Saturday, July 2, 2011

Getting It Done At Dino Tri

Last weekend I competed in the annual Dinoland Triathlon in Vernal, Utah. I must say it certainly is nice to do a "local" race every once in a while, with minimal travel logistics to organize beforehand. Nothing like packing up the tent, hopping in the car with the dogs, hitting the road for a few hours and're there! This race is fun to do for several reasons: it's well-organized, has a nicely challenging course with a unique finish on a high school track, and it features a bit of a prize purse which typically draws in some quality athletes from Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. This year was no exception. There were some slight changes to the bike course due to road construction and the run course was entirely revamped (which I LOVED!), but the heart of the event stayed true. So did the finishing sprint around the track!

I came into the Dino Tri in the middle of a big block of training so I was not exactly fresh on race day, but my mindset was to get out and race hard to get in a good tune-up going into REV3 Portland (on July 10th). The swim is held at Red Fleet State Park in a gorgeous little piece of water with sandstone walls. The elite men and women started together, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the size of the field. This is a smaller race so it made for a relatively friendly swim---not much clobbering going on. I was in a little pack of 3 or 4 swimmers for the first lap, then was able to build my effort and create a bit of a gap on the second lap. I came out of the water in 4th position, with two men and one woman up the (steep) boat ramp ahead of me. I peeled off my BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit and transitioned quickly, hitting the mount line ahead of the girl who out-swam me. So I was sitting in first place among the ladies, a position I was determined to hold for the rest of the day.

The first two miles of this bike course are downright tough; the climbs are reminiscent of the hills coming out of the water at Wildflower, only they occur as soon as you get your pedals moving. This was my third time doing the Dino Tri so I knew what to expect but it's a humbling experience nonetheless. I'm sure the altitude has something to do with it as well---I believe Vernal is about 1000 feet higher than Salt Lake, and coming out of a hard swim and having to tackle those hills right away on the bike makes you acutely aware of your lungs!

The other challenging part of this bike course is the false flats. After the initial climbs out of Red Fleet there is a nice bombing downhill section, then a long section where you wonder why it suddenly feels like your brakes are rubbing. Once you hit the turnaround it becomes obvious that you were actually going gradually uphill the whole time; then you can really turn it on and feel like a rockstar! Overall I was able to put in a solid effort on the bike and built about another minute onto my lead over the next female competitor. Two men had passed me early in the bike leg, so at this point I was sitting in 5th place overall.

Once I hit T2 I was ready for a good run. I had seen at the bike turnaround that my friend BJ (who is a helluva runner) was riding with the second place female; my goal was to hold him off as long as possible. So I took off like a bat out of hell to see if I could be "out of sight, out of mind". It worked until maybe 2.5 miles in when BJ came roaring up behind me. Then my strategy changed to hanging onto his coattails as long as I could...which wasn't long, but I was pleasantly surprised to keep him (almost) in sight the rest of the run. The final 300 meters on the track was a blast, and hitting the finishing tape first among the ladies (and 6th place including the men!) felt great. I found out afterwards that my official run split was 39:45---my first time ever under 40 minutes on a legitimate 10K run course. I know that's nothing compared to what the top ladies in the sport are running, but it's a step in the right direction and a good sign going into Portland.

Thanks go out to the following for this race: Mark Mason and the entire Dino Tri team for putting on a great event; BJ for the extra motivation out on the course; Albert, Suzzie, and Sherman for their cheers and woofs; my training partner Rich for humbling me into running hard off the bike; BlueSeventy, PowerBar, Rudy Project, Maxxis, and Wasatch Running Center for their continued support; and to the community of Vernal for supporting this awesome event. Can't wait to come back and defend the title next year!


zane said...

Nice job! Congratulations

Leslie said...

Great job Malaika! I'll have to make my way back out to Dino again next year, the run course sounds great!

hud hopkins said...

Great job we are so proud of you down here in Texas