This past weekend was the first race of 2018 for me. It was fun to go to a do race, the Escape Series in Huntington Beach, and get a chance to test out where my fitness is coming out of a long off season. This past year ended at Island House in November, so with it being almost May this was the longest and most consistent off season I have had in my career. No injuries or issues and plenty of time to put in some solid training to create the base for the year.
I was excited to be heading back to the LA area because I have really fond memories of the old Lifetime Fitness race in LA. One of the best parts of that race was the ocean swim. Unfortunately we don’t get many chances to do big wave ocean swims in the sport so I was really excited to be back crashing the waves. Its not that I am an excellent surfer, and I didn’t grow up on the beach, but I do love the challenge and added excitement of having to navigate the waves during the swim.
Race morning I would say the waves were 3-5ft which is big enough to make you pay attention but nothing to worry about when you have to surf back in. I had a good start and got out cleanly through the waves. I was able to get away a bit with Eric and Ryan and we had a steady swim out and back. I wasn’t able to catch a wave cleanly and ended up crashing into Eric as we go rolled up in the wave but we were already almost in and I was able to jump up and run on in. The other fun part of ocean races is the beach runs and we had a good 400m run into T1 and then also a 600m section at the farthest point of the run to look forward to.
Once on the bikes I was able to go straight past Ryan and away from the group. I felt solid riding and with the course being a two lap out and back there was plenty of opportunities to see where all the guys were. I was continuing to build my lead and tried to just stay smooth over the last part of the ride. I knew I had built up about a minute on Eric and then another minute or so to Jason, but having watched Oceanside a couple weeks ago, and having trained with Jason the last couple of years I knew that might not be quite enough.
I ran strong the first 5k, but honestly I just don’t think I ran hard enough. I have put in a better than normal winter and have more base fitness that I need to trust, but I just went out too easy. By the time I got to the sand at the half way point I could see Eric was only about 15 sec back and Jason another 10 or so. I tried not to panic and navigate the soft sand as well as I could and get back to the pavement hopefully still in the lead. I knew if I did it would give me a bit of a jump because I could hammer the harder surface while the boys still trudged through the sand. I held on as long as I could, and honestly think I ran a much better second 5k, but Jason when by me with about 800m to go. I just kept pushing knowing Eric was just behind me, and when I saw Jason make the turn off the beach path back into transition I thought I might be able to hold Eric off. As I rounded the corner I knew he was right on my hip, and thinking that the finish chute would be 200 some meters away I rounded the corner and hit the jets. I got up to full speed just in time to glance ahead and realize it was a solid three to four hundred meters to the line. Oh well, I was already committed so I just kept on the gas and did what I could. Luckily I had surprised Eric enough by going so early that he never quite closed the gap and I was able to stay away just enough to get the line.
Its been a long time since I had a true sprint finish and it was a great way to end the first race. I obviously would have loved for the sprint win to get me the victory, but I was happy with a hard fought second for the first race of the year.
Now its time to get ready for one of my favorite races on the calendar, St Anthony’s. All the same guys are heading down there to do it again, and you throw in a few more and its going to be a great race on Sunday!
Race day nutrition: https://firstendurance.com/athlete/cameron-dye/