Tri Events Race Series

Each year I have a few goals for my racing season. Last year it was to qualify and compete at Kona. This year had to be something a little less time consuming since my wife is 7 months pregnant and my discretionary training time will be changing in a big way. So I decided to support local races and go for the overall win at Tri Events LA Tri Series.

The best thing about this race series is that it’s local. I’m only 30 minutes away so my travel time and costs associated with racing are low; no airfare, hotels, rental cars, etc. Due to the 8am start time I didn’t have to wake up at some horrible hour to get my registration and get ready for the race. It’s really nice having a low stress morning before a race!

The next best thing is the competition. As pre-season warm up I’ve raced one or two races in this series in years past. I’ve always been impressed at the completion that is there. This year didn’t disappoint!

Tri-Events 1

Warning! Somehow it always seems to rain during this race series. The first race was pretty wet and cold. Thankfully it was wet and cold for everyone and not just me. I knew there was going to be some heavy competition at this race because one of my training buddies (who beat me by a few minutes in IM Canada Whistler last year) was racing. I also recognized a few other faces from prominent race teams in the area.

The swim is my weakest link. My first goal in any race is to not drown. Thankfully with only 500 meters I could just sprint as hard as I could and try not to come out of the water too far behind the lead pack. I ended up coming out with a handful of athletes in front of me.

The bike was a little miserable though. It was no longer raining but the roads were wet and my feet numbed up pretty quick. I know my power zones pretty well from all of my Ironman training last year so I did my best to dial in and pick off the competition as best I could. By the time I finished the bike, I knew there were still two athletes in front of me.

Transition was a bit rough due to the cold hands and numb feet but I was able to slide my feet into my running shoes, grab my race belt, and head out. Within a few minutes I passed one guy and a mile or two later I over took the leader. I was able to run strong crossing the finish line first. It wasn’t until a bit later I realized how close I was to losing the race!

Turns out in these small races you have to be aware of all your competition, even athletes that are 16 and start 6 minutes behind you. Sure enough, there was an incredibly fast 16-year-old (Cole) whom I had no idea about that would prove to be a fierce competitor the entire race series!

Tri-Events 2

I won’t bore you with all the same details of the first race. In a nutshell, the weather started off cloudy and dreary but later turned out to be a lovely day. More unexpected competition showed up (this time someone I raced against in St. George, UT a few years ago).

With this tri series as you progress through the races the distances get longer. This second race added 500 meters to the swim—not good when you’re a poor swimmer compared to your competition (that’s me). They say you never can win a race during the swim, but you can lose it.  That was me this race. In the end I lost by 30 seconds to the guy I previously raced in St. George. If I could have only swam 30 seconds faster it might have been a different race at the end. As it was, I could see him during the last 1-2 miles but just couldn’t run him down—I couldn’t hold on to the 5:20 pace for the last 2 miles that I would have needed to catch up to him. Regardless, it was a great race and I was pleased having pushed the bike and run as hard
as I physically could.

Tri-Events 3

Yup, rain again! This time it rained for a good part of the bike. The nice thing about rain is that I love it! I’m from WA. I grew up playing soccer, running track, camping, hiking, etc in the rain. It doesn’t bother me at all. It does make me a lot more cautious when riding over 40 mph down hills though.

This time I didn’t want to make any mistakes on the swim. I knew Cole (the superhuman 16-year-old) was racing again and he’s a crazy fast swimmer (he ended up having the fastest swim split in the entire race!). But with work being super busy and trying to prep for little baby arriving soon I seemed to have only gotten in 3 or so workouts in the pool since the last race. Not good.  I pushed as hard as I could and the last half of the swim really hurt. I drafted off one guy for about 600 meters or so, but eventually passed him to try and chase another guy to draft off of.  Too bad I could never quite seem to catch him and benefit from the draft.

I got out of the water and the lead pack had around 4 minutes on me (according to my wife).  Four minutes is not fun to make up during an Olympic distance race. While in transition I was shocked to see Cole getting his bike the same time as me…and he started 6 minutes behind me!!! He really is fast in the water. So from this point on I knew I was racing not only the competition in front of me but Cole also.

The bike went well (mainly because the rain doesn’t bother me). It wasn’t as cold as the first race but my legs didn’t seem to want to cooperate regardless. My power numbers were a little low and I couldn’t seem to muster the strength to pick it up. I passed a handful of athletes until there was just one guy in front of me. He and I biked almost the exact same splits (he beat me by 0.8 seconds). But he swam 4 minutes faster than me so I had some work to do on the run.  And where was Cole? I knew I biked faster than him but how was his run going to go? How much time did I have to make up?

At around mile 3.5 I passed the leader, but I also saw Cole and he was running strong. The nice thing about running in the lead is that you have an escort. Mentally that always seems to help me. It’s also someone I can chat with between heavy breathing. I’m kinda weird, ever since I started racing marathons I love chatting with people while racing. I think it drives some people nuts because they’re in the zone but for me it takes my mind of the burning in my lungs and legs. Anyway, I knew I was physically in first but I had no idea by how much. I had no other choice but to just run as fast as I possible could and hope it was enough in the end!

I crossed the finish line and immediately looked for the official time…but there was no race clock with the running time so I looked at my wife’s phone to try and calculate how much time stood between when I crossed the line and Cole would. I chatted with the other two finishers about the race, then saw Cole’s parents. His dad gave me his stats that he had been recording and I thought for sure he was going to win. Eventually he came through the finish line sprinting hard as ever.

I looked at my wife’s phone again but there was no way it was going to be accurate enough to tell me who won. We went over to the racing tent and asked if they could pull up the stats. I was shocked to see that I had won by 0.6 seconds! I thought my 30-second loss the month before was close, but 0.6 seconds!! That was a crazy close race. I was lucky to come out on top this time.

Having won 2 of the 3 events I had enough points to make me the overall male winner of the series. Goal accomplished. It was a great series: local, small, and with lots of amazing competition!