Well folks, the first race of the season is in the books, and lets just say I'm glad its over. I've been battling the nasty cold that has been going around for the better part of the last month, and it has taken its toll on me. That being said, I'm pretty happy with my results and I had a great time with some really fun people, despite feeling horrible pretty much the entire race.
As race day approached I had been watching the weather reports and it became pretty clear by Thursday or Friday that it would probably be raining on raceday. I had already missed the San Dieguito Half Marathon 3 weeks prior due to being sick, so I figured I would just suck it up and go for it. After all, I had gotten through some pretty good workouts the last week and felt like I could give it a go. The first bright spot of the weekend came when my friend Ian extended an offer to have dinner and stay with him and some friends who were hosting him for the weekend. I had planned on camping out in my van, but the thought of sleeping at a cold, wet campground was not all that appealing so I jumped at the chance to stay in a nice, dry house. What I didn't know was what a fun group I would meet and what a great time I would have.
That's Tricia, the hostess with the mostess, and her husband Sean in the background....and yes, that's me and my bald spot behind her filling my plate. Tricia and Ryan hosted a dinner party for a group of friends that make up T3 Performance Multisports, a great group of talented and FAST triathletes. They welcomed me into a beautiful home with open arms - literally, I had never met Tricia or Ryan and she said hello with a big ol' hug - and immediately made me feel right at home. They served up a fantastic dinner of Pasta, complete with chicken-apple sausage, salad and fresh fruit for dessert...I couldn't think of a better pre-race meal!! After dinner, when everyone went their separate ways, they gave me a comfy warm couch to sleep on and I got a great night's rest. The great treatment didn't stop there, Tricia and Sean own a company called Kona Essence Coffee and they treated me to some of the absolute best coffee I have ever had. Do yourself a favor and get some!!
Anyhow, on to the matter at hand....the race. As I said before, I have been battling a nasty head/chest cold but I woke up in the morning actually not feeling too bad, so I was initially optimistic about the race ahead. I got to the race site, set up my gear and decided to go for a warmup jog to see how I felt. I ran around the lake where the swim would take place and it didn't take long before my lungs started to spasm, sending me into my first coughing fit of the day - not good. I made my way back to transition and put on my wetsuit so I could jump in the water for another attempted warmup with pretty similar results - a coughing fit that had other athletes looking at me with a wary eye - is this guy gonna drown himself out here or what??? I felt like hell, but I was all dressed up so there was nothing left to do but give it a go - I told myself if it got too bad I would just stop and call it a day, but if you know me at all....it would have to get pretty bad.
The swim went much as expected, I was able to keep the coughing under control, but I came out of the water in just over 18 minutes - not good at all for me - and was feeling WAY more tired than I should have. My new TYR Hurricane wetsuit fit like a glove and felt absolutely great in the water, but my body just did not want to show up to the party, it wanted to be back in bed with a big bowl of soup. I shuffled my feet up to the transition area, stripped off the wetsuit and took off with my bike. I got about 1 mile into the 40k bike course when the first raindrops fell...."great" I thought, "just what I need". It then proceeded to rain more and more for the entire duration of the bike ride. I managed to keep the bike on two wheels the whole time, but was freezing cold and coughing like a chain smoker the entire way. I had brought plenty of fluids and gels along to fuel myself, but only managed to drink about 1/3 of a bottle and didn't eat a thing during my ride. I knew I had blown it when I was about 5 miles from the end of the bike portion and my legs just gave up on me. All I could do was shift down, spin my legs and hold on till I arrived in transition as a shivering, wet, numb mess of a human being. I averaged just over 23mph on a very flat course, which was decent, but not as fast as I'm capable of going. I had wanted to stop since mile 3 of the bike ride, but I made it this far...how bad could a 10k run hurt? As it turns out....a lot!! Running out of T2 my quads immediately voiced their protest and started to quiver as the cramps started to creep in. I grabbed a couple cups of electrolyte drink from the first aid station and just focused on turning over my legs until they loosened up a bit. I managed to get a couple gels down on the run and that kept my legs from seizing up on me completely, although I never really got to feeling good. When all was said and done, I had finished 5th place in my age group and 27th overall, far better than I had thought when I crossed the line. My run split showed that I ran a little over 38 minutes, or about 6:13/mile, amazing considering how horrible I felt. All things considered, I am really happy with how things went. I was just over 4 minutes away from the winner of my age group, and had I been healthy I'm sure I could have been up in the top 3 for sure. I'm also glad that I just finished....Here's a group shot of the gang after the race....notice the sweet trashbag raincoats we all are sporting :) This was a rare non-coughing moment for me after the race, I think you can tell just about how good I felt. I've got some big, tough races coming up and it was some good mental toughness training to push myself to the end of this race. Even though my result was not what I had hoped for, I am extremely encouraged by my performance and I'm very optimistic about having a good race in Oceanside in 3 weeks. I'm going to the doctor today to get myself healthy, and come March 27th I hope to be tearing up the streets at 100% of my ability. Until then, thanks to all my friends, new and old, who made this weekend fun despite the pain. Special congrats to Ian and Charisa, who won the male and female elite titles. I look forward to seeing them both in their pro debuts in Oceanside!! Thanks again to all my new T3 friends, it was great hanging out with you all!