Race mornings all feel the same…
Alarm goes off and chases sleep away. The cobwebs begin to shake loose as we roll over to look at the clock, thinking “already?” Sometimes I wake up and bolt out of bed, eating and getting ready to go. Others it’s a slow, grinding process of waking up the body and stretching…moving around doesn’t always come easily.
The morning of Bigfoot was a mix…I woke right up with the alarm, but my legs were still feeling pretty fried. 130 miles of hills at the Horribly Hilly 200K the previous weekend, plus riding 55 miles with a short t-run afterward the day before an olympic isn’t the greatest idea, but I was committed to the idea of training through Bigfoot with my eyes focused on my first half, Door County, in a few weeks.
The weather looked pretty iffy, with dark and overcast skies. Three of the 6 roomies decided to ride our bikes to the race, which we did. It was sort of spitting rain at us during the ride, but it was fun riding past the line of cars headed into Bigfoot State Park for the race…definitely felt kind of hardcore and the rain was no big deal.
Setting up transition, the light rain let up and I made the usual small talk with my neighbors on the bike racks. The organizers didn’t have the racks numbered in any way, beyond splitting them up into Olympic and Sprint areas. In any case, we were there early enough for me to get a spot close to the swim in entrance. I finished laying out my gear (and hoping for little to no rain so it wouldn’t get soaked) and headed over to Lake Geneva, where the swim began.
I was in the second wave. Nerves came around a bit, this being my first olympic race of 2010 and having so much new fitness…I was trying not to pressure myself too much. Even having a terrible race I’d easily crush my Bigfoot 2009 time of 2:46, so that was a good fallback…but I was definitely curious how fast I could go. The goal was to be in the 2:20′s, given the bike course (rolling hills) and a trail run of 6.4 miles (just longer than the standard olympic distance).
Watching the first wave (29 and under men) get ready to go off, a buddy from the Well-Fit Elite team was rushing toward the water, fighting his wetsuit zipper. It was Geoff Mikelsons, who is in my lane at swim practice…but dude can fly on the bike and especially the run. I zipped his wetsuit up, gave him a high-five and he ran down into the water just before the wave went off.
Next up was wave 2, which was me. I positioned myself on the left side in the front row, preferring to get passed by any faster guys but not have to deal with passing slower people. It ended up working well, as I had a pretty good swim. I came out of the water and saw 21 mins on my watch, which meant both that I had a great swim and that the course was a couple hundred meters short (our collective guess afterward was about 200-300m). I knew I hadn’t turned myself into a speedster since last year.
The run to transition was longer, as they moved it into the parking lot inside the state park. I had rubber-banded my shoes onto the bike, which was my first attempt at this. I had a rough time doing a flying mount and getting the shoes on (one shoe strap actually came out of the buckle), but before pulling out of the parking lot and onto the course I had shoes on, ready to go. First race with aero helmet too.
I tried to give myself a few minutes to settle into the bike, letting a few people pass me shortly after T1. After maybe 7-10 mins I began pushing a bigger gear. I quickly picked off everyone that had passed me within a few miles on the rolling course. I was only passed by one rider near the end of the bike, who was a VQ athlete I knew was faster than me. I also passed my friend Christine, the lead female, with a couple miles left. I was able to maintain a steady effort throughout the bike and came in at 1:01 right on the dot. I came up to the dismount line and hopped off doing a flying dismount without a problem, but braked too hard coming in with my left hand (while running next to my bike) and almost flipped the bike over. One shoe came out of a pedal, but a volunteer grabbed it and chased me into transition to return the shoe. After a quick rerack I was into my shoes and onto the run, with Christine heading out right next to me (while putting on a grass skirt/race belt combo to cheers from the crowd).
The run was great, just as it was last year. I really like the varying terrain of the Bigfoot trail run, with a few small climbs and some mud/grass sections and a real off-road feel to the course. The run was two loops of 3.2 miles each (slightly longer than standard olympic distance) and near the end of the first run the rain started. The run course was mostly shaded by a canopy of trees, so hearing the thunder and feeling the rain filter through the woods was awesome and it definitely cooled me down. The only downside was that my shoe choice (as I’d predicted) indeed was a problem. The Nike Lunaracer is pretty close to a racing flat, with a very smooth outsole. This left me sliding around on the muddier sections, with a couple near falls but I managed to stay on my feet. I kept an eye on my splits and was somewhat shocked that I was going to come in well under 2:20 (my major goal but one that felt unrealistic). With a sprint through the final quarter-mile, I finished in 2:12:38. Marc and Christine (two roomies for the training/race weekend) were waiting at the finish line, having just crossed themselves. Big hugs and high fives all around, posing for a few funny pics and we went to grab food and drink to refuel.
Overall, Bigfoot felt like a breakthrough race for me in terms of overall speed. My swim went well and I felt great, despite having tired legs I was able to nail the bike pretty well and the run as well, especially considering the terrain and course conditions. I had hoped for a potential age group podium spot, but it was not to be…the field was far faster than I’d anticipated, but that’s just a fact of racing. It was a fantastic day and I really enjoyed Bigfoot for the second year in a row.
Swim — 21:01
T1 — 2:35
Bike — 1:01:00 (23.2 mph)
T2 — 1:19
Run — 46:44 (7:32/mile)
FINISH TIME — 2:12:38
Overall: 42nd of 543
30-34M Age Group: 10th of 75