Saturday, October 01, 2011

Cda Triathlon 2.0

Cda Triathlon…possibly my favorite Olympic race in the world…possibly. This year it would serve as the USAT Regional Olympic Distance Championship. If you have not read my last blog post on the Cda Triathlon, you may want to in order to understand my battles with this race (click HERE to go to that post).

Fast forward to the day before the race, Aug 12th. I was already packed, ready to roll. Jessi took Owen and Emma up to her parent’s for the day to be with them in hopes to give me some room to get some final prep done. I know this is a stressful/anxious time for her too. I decided to go for a short prep ride on my race set up. All felt good except I was having some trouble with my front derailleur. Earlier in the week, I noticed that a zip tie had cut one of the wires and made the front der inoperable. Remember, I use Shimano Di2, which is electronic, not cable. But I was able to manipulate it a bit to get it to work…so I ‘should’ be okay. I decided to double check it when I got home, and it was no longer working. Crap! So I spent about 2 hours trying a variety of different ways to get it to connect. It worked from time to time, but not consistently, and not enough to make me feel confident enough to race with it. The Cda course is HILLY. I thought for a moment that I might be able to ride in the big ring, but I would ruin my race if I tried that.

I got on the phone and called Fitness Fanatics to see if they had any word on a new wire set…no luck. They had some suggestions to get it to work, but none seemed to fix the problem. I made a few more calls and was left empty handed. To start with, Di2 is not really on the shelf in very many shops, and ‘extra parts’ are nonexistent. Since I have di2 on my road bike too, I thought I could borrow some of the wires from it. So I disassembled my TT bike and road bike only to find out there are completely different connectors. Crap #2. Now I have 2 bikes completely taken apart, and still don’t have a race bike that works. It was now late afternoon and I needed to head to Cda to check in for the race that I am starting to wonder if I will be able to do.

Check in went FAST and I was able to peruse the list of 850+ athletes competing…but would I be on the start line? I was home again at about 6:30pm looking at a bike that was in shambles. I decided to go back to mechanical shifting…yup, cables. So I got Jessi’s TT bike and took off the front shift lever and the front derailleur. I got some SIS housing and a new cable that I had for some reason. I fitted my Orbea with the cable and housing and routed all the cables internally in the frame and aero bars…never easy. I got it all adjusted, wrapped the bars again, took it for a 2 block ride, made a couple adjustments, and loaded it in the car. Live by electronics, die by electronics. I was feeling a little bit country and little bit rock and roll, but I could shift from my small ring to my big ring…life was a little better.

Which looks better...right or left?

Not exactly the cleanest look

A battery next to a traditional front der.

I would like to say that the rest of the evening went smoothly, but it didn’t. Jessi got home, realized she left her purse and other things across town, ran out of gas in our driveway, had to go get gas in a 5 gal container and refill, dumped my toolbox all over the floor…the list went on and on. FINALLY I felt like we had everything where it needed to be and I hit the sac. Jessi and I both had a short laugh about the day. I think one more thing would have put us both over the edge…but, as I told her, it’s just a triathlon. In the big picture, it’s not that big a deal. It’s only as important as you make it. Since we were now laughing, priorities were in check. I went to bed still wondering if my front derailleur would work though. Zzzzz.

I woke up and had everything ready to roll. Breakfast, bottles, coffee… all was set. I was a little behind as to when I ‘wanted’ to leave, but I was still good. I hopped in the car, turned the key, and my battery was dead. Crap #3! Since it was about 4:45am, and dark, this was not part of the ‘plan.’ I backed Jessi’s car up next to mine to ‘jump it’ with cables, but our batteries were on the opposite sides. Cables were too short. So I went into the garage and got our battery charger, which has a ‘start’ function. So, finally, I was off and running, hopefully all the way to Cda.

Fortunately the drive to Cda was uneventful…I was happy for that. But I ended up arriving about 1:10 minutes before my start. That is pretty close for me. It also meant that the transition area would be pretty full and I would get a bad spot. But I know how to eek out some room. Derek Garcia was there and let me rack near him, which was helpful. But it still takes me some time to get all set up. The race started at 7:00 for the 39 and under, and 7:10 for the 40 and over. Since this was a USAT race, I was racing 40 and up and would start in the second group. This had some advantages and probably more disadvantages. But it was what it was.

