This post comes from Chris Cloyd, a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big race or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on foot or bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.
It’s always a treat to start off the season with a great result. It’s a much greater pleasure, however, to race in perfect conditions, in a great town, supported by an unbelievable race organization and volunteer team. Fortunately for me, I was able to do both this past weekend at the Folsom International Triathlon down in Granite Bay.
This was my first year entering the Folsom race and my first event with Total Body Fitness (TBF), who host the race, and I look forward to coming back next year. Mark and his team did a phenomenal job putting together all of the logistics, coordinating the volunteers, and managing all of the raceday chaos. It’s often lost in all of the speed and excitement of a race like this, but I try to remember that NONE of our sport can exist without the support of all of the guys and girls who put these events on and the volunteers who offer their time and energy on raceday (and, many times, the day before setting up the course and the day after taking down all the pomp and circumstance). I’d like to offer a BIG HIGH-FIVE to everyone who helped make it possible for us to measure ourselves against a great course this past Saturday – thank you!
Waking up at the entirely rational hour of 5:45 on raceday was a pleasant touch – the “late” 8 a.m. start afforded us all a chance to sleep in some ahead of all of the mayhem. I love triathlon, but sometimes the early-up starts are a little much to bear. I understand the rationale behind starting events (especially Iron-distance races) at 6:30 a.m., but that doesn’t change the fact that it was very pleasant to get started at 8 a.m. at Folsom. By then, the sun was out in force, the lake was appealing, and the temps were already rising.
Our swim was extremely well marked, and the start was well controlled. It didn’t take long for racing to begin once the gun went off, and within minutes we were split into more than a few pace-lines and were fighting for position in the water. Unfortunately, I missed the split for the front group and, after a failed bridge effort on my part, I slowed up and made contact with the second group in the water. We worked together to hold a good pace to the last buoy, but at that time myself and another competitor decided to go out on our own and opened up a gap. Our pace wasn’t much faster than our original group’s, but it was enough to get us into T1 (Transition 1) in 3rd and 4th position.
I had been looking forward to this race for a number of reasons, but the bike leg had to have topped my list. Some rollers and punchy climbs dictated the first 2/3 of the course, but the back end of the ride was almost all downhill or negotiably flat. This is a rare occurrence in our sport, and I was excited about the idea of a short and aggressive section on the bike followed by an all-out speedway effort back to the transition area. I knew that if I could put in a hero effort on that first 2/3 of the course and build a lead, I had a chance to stay away on the drag race back to T2. I was able to catch the two athletes ahead of me by mile ten, and put a big dig in on the last few hills of the course to gain some real time. I don’t think I even shifted out of 53×11 from mile 17 to the end of the bike leg, and hit T2 with enough time to feel good about my chances of staying ahead during the run.
The run started out benignly enough, but there were certainly plenty of teeth on the course! Mark and the TBF team couldn’t have done better finding a world-class run course if they tried – every stride was paired with gorgeous views of Folsom Lake and the park around it. That buoyed my spirits and helped me keep the pace high through the turnaround, and I started to catch other racers on their way out as I dug through the second half of the run. After negotiating some serious hills on the way back (I almost considered using my hands to help scale one of the climbs!), I finally saw the finishing chute and the kite marking the line. After two plus hours of racing, I was proud to be able to cross the line first.
I’ve stolen this idea from Scott Jurek, the world’s best ultra marathoner (in my opinion): If I’m able to bring home the win, I try to stay at the finish line and high-five the other competitors as they finish. Everybody is out there suffering, and everyone deserves the same amount of enthusiasm as they cross the line. Moreover, I love sharing the finishing moment with everyone who competes – it’s a rare opportunity to embrace real accomplishment with fellow athletes as they complete such outstanding efforts and realize such great goals.
The beauty of sport is overcoming, as is watching others overcome. That pursuit – the allure of chances to define our best self – is a huge reason I race. I fully believe everyone should measure themselves from time to time; if not against others, against ourselves. Racing provides that opportunity – whether you’re aiming for a course record, a personal best, or a first finish.
Here’s to the season!
2XU Compression Calf Guards
Salomon S-Lab XT 6 Racing Shoes – Men’s
GU Roctane Energy Drink 12 Serving Cannister
TYR Competitor Singlet – Men’s