About Me

My photo
San Francisco, California and, Carrboro, North Carolina, United States

Sunday, August 15, 2010


As many of my teammates were racing in Folsom, I was up in the Pacific Northwest competing in the Lake Stevens IM 70.3. Congrats to everyone out there competing this weekend, from looking at the results, it seems that TPB was out setting the pace again.

Lake Steven's 70.3 was an important race for me, a top 3 overall finished would mean I earned my professional card, and I would again join the professional ranks.  The week leading up to the race was good one, albeit a tough one.  I was busy all week working with one of my favorite clients to close a transaction.  I was definitely trying to be a jack of all trades, attorney and athlete.

As for the race, this was one of the toughest races I've ever done. The conditions were hard (about 90-95 degrees for the run) but they were hard for everyone. When I say the race was tough, its difficulty proved to be more mental than physical.  
Swim: The swim went well, I got off to great start and swam with the leader all the way into T1.  In the final few meters I came through to the lead and exited the water in first. 

I really took the bike out hard.  I knew my bike shape was great, and if I was going to win this race, I would do so on the bike.  Coming out of T1 my goal was to catch all the athletes that started in the wave before me (that wave started 4 minutes ahead of me).  The bike was going as planned, I was catching all athletes and keeping my pace high.  This was going to be great ride.   

56 Mile Bike through the beautiful hills of Lake Steven's Washington.

However, at about mile 48 of the bike, I had that  feeling that I may have gone too hard up the climb and/or not absorbed the calories I had eaten.  I know the feeling of blowing up/bonking on a ride, and I thought oh no, I've done it now. I went into damage control and I decided to take it easy. I rode the last 7 or so miles at a relaxed pace. I really slowed down heading into T2 but I knew I still had a good size lead, and I wanted to take it easy on the final miles of the bike as a precaution to avoid a melt down on the run.

Off the bike I had about a 3 minute lead on all the other amateurs and was happy with my position.  The start of the run was tough and very hot, so I decided to walk the aid stations and made sure that I drank all the water I could get my hands on.  My strategy seemed to be working, I came through the half way point at 42:20 (not blazing fast), but my 6:30 pace (even with the stops) was working.  Although an athlete passed me shortly after the midway point, if I could hold the current pace I would have an excellent result.  

I kept my 6:30-6:40 pace for another mile and half and then came mile 8.  There's a steep hill at mile 8, and my legs were done.  There was no power to run up the hill and my stride turned to a shuffle.  At this point the real difficulty of the race came to the forefront.  I began (i) to worry about the guys behind me and (ii) to doubt my ability to finish the race.  I am not sure if I failed to consume enough calories, or if I exerted too much effort on the bike, or if it was simply my body not cooperating.  To prevent a complete melt down, I kept telling myself, you've got second overall, stay focus and keep it together (at this time I still had at least a 5 minute lead on third and fourth place). 

I was struggling. The great cycling commentator Phil Ligget once described a cyclist as "he looks like he has died a thousand deaths," and that is how I felt and looked.  I kept shuffling through the mile and trying to stay focus and positive.  At one point, I slowed to a walk.  It's not often one of the leaders of the race is walking, but this time, it was me.  I used the walk to compose myself.  I took the 10 seconds to remind myself, hey it's 2.5 miles, run it in 16 or so minutes and get this race finished.  I knew the guys behind me were catching up but if I could put together two reasonable miles I still had a top 2 finish and an age group win.

Between miles 12 to 13, I was passed again.  I was now in third.  The last mile is slightly downhill and I was giving it all I had to run a 6:30 pace. The last 100 meters of the race contains two right turns.  With about 50 meters to go you make one last right and then it's a straight shot to the finishline.  At the final right, I saw a guy coming behind me and coming fast.  I summoned all my strength to pick up my pace but with 10 meters to go he passed me.  I was devastated.  I staggered through the finish line.  In the end I finished 2nd in the age group and 4th overall (amateurs), there would be no pro card today.   

I ran a 1:31:14.  My goal was to run 1:18, but today, I would have been happy with a 1:31:09 (I lost the pro card by 4 seconds).  Off the bike, I had a lead of over 13 minutes on the third place athlete.  For most of the day I had a podium position.  I was first out of the water, first off the bike, and for all of 20 feet of a 70.3 mile race, I was on the podium.  Yet I'm still happy.  I pushed myself to my limit, passed my threshold, but did not give up.  A few years ago my race would have been over at mile 8.  The 1:31 run would have turned into a miserably long 1:51 run.  I am happy, I kept my head focused, struggled through the rough times and finished. 

Swim 27:04
Bike 2:25:51
Run 1:31:14

Total 4:26:44 (2nd AG 4th Amateur Overall)