Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tucson Triathlon Race Report

The Tucson Triathlon takes place around the University of Arizona campus and features an 825 yard swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 3 mile run. Last year I did this race a few days out from a nasty crash, and against better judgment, I did it all wrapped with tegaderm and compression sleeves to keep everything in place. This year I was crash-free, but my body was at the end of an intense 14-day lactate threshold block. My goal for the race was to keep it as a sub-threshold workout requiring minimal recovery so I could stay fresh for Leadman this weekend. Despite the threats of fellow local pro Jesse Vondracek and Xterra stud and teammate Bryce Phinney I was able to execute the race to plan, and ended up with my second win in less than 24 hours of racing.

Transition prep where the race is really won
Swim (10:11 / 7th): The swim was the most difficult element of the day and I was clearly in rough shape from the previous days swim which I had taken out way too hard.  I took it out a little easier on this day coming thru the 100 in 1:10 and the 400 in 4:53.  After the 400, I actually started to make up ground on pretty much everyone in visual sight of this pool swim and popped out in 10:11.  I headed towards transition and I saw Jesse V right in front of me and Bryce was just leaving.  I was right where I wanted to be knowing that Jesse couldn't bike with me and Bryce wouldn't be able to run with me

Biking for show
Bike (28:19 / 1st): I headed out on the bike with the main goal of just surviving.  Anyone that has done this race before knows that the course is a little bit like playing Paperboy for the original Nintendo and only gets worse as the roads continue to deteriorate. I actually told Bryce the day before that we should just bring our mountain bikes and have at it.

Anyway, I focused on catching up to Bryce and it took nearly 3.5 miles to do so.  I then took an opportunity to recover a bit and get in some fluids and waited for my opportunity.  That opportunity came about 3 miles later on gradual rise with a nice headwind.  I bumped up the power and encouraged Bryce to come with but it appeared he was done as a gapped opened immediately.  I then laid out some more power for the remaining 5.5 miles and created a big gap that had grown to at least .5 miles.

Running for the dough
Run (17:02 / 2nd): I started out on the run and knew I had a comfortable lead which allowed me to start out at relaxed pace. Trisports was shooting for an upcoming catalog and I really wanted to make sure they got some usable photos so I just focused on the best stride I could manage and a bright smile.

The course is a nice looping course and it gives a few places to check out the competition.  At roughly the half-mile mark I got to see that I was roughly a minute up Jesse Vondracek who was now in 2nd place.  I came thru the two-mile mark at 10:43 and I had actually made up more time on Jesse despite what the Tricats were yelling at me.  At that point I just shut it down and ran it in for the win.

Ironically despite turning it off I did PR on this course by a single second despite a slower bike and swim.  It always amazes me how much easier running is when you don't smash the legs on the bike - or maybe, just maybe all the hamstring stretching I have done in the off-season is actually helping my form ;)

Post race with fellow Trisports.com teammates
Overall (55:33 / 1st): It was great to be able to defend my title at the Tucson triathlon especially with the block of training leading up to the race including the Team Trisports Triathlon the day prior.  Unlike many other professional athletes, I find that it is important to take part in the local triathlons - especially ones that take place early in the year.  They are a great way to practice race specific skills before major races where mistakes can be much more costly.

This weekend I am racing at the Leadman Triathlon and I will need all the help I can get against the stacked field of Ironman winners including 2X Ironman World Champion Tim Deboom, Jordan Rapp (2X Ironman Canada and Ironman Arizona winner), Maik Twelsiak (Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Lake Placid winner), Chris Legh (Over 70 triathlon wins), and Matt Russell (2x Duathlon National Champion).   The forecast is for winds over 50mph - hopefully the race still takes place.

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