The Carlsbad Triathlon is a 1K / 25K / 5K.
Turns out my race was all about the bike......and the transitions. I was stoked to finally see that those hard core efforts on the mountain bike actually do translate to the road! As usual I had no expectations going into the race. I just planned on giving it my all and seeing how my fitness level was faring in racing. I was surprised. I love surprises!
The quick version is this:
My swim and run were solid. I could tell my fitness level is at a place it hasn’t been in a long time. My bike felt insanely strong in many ways (read on for more.) My transitions were super clean and therefore fast (free speed!) I came off the bike in first place (more like tied for first place) and ended up finishing second to Kate Major…one cool chick and my great friend.
The longer (more fun) version is this:
I love this race! Come to think of it, it was the first race I ever raced in the ‘Pro’ division. That was back in 1999. I would race it every year and even won it the last time I raced it back in 2005. It was great to be back. It’s a beautiful course with an ocean swim and both the ride and run along the Pacific Coast Highway. Familiar faces both on the course and on the sidelines cheering always make a local race a mustdo.
*New chill pre-race routine.*
The race started at 8am. Typically I would plan to arrive 90 minutes prior to the race, giving me a good 60 minutes to prepare transition, warm-up and get down to the start. This day I had a different plan. I got to transition at 6:00 a.m., two hours before the start, so I could grab a great spot in transition while it was still quiet, drop my gear to save my spot, and still have plenty of time to pedal my bike up the coast about a mile or so to Starbucks, grab a double espresso and relax for a bit. Ran into a friend of mine who happened to be there (who was surprised to see me there!) who’s husband was doing the race. She pointed out the fact that I seemed so relaxed…and I was…there IS such a thing as the able-to-chill-triathlete! Thank goodness I’ve found out how. I love it. After that I hit the bathroom, said a quick good-bye, then headed back toward transition. Along the way I found a quiet spot to do my movement preparation for about 20 minutes. I got back to transition by 7:25am, 30+ minutes before the start with more than enough time to take my pre-race nutrition, dial in my transition area, chat it up a bit with some friends, put my wetsuit on, and head down to the water for a quick swim before the start. Caught a GREAT wave in to shore from my warm-up and was hoping I would be as lucky in the race.
It was my favorite kind of start: a long run in the sand to the ocean. It spreads the field out a bit so if you’re good at it and get ahead on the run into the water, then dolphin strong through the surf, you’ll have a nice clear view of the buoy ahead, instead of having to maneuver in and around lots of arms, legs or feet! I felt great from the gun and had a quick start. There were a lot of athletes in that first wave, including not only the pros, but relays, 30-34 age-group men and firefighters. Because of that, things got a bit messy around the first buoy but then spread out once we hit the open water and swam parallel to shore for most of the 1km. I felt better and better as the swim went on. Usually a sign that I could’ve used more of a warm-up. Next time I’ll remember.
I wasn’t lucky enough to catch a wave into the finish. No problem. There was a long run from the ocean, up the beach, and up and back through transition. I had a super quick transition. This is what goes through my mind:
“Pull wetsuit down to ankles. Sunglasses on. Helmet on. Wetsuit off one foot. Wetsuit off the other foot. Grab bike and go.”
Kate and I left transition together…I’d made up good time but had no time to think about it. There was a short steep climb directly out of transition and I was hoping that my decision to keep my shoes on my pedals wasn’t going to prove to be more challenging than I thought. It ended up being the right decision. I had no problem getting up the hill with my feet on top of my shoes. Once we were out on the open road, slightly decending, I got my feet into the shoes without losing any ground to the other athletes. Then started pedaling my heart out!
Out on the bike I immediately felt good. This was confirmed by the fact that those in front of me weren’t getting any further ahead. Hmmmm I thought. Interesting. I kept that effort going. It felt like it was as hard as I could go in the TT position and still felt greawt. As we hit the small hills, I only felt stronger. It was at that point that I knew that my mountain biking efforts were paying off on the road. It makes all the sense in the world, but I had yet to see or feel it directly. In mountain biking, there are times I’ve been climbing straight up for 30-40 minutes powering through the pedals at a high threshold just to get the bike up the hill. Certainly a small roller on the coast highway was going to be a piece of cake! I also noticed that I was keeping my cadence really high naturally. It felt super smooth to keep the pedals turning over probably 90-100 rpms. My TT position felt great. I like to say that because of my body awareness, functional performance training, and movement efficiency, my body is TT-position ready all the time. I don’t have to train in that position to be comfortable in it, because I have the mobility through my hips, spine and shoulders, and the power, as always, through my glutes. That all added up to an amazing feeling out there that day. A few of us, including Kate and I rode pretty steadily together the whole 25km swapping places here and there. Once again, if anything, I only felt stronger by the end. I was aware that I was able to sustain a really high effort, the kind where you know you feel like you’re actually racing and not just covering the distance from point A to point B. In the back of my mind I was curious to know how I was going to feel on the run, and even thought for a second whether I should back off a bit, but I remembered that I had told the ActiveX Triathlon Training group just yesterday, “Don’t hold back on the bike!” so I took it to heart for myself. At this point I knew the bike would be my strength that day since I haven’t been running as much as riding. I decided it was best to go as hard as I could and just see what happened. We all came off the bike side by side…
In my mind T2 goes like this:
“Helmet off. Shoe. Shoe. Grab visor/racebelt. Run.”
I had another lightning fast transition and headed out onto the run in first place. I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel ‘flash’ (as I like to say.) I knew I would get to the finish line as fast as I could that day by focusing on my running form, in order to cover the distance as efficiently and evenly paced as possible. It was more about getting from point A to B than actually racing it in this case. THAT I knew immediately was something I wanted to commit to working on as soon as the race was over. Intervals and more running drills, here I come!
It was great to see that my fitness level is at a place it hasn’t been in years and that my hard core (long and painful) efforts on the mountain bike (that, as you know, I’m loving) really are translating to both my overall fitness and my power through the pedals on the road bike, even in the TT position. I love the saying
“Do what you love. Love what you do.”
It really has paid off for me so far…so I’ll keep at it!
And I’ll say it to you too:
Do what you love and love what you do!