Coeur d' Alene Olympic- Race Report

In my view of a triathlon there are typically three races within each race. There is the race for overall winner, there are races within each age-group, and then the one I am most familiar with the race to just finish. The majority of triathletes, like me, will never get to experience the first two races and our goal is to just finish each race. Until recently the goal was to finish but now I have added a forth race into the fold, the race to beat Tim. Like I said in the Tiger Tri race report this is an extremely friendly competition but it is always more fun to add more excitement in the race.

During training it is scary how close we are, whether we are running, biking or swimming, it is always neck and neck. The Coeur d’ Alene Olympic triathlon was going to be my chance to redeem myself from Tiger and see if I have what it takes to beat a very close competitor and a good friend.

As the days were leading up to the race, there was discussion on who had the upper hand. We felt my swimming was a bit stronger while Tim was a faster cyclist and when it came to running it depended on who had a better day.

In the sport of triathlons there are SO many variables that can affect each person’s race. From nutrition to bad luck with a flat tire it is impossible to have complete control over every situation. So going into the race, we had both discussed how crazy it would be if the race came down to us running side by side to the finish. I think we both thought this was pretty unrealistic given there are so many different scenarios that can occur for not just one of us but for both.

During the week before the race I had set three goals that I felt were pretty attainable.
Goal 1: I felt like I could swim a 26:30 and if everything went well I could swim 26:00 flat.
Goal 2: Hold Tim off on the bike until we reached Yellowstone Trail Rd. This is where the hills began and I felt I had a chance to keep him close throughout this portion of the course. I was also hoping to ride around a 1:05:00.
Goal 3: Run a 41:00 10K. This might have been a bit of a stretch but I wanted to push myself to run harder.

The race began with an awesome rain shower and if you have been reading my blog for a while you know rain and my workouts come hand in hand.

The race started out pretty good. I situated myself on the left side of the group to help avoid the washing machine that occurs in the center. I was quickly able to find some open water and get into my rhythm. It was at this point that my goggles started to fill with water. I stopped twice to try and empty them and get a good seal around my eyes with no luck. I decided I was just going to have to live with it and hope it didn’t get any worse.

Overall the swim went well. My sighting is getting better and better and I am spending less time meandering from one side of the course to the other. I had one little experience of someone grabbing my leg and had to get into pissed off mode and do a little defense kicking to get him off me but in the end I was extremely satisfied with my swim. I think I could have gone a bit faster but my time is almost 2 minutes faster than Blue Lake and 4:36 faster than last year.

2008: 26:05
2007: 30:41

I came into transition feeling pretty good because of my swim and was quick to get out of my Blue Seventy wetsuit. I usually struggle a bit but everything went pretty smooth and I was out on the bike in no time. I got a few updates from my teammates and they let me know that Tim had not been through. I had a feeling he would be close so I pushed hard to the first turn-around. It was at this point I saw him coming up and it was all I could do to hold him off until Yellowstone Trail Rd.

As I rounded the corner to head up the hill, Tim passed me. It seems crazy being so far from the finish but I really felt that this was the moment where I can win or lose this race. If I allowed Tim to get to much separation I really wasn’t sure I would be able to chase him down on the run. Especially after Tiger when I closed on him pretty good. I was certain he wasn’t going to let that happen again.

I was able to stay with him for the most part. He would open a few gaps on the uphill and I would close them on the downhill. I never lost sight of him and was able to come into T2 about 50 yards down.

2008: 1:09:31
2007: 1:12:32 (course shorter)

Transition 2 went smokin’ fast. I was able to close the gap just a bit on the dismount of the bike and gained 2 more seconds in the transition zone. For the second race in a row I had the fastest T2 time (44 seconds) which even included a few pros. Tim was right behind me with the second fastest (46 seconds) but I guess that is what happens when you are in such a close battle.

Heading out on the run I really didn’t know what to expect. I had been telling myself that I was going to run hard and I wanted to leave it all out on the course. At Tiger I felt I had more left in the tank and here I wanted to be on empty.

I ran the first 1.5 miles about 15 yards behind Tim just matching his pace and seeing how I felt. My legs felt good and after a quick look at my heart rate I realized I might be able to pick it up. I usually race between 178-182 in my Olympic distance races and the first 2 miles where at 174.

One problem when you are in a race so close you really don’t want to waste any time whether it is at aid stations or in my case the mandatory bathroom break. Since I have now built this into just about every one of my races, I really just hope it doesn’t cost me in the end. So after my quick stop, Tim was able to open but a 25 second gap and it was now time for me to close it as fast as I could without over extending myself. My heart rate began to climb and was at about 178 as I began to close the distance.

I was able to close the gap by mile 4 and we literally ran shoulder to shoulder for the next 2 miles. It was just like all the training runs except for this time we were not talking, as we could both barely breathe. I tried to break him a few times and he always responded. He never tried to open a gap on me and I am not sure how I would have reacted if he did. My heart rate was 186 for the last 2 miles. That is rather high for me to hold for that long.

At mile 6 and the little downhill just before the park, I decided it was now or never. I really didn’t want to wait until the very last moment so I felt that it had to happen a bit farther from the finish line. I started my kick and this time Tim didn’t respond. I looked back and I had about a 10 meter gap. I wasn’t sure if this was all part of his little ploy but I couldn’t relax now and find out. I just kept pushing til the end.

Just as I was about to round the last corner and run the last 40 yards to the finish line, I took one look back just in case Tim was silently closing in on me. As I turned my head, I saw a Tri-Fusion jersey and it was close. I mean real close, like 5 feet close. I was like holy crap it is really going to come down to a sprint down the shoot. In that brief moment of terror I realized that it wasn’t Tim but Trevor another one of my teammates and he was actually in my age-group. After all that hard work on the run I wasn’t going to get passed in the last 20 yards of this race. I turned on what little after-burners I had and was able to hold Trevor off. I knew he was an extremely fast runner and it was all I could do to not let him pass me. I crossed the finish line 2 seconds ahead of Trevor and 17 seconds ahead of Tim.

2008: 42:18
2007: 49:41

Of my three goals I was able to exceed my swim goal, did pretty good on the bike considering my time of 1:05 reflected the shorter course from last year and even though my run was a bit slower than I would have liked, it was still my fastest 10k split in a triathlon bettering my Blue Lake time by a whole 4 seconds. Small victories.

This really had to be one of the best races I have been apart of. Not because I won but the way it unfolded. Having the opportunity to race is great in itself but having the chance to go mano e mano the entire race is pretty freaking cool. Like I mentioned there are a million and one things that could have gone wrong with either of us and in the end it really came down to the last little bit. It was fun hearing all our teammates cheering us both on, excited to see such a close race and crazy finish. It was definitely exciting and it is now tied up at 1-1, so stay tuned until the rivalry continues.