The Capital City Y Tri is my local race. The swim is in the pool I workout in, the bike is on roads and trail that I ride on all the time and I have run the trails of the run course countless times. The inaugural event was last year, where I finished Top Male and 3ed overall. I was only beaten by a 13 year old girl and a very quick woman.
It wasn’t a secret that I wanted to do well in this race, and if the same competition showed up from last year I figured I had a good shot at the overall win. But I tried not to let on how much I wanted to win this race. It’s not often I get a legitimate shot to win a race, I figured this year may be it, if some actual fast kids find out about this little race. So I wanted to get while the getting was good.
This winter and spring my training has gone very well. I have been consistent and haven’t let any setbacks turn from days into weeks of not training as has happened in the past. I had a solid first race at The PolarBear Tri and had excellent splits at the Ragnar relay a couple weeks ago. Although the Ragnar came with a downside, while basically PR-ing a 10 mile last leg, I tweaked something in my left quad, which had done nothing but get worse even with rest.
With the first part of my race season in full swing and some big training blocks coming in preparation for my A race, I got all panicked and with the help of WebMd I had determined I either had a stress fracture or cancer… Probably both.
I decided discretion is the better part of valor and went to the doctor. She looked at me quizzically and said, I’m paraphrasing… Mostly.
“You know your femur is the biggest bone in your body right? If you have a stress fracture you’re coming in for more tests because something else is seriously wrong with you. Also I need to pay off some student loans so I’m going to let you get X-rays to make you feel better even though I already know the outcome.”
So when the results came back negative (#duh) she told me to take a bunch of Advil, ice it a quit whining. (Again, paraphrasing… mostly.) I followed her advice and things go a little better, not good enough that I was confident for the race though, just better enough that I didn’t think my leg would snap in half if I ran hard.
The Actual Race
I was in the last wave with all the fast swimmers and my main competition… This was my first race where I knew my competition and I would start with and have to finish before them in a straight up race. Usually I just go hard and have no idea if I’m ahead or behind the people I was passing and the people passing me.
I had one guy marked, I raced him at the PolerBear Tri a few weeks ago and beat him by maybe 1:30, and he had a pretty killer bike split. So I knew he would probably go by me on the bike and I would have to run him down. Other then that the only competition I knew about was the 13 year old girl (now 14) who had beaten me last year for second place. She frightened me as word on the street she had an actual road bike this year to go along with her crazy swim and fast run.
Swim – 425 yards – 6:56 (5th overall swim)
The swim was a 425 yard pool swim, with this being a little local race everyone got their own lane which was nice but hard to tell where you were as you were swimming. My swim recently hasn’t been where I want it. It was going really well but I lost it somewhere, so it was not my best swim ever. But I managed to exit the pool with most of my competition but not ahead like I had hoped.
Bike – 11 miles – 33:46 (2nd overall bike)
The bike is almost an out and back, with some of the out being on the rail trail. It is basically flat, on the way back there are a couple short steep rollers, but nothing to write home about. I out transitioned most people (transition time is included in the bike time I believe), but was caught by a couple guys within the first couple miles, including Chad, my main competition. I tried to hang with him with him for a while but couldn’t without keeping the effort to high. In the PolarBear I had a really strong bike but faded pretty hard on the run, knowing I would need to run him down I didn’t want this to happen so I let him go up the road and tried to keep him in eye sight while hopscotching another rider. This tactic was relatively unsuccessful as he was out of eyesight pretty quick and I just had to hope he didn’t get to far ahead. I also had to deal with this other rider who I just hoped wasn’t a super fast runner because I was definitely not making time on him on the bike.
I finally made a pass stick heading into the last two short steep hills before turning in towards transition. I then impressed the old ladies and kids watching the dismount line by performing the ever so impressive, yet simple flying dismount… and headed into transition ready to run.
Run – 5 km – 20:45
At the start of the run I knew I had some time to make up, I just didn’t know how much. The start of the run is kind of twisty and there is a downhill on the way to the rail trail, so I just tried to settle into a fast pace until I could see up the road a bit to see where I stood.
I turned onto the rail trail proper and look up to see how far back I was. I saw a black dot pretty far down the trail that I thought was Chad. Ugh, he was a long way ahead but I put my head down and tried to reel him in. And, ever so slowly, he started to come back. But he was still way up the road.
I was hurting at this point, the run is flat except for 1 short steep hill back up to the Y and a bit of a gradient as we go around capital park, but I was going for all I was worth, and I didn’t think I would have enough track to catch him. My brain was in the midst of trying to convince me to go into cruise mode and settle for 2nd… Or at worst 3ed… I finished 3ed last year so this would be fine… Trust me.
Then the following occurred as I was passing a woman and she heard me coming:
Her: Fast feet coming…
Me: *breathe hard and trying to smile*
Her: Great job… But you’re never going to catch Chad.
Me: *now pissed off* Watch me.
There was no going back after that, with my brain now fully on board, I kept pushing. The gap continued to shrink as we reached the turn around, and I could se clearly how far in front of me he was. It was still a long way, now with only maybe 1.5 miles left. I continued to close on him. He reached the base of the hill up to the Y and as he rounded the corner he looked back to check the gap. I knew I had a shot. I hammered up the hill, legs burning as I went up the last 10 yards of 8% grade and turned right to go around the back of the Y. He was right there now, less then 50 yards ahead, but now we I was really running out of time. My brain descided it was done again and wanted to back off, “Nice job body, we almost caught him…” But then as I round the Y are all my friends cheering for me and they know I want to win, so now I /have/ to give it everything… Stupid friends.
We run across the street to Capital Park, and up the back side, he’s 10 yards ahead now and I’m still gaining… Now I turn to strategy, do I sit behind him for a second to regroup and try and out kick him? If he goes now, I’m not sure I can go with him… I try my classic disheartening strategy, mostly because it works as everyone is hurting at the end of the race. As I bridge the last new yards to him we are inside 200 yards to go. I throw in a surge as I pass him and accelerate down the path hitting all the apexes and hoping he doesn’t have to much left in the tank. I heard him behind me but don’t bother to look back as I take hard right towards the finish line and the final 75 yards. I once again heard my friends cheering, and just started chugging for all I was worth and came across the line with 10.8 seconds to spare. Holy shit I had won! I think…
In my on the fly calculations, that was either for the race win or for 2nd place. I wasn’t sure, as I hadn’t seen the little girl (young woman? But that makes me sound old…), that I know of, the whole race… Either she had smoked us or she had had a problem somewhere. I asked around about her to see if she had finished and she had not. I started to think that, /maybe/ I had actually won. I didn’t really believe it until they had posted the results and there I was on top.
Wait, what? But I never win anything!?!
I was giddy! (Still am for that matter..) I don’t win races, even little ones, and definitely not exciting down to the wire races! And I even got to be on a podium with my good friend Melissa who finished top Female, and now owes me dinner, because I crushed her, even on the bike… ;-)