Monday, June 11, 2007

Recovox Athlete - Ken Dawson Joins The Sub 3 Club!

The Accenture Escape from Alcatraz triathlon is my favorite event of the year. I started racing triathlons in 2005 as a 45+ age grouper and this year was my third Escape. I’m an Accenture alumni having worked for them for 22 years so this is the event where I want to have my peak performance. To get ready for the race, I started in January training 5 to 10 hours per week and raced a Sprint triathlon in February, and another in April and then an Olympic distance (Wildflower) at the beginning of May. With four weeks to go I hired my friend and coach Tom Hodge, president of Recovox (a supplement I take to reduce stress and improve recovery time), to work with me to help me have a great race.

Tom threw out my training plan (too much air conditioned gym time, not enough long distance training) and started me on interval and brick training workouts. These were hard with longer recovery times than I was used to, but I was getting noticeably faster. Tom also set my time goal for the race. He reviewed my results from 2005 (3:24:36) and 2006 (3:15:57) and told me I should be shooting for a sub-3 hour finish.

Race day was June 3, 2007 with a start time of 7am. I felt ready and calm as I set up my transition. At 5am we proceeded to the buses that would take nearly 2,000 of us to the boat that would become our launching pad next to Alcatraz Island. The outside temperature was in the low 50’s and the water in the bay was in the mid 50’s so my race strategy would require some plan for retaining warmth during the race.

Before the official start of the race I looked at the water between the boat and the shore and noticed that about halfway out there were whitecaps. This meant that for some portion of the swim we would lose our rhythm and be diving through breakers. This will beat up even the strongest of swimmers of which I am not one, but I smiled at the fact that I could visualize the intensity of the swim before jumping in. A challenging forty minutes later I was on shore and glad to be out of the water. I transitioned out of my wetsuit, jumped into some running shoes, threw on a warm-up jacket and began running hard toward the bike transition.

The Bike Out area was backed up when I arrived and I was eager to start riding. Tom had coached me to control my intensity on the first third of the bike. Once I was on the bike course I had time to regroup and think through nutritional needs. I let my stomach settle from the swim and then as I exited the Presidio I slowly consumed two gels and hydrated. Then I pushed hard throughout the remainder of the bike, focusing on hill management and riding form. As I approached the Bike In, I consumed another gel and then quickly transitioned to the run. Legs felt good and with the crowd cheering for everyone my energy level was high.

Something interesting happened about a mile into the eight mile run. I realized that I had not seen the professionals. In years past, the leaders were done before I started my run. This year was different. Then they came into sight. Andy Potts ran by me with a look of determination. Good for him. I still had the beach and the sand ladder to conquer!

At this point I settled into a strong pace and managed my breathing. The miles flew by and now I was looking up at the notorious sand ladder. To conserve energy I slowed to a determined stair climb. Three minutes later I was at the top and gathered up my pace for the three miles to the finish line. Fatigue was setting in, but I had to keep the pace and focus on a strong finish. As I ran through the finish line I realized that I had achieved the sub-3 hour goal with a time of 2:59:54 (6 seconds to spare…whew!) which filled me with a deep sense of accomplishment. I later found out that Andy Potts finished the race in sub-2 hours with a time of 1:59:34. Even though he is a third faster than me I still feel great about my results. As my coach says, “it’s all about racing against yourself”.

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