HITS Napa Valley – Race Report

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” -Emerson

The first edition of the HITS Napa Valley Triathlon was, from my point of view, basically successful. Hopefully, HITS will thoughtfully listen to and be responsive with participant feedback. In its current form, it doesn’t yet live up to the hype, nor is it truly worth the price of admission.

But, for me, racing is the reason for the season. And I was shooting for a top-3 at HITS. Race morning I was excited to see Ted Simpkins there. Ted’s a powerful athlete who puts a ton of time into me on the swim and bike. So, he makes a great rabbit once I get to the run. Except, I’ve never been able to catch him in the two opportunities I’ve had in the half-iron distance. But, it’s a heckuvalot of fun to chase!

The swim both days at HITS was a bit long; it seems the turn-buoy over in Berryessa is susceptible to wind being dragged across into the deeper section of the the lake (river bed). So, our time in the 53deg was not too terribly unpleasant other than being a little long.

The bike course is dynamic and fun. Getting my ultra-course legs to fire outta the swim was, as typical, a challenge. At almost 38, I wouldn’t suspect I have any fast-twitch muscle fibers left. My legs are like a bulldog, they go when they want to. Anyway, the bike course rocks and after about 30mi, the sun started coming out and I was up over Howell Mountain and making a charge for the bike finish. The bike course had about 5000′ of cumulative gain. Pretty good prep for both Wildflower and Auburn coming up here soon!

As is characteristic, I was pretty darn happy to hit the run and go hunting. I think I came off the bike in 5th place and was confident my run would be solid. Quick steps and feeling goooood >>>

I picked off a few guys early and moved into 3rd. The run course is a 6.5mi out-n-back. A few miles from the turn-around, Ted came cruising back and told me 2nd place was just up ahead and looking rough. He also told me that he was 24min in front of me. So, deflated I had no chance of catching 1st in 8 miles, I kept on >>>

Moving into 2nd I hit the turn-around and saw that Reno’s Eliot Drake was about 3min back and closing. Alright! I thought, we have a race for 2nd. So, I took a 50mg Mocha Clif Shot, hit my Garmin for the half split and dropped it down to 5:40 pace for about a mile and a half. Looking back I didn’t see Eliot any more so I settled in and concentrated on my average pace coming home, which turned out to be 6:20pace (a nice negative split since I averaged 6:40 on the rolling course going out). There was only 1200′ of cumulative gain on this quite beautiful run course.

Anyway, a good first-of-four half-ironmans this year, as I continue to build toward a peak performance at Full Vineman in July. Please see below for my race-week training log, along with more details on the race itself.

Wrapping up, it’s always a big thrill for me too, to be out on the course with athletes I coach. Nick Abbott, coming off his recent Oakland Marathon, had a strong race at HITS. Bill Severi and Doug Wilson also had solid performances as they build to their summer Ironmans. Good showing fellas! And great to be out there workin’ hard with you!!

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