Loggerhead

I did my first Loggerhead tri in 2012, which was only my 2nd year in the sport.  Having only moved to Florida in late 2011, I had no idea how big of a deal the locals make this race out to be.  I finished 9th overall in 2012 which I wasn’t exactly the performance I was looking for at the time.  I returned the following year in 2013 and took home my first loggerhead crown.  As you all probably know, I sat on the sidelines in 2014 and 2015 unable to defend my title.  I watched in 2014 with a shattered elbow.  In 2015, I hobbled around spectating the race as I had just gotten off crutches a week earlier.  Watching those races from the sideline was extremely difficult.  This year, I wanted to defend my 2013 title…. even if it was 3 years later.

Leading up to the race, I was pretty exhausted all week.  I took a half day at work on Friday so I wouldn’t be rushed with race prep and packet pickup Friday night.  I got in a quick swim Friday afternoon and was about to get in a short run when I could feel my body tell me something….. it needed sleep.  I closed my eyes for about 45 minutes.  I don’t think I actually slept but I did feel it helped.  I did packet pickup right when it opened to avoid the rush.  Came home, got my race gear prepped, shaved, and hit the sheets early at 9 PM.

I woke up in the morning and did my usual pre-race nutrition.  I checked my bike before riding over to the race and noticed my rear brake was rubbing.  I play with my bike enough that I pretty much know it inside and out.  After a quick adjustment at 5 AM in my garage, the rubbing was fixed.  I rode over to the race and got in some short pickups to get the HR up and legs moving.  A quick jog afterward and then it was time to head to swim start.  I always try to get in a swim warmup as I always swim better when I have a decent swim warmup.  I swam the entire course in reverse and then did a couple practice run’s into the water from the beach.  I had noticed my timing chip was a bit loose and only about an inch was actually velcro’d with the remaining part of the strap just flapping around.  I usually pin my chip with a safety pin and I actually had brought a couple with me but I forgot to pin it after picking up my chip earlier.

The horn sounded and I got a good jump and made it to the first buoy with no contact from anyone (which is rare).  About half way through the swim, I couldn’t feel my timing chip.  I took a quick peek down and saw it was gone.  There was nothing I could do at that point but I couldn’t help thinking that this could turn interesting timing wise later on.  I thought of the whole Julie Miller situation and how she “lost” her chip in multiple races.  Obviously my situation was much different but I couldn’t help thinking about it.  I exited the swim and saw the race ref’s both standing there.  I told them both and a bunch of volunteers who were standing there that I had lost my chip during the swim.  They all kind of stared at me as I ran by them telling them this.  I ran into transition, told all the volunteers I lost my chip and I was number #45.  I figured if I told as many people as I could, it would get to the right people.

I hopped on the bike and went to work.  My race strategy is no secret:  Get a lead on the swim, push hard on the bike, and make everyone try to run me down.  The plan was to hold right at FTP (~300 watts) which I knew would be put me right where I wanted to be.  I ended up avg 276 watts (286 NP) which was 10 watts less than 2013 but only 19 seconds slower.  This year I was on a faster bike frame, faster tires, faster aero helmet, better fit, faster drivetrain, and a faster kit.  So I gave up 10 watts but only lost 19 seconds on a 13 mile course….. that tells me I’m making the right equipment choices.  There was a big group of guys about 4-5 minutes behind me who were all bunched up together.  I can’t say for sure but I would venture to guess there was some questionable riding going on there from what I saw.

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I came into T2 where I heard Mandy yell they had a new chip for me.  My next door neighbor (she works for the organization that puts on the event) handed me a new chip and I threw it on after slipping into my running shoes.  I took off and the chip immediately fell off, so I back tracked a few steps and put it back on.  I headed out on the run trying not to overdue the first 1/2 mile.  A week prior, I ran my fastest 5k ever of 18:18 after a 40 mile ride.  I wanted to run a sub 18 and knew it was doable.  About a 1/2 mile in, the body had other plans.  It did not want to push to the limit. I tried to get under 6 min/mile pace but the body was comfortable just above 6 and wouldn’t budge.  On the way back, I took note of the guys I crossed paths with and my lead was >4 min.  I tried to find some of the guys from the later waves but I never saw them.  I came into the finish chute and took note of time in the 58 min range.  When I saw 58 min on the clock, I knew I gave myself a good shot at the win but just had to wait for the remaining waves to finish.  Fortunately, the guys from other waves were also >4 min behind and I ended up with the overall win.

Besides the timing chip issue, I executed a pretty good race.  I know I’m capable of running faster and I was pretty unhappy that I couldn’t dig deeper and push myself to that further level of hurt.  This sport is so dependent on your willingness and ability to suffer.  You have to be ready and willing to push past your “perceived” limit at all times.

It was great to share the top of the podium with my friend Linda Robb!  Thank you to everyone who congratulated me after the race and for everyone who sent me messages. Big thanks to my mom who flew down for the weekend and to my always supporting fiance.  Also, thanks to the NPBC chamber of commerce and all the volunteers who helped put on this fantastic race.

Next up is Miami 70.3 in 11 weeks where I’m hoping to qualify for 70.3 World Championships next fall in Chattanooga, TN.

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