Sunday, October 15, 2017

JA Race Report: Maple Grove Olympic

Maple Grove Olympic Triathlon was the first time I have ever raced a true Olympic distance triathlon.  I wasn't sure what to expect other than to just let it all hang out.  Absolute red line the entire day.  So that's what I did.

Lead Up
I had been building some really good bike and run fitness for Ironman 70.3 Worlds prior to this race, so I was feeling pretty good on that front.  The only issue was some nagging lower back pain from ramping up the bike volume after Chisago.  Thanks to Dana at Podium Sports and Dr. Michael at Premier Sports and Spine, I was able to tow the line!  Thank you both so much for keeping my body race ready!

The strategy was simple: swim my arms off, bike my legs off, and hang on for dear life on the run.

Race Morning
I was up and at 'em at 4:30 am to get some food and throw my gear in the truck.  Cuisine of choice was a quinoa fruit bowl with almond butter and a piece of Great Harvest lemon toast, delicious!  After I fired down those calories, I tossed my gear in the truck and Emma and I were off.  This race was really convenient as it was only 20 minutes from our house.  Emma wasn't racing this one, so she would be sherpa-ing.  What an awesome wife!

The weather for this race was absolutely miserable.  The forecast called for periods of heavy rain and a high of 59 F.  Cold and wet!

Emma and I got to the race at 5:30 am as the race was slated to start at 6:50 am.  We milled around the transition area as late as possible to stay out of the rain!  I got all my gear set up, grabbed my swim gear, and then headed over to the park gazebo to stay as dry as we could.  After about 15 minutes, I threw on my wetsuit to stay warm and geared up to head to the swim start to get my warm up in.

The premier division (formerly elite) was set to start at 6:50 am behind the collegiate triathletes.  I milled around the hill anxiously awaiting the start.  I talked to a few of the other premier athletes as we waited for the start.  I had the pleasure of finally meeting Wade Cruser and introduced myself to Jake Braam who is a talented younger triathlete that is slated to great things in the seasons to come!

We finally got lined up on the beach after a 15 minute weather delay.  I lined up toward the inside in order to get a clean line on the buoys.  The gun went and we were off!  I pinned it for the first 200 yards to get prime position.  It definitely worked.  I swam to the front and was able to stay there.  The remainder of the swim was pretty uneventful.  I started to work my way through the 0.9 mile swim passing some of the collegiate women and men and was able to hit the beach without any contact.

I got out of the water a little over 2 minutes ahead of the rest of the field, so I hustled through transition taking off my wetsuit as quickly as possible. 

Time: 25:17
Pace: 1:42 per 100m

I got through T1 in a little over a minute and hopped on my bike ready to tackle the cold, wet, and windy bike ride!

I climbed up the hill out of T1, hung a right, and immediately settled into my race watts.  I knew the ride would be windy, so staying aero was critical.  This would prove rather painful late in the ride due to the nagging lower back pain I had been dealing with for a week.

I was clipping along and started to pass some of the collegiate men.  Other than those 10 - 12 guys, I didn't see anyone else and had an uneventful ride.  

I got back to transition, hopped off my bike, and immediately felt a pretty painful twinge in my back.  Uh oh!  Luckily after about 100 yards or so, the pain dialed back to a manageable level, phew!

Time: 53:53
Speed: 25.61 MPH

I cruised through T2 in under a minute and put on my watch and race number and headed out to the run course!  I hope this back holds up....

The first quarter mile takes you through a series of pretty steep climbs on some of the park paths.  Oh good, this should feel good on my back!

I clicked off the first mile in 6:35, not where I need to be!  After those first few hills, I tried to lengthen my stride a bit to loosen up the back.  Luckily it helped!  After that first mile, I was rolling at 5:50 pace.  I was chipping the miles away, playing yo-yo with some of the collegiate males, and enjoying being on course!  Man, are those kids fast!

That run course is no joke.  Several steep climbs and sharp turns.  The technical nature of the course coupled with the weather made for a pretty darn challenging run, which was awesome!  

Up to this point, I was pretty concerned with how my back was doing that I didn't even think about what place I was in.  I had then realized that I hadn't seen any of the other competitors since the swim start.  

I was mostly through the run when I realized what place I was in.  I knew that Wade is an absolute thoroughbred when it comes to running, so I gave a glance over my shoulder as I ticked off mile 5.  I couldn't see him, but knew he would be blazing!  I kicked down the pace as best as I could for the last mile, let's go!

I rounded the last corner and gave one last look back, still no Wade.  I pushed as hard as my back and legs would allow to make it over the line! I was hurting pretty bad! (have a look at my face, haha)

I crossed the line and just like that, first Olympic distance was in the bag and a first place to boot! 

Time: 37:30
Pace: 6:03 per mile

Post Race
What a day!  Any day on course is a blessing and today wasn't any different.  I am thankful that I get the opportunity to compete in the sport I love!  I took down the overall win and it felt amazing!  Thank you to everyone who supports me in this nutty sport!  A special thanks to Emma for coming to the race and sticking it out in the miserable cold and rain to take pictures and drag me back home :)

Time: 1:59:05
Place: 1st Overall

Next up, Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Until then, happy training and racing!

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