Coeur d' Alene Triathlon 2009- Race Report

I want to start of by saying how much I REALLY like this race. I love that people fear this race because of the hills on the bike course. There are long climbs with some sections steep enough to make you contemplate getting off and walking, though I have never actually done that:)

This would be my third straight year racing the CDA Tri. Though I have definitely improved over the course of the last few seasons, this time I was going to race it a bit different. Rarely have I been able to look back on a race and feel that I truly gave it 100%. Not that I don’t try hard but I look back and wonder, could I have swam faster, pushed a little bit harder on the bike or dug a little deeper on the run. As an athlete, I HATE that feeling.

This usually happens on the bike. I never seem to be able to push push push throughout the entire race. I find many moments where I get lost in lala land and have to remind myself that it is ok to feel uncomfortable and even though it hurts, pain is only temporary.

With all the analysis that I do before each race I came up with one plan: RACE HARD!

There were not going to be any points where I would feel like I should have pushed just a little harder, I was going to give it my all.

The race report is going to start a few days before when I decided to put new tires on my race wheels. After spending what seemed like hours and adding blisters to each thumb, pointer and middle fingers, Roger and I glued on the new tires and I was ready to go.

Friday evening as I packed for the race, I checked my front wheel. It was flat. Great, I thought, this is the one I glued on and who knows what I did wrong since it was my first time. After struggling to find the problem and re-taping the valve extenders and valves, I went to bed hoping I fixed the problem. With the alarm set for 3:30am it was going to be another early morning. After waking up a million times throughout the night (yeah I said a million) I checked the tire at 1:00am and it still had air. This was a relief and now I could focus on the race.

Roger and Tim rolled up shortly after 4:00 and we were on the road to CDA. This was the same time I left for Ironman but with a little bit different feeling in my stomach :) I knew I was going to finish, it was just a matter of how hard I could push myself.

Even though we rolled into CDA before 5:00am, we were still not the first people in transition, but I still got the prime location at the end of the rack. After setting up my transition area, it was time to mingle and get mentally prepared for the race. It was great talking with all my fellow Tri-Fusion members and it helps the time pass. Before long it was time to head down to the water and start the race.

I was able to get a short warm up in and to be honest my arms did not feel good. I didn’t exactly know what it was but I felt sluggish. Rarely do I feel great but not usually this tired or slow. I chalked it up to the early morning start and knew that once the race started I had no excuses and just had to swim.

Mass Swim Start
Photo By: Rory Buck

As I lined up on the shore, standing next to Roger and Ben, two fast swimmers, it was go time. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up but the philosophy of going out fast and getting out in front of the masses worked great once again. I am not sure what clicked but the feeling from the warm-up was gone and I was feeling great. By the second turn buoy I had open water everywhere. I honestly was wondering if I had gone off course. I was a bit behind the main pack since there was no one within 25 yards of me, at least in front of me.

Mass Swim Start
Photo By: Rory Buck

I really felt great. I felt like my effort was up, but I wasn’t struggling like I usually do near the end of a race. During Thursday’s practice, Coach Rory really helped me focus on technique and position in the water and I really think it helped. When I hit the last turn buoy, a few swimmers finally jumped off my feet and that is when I realized I had pulled them around the course. Oh well, I was feeling good and my heart rate seem to be low. I was wondering if I could have gone harder but as I tried to pick it up here and there, I felt my form start to diminish and just focus on solid pulls and for the first race kept a flutter kick for the majority of the swim.

I had set a goal for sub 24:00 and even though the course was short I am pretty sure I would have been sub 23:00 for this race. I am ecstatic about my swim and really felt like it was one of my best ever. Though I have a ton of room for improvement, that is exactly what I am doing, improving. I will go faster, it is just a matter of time and a whole lot of practice.

Swim Time:
2007: 30:41
2008: 26:05
2009: 19:27 (The swim was about 2:30-3:00 minutes short, but that would still put me at a sub 23:00 minute swim)

It was now time to head off on the bike. Tim informed me as I entered transition I was in 21st place. Not to bad and I knew there were “swimmers” in front of me and I am a triathlete. The plan was to see if they could hang.

Heading to Transition: See I am Fast:)
Photo By: Rodger McKeon

I had a 56 second transition good for second fastest on the day, behind Roger the winner of the race. What I lack in speed out on the course I make up for in my transitions. There have been countless races where I have gain well over a minute in time, just in transitions. In an Olympic that is good for nearly 10 seconds per mile on the run, and since I ain’t the fastest runner, I need to save time where ever I can.

