Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cda 3.0 "Overcoming"

Race start, Wave #2.  I am the one in the white cap and black suit...with goggles.
Photo by James Richman

Before I even start this post, I must give credit for the pics to the generous people, with their talent and time, who took them.  Without them, this blog post would be, well, boring.  Thanks to James Richman, Bryan Rowe, and Tanya O-Keefe.  Great pics, and ones that I could not have taken myself…for obvious reasons.

This post is mainly about the Cda Scenic Challenge triathlon.  One which I have written about on a few occasions.  The 2011 post HERE, the 2009 HERE, 2008 HERE). This event is near and dear to me.  It always seems to teach me something…something that I must overcome in some facet or another. It challenges me physically as well as emotionally.  I feel so much pressure when racing this event... not from others, but from myself.  I try and downplay it, but no matter what my fitness level, I have never been able to go into it saying, ‘Ah, it’s just another race and I want to have fun.’  I think it’s the history from the first time I raced it.  I have raced 3 different courses here.  And no matter the course, it has always been a challenge on multiple fronts.

1997- My first Oly tri.  Just get it done…and I barely did.
1998- I was done with my triathlon season in June.
1999-2002 No triathlons at all.
2003- I was sick, and wondered why I was even there.  Suffered through but wasn’t happy.
2004- I was racing well, but never really did ‘well’ at Cda. This year I ended up 2nd overall to Matt Seeley, and the first time I beat Cda uber triathlete Brian Hadley.
2005- I was at Nationals, which was cancelled the day of the race.  I tried to fly home to race Cda…but couldn’t make it happen.
2006- Focus was on IM  Canada and Kona and did not race.
2007- Focus was on IM  Canada and Kona and did not race.
2008- I was in great form, but fell apart late in the bike after a few mishaps. (Later to find out that I was under-fueling on all Oly races).
2009- Nailed it.  First time I won Cda Tri.  This was the greatest ‘personal’ race for me.
2010- Did not race any triathlons because I was hit by a car in May.
2011- Training was focused more on family.  This would be a test to see what would happen when triathlon was a 3rd tier priority.  Result, overall win.  Crazy.
2012- read on…

This year would be no different than the other years…a few hurdles before the race even started.  Of course, the one mentioned in the prior post (HERE) regarding the vertebral dissecting artery, and to add to that, I strained my calf the Sunday prior.  As a result, I did not run at all the week and focused recovery which included 2 massages at Elements Therapeutic Massage, icing, heat, electro stim, stretching…you name it.  It was a part of the training each day.  The question was, would I even be able to race?  Even the day before the race I was limping around a bit favoring the calf.  I did a little pre race run, just to test it a little for about 5 minutes, and determined that it bothered me a little, but didn’t seem to as much at harder efforts.

Race day I woke at 4:05 am, and the calf was definitely tight, and a little sore.  But as I walked around a little, it seemed to feel a bit better.  I was counting on a swim and bike to help with blood flow to loosen it up to run.

I got to the race site at 5:30am.  Found a spot on the rack, and placed some of my stuff there.  Immediately I realized I was next to someone I knew and we chatted a bit.  Then I saw Brad Vanwert, a local legend and USAT official, and chatted with him a bit about races, bikes, airplanes…really just about everything.  I told him about my calf and he gave me some really good advice…don’t race.  I figured if my calf acted up, I would stop.  I saw so many other people there, that I had to catch up with, before the race.  I eventually had to get ready and sort out my transition area.
Not the most organized Transition Area...better work on that

This race has 3 different start times: 39 and under, 40 and over, and teams/Clydesdales.  They are all separated by 10 minutes.  Since I am an old guy, 40 years old, this meant that I started at 7:10.  To me, this is a nice spot to start.  Though it is a little congested on the swim, once I start catching the wave ahead, it’s fun to see other people out on the course, e.g. the bike.  It also gives me an idea as to where the competition is.  As long as I could keep the gap less than 10 minutes by the end, I would be ahead.

I pulled from my bag my brand new B70 Helix…still in the plastic bag.  I know, ‘never try something new race day,’ but I have raced in this suit for years.  Why not?  I noticed there has been some significant changes to the suit over the past few years…I was hoping they would help me.

Pre Swim in my new B70 Helix.
Photo by Mike Winnett

I rolled down to the start and got in a 1 minute warm up…pointless really.  I looked around to see some familiar faces.  With goggles and swim caps, it is tough to spot ‘familiar faces.’  But I did see one.  Gulp.  Matt Seeley.  Matt is a legend.  2nd at IM Cda and countless other high caliber victories.  He is a true competitor and ALWAYS a favorite in ANY race he does.  Back in 1997, the first year I did this race, he won it.  We are 1 year apart in age, so would be racing in the same 40+ wave.  Cool.  I was bummed I was not in top form to test myself against him, but I doubt he was either.  I knew he was having some foot issues, but injured or not, unconditioned or not, he is always ready to race.

The gun went off and we swam.  It was pretty uneventful.  I started to drift off mentally from time to time and then I started running into slower swimmers.  I knew I was near the front of my wave, but needed to swim hard since I had not been in the pool too much the past 3 months.  So even ‘hard’ would result in a time that I would not be too excited about.  I ended up swimming a 22:21, yikes, a tad slow for my liking (it did include a short run to T1).  

