Saturday, May 29, 2010

Littlefoot Triathlon race recap

Two weeks ago our team, or should I say mostly race director Amy Dannwolf, our female pro on the team, put on the Littlefoot Triathlon at Bear Creek park. She did an awesome job and it people had a ton of fun at the race. It was a sprint distance race with a small pro prize purse, so it brought about 15 Colorado pros. It’s crazy that a small 200 person race will bring quality athletes like this. Only near Boulder I suppose, would this happen. Our elite race took place after the age group race, which was nice as it was a bit chilly out still and the water temp was 52 degrees! It had snowed earlier in the week, and double swim caps were necessary for sure. One age group athlete raced in just board shorts, and on my warm-up bike spin I found him standing and shaking in the grass along side the course, staring at the ground… hypothermia. That’s one gutsy dude. It reminded me of my first triathlon. In 2000, my brother and I signed up for a sprint race in Cheyenne Mountain and raced in our swim team speedos in 50 degree water. That’s the only race I’ve beaten my brother in, only because he literally froze and didn’t finish…and my sister’s stellar Performance mountain bike that I rode came through for me.

My father helped us out as the motorcycle driver carrying the USAT referee on the back, so it was cool to give my dad some thumbs up’s while racing and riding next to him, although he said he didn’t see me at all during the race. He was probably too focused on the road or didn’t recognize me in the aero helmet and racing topless without a tri jersey. Our team ITU uniforms come in a few weeks, so I had to sport my trademark old school style one last time. Mostly though, I have a very hard time breathing on the run in tight tri tops, and find it much more comfortable.

I finished 5th out of about 12 or 15 pros, and a total of 20 in our elite wave, and was pleased with the result. On the swim, Branden Rakita, a very good Xterra pro and ex-Riptide team member led out of the water by about 15 seconds, while a group of 5 of us came out all together close behind, including teammates Matt Balzer, Jordan Jones, and Dan Mackenzie. Forgoing my swim warm-up after swimming about 10 seconds out into the lake, I assumed it best to stay warm until the gun goes off. The bike was steady and I stayed in about 4th or 5th place the whole ride, trading places often with Matt Balzer and James Hadley, a pro from Great Britain who trains in Boulder, until Matt pulled away from us a bit on the second loop.

With my recent calf injury, my run is where I was worried most. I’ve never been more confident in my swim than my run, ever. I am a stronger swimmer than in the past, and my run volume has been pretty low lately unfortunately. I got through it with no cramps and little pain, passed James Hadley, and got passed by my coach for the past 2 seasons & now teammate Josh Merrick, who came from behind out of the water to claim 3rd place with his blazing run. Jordan continued his great season and took 1st, Rakita 2nd, Josh 3rd, Joe McDaniel 4th, myself 5th, and Dan & James Hadley just behind in 5th and 6th.

It was a decent day at the race. One surprise for me was to see some very stellar Ironman athletes further back. Brad Seng of team Sport Beans and Justin Daerr, who was 3rd at Challenge Wanaka Iron distance race, and who’s PR is about 8:45, were behind our front group. I had assumed with a base volume like those guys do in training, they’d be able to crush a sprint race. However, it shows how different these types of racing really are.

It was fun having my parents, my girlfriend Amy, and my sister and my lovely little niece and nephew there cheering me on, as they don’t get to see me race much.

Last weekend at the Columbia Triathlon in Maryland, my teammate Dan Mackenzie had a great race to take 3rd place behind young gun uber-cyclist Andrew Yoder and Tim O’Donnell, the reigning ITU long course world champion. Dan brought home $2500 and James Hadley also won $500 that day, so I know in the future I can be in the money range as I finished just ahead of the two at Littlefoot, though I must acknowledge Dan had a better race at Columbia than Littlefoot for sure and is just starting to break through this year. Congrats to Dan for a huge race and the paycheck!