Heading out of T1
Photo By: Rory Buck

As I jumped on the bike, the goal was to ride HARD. I wanted my legs to feel uncomfortable the entire time. There wasn’t going to be any moments where I should have pushed harder. I really like races that have at least one turn-around. You can get a good idea on where you are at and who is behind you. As we headed out to Higgens point, I knew I was near the front. The closer I got to Higgens the more excited I got. I had yet to see the race leaders and I was up and over Tubbs hill and near the turn-around. Then I saw Roger leading, which was pretty cool because I knew how bad he wanted this race. Then Ben and then two more riders. Yeah that’s right, I hit the turn-around in 5th. WTF?

These next few photos are by Rory Buck. Great shots of me heading towards T2.

It was at this point I was like “Holy Mother C”, I am not suppose to be up here. I will have to admit it was pretty cool but I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. The plan was in place, go HARD the entire bike. I hit the hills and was passed by a few riders but I was racing my race. After chit chatting with Haley Copper (she’s a pro:)) on our way up Yellowstone Rd, we decided talking shouldn’t be this easy and it was time to drop the ball-pin hammer and get moving.

Overall the bike leg went well. I was able to push the entire ride and really felt like I had given it my all. There were times when some of those hills jumped up and kicked my butt and all I did was kept on pushing. I knew it would be over soon and there was no time to pussyfoot around.

I had set a goal to be around 1:05. I knew this was going to be tough but at the same time I knew it would help push me the entire time. Though I was a bit off my goal, I had an almost 3:30 PR and I am happy with the result.

Bike Time:
2007: 1:12:32 (Course was short- approx. 22 miles)
2008: 1:09:31
2009: 1:06:06

Bike Dismount

Heading into T2 I knew I was near the Top 10 but wasn’t quite sure where I was. It really didn’t matter because anything can happen on the run. As I dismounted my bike and heading into the transition area, all I think about is being quick. Like I said earlier, I make up serious time in transitions and they are important in my race. I once again had the second faster T2 at :38 seconds with yet again, only Roger beating my by 1 second. I chalk that up to him racing for his life and me standing at my towel for split second and only seeing my visor and thinking there should be something else. Oh well, you can’t always have the fastest transitions :)

Heading out on the run!
Photo By: Dave Erickson

The run is where you can win and lose a race. I am never actually in that position but at the same time I am in my own personal race and in today’s race, I won. Last weeks run where I had averaged the 6:20’s that are required to run a sub 40:00 10K split, was after a much shorter bike and swim. I knew it was going to be tough and I knew that at the first mile I was going to be able to see if that was possible.

I took off out of transition in a small group with one racer in my age-group about 50 yards ahead. The plan was to chase him down and run my ass off. Since my running, has be slim to actually none lately due to a sore foot and well plenty of other excuses that really are just that excuses, I didn’t really know how I would do for a 10K.

Out of T2 to the Run
Photo By: Dave Erickson

The run was tough. Just after Mile 1, I had caught the guy in my age group and now it was time to put a little distance between us. I felt great for the first 4 miles. Though my average was closer to 6:40’s than 6:20’s I wanted, I felt like my effort was solid. Between Miles 4-5, the wheels started to slow down as I struggled to a 6:55 mile but picked it back up and finished relatively strong with a total run of 41:29.

This was another PR and though I wish it was a bit faster, you really only get in what you put out and my running recently has been pathetic. After a good long talk with Jessi about expectations, how do I really expect to break my goal if I haven’t put in the time and effort that is required order to achieve it? My swimming has been consistent and it shows, my biking is getting better and though I am not as strong as I can be, I am still faster. My run on the other hand needs work. I have not been diligent and though I have improved as you can see, it has not improved at the same rate as cycling or swimming. Now this is where I pledge to make changes, and promise it will only get faster.

Coming to the Finish (this guy was doing the Du)

Total Time:
2007: 2:36:37 (Short Bike)
2008: 2:20:27
2009: 2:08:37 (Short swim)

Kinda Tired :)
Photo By: Jessi Thompson

I estimate I would have been around a 2:11 with the normal swim, which is still a 9 minute PR and only going to improve. I ended up 12th overall and 3rd in my age-group for my first podium at a major race.

Post Race: Rog still smiling
Photo By: Rory Buck

Thanks again to all the Tri-Fusion people cheering and supporting me throughout the race. The last two weeks have really reminded me why I love to race and why I need to train. It ain’t always fun to train but it is sure fun to have a great race.