 Exiting the swim into T1
Photo by Bryan Rowe

Photo by Ryan Rowe
I transitioned quickly and threw on my Rudy Project Wingspan, and was off.  When I got to my bike, I could see Matt Seeley leaving T1.  ‘Nice, not too far off.’  But Matt can ride with the best of them…literally, the best.  I took off out of T1 and could see him up the road.  I was actually closing on him on the flats bringing him within 4 seconds.  Then we hit the first climb.  We stayed close, but he was eeking away.  At the top, he pulled over to adjust his front brake.  I figured that’s why I closed on him, his brake was rubbing.  I stayed in front for a couple miles, until, the next major climb.  There he passed me again and slowly put more and more time on me.  For some reason, on all the flats and down hills, I would bring him back.  But I never did pass him.  I assumed it was my Quintana Roo CD0.1.  Pretty dang aero.  At the last turn around, I saw that I was still pretty close.  I was also able to see the guys in the first wave and took some splits on them.  I figured we closed about 3 minutes on them, so Matt was in 1st, and I was in 2nd…but they likely did not know that.  As we came into T2, after about a 4 mile flat section, I was only 10 seconds, or so, behind Matt.  Later to find out I had the fastest bike split of the day for individuals.  Cool.

Coming out of T1...left foot still not in my shoe yet
Photo by James Richman

 The end of the bike
Photo by James Richman

Matt took off from T2, and I was near…like 6 seconds or so.  T2 is always fast.  The only hurdle is if your feel easily go in your shoes or not.  This time they slipped into my K-Swiss Kruuz like morning slippers, and I was off.  I ran at the same pace as Matt for about 1 mile.  Then it happened.  My calf ‘popped.’  Crap x2.  I immediately backed off, went to my heels, shortened my stride, and favored it for a bit.  The sharp pain went away and turned into a dull ache.  ‘I can run on this,’ I thought.  That is what I like about Oly races.  You normally don’t notice things that would normally make you stop…like hot spots on your feet…or a rock in your shoe.  You just keep going and if you notice that pain, you just go harder so the pain is somewhere it matters, like your legs.  I hit the first aid station and felt like I raped them for water.  One person handed me a cup, so I reached and robbed a couple more people.  I kept plodding along and watched Matt pull further away.  I was never really concerned about Matt.  I can’t run with him.  He is a phenomenal runner.  I was more concerned about who was behind me and how far the first wave was ahead.  I got a few splits and realized we were into the first wave about 4 minutes.  So at the turnaround, I figured they would have to run 4:50s or so if I maintained the same pace.

Finish stretch
Photo by James Richman

Finish stretch
Photo by James Richman

I ended up finishing 1:03 behind Matt.  Not too bad all things considered.  But no matter what place you get, 1st to 2000th, you have to look at ‘your’ race.  Did you do what you wanted?  Did you control what you needed to?  Did you meet your goals?  I really did not know what to expect on this day.  My bike and run were faster than last year when I won.  My overall time was as well.  So does that mean that I am in better shape now?  Not likely.  My swim was sub par.  My bike felt good, but I have not looked at, or compared, power numbers.  I suspect that my Quintana Roo is simply ‘faster’ than the Orbea was…aerodynamically speaking of course.  Over 1 hour, it does add up at 25 mph.  My run was a little faster this year, but the course was a tad different.  Just a flat out and back.  So it is comparative…but not truly the same.  Bottom line, a decent effort and I was surprised with the result.  Happy with it too.
Now that is one big mug.  Great for iced coffees I suppose.

I can’t say I was out there alone.  I had a lot of cheers that kept me going and Jessi, Emma, Owen, Greg, and Natalie were following the race a bit.  I saw a ton of familiar faces, and heard voices out there too.  Always a little push.  Weeks leading up to these 'emotional' races seem to require a bit more from my family...especially Jessi.  She is so in tune with me, and does everything right.  I am so fortunate to have a wife that knows me and supports me in what I do.  Also, my mom.  She normally gets put on 'Owen Duty,' which she says she loves.  But I know she does it just as much for me as well.

Owen and me post race
Photo by Tawnya O'Keefe

So, what was the hurdle?  This was a race that I was truly not too sure if I would even be able to finish because of the calf strain.  A calf strain isn’t an injury that you can just ‘power through.’  So the days leading up were uncertain and I was so close to throwing in the towel.  The ’09 win was accomplishment.  The ’11 win was about prioritization (family first). ’12 second place was about accepting the unknown and still race like you know.  That goes beyond the calf, but to my fitness level and the hurdles with the paralysis in my right arm and the vertebral dissection.  A little more complicated.  I am not some unique or special story, we all have hurdles and other parts of our lives that create challenges.  The ones we know about, we can generally manage.  It is the ones that hit us from the side, or from behind, that put us on our heels and make us juggle things.  Then comes the subsequent problem, or question, ‘What should I do now?’  Rarely are things ever perfect…but they can always be worse.

Next race on the schedule will be Priest Lake Triathlon.  Hopefully my calf will be back to 100%...or even 80% would be good.