The ‘young guys’ took off and it gave me some time to get ready. I don’t think I even had my wetsuit on yet, typical. I went down to the start and got in about a 100 yard warm up. Just enough to make sure my goggles did not leak and my Orca 3.8 was fitting perfectly. There were some fast swimmers in my group, so I knew there should be some out in front. The swim course itself is pretty simple, but if you don’t know the layout, you can always make it harder. They gave us the 1 minute to go call, and I started my TIMEX Global Trainer. The horn sounded and the race took off like a shot. I swam steady from the start and watched the race sort out a bit. The swim felt good, but I did not think I was swimming too straight. I started running into the slower swimmers from the prior wave fairly quickly and that required me to do a bit more spotting and weaving. When you come up on slower swimmers, it can often be quite alarming to them and you. I tried to keep calm and focus on my stroke. As I was approaching the exit, I knew I needed to be fast. I also knew I needed to prepare to hear how far I was down on the others too. Most people who were giving me splits, knew I started 10 minutes down, and some would just tell me how far I was down on my wave. Both are good information. I quickly made it through transition and was given numbers, and times of things I had no clue they were connected to. But eventually it would all make sense.

I was looking forward to this bike leg because it’s a course that I know pretty well now. I have spent a little time on it over the past years and feel that there are some sections that you can get an advantage in if you know the course. Those that have raced this course (was also the 1999 and 2000 USAT Nationals Course) know that it is anything but flat…or straight. As I was moving along the first 5 miles of the bike, I was passing quite a few people. I did not know if they were from my swim start or not, but it really did not matter. I knew what effort to ride and I had my nutrition pretty well set. As I started the first real climb, I saw Jessi, Emma and Owen on the side of the road cheering. They gave me splits on the first wave, which was great, but the most important questions was, did they actually start 10 minutes behind? Because if they didn’t, the information would be off. Regardless, it did not matter. I was going to race hard and see where my fitness was and what kind of bike/run I could pull off. I saw Jessi a couple more times and knew I was putting time into them, and I would need as much as possible. I finished the bike strong feeling like I still had some fuel in the tank.

T2 was quick and the crowd had already seen about 10 guys through…all from the wave that was 10 minutes up. I was leading the 40+ group, and was working my way into the other wave pretty deep. I was excited to run in my new K-Swiss K-Ruuz race flats. The run is pretty flat which I don’t mind, but it allows pure runners to move along quite well. After 2 miles I think I had about 2:30 on the lead of the race. I figured they were not putting a lot, if any, time into my lead. I passed a few more runners and was still feeling good. At about mile 4 I started to sputter a bit, but again, seeing Jessi and others out on the course really helped keep my spirits up. I hit mile 5 and started seeing a lot of the other runners coming out and that, for some reason, helped me pick up the pace a little.

I saw Jessi one more time with about a ½ mile to go and she gave me a few more yells and confidence boosters. I started to think that I might just win this race. But you never know until you cross that line. As I approached the line, I could see the 5 guys that finished before me, and after I crossed, Derek said, “You won it man, you were about 2 minutes faster.” It was a little anticlimactic to cross 6th and really be first. Not so much for the glory of it all, more for the knowledge that you won. Derek’s confirmation seemed accurate based on the other information…but again, that was under the assumption I started exactly 10 minutes behind. I still wanted to hear it from the officials. Soon, that affirmation was given. I was also told that I was the ‘oldest’ guy to ever win this race. I think that’s a compliment? I will take it that way regardless.

Winning this race wasn’t the highlight. This year has been one of new beginnings and new additions for our family. We have made some huge positive changes that place priority on family and supporting one another not only in sport. Though training and triathlon are a part of a MUCH larger picture, they are not the center of it. So to walk away with a good result, win or not, really showed us that even with perspective, good races still happen. It feels a lot different knowing that I was able to win a race with the family first.

This was the second time I have won this race. The first time was redemption, this time it was satisfying. I walked away proud that “we” did it, rather than we won it. Weird, I know.

Here is a video by Dave Erickson (www.swimbikerunvideos.com). Check out his site for more triathlon related videos and more.

Bike is back to normal...rest easy

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