Tonight, I write about why this morning's Newport Beach Triathlon was among the most important races I've completed.
Like my 20-mile Firecracker run in February, I proved something to myself this morning. Perhaps more appropriate, I earned the validation I was seeking that my Fortius Coaching training is paying dividends. After my LA Marathon debacle, I needed a proof point. Moreover, was my Garmin speaking the truth lately? Was I indeed getting slower? These questions needed answers in the worst possible way, so the timing couldn't have been better to experience something tangible to compare year-to-year.
Fortunately, I did just that today, shaving off more than eight minutes from las year's 1:32:54 performance.
Eight minutes! I was hoping for improvement in the three-to-five minute range. This year, I finished in 1:24:05, good for 11th place in my age group (top 20%) and top 20% among all men.
I cut 2:30 off last year's swim, nearly three minutes off last year's bike time and nearly :30 off my run. The transitions were much faster too. Moreover, my swim pace per 100 yards was by far my personal best -- 1:40. My T-pace when I started training with Coach Gerardo was around 2:05. I cannot believe the progress I've made. Perhaps that is what I'm most proud of, given all the troubles I've been writing about lately regarding my swim technique. And my 14:45 swim included a more brutal than usual opening 200 yards, with several people grabbing at my ankles and shoulders. Not to mention slightly swimming off course after the first buoy. In other words, I could've swam faster. That's a great feeling.
Cycling the bike course several times yesterday paid off today too, though it was more than likely the lack of a cross-wind that put me over the top. Yesterday, my Garmin indicated I averaged around 16.4 mph on my ride. Today, I was .01 under a 20 mph average. Of course, I was taking care yesterday to largely remain in heart-rate zone 2. Today, while I could've dug a little harder, I was definitely in zone 3 for most of the ride. Once again the only bikes beating me were guys on TT bikes.
I will be fixing that issue shortly. I've got my eyes and heart set on a Cervelo P2 with upgraded wheels.
The run was about what I expected. Were it not for the 7-8% grade hill at the 1.5 mile mark, I likely would have broken 21 minutes. Instead, I paced myself to have a strong finishing kick. I'm sure I negative split the latter 1.5, with a sprint on the last 150 yards.
There was also an intangible factor that helped fuel me this morning. Stephanie, despite being sick, along with her dad came to support me. This was the first triathlon that Steph's dad had ever seen, and I wanted to put on a show. I wanted to let "Mr. V" know -- loud and clear -- what I was made of, and that the same kind of resolve and grit I demonstrate during a race is the same kind of attitude I will bring in taking care of his daughter. As a result though, I was more nervous than I should have been. Case in point: I put on my wetsuit backwards!
Fortunately, I overcame my nerves, along with a brief panic attack when I couldn't get my normal pre-race breakfast of oatmeal and banana until 40 minutes before the race. Unlike the LA Marathon, the race itself was the highlight, instead of the pre- and post-event activities.
As I reflect on today's triumph, I no longer need to benchmark my training last year. Fortius Coaching works. My training is paying off. I'm a better triathlete. A more knowledgeable triathlete.
And tonight, a happier triathlete.
Next up: Wildflower! But for just a little bit longer, I'll relish today's milestone. What was supposed to be a small event was a rather large confidence boost.
227 days and counting.