Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Laguna Phuket Triathlon

As you may know, I am here in Thailand racing in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, and also the Asia-Pacific 70.3 World Championships. Yes, a slightly non-traditional way for an American to spend Thanksgiving, but if you close your eyes, Pineapple Fried Rice tastes pretty close to Turkey.

The Laguna Phuket Triathlon took place on Sunday, and is a 1.8K swim, 55K bike and 12K run, with about 850 participants from around the world.

Having done this race twice before, I definitely wanted to go Top 10 overall, and was gunning for a top age group position as well. Donning my new, floaty Blue Seventy PZ3TX, on race morning I was feeling pretty good about the swim, despite the fact that after about 1150 meters in the Andaman Sea, I would have to run across the beach and dive into a stagnant lagoon (one of the athletes here with me commented that they probably fish the bodies out the day before the race).

OK, it's not *that* bad, but there is certainly incentive not to swallow the water.

Per my usual strategy of late, I drafted for most of the swim, but made a decision to put on the afterburners coming across the lagoon, and I swam into 8th place - coming out of the water with a couple male pros and Samantha McGlone, a previous world champion.

I hopped on my Gray and took off for one of the scariest bike rides of my life. Not only was there light rain on oily roads, but multiple blind corners and moderate Sunday morning traffic. I managed to navigate through most of the technical spots just fine, but coming off the last hill at about 25K, was forced to take the corner wide, swerving into the right lane.

Just my luck. A big white van was bearing down on me and I had no time to wrestle my bike to the left. I opted to slide to the outside of the van and crashed into a ditch on the side of the road, still upright and moving. As I struggled to stay upright bumping through the ditch, I hopped my bike back on the road, but another black car was coming right at me. I pushed my hand out, scraped it along the outside of the car and managed to keep myself upright.

A couple moments later, with the adrenaline pumping hard, I counted my blessings and took off again.

As usual, my bike felt great, despite me nearly dying twice. Over the next 30K, I rode myself into 3rd place overall, and came off the bike as first place age grouper, which meant I was the rabbit everyone else would be chasing. My strategy in a case like this is to put forward my best effort, and also to try to run as fast as anyone that passes me.

The run was wet, soggy and hot - all at the same time. I felt fast, but the double loop 6K was a bit of a struggle for me on the second loop, and I was passed by couple age groupers and a couple pro athletes. I tried to match pace with each of them, but knew I would "blow up" in each case. Although I was moving at a good pace, they were all better runners, and I didn't want to be spewing chunks of Pad Thai.

So...final results (which I'm pretty happy with): 7th overall, 1st place age group.

Since this is a tune-up race for this Sunday's Asia-Pacific 70.3, it gives me a great deal of confidence going in that I can be one of the top performances of the day. I'm ready to Rock n' Roll, or as they say here in Thailand, Lock n' Woll.

More sponsor shout-outs and pictures to come with the next race report!
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