Thanks again to my folks for coming out and cheering for me!
Photo By: Jessi Thompson
Until next time…


Haydenview Triathlon 2009- Race Report

This would be my first race since Ironman CDA. After the big push to get ready for one of the biggest races of my life, the plan was to take a bit of time off from racing. But 6 weeks was WAY too long. After struggling with a few injuries and trying to get comfortable on my new bike, I figured it would be best to get at least one race in before the CDA Olympic this weekend.

With the alarm set for 3:45am, or otherwise known as BEFORE ZERO-HOUR, I knew a good nights rest would help get me ready. I am not sure if it was a bit of pre-race nerves or the ungodly high temperatures we have been having, but I slept about 2.5 hours the night before and was NOT happy when my alarm started going off. But with Jessi arriving in 30 minutes, it was time to get up, eat some breakfast and get the truck packed.

We headed over the Hayden and due to our little bit of a late arrival and parking being about a mile from the race start, our plans to drive the bike course just wasn't happening. So after setting up transition and a short warm-up ride it was time to start the race.

The next set of photographs have to be some of the coolest ones I have ever seen. Thanks to Roger and Emma for heading over at the REAL Zero-Hour and for Rog taking some great pics.

Since it was a beach start, we all get to run in as far as we can and then start swimming. With my new plan to start at the front of the pack during swims, this start worked out great.

The swim was advertised as .5 mile and after looking at the buoys before the race, I knew it was short. When the swim looks "Long" it is usually right on and when it looks short, it is usually REEEEAL short. I am not exactly sure how they messed this up, since last years times were looked pretty accurate, so you would think they would just put them in the same spot. Guess not.

Swim Time: 7:42

Due to some untimely road construction, the bike course had to be changed about 2 days before the race. I have to give the race director props for finding a great alternative route that was challenging and fun. It was a steady climb out to the turn-a-round and very fast back.

After getting on my bike, I made my first mistake and missed the first hard right hand turn. I am not sure if it as all the bright orange cones and arrows telling me exactly where to go or what but I decided to take a short detour and had to make a quick U-turn.

Coming into T2

Since I have been struggling with a bit of knee pain lately, I didn't know how this part of the race would go. It took some time for my legs to feel like they were under me but after the turn-a-round I felt great. Partly because it was down hill but I really felt like I was able to get into a rhythm and push hard back to T2.

It could have also been the two 15 year olds and the 17 year old that passed me on the way out. These kids where fast and it was all I could do to not let them out of site. I was a bit more aggressive on the way in and was able to put a small gap on the 15 year old's but they were even faster runners than bikers.

Bike Time: 28:39

Heading into T2, I made my second mistake and almost ran over the wrong timing mats. I had to pick up my bike and back track a few steps to make sure I went over the right area. It was good to see they put up some yellow marking tape for many of the other racers because it was a bit confusing, well at least for me.

I quickly put on my K-Swiss K' Onas and was heading out for what was to be one of my few hard runs since, well Blue Lake Sprint back in June. The run was once again advertised at 3.5 mile run but instead of being short, it was actually closer to 3.8 miles, verified from quite a few Garmins. This actually made me feel a bit better once I saw my final time.

The run was pretty flat but was tough. It was fun to be able to push myself and see if I could still keep up with my pre-Ironman races. It was exciting to see that even though my training has been a bit (or a lot) sub-par in the last month, I am happy with how this event unfolded.

Run Time: 24:04

Place: 5th OA, 1st AG

Though I had a ton of fun racing again, this race was not a particular favorite for me. I really don't care how far the distances are at each race (though it is nice to compare) you NEED to make sure they are accurate. It is ridiculous to have a swim almost cut in half and a run to be a 1/3 of a mile longer. Do whatever it takes to make sure your distances are correct.

Another small grip, but just because for once I actually won my age-group, it would have been nice to honor it. I can understand for the short $35 dollar races, but this is not the case. Giving the excuse that "We are not doing age-group awards because EVERYONE is a winner" is not a way to get people to come back.

OK, enough venting. All in all, it was fun to get back into racing and hanging with the Thompsons. Jessi, is having an awesome season and backed it up with yet another 1st OVERALL performance. Congrats!!! Also great job to Emma, who might have had an even tougher experience with the Kid's Tri and came out of it with a big smile.

Next week is CDA Olympic and I am sad to say there won't be another rematch between Tim and I, but I have some small goals for this race and even though I am not where I want to be fitness wise, I think they are still achievable.

Until next time...