If you told me that I would have been top 10 at Austin 70.3, I would have laughed at you because there were about 40 pros on the start list and at least 20 of them you've heard of them. Most of the time, that means they're f***ing fast. My own expectations were just to have a good race and put out what my training has done for me. Also, to not get a flat. Because I flew all the way here last year in real good shape, and my tire decided to go psssssss
All that kinda went sideways when I got sick Sunday before the race. I have to admit, with the full time job, and training like a pro triathlete, it was getting to me. In my defense, 5 co-workers that I work with were all sick and I couldn't really do anything to avoid it. I took some Umcka coldcare, and quickly got over the cold in 2 days. I have to tell you, getting 10+ hours of sleep because of my early bedtime 9-9:30pm, is AWESOME. and taking 2 days off was also a blessing for me to refresh mentally and physically.
My race week training prep was kind of a joke:
monday : nothing except running around work to get stuff done and fixed
tuesday: nothing except running aroud work to get more stuff done and fixed
wednesday: 25 min super easy run 8:30 pace
thursday: 30 min swim at my local YMCA.
And then Friday came, and it was an epic day. 60min into the flight, the captain said "uhm ladies and gentleman, unfortunately, we're not making it to Austin today. *long pause*"
my mind: "shit, what the hell does that mean?"
captain continues "we're having problems with our navigational system. we will have to make a detour landing in phoenix, we'll update you on the latest"
my mind: "phew, that's good"
Most people were pissed off that things were going to get delayed. Obviously I'm not too thrilled but it could have been a lot worse. Having watched nearly all the Air Crash Investigation episodes, I'm well aware of the risks everytime I board a plane. And because I'm a fan of Louis CK, and his bit shown below, I'm not going to sit around and complain about my flight getting delayed...because we're f***king FLYING FOR GOD'S SAKE!
Anyways, I got in about 2-3 hours later. Somehow found my rental car, and picked up my bike at the last minute from Tribike Transport. They're the best. Try them out, pays for itself.
Funnily enough as I was going to go out for an easy ride from packet pick up, I ran into my good friend Brian Hrynkow. We decided to go for a swim with my homestay host Elizabeth and grab dinner afterwards.
Saturday: pretty routine, ate my oatmeal, 3 slices of bread, 2 eggs, soymilk, felt like a champ. The cold was still around which kept me pretty uneased. Went for an easy ride and still felt kinda weird. Did cupping therapy on myself and realized I was suffering from heat stress in Austin. hot + humid doesn't go well for a California boy. Check out my aero position though, thanks to Pedro at P fits, I save some watts and I stay comfortable.
Should have taken pictures but all my friends that know me know that I like my fried rice. Not just any fried rice. Thai fried rice. I got them pineaaple fried rice at nice Thai joint in Austin, and some dumplings. Some people like pasta, some people like hamburgers, I like my fried rice. I am Asian after all.
Swim: The fog was so bad that they had to cancel the swim. We sat in the swim start area for about 60min before they finally decided to cancel the swim. I had mixed feeling about the cancellation of the swim. It was non-wetsuit legal and that usually hurts me more than it helps. But without the swim, athletes are sent off in 30 second intervals, which complicates things. 30 second might not sound like a lot but it's not exactly like a group ride either. 30 seconds is a ton of time. There were about 34 pros that started, and by the time the 15th guy went off, the first guy is already 7 min down the road.
It changed the whole dynamic of the race. As you couldn't really work with anybody in the legal draft distance 12 meters. A lot of people like to get all offended that the pros talk about drafting. I just like to clear up some stuff here. Age groupers in theory draft more than the pros. Age groupers get 10m draft distance instead of 12. And most of the time there aren't even enough refs to police the massive group drafting that goes on. Just go on the internet and you'll know what i'm talking about. It's an unfortunate part of the sport as with the number of participants, it's simply impossible to have a single file with everyone being 10-12m apart. I get that. We all have to follow the rules and make the most of it.
Now with the pros "Drafting" legally. When we draft, we are 12 meters apart. We are following the rules. Does that make things easier? hell yeah. probably 12-20 watts. But those people that like to get offended would say "but you shouldn't draft". It's like if on a test the teacher said you can bring a calculator, and everyone else brings a calculator, but you don't because you have some strong moral compass about not "cheating", then that doesnt make a whole lot of sense now does it. We pros follow the rules, and make sure we have a level playing field. Now would I prefer that there was a 20 meter draft zone? hell yea, being a weaker swimmer, it makes my life easier knowing that the pros up front aren't all working together in a group and pulling away for me, pushing less watts than me.
Anyhow, had to get that off my chest, back to the race
Without coming out of the water with a group of athletes to work with, it makes things awkward. As the people you catch are a little too slow to keep up and the people that catch you are too fast. Which is exactly what happened to me. I caught 2 pros 5 min into the bike. After 10 min I was caught by Sam Long, a talented stud from Boulder. I was surprised he caught me so fast as he started about 5 minutes behind. My avg speed for the first 15 min was about 25.8mph. After Sam caught me and I tried to go with him for just 5 min, my average went up to 26.2 mph. HOLY S*IT! after 10 min of trying, I decided to slow down and settle in my own pace. In hindsight, that 15 min of trying to hold on to Sam probably hurt my run, but these are the decisions that I have to learn how to make as I race more and more in the pro circuit.
Surprisingly, I felt really good throughout the bike. In all previous 70.3s this year, I've always died after 35 miles and not really feel like I can still keep pushing. This race, I felt like I was in control the whole time. It was a good sign.
I seriously thought coming off the bike that I'd run a 1:18. But that de-escalated quickly. I went through the first lap in just under 6 min pace feeling alright. But as I went, I kept fading. Not sure if it was the heat and humidity, but other competitors up front looked like sh*t too. (turns out, they looked like sh*t but ran like Kenyans). Like always, I kept pushing as hard as I could and finished with a respectable time of 1:21.
City of Austin, you need to repave that park. It was like mountain biking for running.
Most importantly, I made it to the slowtwitch result list for the race! I've gotten top 10s, 2 10 place finishes at Vineman 70.3, 7th place at Lake Stevens, and 9th at Victoria 70.3 this year, and never got a mention. It never hurts to have a tiny bit of publicity.
I couldn't have made this happen without the help of Elizabeth, thanks so much again for letting me stay at your beautiful place. Hearing how you deal with your adversity with training and balancing life has really inspired me. It was nice to catch up with you again and I look forward to seeing you in IMAZ!
Thanks to my coach Nick for all the wise advice. I know that run is still a little disappointing but I'll keep going after it.
Thanks to my UCLA friends, Cameron, Dylan, Kyle, and Andrew for helping me out with my stuff and also hanging out with me. It made my weekend that much better.
Thanks to my sponsors Zoot and my captain Shane for making sure I have all the gears I need on race day. Everyone knows about my famous bike fitter Pedro at P-fits and what he has done for me. Can't thank you enough. Zealios Skincare for providing me 1st class sunscreen. Boom Nutrition with the best gels. And my mom for all the meals. My dad for all the coffee.