Saturday, June 11, 2011

Silicon Valley Long Course Triathlon (Troy)

June 11, 2011 – San Jose, CA
Swim 1m – Bike 56m – Run 9m
4:19:02 (26:53 - 2:04 - 2:42:24 - 2:09 - 1:05:32)
Clyde Floyd, Todd Allington, Steve Chavez, Kiet Tran

After a good night sleep at our friend's, the Ridder's, Robin & the girls drop me off near the Almaden Lake so I can warm up on the bike.  I'm looking forward to this new event.  I've raced the San Jose Triathlon since 1992 when it went up the steep, infamous "Metcalf Mauler".  It's always been an Olympic Distance race, but this year, race director, Ryan Coelho, added a Long Course. The bike course goes down Santa Teresa towards Gilroy and then comes back to San Jose through the beautiful hills and reservoirs like Uvas and Chesbro.  The same route my friends and I did so many times on training rides while I lived in the South Bay.  Today will be the first day we get to race our familiar training course.

I arrive to a busy transition area and see Teammate, Carrie Chavez volunteering to body mark and direct athletes through transition.  Teammates, Steve Chavez (doing the "Aqua-bike" with a running injury), and Clyde Floyd (doing his first Long Course) are also racing.  Plus many other friends I've raced so many years with, or have just met this season at FCA booths and Iron Prayers.  I set up in our designated "FCA Team" bike rack and do a mile warm-up to the other side of the lake, where the "secret" bathrooms were just being opened.  Perfect.

Before the swim we gather in front of the FCA Endurance booth, right near the beach swim start, and join together for a pre-race prayer.  About 20 athletes and supporters quickly gather in as Cory Floyd begins sharing his favorite section of the FCA Competitor's Creed.  As a PE teacher, he pinpoints on "respect"… for coaches, for each other, for God.  We pray, encourage each other and head into the water. The water is great!  Heavy rains this year make for good flow and clean cool water at Lake Almaden.  It's a 2-loop rectangle around the island including a beach run between the loops.  It's a great change.  It's easy to navigate and fun to watch.  The layout of the race site has the finish line, the vendors, the FCA booth and the stage all along the grassy water front.  It's very action-packed.

Go!  The race starts.  I'm positioned up front.   The water is perfect.  Sighting is easy with the straight-shots.  Prior years had us serpentining around the lake.  I find some drafts periodically.  My effort is feeling pretty steady.  I hear the cheers running across the sand and then dive back in for loop 2.  The final stretch I push hard, head-to-head with another guy.  I come out and see Anna cheering loud for me.  While catching my breath I jog to transition, surrounded by encouragements. 

In transition, Carrie Chavez helps point me to my bike.  I yank on my special FCA Endurance jacket which has been great this season in keeping the chill off for the 1st half of the bike.  I run out and jump on my bike.  Laura Schuster is volunteering in transition and cheers for me.  Wow, Laura and I first raced together back in the 90's!  Robin and the girls cheer me as I head out.

Around the next corner I start putting my feet into my shoes already attached to my pedals…. when, for the first time ever, one of my shoes falls off.  Ironically I recently spoke about this. At the Auburn Triathlon Iron Prayer, I talked about "Plan B" and the best way to prepare for the 100611_siliconvalley_troy_bike2 worst is to look to Christ always because the Bible says He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us know how to act in all situations.  Losing a shoe is hardly a significant mishap but I did tell the story about how Scott Tinley dealt with it.  Scott Tinley trained for every imaginable mishap, even practicing picking up a dropped bike shoe without getting off his bike.  Dave Scott saw this happen after a bike transition and thought he'd get time on Scott but seeing him whip around and pick it up without much lost time surprised him. So how fast can I fix this situation?  Not very.  I get off my bike, walk back, pick up my shoe and start biking up the incline.. only to realize I can't bike with 1 bare foot.  So I get back off put the shoe on first and then finally get going.  Not pretty but I'm back up to flying speed. 

