Making Triathlon Great Again. #RaceLocal

Always bring the disc.

– Cam Hill, Local Arizona triathlete legend

Early in the season, my good friend Brian Folts rolled up to the start line at Victoria 70.3 on his aluminum training wheels, Gatorskin tires, road helmet, and cables dangling from bike.  I told him three words… Clean it up.

Two months later, he arrives as a new athlete at the local Lake Meridian Triathlon.  Disc wheel. Aero helmet. One-piece skin suit. Dimpled water bottle. Brian had lost his way for a while, but it was safe to say his fire and mojo was back.

 

“Welcome to the Unofficial Pacific Northwest USAT ITU WTC World Championships,” he said as we racked our bikes that morning.  Little did we know we had some stiff competition.  Every Man Jack, disc wheels, Nike Vaporflys, and Fresh N Loose jerseys were all present.

In all seriousness, I’ve been sticking to my motto that’s worked all year long.  Race often, have fun, and smile.  My racing frequency picked up since Canada as I picked several local races to do as my “build up” for Hawaii– Lake Meridian Olympic, Swim Across America open water swim, Bonney Lake Olympic, and Black Diamond 70.3.  This is, by far, the most racing I’ve done in a single year.  This is also, by far, the most fun and fit I’ve been since I can remember.

Lake Meridian – Championship Race #1

This event was probably my most favorite triathlon of the year.  It was 15 minutes away from where I grew up and the bike course took us right by my parents’ house.   It brought chills and a smile to my face racing on familiar roads I ventured on as a kid.

Becca dominated the women’s field winning by 10+ minutes despite crashing on the bike.  Brian and I worked to catch the good swimmers (thanks for the awesome competition Kyle and Patrick). I was the first loser finishing just off the podium in 4th.  Raise the Bar put on a great event and I will definitely be back next year.

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SAA 2-Mile Open Water Swim – Tune up for Championship Race #2 – I managed to win my age group, but got owned by a handful of kids half my age.   To shoot down the ego even more, most of these kids were not wearing wetsuits.

Later that same day Becca took on the one-hour time trial at the Marymoor Velodrome.  She met her goal by covering 40.179K (just under 25 MPH!) in 60 minutes.  Beast mode.

 

Bonney Lake- Championship Race #2

Same local competition present.  Kyle, Patrick, Brian, and I all battled out there.  4th overall again.  Plus, a T2 mishap.  Ever since Canada 2018 I’ve been a head case in transitions.  I lose my cool and get extremely flustered.  Brian laughed and joked about it after the race, but I have a serious case of post traumatic T2 syndrome to overcome.

 

Some great bike pics of Brian, Kyle, Patrick, and Me.

 

I worked diligently and visualized by transitions leading into the PNW grand finale, Black Diamond 70.3.

Black Diamond 70.3 – PNW Grand Finale

All the same local fast dudes were present, minus Brian.  I had a game plan at Black Diamond since I raced many of the same people at Lake Meridian and Bonney Lake. Kyle’s swim is deadly and his bike/run combo is just as good.  Unless he completely fell apart, I knew this race would be a battle for 2nd.  Patrick is a very similar athlete as me with nearly identical strengths.  He’s a faster swimmer and we are just about equal on the bike and run.

Mom and Becca volunteering and cheering me on:

 

My objective was to swim hard and try to stick with Patrick for as long as possible.  This lasted for about 30 seconds before getting dropped.  I ended up swimming in the next pack of swimmers the remainder of the swim.  Kyle was gone (swimming in the low 20s’) but Patrick was a little over a minute in front of me out of T1.

This is where local racing is really fun.  I can play around and take risks I normally wouldn’t attempt at a bigger race with more competition.  I put my head down and rode as hard as could until I caught Patrick.  I finally made the catch around mile 20, and it took me a while to recover from that effort.  I paced with Patrick (legally) and tried attacking on a few hills once I got my legs back, with no luck. It felt way more like racing versus staring at my watch and following metrics the entire time.

 

Patrick and I entered T2 together.  We’ve had nearly identical run splits at the past two races, so I knew this transition was especially important.  I just kept telling myself as I approached the dismount line: stay calm young Padawan, stay calm.

 

I decided to forgo the socks as I knew every second counted and wanted to be out of transition the same time as Patrick.  T2 = 46 seconds… a big improvement from my 1:48 T2 meltdown at Bonney Lake.

 

I chatted with Patrick for a couple miles before surging ahead.  This is where my long Ironman training days paid off.  I felt strong the entire run and put it in “auto pilot” mode once I was running alone in 2nd (Kyle was 10’+ minutes up on me).  I put in a solid effort but was careful on not going too “deep into the well” as I wanted to feel good for my last few weeks of Hawaii prep.  I managed the fastest run of the day and set a new 70.3 personal best crossing the line in 4:19.

To top off a great day, my mom handed me my finisher medal.

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This block of local racing has been a highlight of my year.  I’m a huge fan of supporting our local triathlon community and in many ways I prefer racing locally over the huge production events. It was awesome to have great competition at all three local triathlon races and hope to see the numbers (and competition) grow each year.

As the countdown to Hawaii has began, I feel incredibly fit, healthy, and most importantly, happy.  My expectations at this race are to give it my best effort, race hard, and above all, have a good time.  Becca asked me the other day if this Hawaii build-up and mindset was any different than the past.  Absolutely.  I do have that nervous, excited feeling (which is a good thing) but I’m also realistic and not taking myself too seriously about all the Kona hoopla.

At the end of the day, only 2,500 athletes (out of 96,000 who competed in an Ironman-branded event) get to participate in this iconic race.  I’m going to make the very best out of this experience, celebrating with family and friends at the sport’s most prestigious event.  For me, Kona is just icing on the cake to an already successful and fun season of racing.

Thanks to everyone who have been a part of my triathlon journey this year.  We, together, are making triathlon great again.

More training/eating/fun pics leading up to the last race of the season.  Tune in on October 12th to track me and watch the professional race live!

As always thanks for reading.

EK

 

 

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Categories: Miscellaneous, Training

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