Although this report is now a bit late in the posting, it is no doubt one of the happiest ones I have ever written. Going into Oceanside, the Lifetime Series finale, I knew that I had a chance to win the series if I was able to come up with another victory. Tempe and Dallas had gone really well and I knew I had the form to come away with another win, but the field is so deep, and the guys so close together that anything less than a great day wouldn’t do the job.
Going into every race I plan to win. I don’t mean that in a cocky manner, but the former coach and broadcaster said, “We play to win the game!” As a professional athlete I just think that has to be your mentality when you toe the line. However, since you have 30 or so guys thinking the same thing before the gun goes off, most of us will come up short, so going into the race I did a little math and tried to determine what I had to do to win the series without winning the race. It turned out to be really simple, beat Hunter and Ben. Fair enough, so on race morning I lined up with the thought that I could win the race, but I was also aware of the race within the race for the big paycheck.
The weather on Friday and Saturday had been classic San Diego weather, so I was a bit surprised to wake up Sunday morning to high 40′s, very cloudy, and humid. No worries, I was thinking you have made a living this year winning races in less than great weather. I got in my normal breakfast, rode my run shoes over to T2, and then did my normal pre race warm up. As I was putting on the Blue Seventy Helix, I was feeling good, a little chilly, but ready to race, and knowing that although the water was cold it was warmer than the air so I headed down to the water to put in a warm up before the start.
Oceanside was the 3rd race in the Toyota Triple Crown, and although I wasn’t eligible having missed Chicago, it meant that the women were going to go off 10:44 ahead of the men. Unfortunately, the women were delayed about 10 minutes, which meant we were pushed back and made for a long warm up in the water, but once we finally got lined up I had a good start and got out in front of most of the guys. Joe and Eric had taken a far left line that went under a dock, well spotted fella’s, and so as we came around the dock I was surprised to see feet ahead of me. So I put in a little surge and caught on for the ride. Crazy part was that about 500m in the fog rolled into the cove so think all the sudden all we could see were the feet in front of us. Hats off to Joe for keeping us in line for the most part and on the tough out and back swim we only collided with a few age groupers. As we exited the blind swim I was in 2nd and ready to hit the bikes.
After a solid transition I was on my way up the road in the lead, but my legs just weren’t quite doing what I was asking. I was moving well, but could tell that the cold water and now cold air was preventing them from really hammering out the effort I had planned. Some races are just like that, and I kept reminding myself you don’t have to feel good to go fast, so I put my head down and smashed on the pedals.
The roads were foggy in most places and slightly slick, but I tried to maintain and even effort and just make the boys work to stay with me. Ben and Stuart out in monster efforts and we all came into transition together. I also knew based on the out and backs that Eric wasn’t far behind but that we had put a good gap into Joe and Hunter. As we headed out on the run I felt really good for the first couple miles, but with the really short steep hills on the course my legs started to cramp up about mile 2. I slowed the pace just a hair and mentally switched gears from all in off the front, to be smart and stay ahead of Hunter and Ben. The race was the battle but I wanted to win the series and the war.
Stu caught me about mile 4 and Eric with about 400m to go, but I had conserved enough to ward off Joe’s kick in the chute and held on for the third podium spot, and my Series title, or at least I thought. With things like this I try and save my excitement for when the awards are actually tallied because with the primes, and Stu winning I wasn’t 100% sure I had won. After about 30 min someone from Lifetime finally congratulated me on the Series win, and I was over joyed.
This year has been an amazing one, with 7 wins and another major series title. It has also been the craziest and most stressful year of my life with a young child, a pregnant wife, remodeling a house, and then the flood. Looking back though its all the stress and tough times, that make this series win so satisfying. The knowledge that I have a good enough support system in place to maintain my racing while I am keeping my head above water in life.
The season has one more race, Rev3 Florida, in two weeks and it will be my first attempt at a half ironman distance race while really in shape. Its the end of the season, and the body is definitely running on fumes, but I am excited to see how this next challenge will go.
On to the last one…