Swim, Run, Bike and Run…but it was all about the bike.

May 8th, 2014

Testing out my new Scott Plasma 10

To this date, The Wildflower Triathlon has been the hardest and funniest Olympic distance race I have competed in. The race was tough, but I am glad I got to enjoy it with my USMES teammates.  Our triathlon director and athlete, Kathy Rakel, did a great job of ensuring we had a well-coordinated, stress free race.  We stayed only 10 miles away from the race course in a summer home on a nearby lake.  It is traditional for people to camp out for this race, but we enjoyed staying indoors with our creature comforts. Don’t get me wrong, I like going camping but just not during a race. Out of the 4 of us on USMES, I was the only one competing in the Olympic race, while everyone else did the half distance the day before.  While Samantha Morrison, Nick ChaseBrad Williams and Kathy Rakel were out racing for 4 to 5 hours, I was relaxing, enjoying the great views and preparing for my race, with the house to myself.

photo shoot of nick after fixing the wheels

Besides Nick wanting to borrow my American Classic 85mm wheels for his race and damaging the replaceable tire valves when he put Orange Seal Tire Sealant in them, all other preparation was seamless. Not to knock Nick, he was only trying to make sure no one got a flat and we eventually got the wheels fixed for my race.

Racing was very pleasant in the beautiful countryside

Waking up on race morning, I found that everyone else who had raced the half was already up before me – I guess they were still hyped up on caffeine and adrenaline from their race and couldn’t sleep.  I biked to T1B/T2 partway from the house to ensure I had a good bike warm up.  Because of low lake water levels, all the races veered away from a traditional triathlon race format: Swim, Bike and Run (6.2 mi) to a Swim, Run (2.2 mi), Bike and Run (4 mi).  After setting up my bike and shoes, I caught the bus to T1A, setup my gear for the first run and then headed down for a swim warm up. Wildflower only has one Professional wave and it is for the half distance only, so I started with the collegiate athletes.

walking down the 350m run to the swim start

As soon as the gun went off, I went hard charging since there were a lot of collegiate athletes and I did not want to get stuck behind a massive crowd.  Once I settled in, I found a couple of feet to draft off of and save some energy, while still swimming at a pretty good clip.  In addition, I had done a good job breaking in my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit and I was not restricted at all. A little over halfway through the swim, I decided to let the two in front of me go since they were swimming all over the place and I did not want to waist any energy zigzagging after them. I came out of the water in ninth position, swimming an 18:04.

after swimming a solid time

The first hard part of the course was the 350 meter climb from the water to my T1A area and continuing to the top of the hill, followed by a rolling sandy trail run to T1B/T2.  Because of the difficulty of the first run, fast T1A and T1B transition, I was able to make some ground on those in front of me and exit T1B in 3rd.  I soon made my way into 2nd place during the first mile of the bike since we had to climb a 10-12+ % grade.  After that first major climb up Lynch Hill, there were 3-4 more major climbs and then the rest of the course was rolling terrain.  It wasn’t my Scott Plasma 10 or American Classics 85mm wheels but my bike fitness that just could not match 3 of the guys on the bike course and they put some time in on me going into T2.  I was also passed by 2 other guys at the very end of the bike.

legs totally destroyed after a monster of a run course

When I entered T2, I was in 6th and when I exited T2, I was in 5th and quickly made my way into 4th over the first mile.  With 4 miles to run, I thought I could run into a podium position. Much to my surprise, there was a 1000 meter hill with a 12-15% gradient hidden in the 2nd mile. This hill further destroy my legs and kept me from running fast enough to catch the leaders, even though it was the second fastest run of the day. When I made it over that hill, I had to navigate through more rolling terrain, and yet again, more sandy trails. Finally, I descended Lynch Hill and through the finish line to place 4th Overall. Despite the tough course, I had a good first Olympic distance race of the season.  Next up LTF CapTex in Austin, TX, followed by my favorite race of the year: the Armed Forces National Triathlon Championships at Pt. Mugu, CA.

Just missing a podium finish - 4th will have to do

I am fortunate and honored to represent the US Army and race for the US Military Elite Triathlon Team, part of US Military Endurance Sports. Racing and training is effortless and made possible by the following USMES sponsors: BoeingSnappleScottSRAMPrimalAmerican ClassicOsmo NutritionHoney StingerHeadsweatsRudy ProjectsXterra Wetsuits and Schwalbe. I’m thankful to be serviced by and involved with my local bike shop, Jack and Adams Bikes. Team Sterghos also includes VasaSable Water Optics, and Total Immersion. I’m coached and trained by Tim Crowley of TC2 coaching. Finally and most importantly, at the end of the day my heart belongs to Heather.