Prior to racing Ironman Wisconsin Charisa brought up the idea of racing Scott Tinley's Adventures Long Course Tri up in Arroyo Grande, CA. This race is part of the TriCalifornia Series of races put on by Terry Davis and crew, the same folks that put on Wildflower. As is par for the course with TriCal, this race is EXPERTLY run and everything is top shelf. From the SWAG bag, medals, awards, etc... all the way down to the individually marked transition rack spots, TriCal just knows how to put on a race. Even though it is my rookie year, I have raced enough to run across a few race directors and companies that seem less than thrilled to have professionals in attendance. We've even had a RD at a certain race tell us he "hates having to deal with our presence." So, when I get to race an event where the race director and crew treat you well and seem genuinely happy to have us there, it is appreciated. Everyone likes to feel welcome right? TriCal goes above and beyond and really goes "all out" to complete the "race" experience for age groupers and pros alike. I can't say enough about the team and their races.
I had raced the olympic distance at this event 2 years ago and it was a disaster (obviously nothing to do with race direction, but rather, the rain and the fact that I committed a comedy of errors in setting up my bike and transition). So, especially given my poor performance in Wisconsin, I was eager to try and redeem myself after those performances. However, given the proximity to Wisconsin and with Austin & IM AZ training to do, this race would be "trained through" with no real taper. So I knew I was in for some hurt.
The views on the bike course though, were anything but painful.
Swim - 1.5mi: 32:20
Catching everyone by surprise, the USAT wetsuit cutoff temp of 68 meant we would be swimming sans neoprene as the water was allegedly hovering right around 70 (it felt colder). So many of us ended up going old school and sporting tri shorts and furry (for some of us) chests. I got off to a decent start but got out of the draft and lost the lead group. I ended up finding a replacement in Emily Cocks (girl can SWIM) and gladly accepted a tow around the 3 loops but still had to work to stay with her.
Bike - 49mi: 2:06:19
Immediately on the bike Wisconsin and the lack of taper had my legs screaming at the effort. I just tried to focus on my watts and keep pushing. However, early on I was passed by 2 guys, one being Nick Thompson who I have raced several times this year. Nick is a cool, stand up guy, a solid athlete and I really enjoy racing him, except for the fact that he has beaten me every time. Each race has followed the same script, I beat him out of the water, he catches and drops me on the bike, I catch him right at the tail end of the bike, then he passes and drops me on the run. So when he caught and dropped me on the bike, I figured it was par for the course. I continued to try and push my watts and took note of the gaps at the first turn around. At the second turn around, I noticed I had closed it down somewhat and a few miles before the finish, I caught back up to Nick. I then tried to just put as much time as I could into Nick before T2.
Run - 9.3mi: 58:05
I now had my goal in mind, run steady, try and reel someone in, but most of all HOLD OFF NICK! There is a big, vicious beast of a hill on this course that we must do twice, so I knew I had to have a good gap on Nick going into the hill on the second lap in order to stay ahead. At the turn around on lap 1, I saw the gap was not that big, so when I started lap 2, I tried to put in a little surge and try to keep/extend the gap. I focused on Dan McIntosh in front of me and tried to reel him in. By the top of the big hill I had closed the gap from about 40sec to about 15, but that was as close as I would get, he let his long legs roll on the downhill and dropped me. I gave it the gas on the one last little bump but Dan was too strong. So I cruised it home on the downhill and enjoyed the finish.
3:38:05 & 6th place.
Thankfully TriCal, in addition to putting on a great race and treating ALL athletes like champs, additionally sees fit to pay the top 10 pros, so a paycheck was earned. This is even more handy since I managed to leave my Garmin 500 in transition and someone picked it up and either didn't realize it wasn't theirs, or has yet to turn it in. So if anyone that raced knows of anyone finding a Garmin, please let me and them know.
Once again thanks to Zoot, I was able to have one of the fastest T2s in the race and the TT 3.0s worked awesome (get yours at TriSports.com & save some $$ with coupon code IMIKE-S at checkout). As always, the reliable Blue Triad SL performed flawlessly and delivered me to T2 ready and able to run. The speed with which it did so was helped greatly by Reynolds wheels (SDV 66 front and Element disc) again proving their merit and reputation. A few athletes flatted out on course and had their days ended when Pitstops failed to fix their tubulars. I was happy to be riding my Reynolds carbon clinchers knowing I wouldn't have that problem. One mistake that could have hurt me was failing to bring gels out on the run course, however, the PowerBar gels and Ironman Perform I took in on the bike fueled the engine just fine all the way to the line.