Two months ago I raced what I thought would be my last HIM of 2016 at Vineman 70.3. For that race I took the pressure off and went in with no expectations other than have fun and leave all I had out on the course. The result being my first sub 30min swim, a strong bike and a respectable run for a 4th in AG, an unfortunate 30 seconds out of a 70.3 World Championship spot for 2017 in Chattanooga. I returned to LA feeling dejected, despite my solid performance, and found myself within hours signing up for one more shot at Worlds via 70.3 Santa Cruz.
My thought for Santa Cruz after Vineman was that it wouldn’t necessarily take much to secure a spot, just a solid swim, bike and run strung together at a less renown race. I didn’t plan to take it easy by any regards however the length of the season was starting to get to me physically and mentally. I would make every workout but sit longer in the car mustering the energy to get started and when I would I was often getting my butt kicked on sets that I would have crushed in the Spring. Despite the resistance everything was going fine enough until a run 3 weeks out left lingering soreness in the same calf that I had injured back in 2015, which had kept me sidelined for most of the year. Not having a coach I was in a position to freak out however I instead decided I would take a more methodical approach before simply throwing money at it like I had done in the past. I spoke to some friends, laid out a plan and decided once it was in writing I would go into it with confidence and not second guess myself.
The result was a healthy 1:28 with no resulting pain. A modest but happy end to my season and confidence builder in my ability to make an objective solution to a highly emotional problem.
Camping is my favorite way to experience a race but it takes A LOT of consideration to detail. Any 1 missing component out of 100 can lead to a wrecked weekend. Excluding one heart rate monitor I did pretty good.
Race morning despite a tone of complication everything came into play. I forgot BOTH Garmin’s yet a good friend and Sherpa was able to get them to me on time. The run from swim to T1 was on a half mile of concrete after 30 minutes in cold water, but I was one of the few that had a second pair of shoes waiting to take the pounding off. The porta-poties ran out of TP but I had extra in my pocket just in case. I found stretch bands in my kit while waiting an hour for my swim wave, and nutrition went to perfection despite dropping a gel on the bike. Some race mornings are a disaster but this one felt totally in my favor.
An ocean swim almost straight out and back should have catered to my Tower26 Wednesday morning beach training. My wave ended up being over an hour back of the start (second to last wave) so I had to wait around an uncomfortable amount for this one then swim through a literal sea of stragglers. I don’t know if it was my attitude or fitness but my performance was very underwhelming at 33:00, 3 minutes behind my lane mates from the pool.
Swim – 33:00 (45th in AG)
After a half mile run on concrete to T1 I was anxious to make up some ground on the bike, settling into my 260 watt target and holding very consistent throughout, despite rolling terrain. For the first time since 2014 my heart rate found itself at my goal 160bpm. This was a huge confidence builder.
Bike – 2:31:18 (21st in AG) 162 bpm – 254 watts NP
Heading out on the run I was terrified. I didn’t know what I would have from a fitness perspective but more so I didn’t know if my calf was going to stay attached or not. My goal was to go out overly conservative but still sub 7:00, run based on comfort then drop the hammer in the second half. Again my HR played out perfectly! I was able to turn it up a notch with a mid run split of 6:09 and suffered through the end but still kept it sub 6:40.
Run – 1:28:27 (17th in AG) 172bpm
Passing through the finish after an abrupt turn onto the beach (I was told it would be 0.3 miles on sand but it ended up being only 100 yards or less) I was heart broken to hear 17th in AG. Not even close!! The leaders had all been in the 4:10’s-4:20’s.
I had thought Santa Cruz might be the answer to 2017 Worlds with a modest effort. Some days you’re competition shows and others might be a freebie, but the way this sport has gotten those days have become way to seldom to ever count on. Heading into 2017 I don’t want to do another race to place (though that is the goal), I want to go into it to CRUSH, healthy and motivated. The competition is to stiff to show weakness and I owe it to myself to go in full hearted or not at all. That’s how you race and that’s how good things happen.
Added motivation was seeing my buddy and teammate John Mulchany get in for next year. An awesome show of gratitude which reminded me of why we do this.
Overall a great weekend with an awesome group of friends.