Saturday, July 04, 2009

toughest race so far

Whew! The Farmington Olympic Triathlon is no joke. Its tough. Hilly and unforgiving. At least for me. This race was the first time in recent memory that I wasn't actually racing - I was trying to finish.

I set out for Farmington on Friday with my wife Paula, hitting the road about noonish. Paula and I had our first date in Farmington, back when we were teachers on the reservation. Farmington brings back good memories for both of us, and we were exicted to return.

I met up with an old law school buddy that was also racing. We drove the course (scary hilly), and had dinner. Paula and I stayed at our friends' house that currently put up for sale. We slept (sort of) on an air mattress and shared a single pillow. I was thankful when the alarm went off. A quick bagel, yougurt, and out we went.

The race begins with a 1.5k swim, then a 10k trail run, and finishes with a brutal 25mi bike. The strange order, coupled with different T1 and T2 locations, makes this race a departure from the norm. I had been warned about the hills, but I guess I wasn't paying attention.

The swim was fairly uneventful. There was a little bumping and kicking, but nothing substantial. My problem was being unable to see the buoys. I was sans contacts. I swam a good more than I needed to. After rounding the first buoy, the sun was right in my eyes when breathing to the right (which is the only side I use). After the second buoy, we were swimming right into the sun. Wow. If I couldn't sight before, I certainly couldn't now. I would look for the wake of other swimmers and stay on their tails. I thought for sure my time was going to be terrible. Although I had a good rhythm and felt strong, I was swimming all over the place. I ended up with a time of 28:35. Pretty, pretty good. I might be able to salvage a respectable time after all.

A quick sandy change of clothes, and off for the run. I tried to start slowly, and certainly did. But I was only going to get slower. My back tightened up, and I didn't have the spark in my legs. Also, I had an injury from a soccer game the week prior, that ached with each right step.

I ended up walking at the water stations. I had to stop and stretch my back out too. I was getting passed left and right. If I wasn't running up a hill, I was running down one. The scenery itself was great. After a washerboard road and paved street, the trail turned into a mountain bike path. I had a good half-mile run on that trial all to myself. I was loosening up, and my ankle was starting to go numb. In short I was feeling good(ish). But when I finished with a time of 55:10, I knew I wasn't going to beat my Lubbock time of 2:42.

Off on the bike I went. I was pretty excited. I knew it started with a downhill and I was going to put up some good speeds. Sure enough, I passed a good number of people on the bike and put up a solid 12.5 mile split of 35:00. My law school buddy was a good few miles ahead of me and was looking good, but not great. Once I turned around, I quickly realized why. We had a headwind that slowed everything down. I was hurting going up the hills, and couldn't build up speed on the downhills. On about mile 16, I stopped racing. The thought was: finish this thing and race another day. The bike ended up taking 1:24:27.

The whole race took me 2:51:12. I think I'll take this race and look forward to improving on it last year. Even though I was suffering, I really enjoyed the course. It was a well-run race (an improvement from years past, according to reports). The views were great and the course was challenging. It'll give me the motivation to hit the hills and trails.

As for my lawschool friend, he crushed the race. And took one of my age group spots away. One day I'll be able to keep up with him.

Total Swim T1 Run T2 Bike
2:51:12.6 28:35 1:52 55:10 1:07 1:24:27