Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Amica 19.7 Triathlon Race Report - 2011 Phoenix Sprint Triathlon


This year I have tried to limit my racing, but lately I have had the itch to race. When I saw that the Amica 19.7 Phoenix had moved from the hardest course possible - Lake Pleasant - to a pristine flat course I knew I was in. Now don't get me wrong, I am all for hard courses, but I was just looking for a nice course that would make for a great threshold workout, with no recover time needed, and that would allow me to practice a pro swim start.  Oh ya, and the race was close enough that I could sleep in my own bed the night before the race and drive up on race morning.

Shaking My Head About The Swim
Swim (11:53 / 11 of 12): The swim took place in a man-made lake used for motorboat racing and was filled with salt water. As we were lining up I saw Big Matty Reed trying to sneak to the far left side and Lewis Elliott followed. I figured I had a reasonable chance of staying on Lewis' feet so I tucked in right behind him. The official called an impromptu start and the chaos ensued.

The first 100 meters was rough and I was definitely red-lining it, but I wasn't at all concerned with the situation. Then we rounded the first buoy and we started to get tangled up with the racers from the Olympic race - don't ask me why the race was setup this way. Anyway, I tucked in behind someone from that Olympic race and then before I knew it the pro pack was gone. I backed it off and swam the remainder solo. Looking back at it I should have pushed hard but that was a mistake I made.

T1 (:23 / 1 of 12): After the disgusting swim, I knew I had to make up some time in transition to be apart of the race. Now being short course racing you would think the other racers - who can all run faster than me - would surely be able to transition fast. Not so, even Matty Reed couldn't transition faster than the long-course racer. Anyway I made quick work of transition despite another female pro believing that my transition spot was hers.

Bike (38:27 / 6 of 12): The bike was a 3-loop, 16 mile bike course with plenty of 90 and 180 degree turns per loop. Although I am cornering more confidently, I was not exactly excited about all the turns and knew it would slow things down considerably. Nonetheless it would be good practice for future races and it would give me many opportunities to check out the competition.

Now I had come into the week and had absolutely destroyed my biking legs, but for some reason they were firing just fine despite the accumulated fatigue. I got passed right away by Matt Russell but I was determined to catch up to AJ Baucco and Jason Pederson who had roughly a 30 second lead. I pushed hard on the straightaways, anywhere between 330-375 watts, and I slow-pedaled through the turns. Time check after time check the split was coming down albeit it vary slowly. I am always amazed how much effort can go into biking for the small incremental speed differences that are gained. It just makes me respect guys like Chris Lieto for the strategy they always employ. Anyway, by the end of loop three I had finally caught AJ and Jason. I decided not to pass and instead just backed it off and gave me legs a 30 second rest.
USAT Official's Are Always Looking At My Helmet ;)

T2 (:21 / 1 of 12): I knew I could make up some more time in T2 if I planned everything out in my head. However, what I didn't plan was for AJ rolling over my back leg with his bike, and then tripping and sliding his bike right underneath me. No worries, I high-stepped over it and would still manage the fastest T2 of the day. I find it shocking that the slowest runner in the field can transition faster than these ITU peeps. I guess I don't put my pants on just like everyone else.

Run (17:04 / 10 of 12): Coming out of T2 my legs felt absolutely awful, but it didn't come as a total shock as I pushed it pretty hard on the bike. My fast T2 had netted me 10-15 seconds on AJ and Jason, but it wasn't long before Jason came flying by. I knew I couldn't match the pace and decided to wait for AJ. AJ made the pass at the half-mile mark and I tucked in right behind him. I matched his stride and I could feel my energy stores rising and my heart rate falling. At one point I thought about making the pass, but I knew I was saving too much energy by letting AJ lead. At 1.5 miles we were passed by USA Duathlete Superstar Josh Merrick, and I figured it would by my only chance to gap AJ. I hung on Josh's heels for about 600 meters and that was all I had. However, that 600 meter stint got me 10 seconds and that was all the gap I would need on AJ.

Overall (1:08:17 / 10 of 12): I got rocked in the swim but I earned more confidence in the process. I biked well and I was even cornering well. I know I bike conservatively, but I am risk-adverse and I'm not a fan of crashing. My move on the run was a real strategic success that even Macca would have been proud of. And clearly I can tie my shoes faster than anyone else.  Overall, I couldn't be more happy with the race and the outcome and it was nice to mix it up and race fast for a change.  For a comparison Olympian Matty Reed went 1:04:16 with splits (10:05 / :24 / 37:31 / :33 / 15:41).

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