The Triathlon “Pre Season” is coming to a close, and the races I am putting an emphasis on are quickly approaching! For a lot of people, the early races marked the beginning of the season. However, I gave myself a few tune-up races to prepare myself for the high-end racing in the coming months. Triathlon has a long season, and for me, it helps to break it into some different chunks to focus on and keep myself mentally and physically fresh. In my pre-season, I mixed it up and did a bike race, a run race, and a “low key” triathlon.
This year my season builds steadily up until May. The first portion started off with a couple of bike races around Tucson at the end of July. It was an omnium that took place over two days consisting of a crit and a road race. The first day was a 1 hour crit (short circuit course about 1km long), and the second day was an 80 mile road race (four 20 mile laps), and I was racing in the pro/1/2/3 category.
The crit was pretty nuts, as crits usually are. The wind in Tucson picked up right as my race was about to go off, and one of the U of A cyclists (David Greif), who was just coming out of cyclocross season, decided to treat it like a cyclocross race and sprint the first 10 min. That strung out the group massively, and I made sure to put myself either at the front, or off in a small group. There was a pretty early break of three that the whole group let go about 20 minutes into the race. At this point in the race (about halfway), there really wasn’t a main group. The wind and high intensity had shattered the field, and I was stuck with a group that was playing cat and mouse with each other with half the race to go. I got my group to begrudgingly work for short periods of time, but I never was able to get anything going. There was only one guy off the front now, and there was no reason we shouldn’t have pulled him in. As the race got closer to the end, and I realized my group would rather race each other than for the win, I threw in multiple attacks. I pushed real hard, and I ended up finishing 3rd after being passed in the final few hundred meters. Overall, I was happy with the effort, and that my legs were good. I was ready to give it a good go the next day.
If the crit was nuts, the road race was epic. Wind, 6700ft of climbing, and a screaming descent with a few sketchy corners made this race an experience. The race started off at a pedestrian pace, despite a break off the front early on. We climbed and chatted the first time up the main climb, until Josh Berry (local pro) decided to get the race started near the top. After his acceleration, the group came back together on the downhill, and we resumed our Sunday group ride. The second time up the climb had a bit more action, and about ¾ up the climb I made a move. Josh followed, and then Chad Beyers joined us. We were able to separate ourselves from the field over the next lap. By the end of the third lap, they started to check each other’s legs out. I was seeing stars trying to hold their wheels, and just barely made it to the downhill. I just sat on until right before the last time up the climb, a decision was made to work together until we got closer to the finish to hold off the main field. I happily obliged, and just tried to hang on and do my part. My legs were pretty cooked, and about 5 miles from the finish they started turning the screws. I watched them ride away as I helplessly looked down at my legs, begging them to keep turning over. As I tried to settle into a pace, so that I could survive and outlast the field to the finish, I saw Josh and Chad throw attacks at each other like they had not just ridden the last 2 laps hard. Those were a long last couple of miles, but I was able to hang onto third for the second day in a row, and take 2nd in the omnium. I was pretty thrashed after that weekend, and have immense respect for the guys that do that week after week.
The next stop in my pre-season calendar was the Runners Den Pancake 5km in Phoenix. It took place Feb 7, and came at a good time to give me a gauge of where my run was at. It also gave me an excuse to visit a few good friends in Phoenix and eat some “free” pancakes. I ended up running the first third of the race with Lewis Elliot and a few other quick guys, and we went through the first mile 4:50ish. I was feeling good for not having done much high end work on the run yet, and decided to push on. I was about 7:30 or so at the halfway mark, but ended up fading in the last half to finish right around 15:20. I was a little disappointed with that time because I felt I was capable of running much faster. After looking back at it, I decided it was not terrible for my first really hard run of the year. Plus, a 5km is a pretty short intense effort, and making one mistake could be pretty costly. There were a few things I would have changed at the end of the day, and most likely that would have resulted in a better time. I drove back to Tucson that day a little more fired up about lowering that time in the coming month.
Finally, the end to the pre-season: Tritonman! This is one of my favorite early season races. Racing on Fiesta Island is a pretty great experience, and makes for some fast racing! I have been doing this race since 2012, with the exception of 2015, and I have always felt that I race well here. There is something magical about San Diego that just gets me fired up to race! I’m going to go with it being the birthplace of triathlon, and maybe the good cafes.
This race is unique for me because it is probably one of the only times that I will have to wake up before 5am for a race. Usually, I have so much time to kill I try to sleep in quite a bit. This was the opposite, and I found myself moving pretty quickly between transition set up and warm up. It did not take long until I was trying to position myself the best I could in the water for the start. Even though in water starts are a bit hectic and unorganized, I got off to a good start. I found clear water pretty quick, but noticed that there was someone I was dueling with for the lead a couple hundred meters into the swim. I realized he wasn’t slowing down, so I hopped on his feet, and enjoyed the ride for the rest of the swim. Aside from the jellyfish (apparently either the non-stinging or so mild you can’t feel it), the swim was uneventful.
I was through T1 pretty quick, and the first out onto the bike. My plan was to put in a dig to try to break things up right away, but everyone was pretty close, and our group formed just after getting onto Fiesta Island. We then had a pretty steady ride, until the last half of the lap. I decided to put in a bit of an attack to see what the group would do. I sat off the front for a bit, playing with the idea of pushing all the way to transition, but realized I was hanging just a few seconds off the front. I knew the group would probably speed up as we got closer to T2, so I sat up and hopped on the back. I rested until we were just about to leave Fiesta Island, and put in another attack. This one I committed to, and got a few seconds going into T2.
I knew the guys behind me were going to chase me down no matter if I was running 4:30s or 5:30s, so I made sure to run a pretty comfortable pace. I expected this because it is unusual to let someone go who is so close, especially with just a 5km to run, so I prepared for a pack run. Going into the second lap there were about four of us, and I was feeling good. I decided to keep the pace high, and see if anyone would drop off. We started to string out, and going into the third lap, Joe Maloy took the lead and freshened up the pace a little bit more. It was just a bit much for me, and a gap slowly opened up. I tried to keep him close in hopes that I could try and pull off a sprint, but he held strong the entire way. Matt Sharpe was breathing down my neck, and I had to really dig to hold onto second.
This was a great way to start off the beginning of my season. I had a great few months of training, and some of the low key racing has shown that, but now it is time for the fine tuning. There will be more intensity and speed work in the coming months, and hopefully the results will keep coming! Thanks for reading this rather lengthy update, and be sure to check out my sponsor page! If it weren’t for them, the results wouldn’t be possible! Some new photos are uploaded on my photostream, and more are in the queue! The next stop for me is Florida with Clermont and Sarasota on my schedule!