Last Saturday was my 2nd attempt at this whole ITU style racing thing. This time it was conveniently located 15 minutes away from my front door on Treasure Island in San Francisco. I was looking forward to this day for a while. Rebecca signed up for the age group race and I was excited for this rare opportunity for both of us to watch each other race. We got there early in the morning and I found a nice place to sit and relax as I watched Rebecca leave it all out there to take 2nd in her age group in only her 2nd Olympic Distance event. She's awesome!
I felt good going into my race and was hoping for a good swim to set myself up for a good finish. With 59 athletes and a wide variety of talent, I figured there would always be a pack to swim and bike with in the early stages. If I could get myself onto the bike with a group in good position, I could relax and rest up for a strong run. Anyway, that was the game plan...
It was 250 meters to the first turn buoy and I knew it was going to be crazy. The horn went off and I took off in what I called a sprint. Apparently my sprint is half the field's regular pace and by the time we hit the turn buoy I found myself at the tail end of the pack. The pack at the first turn buoy resembles a mosh-pit at a Rage Against The Machine concert. We all came together as 59 guys tried to swim in the same exact spot. Once again, I got dunked, elbowed, kicked and was drinking unwanted salt water from the bay. Usually the plan is to start hydrating on the bike and not in the middle of the swim. After the mayhem of the first turn, the field split. I found myself at the back of the 2nd group in the water. I was in a great position and feeling the draft. As we came up to the end of the first lap, I put my head down for about 6 strokes without breathing and when I picked my head up to sight, I found myself a little off the pack and to the left. Oh crap! I put my head back down and tried my hardest to reconnect with the pack but could not. For much of the 2nd lap I swam alone until 3 guys overtook me. I finished the swim with these guys about 1 minute down on the pack that swam away from me.
The bike was a mess. The first and second groups out of the water packed up nicely, but behind them, was unorganized chaos. With no organization back in my pack and the wind howling on Treasure Island, it made for a tough day on the bike. I started with a few guys and my legs weren't responding to their surges. The first 2 laps of 6 were a series of falling off the back and catching up. A few guys caught us, worked their way to the front and gapped us without a response from me. For the last 3 laps I rode with one other guy from Canada taking turns riding steady. We came into transition another minute down from the few that I started the ride with. It was now up to the run to reel some in.
The 10k run course on Treasure Island is a 3-lap flat run. I ran well off the bike for the first mile. I ran away from my bike partner right away and caught 2 guys from the group ahead. Starting the 2nd lap, I felt my back begin to tighten. I've had issues with my lower back in the past, so I knew this was going to be a tough finish. I struggled through the final lap and a half and made it to the finish line in 29th place for the day.
I was pretty disappointed as I crossed the finish line. I was disappointed with myself for letting the pack swim away and for letting some of the guys slip by me on the bike with no response. I believe I could have done better on this day. Rebecca and my coach reassured me that on a "bad day" I finished 29th out of 59. On my cool down, I settled down, and thought about the race and where I'm at. Last year I watched this race on Treasure Island in awe as the pros flew around the corners. This year I was in it. I've come a long way and I'm looking forward to getting back out there and race again!