Recap of the 2011 Siesta Key Triathlon – MultiRace Sprint/Olympic Distances
Getting called to a higher (Gear)...Power.
WARNING – This article is full of swagger and lots of self-confidence. You’ve been fully warned.
This was not going to be just any little sprint race. Not this time. I learned my lesson the week before at the Englewood Triathlon. After finishing 7th out of 18 in my age group, and reviewing the splits and times, I realized that, had I taken the race more seriously and focused on performance and not solely improving my triathlon tan, then a Podium finish (top 3) was a real (albeit difficult) possibility.
So using that motivation in looking forward to the Siesta Key Triathlon, I was amped on a confident knowledge that I could perform better, but also stewing on the anxiety of knowing only I could actually apply the training I had been diligently completing and harnessing the lessons I had learned along the way. I replayed these scenarios through my mind as I drove down Midnight Pass Road with a small armada of vehicles following me to the Siesta parking lot or as I would have you believe… the location of the final battle scene!
Berster hard at work! Safety & Speed First!
4 Markers!! Ambidextrous Shenanigans!
I parked my truck, gathered all my triathlon gear, my Kestrel (Nikita) and made my way over to the transition area. Awaiting our arrival was the usually excitable Nicole Chapman and sometimes stoic Andrew Berster, respectively. They were already body marking at warp speed! The other Usual Suspects were there, always ready with a supportive boost, light jab or competitive barb, including Carl Knutsson, Sarah Senter, John LeTourneau, Ren Schrock among so many others… <Click Here to see pictures of those other people rocking it at the race!>
As we meandered down the soft silky sands of Siesta to the shoreline, an interesting dynamic was taking place. The Olympic distance competitors were starting on the South end of the main beach, while the Sprint and Duathlon racers were going to start near the North end of the main beach. I imagine this would create some overlap, but all in all, it seemed to work out pretty well. As we were entering the gulf to begin our sprint swim, some of the olympic swimmers were headed our way as well, but just like a school of fish in the open water, we all assimilated and continued towards our goal.
Deceiving waters of the Gulf await!
For me, the swim was solid, although it was congested to start with some beginners swimming all over the place, so I made an immediate decision to go wide and swim near the beach bouys and just keep a strong pace. 7:00 minute swim time was satisfactory for me and soon enough my feet felt sand and I was running towards the shore.
Pic by Nicole Chapman
Out of the water, up on the beach, and pacing ourselves to the transition area to gather our reliable and sexy steeds and begin the 13 to 26 mile trek down to Turtle Beach and back again, and for some…again! This was a fun portion of the race for me, as I felt great and basically stayed just right of the center lines, passing a slew of people. Lately my biking has gotten stronger and in doing so, it makes for a much more enjoyable race as passing people is obviously and logically more satisfying then being passed. At least for me, but in doing so, I didn’t realize that I was easily PR’ing my biking split time and mph by a couple of minutes, which for 13 miles is nothing to shake a stick at. I did hear some unnerving news about a few riders taking some spills and the course was packed with so many riders, vehicle traffic and a compacted course, but then again, I was going so damn fast, I didn’t feel any effects of that nature. (Embarrassed from lack of humility!) 33:03 = 22.5 mph/avg which for me is a PR and 12th overall on the bike = Yay for me!
After crushing the bike course, I dismounted and promptly switched shoes and made sure to leave my helmet next to my bike… (I’m looking at you Stephen Groth!) …and headed off to the sands of Siesta… Did I mention they are silky and soft, which makes laying out a wonderful thing to do… But running through it can be a little bit tedious and on most beaches, Siesta included, you tend to be running at about a 15% angle. (Thank goodness one leg is shorter then the other!)
Mr. Always passes me on the run, Kowalski!
So on the run, my buddy (aka – always catches and passes me on the run, Kowalski) shows up on my radar as I am doubling back from just making the turn at the halfway point of the 3.1 mile run and he is approximately 20-30 seconds behind me… catching up a little bit with each quick strike of his maddening pace! I made my deal with the running devil earlier and it was to run as far as I could without stopping, but eventually the lure of a couple cups of water at around the 2 mile mark was too much for my parched psyche and so I relinquished and quenched my thirst with one cup and drenched my large steaming noggin with the other! This was just the opening that Mr. Kowalski needed and sure enough, with about 1 mile left, he graciously passed on my left and begin his normal and methodical pull away…
But not today… Today I was not going to let him beat me badly on the run. I quickened my pace, just focusing on the ground in front of me and trying not too look up, or at my watch or at anything other then the back of Mark’s shoes as I kept about 4 feet between us. It was a thing of beauty, in that watching a fighter who battles all fight, only to get knocked down near the end of the fight and continually struggles to beat the 8 count, but repeatedly gets up… again and again. Just like that. Ok, maybe thats a little too much Rocky versus The Russian, but I digress.
As we headed up the grassy path to the picnic/transition/finish line area, Mark had opened a wider gap and although my lungs were burning and my legs packed full of Lactic acid, there was a moment, where it all just went away and I fought to find that final gear… It finally kicked in and with all the dignity and vinegar I could muster, I crossed that finish line 0:00:00:56 behind Mark Kowalski and he helped me finish 27th overall out of 280 sprint racers. Not world record stuff, but a step in the right direction.
After I got some water, watermelon, a turkey sandwich and an apple crumb muffin dropped from the heavens, I headed over the to the MultiRace camper where they had flatscreen TV’s affixed to one side which posted automatic times from the race. It showed I was in 2nd place in my group, which meant if the times held, I would grab my first Podium and actual award Hardware, ever!?! I was psyched. Please let the times hold. It took me a few minutes to realize that logically, everyone finishing behind me would be slower and when reality finally took hold, a nice contentment took over. I was gonna savor this moment for all it was worth.
After taking the podium, having such great support from friends and other triathletes, I get it. I understand why we do it. For me, it was and will always be ok to finish in the middle of the pack, enjoying the race, the scenery and the camaraderie. But I get it. It felt great to stand on that podium and smile for the camera phones and to proudly hold the award up.
Apparently now, I have to do it again.
Some shots of other podium winners!
Just Do-ing It.