Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wildflower Long Course

Wildflower is a neat race in that the night before the race, most likely you are not watching TV in a hotel room solo, or with just one other person. You are outside, by a campfire, under the stars, chatting with old and new friends. As I sat with some old teammates, my friend Rachel said she was unusually relaxed, and her comment really resonated with me.

To be honest, I had no reason to believe I was going to have a breakthrough swim based on my training during the week. But within the first couple of strokes, I knew I had good feel for the water. I didn't start out fast, but instead strong, and I found myself separating from the field pretty quickly. My pull felt powerful and I wasn't spinning the arms, and more importantly, I was not hypoxic and my arms did not burn. Approaching the first buoy, I sighted only two swimmers from my wave ahead of me. I made a move and caught one of the swimmers and he immediately jumped on my feet. For the remainder of the swim, this guy kept tapping my feet! Look, I don't mind pulling people along but at least have the courtesy not to tap my feet the entire time. You can still get a good draft one foot behind. I'm a very courteous drafter, I rarely ever tap the swimmer's feet ahead of me. After the turnaround buoy, I sighted the lead swimmer from my wave, and I managed to pull him in and draft off him for the remainder of the swim. Not only was this my best swim of the season, it was one of my best swim ever! I broke 26 minutes and swam a 25:54!

I had two goals on the bike: bike within my fitness, and to nail my nutrition. The first half of the bike, guys were flying by me, and I saw several packs of drafters go by. But I let it all go, and I just focused on myself. Experience on this course taught me that people ride way too hard in the first half and they blow up in the second half. I was determined to be the guy that not only pulled them all back, but to then ride away from them. I indeed saw familiar faces at mile 35, and only one person passed me from mile 35 to the finish. I finished the bike in 2:48, which I believe is a good representation of my fitness. I think I could have pushed it and finish 3-4 minutes faster, but I was not willing to take that risk because of the heat (in the high 80's). I got off the bike mentally alert and excited to run, which is always a good thing!

Hopping off the bike, the legs felt a bit more fatigued than I expected given how good I felt. But as I ran, the legs maintained rather than go downhill. Crisis averted. My goal was to let my body dictate the early pace and let the run come to me, rather than pushing hard to run a certain pace. Garmin checks during the run did not result in favorable feedback. But when I tried to speed up, and actually race the run, I felt like I was going to blow up. The heat dictated my pace. But I was passing people, a lot of people, and nobody had yet to pass me 8 miles into the run. Thus, I stopped checking my Garmin and I went off feel, and I focused on being steady. Being steady eventually led to being complacent as nobody had yet to pass me. But then I got a wake up call at the turnaround in the pit, when my friend Ricardo, who is in my age-group, called out to me. Uh oh, he's pulling me in, time to kick it up a notch. My stomach was not happy at this point, and my increased effort, led to a small (but quick) vomit at mile 12. I was able to enjoy the downhill that is Lynch Hill, and the finish chute did not seem as long is it did in year's past. My run split was a 1:40, and I was disappointed until I checked other time splits. I found myself ahead or near guys that are usually ahead of me on the run. I realized that the day was not about being fast, but about being persistent, and not slowing down. I'll take my 4:59 finish time.

Going into this race, I had no expectations of being on the podium; my training simply did not lead me to believe this. Also, it has been over three years since I last successfully executed an A race. My last three A races resulted in a DNF, a personal worst time, and a sub-par performance. I simply wanted to race well, and I secretly wanted to beat Charisa's time from 2011, a 4:54. These two thoughts kept me going all day. I'm elated by my result. It wasn't my fastest time, but given the conditions, it was a performance I've worked all season to achieve. If you are feeling frustrated by your training, hang in there, and believe that a good performance is just around the corner. Time to take a mid-season break.


Michelle Simmons said...

Nice! 4:59 is a good goal for a 40yo female returning to the race in 2014 after a 13 year hiatus, no? ;)

Beth said...

LOVED reading this Kiet!!! Such a strong, consistent race through and through -- and look at that SWIM!!!! Big congrats. Big step in the right direction which is all we can ever ask! :)

Teresa said...

Way to race smart Kiet! So happy that you nailed this race :) You had a TNM dude in your division (Dustin). I should have told you two to meet up!

Congrats on a fantastic day at WF, keep it up friend!


Betsy said...

I hope you made Beach your Bitch! I was sooo wishing I was at Wildflower this past weekend.

jameson said...

ripping swim and smart racing! enjoy that mid season break!

Matt said...

Nice work as norm Kiet. Way to race within yourself and KILL that swim!

Kim said...

Great Report Kiet! How about that swim!! Nice work! You should be elated.. you held things together when they got tough and had a solid day! Way to go!

Charisa said...

3 things -

Your swim is like my ultimate DREAM. seriously awesome.

I love that "after a little vomit" - so funny.

You ROCKED it!!

martin briars said...

well done on the race - it seems that being relaxed and following feeling rather than the clock is a good solution...but like you say, the fitness has toi be there, so the training has to be done :)
all the best