and an wonderful welcome home from the family. My son even offered to put the plaque next to his trophy from his podium finish last week.
I have always wanted an overall victory and thanks to my family, my sponsors (Luke’s Locker, Bike Lane) and my Coach Dana Lyons, I achieved that goal. I hope to be back next year to try and defend the title.