Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Recap: Guiding blind athlete Aaron Scheidies & Lookout Mt Tri

What a weekend. I now have 6 runs under my belt with zero knee pain, including 2 training races, which is a huge encouragement. I finally figured out the cause of my injury, which was switching shoes in January after wearing the Brooks Adrenaline for 8 years with no problems. I switched to a very similar Brooks shoe, the Ravenna 2, which feels better as it's a bit lighter, though the minor change was enough to slowly build up bursitis in the knee over 12 weeks. It started with off and on pain and gradually worsened. I'm now back training normally as of last week, and eager to get my run fitness back. Part of this journey back to fitness meant hopping into 2 races this weekend for hard training sessions. Saturday I raced the Lookout Mountain Sprint Triathlon, which consisted of a unique and rare 525 yard pool swim, a 10 mile very hilly bike course, and a 5k hilly run which mostly was on dirt trails. I finished 3rd behind Aussie pro Tim Reed and my good friend and local pro Dan McIntosh. I had the fastest swim of the day, a first for me (thought it really wasn't advantageous in the short pool swim :) ). The 3 of us rode swapping the top 3 places frequently until about 2/3 into the bike leg, where the two got away from me on a fast downhill on their TT bikes, as I was maxed out with my gears spinning at 120RPMs after choosing to ride my road bike in place of the TT bike this race. I felt far from superior but that was to be expected, and overall got in a good workout.
Today was the highlight of the weekend. I had planned on racing the Denver Triathlon the following day as a training race as well as an opportunity to win a local race, assuming my knee pain continued to stay away. A few days ago I was asked if I would guide Aaron Scheidies, the world record holder for the visually impaired in both the Olympic distance and Ironman 70.3 distances. Knowing it would be a very cool and rare opportunity, I agreed to guide Aaron, and I had a great time. Despite a sore throat and not feeling 100%, Aaron pushed himself to finish 5th overall, racing his 3rd fastest Olympic distance time ever (1:59:04). We exited the water in around 8th place, rode up to about 4th place, and held on the 10k run with a 39 minute split. My role as a guide was to race with him, alongside him the entire way, directing him around the course. I swam and ran with him at his pace, and tried to hammer the bike leg on our tandem bike with Aaron, as it was where we knew we could make up the most ground. Thanks to Ryan Stedeford at Kompetitive Edge for giving our tandem a last second tune up before the start. He's hands down the best bike mechanic in Denver (no, that's not an exaggeration). We started on the right side of the swim beach start in the first wave, with the elite amateur wave. Overall navigation went pretty well. Aaron swam on my right, which meant me hugging the left hand turn buoys and staying a bit wide on the right hand turns. We had a smooth transition and rode hard. Everything went well on the bike for the most part. The only close call was nearly hitting some cones due to some sprint course athletes taking a wide turn alongside us. We practiced on the tandem for about 10 minutes the day before in a parking lot; it's a bit different - much heavier and a longer wheel base obviously, which makes turning and braking a bit interesting. We pushed a big gear and averaged mid 26-something mph on the 40k course. It was very cool to see over 10 visually impaired triathletes compete today, as the race benefited the C Different Foundation, which many of these athletes are a part of. Race director Chris Laskey and Matt Miller, who runs the C Different Foundation, put on a great inaugural race. It was a lot of fun racing with a different mindset than usual, simply there to help another achieve their best race as opposed to my own goals, whether that meant encouragement along the way to keep pushing hard, handing water cups on the run, or hammering it on the bike leg. Aaron was very much equally or more-so an encouragement to me along the way for sure. I'd love to team up with him again in the future and go for that world record for him!

1 comment:

Brad Wilkin said...

So Cool. Well done Ryan and Aaron.