Rewind to last April at the Bartlett Lake Olympic triathlon- I gapped my #1 trash talker, Adam Folts, on the bike by six minutes and he almost caught me on the 10k run. After the near embarrassment, I really focused on my run and lost some of my baby fat.
His trash talk began early and often for this one:
I was especially excited racing in Show Low this year because it allowed me to escape the blistering 118 degree heat in Phoenix over the weekend. Race day temps were expected to be chilly… 91 degrees. Taking into account the heat and high altitude (~6,000 feet), I knew this race would bring the hurt.
My friend and fellow Jedi, Bryan Dunn, let me crash at his cabin in Torreon. I got to share a bunk with his son, Jensen. Jensen kept me up all night singing the ABC’s and making Chewbucca noises, while Bryan was busy watching Star Wars and the Hobbit in the other room.
Bryan and I rode from his house to transition at Fool Hollow Lake, in frigid 60 degree temps. My hands were numb when I arrived.
I looked around and was happy to see some fast guys present- two (ex?) pros, the Folts bros, Russ, Bryan, and Dave. I couldn’t wait to put all my hard training to the test.
I had something to prove on the swim. After getting owned in the water by Dave at Tempe International and Jessica at Bartlett, I vowed to them it would never happen again. Jessica and I bet lunch and her fanny pack on it.
Thankfully, I never mentioned to them that my old Iowa Hawkeyes college teammate, Brian Folts, was present. We got out of the water the same time last year, so I knew we’d bring the brat pack back for 2016.
Swim start (video courtesy of pro, Lewis Elliot):
Lewis immediately separated himself from everyone. I started in a pack next to Tindall, but saw Brian Folts slowly getting away. I surged to catch him and stayed on his feet for the rest of the swim. We led the amateur race out of the water. Running to T1, we joked how “mediocre” we were at swimming. It was the first time I’ve ever put a decent-sized gap on my competitors out of the water. My only logical explanation: Brian and I brought the Hawkeyes magic from our old college swim days. 😉
P.S. – Jessica, thanks for the funny pack… but you still owe me lunch.
Due to shoulder restriction while wearing my wetsuit, I decided to swim without the upper-half of my sleeved tri-suit. It took forever to get the sleeves around my arms due to the dampness of my skin. There are no pockets on my LG kit, so I took even more precious time stuffing my nutrition down suit.
After all the shenanigans in T1, Brian beat me out of transition by over a minute.
I held my gels tightly to my chest as I ran to the mount line. I think I’m gonna wear a sports bra for Canada.
Somewhere early on, my bottle flew out of the rear cage. I knew this day was going to get very warm and I immediately began rationing my water. As I approached the first water aid station (mile 10), they were still setting it up and not passing out bottles.
Soon after, I caught Brian. I knew I had to put some time in him as he ran a 2:40 marathon earlier in the year and had a AG best 1:18 run split at Oceanside.
Approaching the next aid station around mile 20, I didn’t slow down enough and missed the water handoff. Nearly out of water, I made the quick decision to keep going, but knew I’d eventually be completely out of fluids.
The next several miles were very lonely, but I stared at my power numbers and kept them as high and steady as possible. I sipped on my last few ounces of water, trying to conserve as much as possible.
In the distance, I saw Russ Brandt slowly closing the gap. As he passed I asked if he could spare me water. Unfortunately, he was running low as well. I had extreme cottonmouth. Finally approaching the next water station, I braked hard, and grabbed two bottles to hydrate and cool myself off.
Russ was my rabbit for the remaining miles. I’ve done a few long training rides with him this year and knew he would ride very steady and keep his power consistent. I used him has motivation to keep my intensity up and ride strong into T2.
Approaching transition area, I took a few sips of water and poured the rest over my head. By this time, it was in the mid/upper 80s and I knew the run would be a tough challenge.
The Run – the Hunted
Looking back at the overall results, I had just under a six minute lead off the bike against Brian. That’s surely enough time to hold him off, right?!
Russ left T2 seconds in front of me. I immediately booked it. This was a huge risk but I wanted to win the amateur race and knew strong runners were right behind me.
The first couple miles I ran in the 6:30s. Being at elevation, this pace seemed pretty challenging compared to my runs at similar speeds in Phoenix. I was in the zone and ran scared. I’m usually the one chasing down my competition, but being hunted down by the field made me very uneasy.
There were a few out-and-back sections where I could get a few splits on the gaps. Early on, I saw Russ about 1/4 mile back, Brian +5′, and Adam about +8′ behind.
Every mile kept getting slower and slower. My legs got heavier and heavier. I felt myself getting very dehydrated. My pace was slowing, but my heart rate kept rising.
About 5k to go, my pace had slowed to 7:40s and I saw Brian making up tons of ground. As he caught me, it looked like he was barely trying. I remember him saying with a smile, “what a beautiful day for a run!” I fought a little, but my dreams were slowly crushed as I slowly saw him run away. I had nothing left.
It was pure survival the last couple miles. I was dizzy, I felt nauseous, and all I wanted to do was stop. I kept looking back, praying that I wouldn’t see anyone in the distance.
Crossing the finish line, my mind was in a haze as I stumbled to the side and collapsed on the dirt. I remember my body shaking as people handed me water to chug and pour over my body to cool off. People lifted me off the ground and threw me in a bucket of ice water.
I was the hunted. I gave it max effort to hold off the fast runners, but Brian was the better competitor today. I left it all out there, made a few mistakes, but had tons of fun on the battlefield. This is what racing is all about!!!
Ironman Whistler in 7 weeks! Getcha popcorn ready.
Thanks for reading,
Me and Cam at awards
1.Lewis Elliot (pro) – 4:27:12
2. Kirk Nelson (pro) – 4:33:26
3. Brian Folts – 4:36:51
4. EK – 4:38:29
5. Adam Folts – 4:42:13
6. Russ Brandt – 4:42:47
7.Brian Dunn – 4:56:01
8. Billy Oliver – 5:04:31
9. Monica Folts (first female) – 5:05:15
10. John Ballard – 5:07:36