Ever have those races when you just break through to new levels? The Allstate Triathlon was a new level of pain reached in a triathlon for me.
Pre-race the favorites for this thing were my friend Mark and myself. Mark trains with Vision Quest (ex-USPS Robbie Ventura is the coach) and is a strong swimmer and runner as well. Mark and I train together from time to time so we knew it was going to be epic and good natured, hard core "fun".
Swim: Four people made up the lead pack. One guy (whose name I still don't know) followed closely by Mark and I. We were drafting all the way as he set a blistering pace to open the race. To be honest, it was significantly faster than I wanted to start but this is a sprint after all.
T1: Mark and I are virtually tied and we leave the other two behind. It was mano a mano now.
Bike: Normally I drag Mark around on the bike. Not today. He flew off the front thinking if he could get some time on me where I normally beat him he may win. We put some serious distance between us and the main field on the bike. I was observing my heart rate and knew I had plenty left for suffering on the run. Mark had a 40 second lead after the bike but I had him right in my sights.
T2: Mark lost 10 seconds and I knew he was suffering and concerned as he looked back when he heard the crowd as I left T2.
Run: My first mile was 5:18 and wow...it hurt. Mark was 5:58 and now we are shoulder to shoulder with two to go. The second mile I put 20 seconds into a small lead and noticed that my time had "slowed" to 5:25 and my heart rate read 102%. Mark picked it up to 5:45 and looked fine on the outside. I'm concerned because I know how strong a runner he is. I might just have enough. The last mile was very painful. As we came up the last hill into the finish Mark cracked behind me! I didn't see it and I swear I could hear him right behind me. I had the throttle wide open all the way to the line. At the finish, I was at an all out effort 109% on the HRM (a new record for me). I had put another 20 seconds into the lead and turned to see Mark finish 40 seconds back. A 1:20 reversal off the bike and the best pain I felt in a long time. I was the Allstate Triathlon Champion. It still doesn't feel real even though it is just an inter-company event.
Mark and I recovered hanging on to the fence railing for a few minutes trying to breath normally again. We high fived each other and greeted all the other finishers to the line just like the Ironman Champions.
It was a great (and painful) race, which I'm very glad won't happen again until next spring!