In more than one way this past weekend was the third of something. It was the third race since my crash in Minnesota in July, and it was also the third time that I have done the LA Triathlon. Since anyone reading this probably knows the outcome of the race they know that the third time was a charm!
LA was exactly what I needed. It was the confidence booster I was in need of as well as the proof that my training was working and that everything I had put into the last three months had not been for nothing.
The weekend started out great as my friend Allen and I were lucky enough to be hooked up with an awesome homestay in LA. Our host for the weekend Greg was great and he made the weekend super easy. His family are the proud owners of the last single family home left on Ocean Ave at Santa Monica beach. It is the bright yellow one story with a little yard out front and a nice porch where I spent a good deal of time enjoying the ocean and the Cali weather. We were about a two mile ride from the race start so it was a great base camp for the weekend.
Race morning we got up about 2.5 hours before race start and I jumped in a hot shower as has become my routine. Followed that up with a big bottle of EFS and some maple-brown sugar instant oatmeal and then it was time to head down to the race start. We rode to transition, set up our spots a little bit and then I headed back out for some more warm up on the bike. I have noticed lately that I seem to do better with a little bit more warm up so adding in a bit extra has become a part of my pre race.
After the ride and a quick jog to shake out the legs it was in to the Blue Seventy Helix and out to the beach. The waves were not too bad and the water was brisk but not too cold. After a little swim warm up we headed back up the beach for the start. One of my favorite parts of the race in LA is the swim because you have to run in about 100m and then dolphin dive your way out until you can swim. Once we were out and swimming I took control of the pace and lead the boys around the L shaped swim course. Unfortunatley, the swim at LA is also one of my least favorite parts because you have to surf the waves back in and if you miss, you will definitely not win the swim and as I watched Greg go sailing by me I was kicking myself for not spending more time in the ocean.
It was still a good run up the beach and I came out of transition in first and began to hammer out a good tempo. Bennett stayed with me for about 3 miles but then started to fade backwards and I tried to put in a little extra effort. The bike course is a false flat uphill which is great for my style and by the first turn around I realized I had a big gap over Greg and then another good gap to the next chasers. I tried to pound some First Endurance Hulk Juice (EFS/pre-race/EFS gel) and keep the legs moving. Nothing is more motivating than a big gap and once I saw that I tried to find just a little bit more to make this as big as possible heading into T2. I had a good transition and was off and running and feeling really good.
As I headed out I felt better than I usually do and was confident in the way I had been running during training. After hitting the big hill on Grand St. the first time and getting to the top with a substantial lead I tried to not relax keep hammering out a good pace. By the time the second lap began I knew my lead was starting to slip. Greg is a fantastic runner and after watching him run down Waldo so many times over the years I knew I really needed to hoof it back to the top of the hill. Hills are hard because they obviously take a lot out of you, but when you get the chance to go up AND down, you have to take advantage. When you are in the lead if you can hit the downhill before the chaser does it is an easy way to squeak out a bit more, or in this case hold on for dear life. Rounding the final corner I took a peek over my shoulder and knew I had done it! The feeling of knowing you have won a race without sprinting to the line is amazing and I tried to soak in the crowd and enjoy the chute on the way to my second Toyota Cup win of the year.
Once it was all done I looked back and realized that for the first time in my career I was able to break the 33 min mark in a legit 10k as I had run 32:45. Now that is not the 31:04 that Filip ran, but it is a significant improvement over the past and a big move in the right direction. At the time I was excited about the race and excited to get home to my pregnant wife, but little did I know the excitement I was in for…