Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Island Time

This past weekend I made my first voyage ever to the Caribbean, specifically the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. While it is hard to imagine that one would need an "excuse" to go visit this area of the world, it just so happens that I had one in the form of the Rainbow Cup International Triathlon. Charisa had actually come in contact with the race crew and I was lucky enough to get an invite to tag along. No convincing needed!

On Thursday we left San Diego at the crack of dawn and put our feet on Tobago soil just after 11pm. After a short taxi ride we arrived at our digs for the weekend, having seen very little of the island. I always find it strange to arrive somewhere at night, and then wake up the next day having really no idea what may lay outside your door.

Fortunately we had been roomed with an awesome British couple, Claire and Piers Vallance who were the defending champs, and thus knew a bit about the island. They gave us a few tips, and pointed us in the right direction, but suffice it to say, the first sights and sounds of the island did not disappoint. I mean, with views like this...

From my balcony
Of course there was a race looming so Friday was spent trying to take in as much of the island as possible while seeing the course and not getting myself totally exhausted.

As for the race, it was quick, so I will keep it short.

I hadn't raced at the olympic distance since March of 2010. So I felt a little awkward lining up for the start but my goal was (given my recent luck with island racing) to keep the bike upright, and make it hurt!

Swim: It was a two loop swim with a run up a soft sand beach in between the loops. Not that I was looking past any of my competitors, but it was a SMALL race and thus I figured I would likely find myself at or near the front of the swim. My plan was to try and establish a gap on the first lap and then hold that gap into the bike. For the first hundred meters or so that plan was in jeopardy. A fast swimming local had gone off the front and established a good gap. I just kept swimming hard and he rather suddenly came right back to me. Soon thereafter I had a gap and was able to hold it the remainder of the swim.

Bike: Given that it was an eight loop course with three turn-arounds per lap, I knew I would have plenty of opportunities to get splits on my competition. My goal was to go hard and do everything  could to keep my gap, but remain cognizant of the fact that it is hot and HUMID in Tobago!! I knew if I totally blew myself up on the bike, I would be in trouble on the hot, HUMID and exposed run course. Seriously, nowhere I have ever raced has anything on Tobago as far as humidity is concerned. Fortunately I was able to keep my gap.

Run: I would be lying if I said I didn't have a goal in mind with regard to my run split, but once I felt the heat and humidity, and realized the course may also have been a bit long, I quickly let go of that goal. I got off the bike knowing I had a gap, and that I just needed to try and stay as cool and controlled as possible. Again, with a four loop run, I knew I would have time to react if I saw the gap closing. I was dealt a lucky hand, and I could see from the beginning that my gap was holding. With this in mind I just focused on my turnover and tried to run as evenly paced as I could.

In the end I crossed the line first and got to hold the winners tape above my head for the first time in my career. Pretty cool feeling.

The race was marred however by one unfortunate event however, that of Charisa's failed attempt at a forward handspring off her bike. She's got proof, that such a move is NOT a good idea.

This did put a bit of a damper on the remaining weekend festivities, but I got to see some more sights before we departed back to Trinidad and the states (more to come on that front).

It was a great adventure heading down to the Caribbean to race. The island spirit and that of its people made for a great time and awesome "vibe" to the event (there has never been better music played at a race!). Plus, its not too often I get to participate in a Champagne Ceremony!
The race director and the whole crew put on a great race, where the "fun factor" was definitely competing with the "fast factor" for top billing. Which is how it should be! I can't say enough "Thank Yous" to the whole Rainbow Cup crew, and to Jennice & Jason in particular for their incredible hospitality and energy. It was truly a great experience!

While a win was great, it remains blatantly clear that my fitness and form remain far from "Elite" level. There is still MASSIVE amounts of work to be done to right this ship. Up next is Kansas 70.3 in ten short days! 

As always, the trip, the win, the journey would not have happened without the incredible support I receive from my sponsors.
Zoot - the kit and kicks were light and fast.

BH - The GC Aero was up to the task as always and handled the twits and turns of the looped course with precision and power.

Reynolds - My Assaults proved yet again, they are beyond just a great training wheel. When race day comes, they answer.

SPY+ - The Caribbean sun was no match for the Screw!

PowerBar - Nothing like having familiar and reliable fuel even in far way lands. A few less calories but the same result, I had the power to push all day.  

TRIBE - Having a knowledgeable shop on your side when preparing for a journey abroad is priceless. Know what you NEED and bring it along!

Mikelson & Mikelson, LLP - Flying off to faraway lands to chase experiences like this just plain and simple would not happen without your support.


  1. sounds like a rad race! congrats on the W!

  2. British hosts are the best!!! Congrats on the win - that is awesome.