It was to be a simple out-and-back ride that Friday afternoon last fall, but as it turned out, the build up to the 2015 season started off with a high-speed exchange of skin between myself and the roads of the Elfin Forest. Sunny blue skies and seasonably warm air made for an enjoyable “out” segment, but while slightly distracted with one hand on the bars, the other reaching down for my water bottle, a poorly placed tree root trying to escape the confines of the pavement above ended my 25 years of crash free riding. I sacrificed my prized water bottle in an attempt to gain control, but it was a lost cause…my front wheel was gone and the next thing I knew, the chip seal was rapidly approaching at 30 mph. I slammed the ground on my left side as my bike shot off towards the shoulder. As was being hurdled towards the center line, my palms and elbows decided to enter the sliding game. Finally the friction of my skin eroding over the road subsided, and I came to a stop. Dazed and straddling the double yellow line, I picked myself up and assessed the damage. I was in one piece, albeit tattered, so I picked up my bike, wondered why in the hell I decided not to wear gloves, and rode the rest of the way home with a mangled kit, and some painful wounds.
The aftermath was an entire month off…no swim, no bike, no run. It was torture, and there were many days that month that I wished I could have just transitioned from a poor night’s sleep to the bike and spent the entire day riding with just myself and my thoughts. But, that was not the case, and it was time to refocus, make some priority shifts and accept that a month off could be a good thing. So the month passed, the workouts came back slowly and then…training was back in full swing as the 2015 year approached with the first big event….#IM703NOLA.
Thanks to the Triathlon Club of San Diego, I had two early season races under my belt to give me the confidence that my fitness was ahead of last year. So the bride and I packed our bags and were all set to make our way to the Big Easy!. Friday morning, travel day, and we wake up to this:
Ugh…Dulles??? Some calls with United and we were rebooked leaving through Orange County. It’s just and hour drive from home, but one I wish we did not have to take. In the end, it was a fairly painless day and we arrived to New Orleans with plenty of time to hit packet pick up and explore the city. We had one of the best meals I have ever had at Doris Metropolitan in the French Quarter. If you have the chance to go there, get ready to enjoy! Escargot and Portobello mushroom appetizer followed by a nice tenderloin!
Saturday was devoted to getting my race wheels from Marc and the guys at www.RaceDayWheels.com who are the best and can set you up with the free speed for the weekend at amazing low rates. So I did that, attended the athlete’s briefing where we learned about the alligator in the swim venue and then checked out the course. I had previewed the course on Google street view already so instead of diving 56 miles, I made my way back to town and Julie and I had a nice dinner and called it a night.
Race day alarm goes off and I am ready!!! I peek outside our hotel window…no rain, but some serious wind!!! We gather our stuff and head to the start. Traffic backs up into the venue and although I am in the later wave, I respect the race organizations timelines and jump out of the car and ride to transition as so not to disrupt the day’s schedule. Well, that was a problem for a lot of people so the race was delayed 30 minutes. I set up my gear, spot a fellow Zoot Team member, Keith from the Southeast area which allows me a few minutes to chat. Anyway….warm up done, wetsuit on, it is game time…I line up in the front of my AG for the time trial start and before you know it…into the water I go!!!
It seemed like that in a matter of seconds, all of the guys in my group were behind me (or really far ahead of me) and I was moving into the rainbow of swim caps ahead. This course was unique as it was “M-ish” shaped and there were tight turns followed by long straight segments. I actually enjoyed this swim and felt like I was pacing myself properly given the distance. I got bumped a few times, but for the most part, it was a calm event. When I got to the end and wobbled up the swim exit stairs, I glanced at my watch…27 minutes….what???? I assumed my Garmin stopped as I got bumped so I paid no attention to the time and dashed off to my bike. Well, that is not entirely true, I stared at my Garmin the entire time I was running to my bike. 🙂
A good T1, wetsuit off, helmet, shoes,…you know the drill and off I go. I took Coach Grant’s advice and just kind of eased into the bike which had an overpass (not a hill everyone) followed by 54 miles of pancake flat, out and back action with the hill (it turns into a hill on the way back) returning at mile 55. The ride out was smoking fast…I hit the far turn around point at mile 26 in just under an hour. My total time at this point in the race was 1:30 and I thought…damn, Kevin’s having a good day. Fueling was going according to plan thanks to Bonk Breaker, Boom and Skratch Labs. So, at the halfway point we turn around and hello head wind!! I put my head down, watched my power and rode as steady as I could. Now was not the time to go all in and blow up. Despite the group of clowns in the picture, I rode my own race and am very proud of my overall bike time. I fueled correctly and was ready for the run!
As soon as I jumped off the bike on my way to T2, I knew it was going to be a good day overall. The drag about the time trial start is that you really don’t know who in your AG is ahead or behind you, so the goal was not to be passed by anyone in my AG, and do all the passing.
The plan worked great until the turn around when somebody blasted by me. Sadly, he was on the pace I wanted to run, but something was holding me back today. I hit the turn around of the run and had 45 minutes to make the finish in 4:30. I should have been able to have accomplished that, but I was afraid to push to hard and blow up. So I safely cruised home, fueling and cooling at the aid stations on the return trip. I finished the race in 4:37, not a bad day at the office. 4:36 got a ticket to worlds so I am kicking myself now for not going for it. Not to say I dogged the run, I was still moving pretty good, just criticizing myself.
The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging around the finish with my lovely bride as we waited to see if Worlds would materialize. Sadly, it did not, but the day was a huge success and the beer was fabulous!!! My bride Julie was so supportive and I can not thank her enough. It is one thing to be the fool that gets up early and races all day, but to be out there for all those hours in the elements as a supporter means the world to me!!
Yeah, the guy behind us had a beer too!
Race recap – Fastest swim, fastest bike, and a brand new 70.3 PR by 16 minutes. Yeah, I will take that. Next up Victoria 70.3!!!
Totally cool drone video of the race!!!