Going into Wildflower I was in my best form for any triathlon. My training the past 6 months has been consistent, efficient and dialed in to fit my needs. I am a true believer in creating a program that is about focused volume and training not necessarily long useless mileage. I try and cut out all junk mileage and keep my training time efficient and to the point. This aides in my performance come "game day".
I woke up Tuesday the week before Wildflower with a surprisingly weak body. I had a sore throat and had a bit of the chills. I went into work for half of the day and spent the afternoon/evening on the coach sipping hot tea in a blanket trying to fight off the chills and high fever that crept up on me. As Wednesday approached, I had much to do to get ready for the big weekend. But the sickness was still there. I decided to take work off and get some much needed extra rest. I found the energy to take care of the errands I needed to finish before I left for Lake San Antonio.
Thursday morning I awoke to a screaming sore throat, the worse it has been all week. We were planning on leaving at 7:00 am. I took an IB profen to get me through the morning and we finally left at 10:00 am (we had a small mechanical problem in our RV that needed to be fixed).
Wildflower weekend is pretty exciting. You have the best athletes in the country show up for this grueling course. And whether you are taking on the 1/2 Ironman, Olympic or Mountain bike course, there is deemed to be challenges that awaits you. Usually it is fun times by the camp fire and enjoying the company of our Visalia Triathlon Club team members but for me, it was extra rest in the RV as I was still battling a weak immune system and sore throat.
I got some much needed rest on Thursday night, woke up Friday morning and went for a 20 minute jog around the campgrounds. This was a needed workout because I had been on a coach the entire week. I needed to wake my legs and prepare them for the big race. My legs and lungs finally started to wake up after 20 minutes. I then hoped on my bike for a 20 minute easy ride. I actually added in 4 short 30 second hill repeats to really sharpen my legs. These two workouts definitely got my body rolling and ready for the next day.
Friday was full of rest, recovery and good nutrition. I stayed hydrated and took in all my vitamins to get any last minute immune system strength I could. It was time to go.
After a good night's rest on Friday, I woke up at 5:30 am on Saturday morning, feeling a little better. I went outside and did my foam roll routine, dynamic warm-up and some striders to wake up the body. I like this pre-race warm-up early in the morning to get any last minute nerves or anxiety out of my body. I felt confident going into this race and knew I was capable of hitting the 5:30ish mark.
I went down to transition area very relaxed, warmed up and fueled and ready to go. I stayed moving until about 20 minutes before my wave went into the water. That is when I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the water. Immediately when it was our turn to warm up I jumped in the lake and headed out for a quick 3 minute warm-up. It was enough to get my arms moving. Here we go, another triathlon is about to start.
The swim was very chaotic at first. I went out in the 2nd line of athletes and was mobbed by flailing arms and kicking legs. I stayed strong and kept my stroke relaxed and made my way through the bucket of athletes. Once we hit the first buoy, the water opened up and I began to get into my rhythm. Going into Wildflower I hadn't put much focus on my swim because I knew I had a good base and some decent speed so I decided to get in the water only 1-2 times a week. The swim went by fast and before you knew it the last turn to the boat dock was in site. I always kick my legs hard in the last 200 yards to wake them up before the run up the dock and get them ready for the bike leg. I was ready to go.
Training leading up to this race was about a bike focus. I had been biking quite a bit and my fitness on the bike was stronger. I was ready to take on this challenging bike course. Once I was out there, the wind was howling. It was so tough that it began to be a test just to stay on the bike. Being a light athlete, with aero wheels made for a tough ride. I never really got into a rhythm in my aero position. Anytime I tried, my bike would shake and the wind would throw me around. I clinched my handle bars and stayed safe. Once I made the turn into the campgrounds my energy was high and ready to take on the run course. I executed my nutrition plan and was ready for the 13 mile hilly run.
Right out of transition is an important time because you can assess how your body is feeling and mine was feeling strong. I had practiced some tough transitions leading up to the race so my legs were ready for these hills. My goal was to stay steady on the up hills, let it fly on the downhills and keep a good cadence on the flats. My heart rate was controlled and the miles were flying by. At mile 4, the big hills began and this year my goal was to keep jogging and I accomplished that goal. No walking for me! Once I hit mile 6, I knew I had some rollers to deal with that if you surge to the top of each one the downhills take you to the next one so I kept that mindset. At mile 7-8, you run through many of the camp sites. As I hit the Visalia Tri Club camp site, I saw the cheering squad screaming and yelling for me. It was uplifting to see my wife and my daughter Olivia JoJo supporting my efforts. Once I made it through the next 2 miles which was a mild decent, I knew all I had was a couple of hills to get through and the finish would be in site. I continued to grab water and toss it on my head and body to keep everything cool. I consumed one more gel at mile 10.5 just so I could finish strong.
As I hit Lynch hill, I began my sprint towards the finish line. I like running downhill so I tried and passed as many athletes as I could. I turned the corner, saw the finish chute and ran hard through the finish line. My time was 5 hours 36 minutes, 8 minutes faster than last year. I actually had a 14 minute faster run time this year so I was very satisfied with that effort.
All in all, it was another great event. Triathlon is not about wins or losses or even a specific time, it's about determination, desire, sacrifice and the sense of accomplishment. Finishing my 5th Half Ironman in 4 years leaves me feeling excited and ready to take on Ironman Arizona at the end of the year. 199 days and counting...
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