Sunday, November 8, 2009
I decided a few weeks back that since I seem to be getting into pretty good race shape, it might be worth my while to sign up for the Amica Championship Triathlon. It was the grand finale in a new series of sprint triathlon races held throughout the year in various cities around the US. The Championship was located at Lake Pleasant, a stunning body of water out in the middle of the desert northwest of Phoenix. It was a small event but really well organized, and the prize purse attracted a solid field of professionals attempting to capitalize on their end-of-season fitness.
It's a bit funny doing a sprint triathlon, especially the week after doing a half-ironman, because I'm so used to an entirely different kind of pacing. Of course it's all relative, as a "sprint" triathlon is usually at least an hour of racing...Usain Bolt would probably NOT consider it a sprint...but for endurance athletes a race that is "just" an hour or so means a red-line effort. The course itself also made for a challenging day, with some tough steady climbing and headwinds on the bike, quad-killing hills on the run, and absolutely NO shade in sight.
I took care to get a good warm-up before the race because I knew it would be a hard effort right from the gun. The swim went by quickly and I got out of the water as the second woman, about 10 seconds back of Alicia Kaye (wife of '08 Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker, who also raced). Immediately out of the water we had to negotiate a STEEP boat ramp, maybe 200 meters long, up to the transition area. If the heart rate wasn't up already, it sure was after that little sprint! The first transition went smoothly, a good improvement over the previous weekend. Once on the bike, we had to navigate a climb right away before hanging a left onto the main section of the course. It was a 5K out-and-back stretch that we had to do twice, with a general steady grind uphill on the way out and a gradual downhill on the way back. The downhill was not the sort of "friendly" grade where you can really get going and freewheel it: instead, it was the type of downhill where you had to work hard the whole way, and the headwind made it even more challenging. After that section we headed back towards the transition area, with one little detour on Cottonwood Road "just for fun" (as the race director put it). Then it was a bombing downhill back to the transition area, into the racing flats and off onto the run course. The run started the same way as the bike, up the big hill and out past the guard station. Instead of turning left onto the main road we kept going straight onto a dirt road that had a few good little poppers to run up and over. Once you navigated those hills, it was mostly downhill to the finish line the last half-mile or so. I feel like all my trail running really helped me with this course, as it was very much a "strength" course. I remained in second place the whole way, and was really pleased with my effort and to finish up the abbreviated triathlon season on the podium.
Now I'm focusing primarily on running for the next month as I log my final miles in preparation for the Las Vegas Marathon on December 6th. I'm going to continue swimming regularly as well, because it just feels GOOD! The South Davis Swim Meet is next weekend and I'll hop into a few events there...just for giggles. I'll have a few weeks off after the marathon before gearing up for next year...can't wait!!!