September came and went fairly quick. I’ll double down my efforts on this a run through Malibu Olympic and Princeton 70.3.
Driving up to Malibu, I was pretty happy to be racing there for the first time since 70.3 worlds moved to September. I like the race venue, I like the course, and it has some fun memories of good hard racing.
Swimming time in the morning after a good warm up jog around the race site, chatting with Josh and Kasia on the way down to the start line, and some words of encouragement from the old man who was set to race Sunday morning in the classic distance. A quick run into the water and we were all off and swimming. Punched through the shore break and it was myself another guy out front. Things were a little toasty as the southern California water temps were unusually high all summer and even now they are still in the mid/upper 60s (F). Taking the right turn into shore the other guy timed the swell right and got himself out front with a nice wave. Running into T-1 we were very much alone. The swim was a tad longer than advertised at roughly 2000m instead of 1500m. I won’t complain, the more distance we get in the water for racing the better off I am. After T-1, I first onto the bike course. Swim time was 23:47.
The bike course was a great as usual. This time I really got to enjoy the open course. Holding first position on the bike the entire 40km course. I was chaperoned by the lead motorcycle. Holding good watts the entire ride I was happy with my bike form. August had been my biggest month this year for cycling miles, so my legs had to be good, especially with Princeton 70.3 looming the following weekend. Off the bike I was into T-2 alone, with what my dad told me was roughly a 4-5 minute lead over 2nd place. My bike split was 58:45.
Onto the run, I was still about 4-5 minutes in the lead (see the video here, Malibu Run Start), and took up position behind the chaperone on the bike in front of me for the 10km run. I slotted into a fairly respectable pace for the first two miles. August had seen me also dealing with an unhappy achilles so running training had been limited, but so it goes. After about mile 3 I could see that the gap to second was still about 4 minutes. I put myself into cruise control and sauntered across the line in first place to take the overall victory. Run split was a meh 36:43. Finish time was 2:01:32, not a bad time considering the long swim.
Post race was cool and a little unusual for me. I got to take the banner at the finish and raise it (first time I ever had to do that at a race), then took some race photos with some press folks, did a short Q and A with Fox sports (FIGJAM!!!) and more photos with women’s champion Carly Johann.
Hung around after the finish and saw some Breakaway friends and went to the top spot of the podium for some more pictures. I was happy with the race and confident in my form heading into Princeton next weekend.
When they announced this race, I was really excited for a chance to race in the town were I spent K-12. The area is familiar, old friends to see and say hello, and I don’t have to stay in a hotel, setting myself up in Palmer Square where the folks have just recently revamped a studio apartment they keep on the books. Of course the trade off would be not racing 70.3 worlds, but would be worth it to race in New Jersey for the first time since I was 17.
It was a short few days after Malibu then I flew into NJ on Wednesday, arriving in Princeton right about midnight. Super easy travel (for once?) and a simple bike build, only requiring me to replace the broken bottle cage baggage handlers/TSA gifted me. A short ride over to the old high school to say hello to familiar faces, my principal Mr. Z, high school swim team coach Recca, ladies LAX coach Ms. Mitchell (forget her married name), to name a few. It is weird going back, things are different but still the same. While there I got the okay from Mr. Z to use the track during school hours on Friday for my run workout. Always nice to have free and nice facilities to use! Speaking of, I was also able to jump into the pool with my old club swimming team for a short swim at the Rider University pool. Which has to have a historical designation because it looks just as it did when I was swimming there from 2001-2003, which coincidentally is how it looked when it was built sometime around 1975 (not really sure, but this place is old). Thanks to Sue Welsh for letting me drop in.
Finally onto race day!
I set myself up and spent pre-race hanging with former swimming friend Kris Farreny. Kris and I spent a lot of time in the pool together in high school, and it was nice to see him at a race and catch up. Right before swim start, my nose bridge decided to give up, and my goggles were rendered useless. Luckily, a very nice competitor directed me to his girlfriend and said she had extra goggles in her backpack and I was welcome to use them. Thank you friend! The swim was drag strip style swim, right on the rowing course at Mercer Lake. This was right on at 1.2 miles, and also very hot! I was very toasty about 1k into the swim. I got out of the water first in 25:36, and spoiler alert, that is where I would stay all day.
Onto the bike I was nervous with my wave having a later start. I knew I would be weaving through carnage of other athletes, and probably dealing with a drafting issue as the course is fairly flat. Surprisingly, not a lot of that going on. By the back half of the course I was clear of most of the carnage, and riders were reasonably spaced. Good job, but I still didn’t see any officials. The bike is also a bit longer than 56 miles, at 57.5. I held watts well, but also faded a little at the end with wind picking up. I should have managed myself more appropriately early on the bike. I got into T-2 to the sound of familiar voices and the sight of familiar faces, with Ben “Boots” Johnson coming down from NYC to watch the race and college friend/teammate/classmate Josh Lasensky coming in from Philadelphia as well as my good friend who has assumed so many roles in our friendship, Katie Welsh. My bike split was 2:24:02, and watts were around my target for the day.
My legs were good on the run early, and I settled into a good clip. The course is two looped and somewhat technical and tight in areas sharing the path with runners from the other directions. Nutrition was on, but towards the end of the run my lack of running miles from the previous month caught up and a came apart a little towards the end, losing time on my mile splits only posting up a 1:25:35 run split, on an honest 13.1 mile course. Going out on loop 2 was great to see and hear the cheers of my friends, and knowing they were there at the finish was a huge boost. I high 5’d Josh in the chute and crossed the line in 4:19:02. This was good enough for me to take the AG win, finish as the 3rd amateur in the field, and finish overall at 12th place. The time was not impressive, but the finish in the field was very satisfying, and would force me to make a decision about the direction I want to go in 2015 regarding my racing.
These two races in two weekends were so much fun, and I really had a great time traveling, seeing friends, and posting results that I am proud of. My sponsors and supporters go a long way in making these things happen for me, Nytro Men’s Team, the gang at Breakaway Training and the shop at Nytro, Newton Running, Matuse, Quintana Roo, Giro, and Enve. Also big thanks to Gregg at ProTour Fittings for getting my set up on the QR in the right position, and also keeping the #PBTE athletes fueled, especially me!
I’ll get a new post up soon about Mission Bay, and the season closing Lifetime Tri in Oceanside, as well as other happenings.