Sitting in Seattle, traveling home from the big Island I have time to reflect on a great race and a great family vacation.
My family and I traveled to the big Island for spring break and to race the Lavaman Triathlon once again. This was also my wife’s very first triathlon! Leading up to race day I was feeling strong and ready, having done a lot of cycling this year and building some solid run fitness. My swimming had been a little less as I was dealing with a shoulder issue which had kept me from swimming for the past 3 weeks.
My goal for the race was to just push as hard as I could and hopefully not blow up. With the shorter distances of Lavaman than the normal long course racing distances I have been training for I was not really concerned with heart rates. I’ve gone full out in sprint triathlons so why not try it for a Olympic distance? In January I raced a PB (personal best) at Vancouver’s First Half not following heart rate just running by perceived effort. Lavaman was just a bit longer so I figured it should feel similar.
Taper week was great. I was able to get the training in and acclimate as well as having lots of great family time. My swim was starting to feel better and coming back. I love swimming open water, especially in Hawaii.
The day before the race was my sons Swim/Run race. The weather was terrible with pouring rain but all the kids endured. Gray was stoked and made me proud, finishing 2nd In his age group and 16th overall. After his race we met Dave Scott and I had to ask him the biggest question on my mind; “Do I wear my wetsuit for the race tomorrow?” It felt so wrong to swim in a wetsuit in Hawaii but I WOULD be faster. His answer was the same as Coach Mike Neill, “definitely”. So I listened; wetsuit swim it was.
Race day arrived and I was up early. I ate my standard pre-race breakfast and was feeling awesome. The weather was overcast, cool and calm. SWEET! I set up transition and went for a swim warmup. The swim start was busy! My wave was age 14-44. This was a big wave with some very enthusiastic youth, so there was lots of bumping and pushing. For the first 500m of the swim I felt rushed and not so smooth. There were small waves and an inward current till the first turn. On the way back I found my rhythm. My shoulder felt ok and I made it to the beach with a solid swim.
The run up to transition is a long way but it allows you to gatherer your thoughts for the bike. The bike was really uneventful other than the turn around with a long no passing zone. I got stuck behind a cyclist on the relay leg for the full turn and climb out. The relays started first and I felt a bit bad about loudly encouraging an athlete to do her best and hurry up ;).
My transitions were fast today. Shoes where left on the bike for the start and finish. This has really sped up my transition times. Getting off the bike and into the run I felt great. Taking the first couple of hundred meters to get my speed up. Seeing my children cheering me on and high fives as I ran by, gave me that extra push needed for a fast run. The Lavaman run course is the most technically difficult part of this race. The run has everything from lava trail, road with some hills, winding paths through the Hilton hotel than onto the “kings trail” which is a bit of a hopscotch single track run on the side of a bank of very uneven lava rock which kicks you out onto another path on the beach made of coral and more lava rock. You then finish up the run with a half mile on sand. As I ran pretty much at max effort through most of the run I was looking at who was in front of me for the signal track portion of the trail because passing is near impossible here. I made a few passes before the clear sailing to the finish.
All in all the race went according to plan. Heart rate was up but manageable, nutrition was easy with a liquid base of Infinit nutrition. The weather was perfect and my family was there. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I managed to place 3rd in my age group and 22nd overall. Emily finished her very first triathlon very strong and is still smiling. Success!!!
I absolutely love this race! If you have not done it yet it is a must do. The family vacation was pretty amazing as well!