Cruising down Santa Teresa with a slight tailwind, perfect temperature and perfectly flat and being waved through every intersections by friendly San Jose officers… this is just what I wanted.  After tough bike courses like Wildflower and Auburn Triathlon, this is a relief.  22mph all the way to Morgan Hill feels like a real good ride.  The climb over Llagas Rd is pretty and exciting. Back on the flats I feel like I'm riding well.  Suddenly a group of 3 girls pass me.. hammering.  I'm impressed and can't match the speed.  As we enter Gilroy, the intersections are no longer patrolled.  I see the girls ahead swerving some as they negotiate crossing traffic.  At the next light I wait anxiously for the cars to pass before I can cross.. feeling bad about going through a red light.  In Gilroy, at the Hecker Pass intersection, I see the girls go straight through.  I didn't review the course carefully but I thought we would turn here.  There's no signs or volunteers directing but as I get close I see the right-turn-arrow chalked out on the ground.  I quickly yell as loud as I can to the girls to come back but they're too far away to hear even if I had a horn.  I turn, along with some guys and we all feel bad that those girls, probably the leaders, are now unknowingly getting farther and farther behind.

It's getting harder now as the terrain starts to undulate.  A guy says, "are we the only ones out here?"  Indeed, there's no one around but a cone placed every mile reminds us we're on course.  Coming up to Uvas Lake I'm hoping for an aid station to grab water to pour to rinse off with.  However, the aid station is only serving sports drink.  But I've got my Hammer Sustained Energy which is working great. I re-focus and get into a new groove which feels good.  21mph and it feels comfortable, like I could go forever.  But, of course, fatigue still builds.  But I feel fast and ride well all the way through the "reservoirs", up McKeen Rd and into the neighborhoods of Almaden Expwy area.  I'm trying to average 20mph and surprised that I'm maintaining it through the hills.  It's been a great ride. The best part about this ride is reminiscing about my favorite racing adventures over the years as I cover parts of each one.  First, sailing down Santa Teresa reminds me of countless San Jose International Triathlons.  Then cutting over to the Uvas South Bay Triathlon course on Oak Ave brings back memories of fast-paced technical riding.  Then we turn down onto Sunnyside which was part of the Tierra Bella Century.  Then back onto the South Bay Tri course and finally back on the San Jose Tri course.

About 3 miles to go and I'm surprised to see runners heading the other way on the trail.  6mi ahead of me?  I thought I was closer to the front.  Not sure, but pressing on as fast as I can.  I race into transition, have a great dismount.. boy those first few barefoot steps hurt.  Quickly change into running shoes, and, again, Carrie Chavez is there to help me find my way to the "Run Out". Since I just ran a marathon last week, I'm planning to take it easy and just get through the 13mi run today.  It's just a fun day, no pressure.  I run by the booths and there's Robin and the girls.  Anna yells louder than ever before, "Daddy, you gotta run fast and get an award!  Think of God and get an award!"  Oh boy, now I gotta go hard, I can't let that little girl down who wants to go on the stage with me.  Then I hear Laura cheering her famous line, "go hard or go home!"  This is going to hurt but it's all good.

The first 3 miles are slow and difficult.  I'm surprised how many athletes are already coming100611_siliconvalley_troy_run back.  Tim Sheeper, Todd Allington, Keit Tran, etc.  At the 3.5mi turn-around I pick it up and start feeling good.  Like it's downhill!  The temperature is cool.  Thanks God for letting me feel good despite the tired legs!  I get down to sub-7 miles and at each mile mark I dare myself to do it again the next mile. At 7mi we're back at the park and head North towards the perk ponds.  I'm really getting tired now and also wondering how we're going to get 13mi in.  The perk ponds are only a couple miles away.  Then I see runners coming back again and 100611_siliconvalley_troy_finishsee the mile marker on the other side of the road.  The run is only 9mi!  Not 13.  Terrific!  Thanks, God, this is just what I needed.  And sure enough, at 8mi, my calf starts to cramp up like it did in the marathon.  I try to keep the pace fast while carefully being sensitive to that leg. The calf holds up and I finish!  Wow, a great day, and I thank Christ for the joy He puts in my life even when I'm doing difficult feats like triathlon.  I didn't make the top 3, by a lot, but it felt like a good race and Anna's cheers made me go faster. The next day we watched more friends and Teammates race the Olympic distance.  It was a great weekend and God used the FCA booth to help others and to plant seeds.  It's all for Him.


Go Clyde, Steve & Todd!!


Name Age Group Place Swim Bike Run Time
Todd Allington M40-44 3 25:53 2:24:50 1:02:53 3:56:39
Troy M40-44 12 26:53 2:42:24 1:05:32 4:19:02
Clyde Floyd M50-54 14 33:03 2:53:31 1:42:03 5:12:51
Steve Chavez
M50-54 1 25:40 2:36:42   3:06:34