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Evan Pardi: Best in the West

Not Particularly Serious Race Report: USAT Pacific Northwest Regional Championships



                To most ordinary, non-masochistic endurance athletes, Labor Day in the US marks the unofficial end of summer. No more wearing white, watermelon, and the kids go back to school (unless you live in the Northwest where no one cares how anyone dresses, watermelon is just now in season, and no school starts until another 3 weeks). But for many triathletes, their summer of racing doesn’t end until later, maybe the ITU World Champs in September or Ironman World Champs in Kona. For me it was a little less global. The Best in the West Triathlon Festival which was acting as the USAT Pacific Northwest Championships on September 13 would be it for me. Besides, I had spent the last 5 weeks driving over 3500 miles to the National Championships and then down the entire west coast to Arizona looking at postgraduate programs so I was feeling a bit out of it when I got to the race site, like this guy:



 

                One really cool thing about this race was that Vince Rodarte from Planet X USA had come to the race with all of the super cool Planet X TT bikes and gear to show off and let people see how sweet Planet X Bikes are! I had a blast chilling in the booth and showing people how fast the Exocet 2 is as well as how great Planet X components are on any bike.

                 My training for this race had been as solid as I could make it considering travel and a bout of nasty inflammation in my ankle/shin which had been forcing me to run a bit more carefully. I had gotten in some good bike workouts and some excellent swim sets in the endless pool so I knew despite running a few less miles a week and less speed, I still had plenty of strength left in me from all my work in Bristol earlier in the year. However on the Thursday before the race an inconvenient cold decided to pay my head a visit. I wasn’t gonna drop out of the race but I could complain to my family, suckers.

 

 

 

                However when Sunday morning came and I hopped into the water I started to feel better, pumped up by a stiff swig of Cold Fusion Labs coffee! At a warm barely wetsuit legal temperature everything felt good. I started behind the collegiate wave which had most of my good friends racing in it (I would normally race in this wave but due to study abroad credits I was racing the open field). Jeevan Philips, Nick Dorsett, and Daniel Mazza would take 1, 2 and 4 respectively in that race and would provide me a target to try to catch as I started about 7 minutes behind them. All great guys and I’m glad they, and the entire collegiate field had a good day. My wave was pretty large and we were much more crowded than the earlier waves.  Ah the good old sardine packing start. My favorite…

 

                When the gun (literally, they shot a shotgun, how American) went off I sprinted like a madman. I forgot that most races don’t treat the start like a mad half wrestling, half water polo scrum ordeal like nationals is. I was out ahead but noticed one other guy in my race ahead moving very fast. He quickly built a solid lead and I followed his cap. We passed the entire collegiate women’s wave as well as most of the men’s wave. I did not feel very strong at all and my arms screamed their displeasure. However my swim training had paid off, once again I had a strong swim besting all but one of the field. I’m still not used to this feeling….

 

 

                I sped through transition, grabbed my Exocet 2 and booked it out the far end. This bike course was hilly and I knew that already since I’ve raced this course 3 years. The issue is not one or two big hills or even rollers, it’s literally 12 miles slightly downhill with some big bumps and then 12 miles all slightly uphill with big bumps. So on the way out it’s like:

 

And on the way back:

 

                The way back to the start of the bike was brutal. I have a great fit on my Planet X but I just couldn’t get set. My legs felt sluggish and tired. I kept standing up every couple minutes to stretch and try to work myself up. I had flown past the faster swimmer after 3 miles of the bike but I just was not at full race pace. I have the course bike record here and I know despite its difficulty I could ride the 40KM in around an hour. But not this year. After 23 miles my legs were spent, the temperature was rising, no one was in sight, and I felt like I was Lawrence.

 

 

 

                Coming into transition I knew I had not held onto my previous bike course record, I was about a minute and a half off that old time and was in rough shape. I grabbed my shoes and glasses and trotted briskly out of transition. My ankle arguing with me as we headed out on the first half mile which was on a forest trail I started at a conservative pace. I was told I was about 4 minutes up on the nearest competition. This course is very hill and long steep climbs followed by short fast descents really taxes your muscles. Honestly it’s a very dizzying course and mentally very confusing as you are switching between steady uphill mode and sprint downhill like crazy.



Downhill Mode:

 

 

Uphill mode:

 

 

                However after about 4.5 miles of churning along I realized my pace wasn’t too bad. I was running about 5:58 pace and opening a wide gap on the guys in my race and even chasing down the collegiate men who started a whopping 7 minutes ahead. It dawned on me I was about 10 minutes ahead with a mere 1.5 miles left. I relaxed and took it easy on the downhills to spare my ankle and enjoyed the glorious suffering of the race. I crossed the line in 2 hours 3 minutes and 8 seconds. Shattering the previous course record and despite feeling sick and slow on the bike I had won the day. No records were to be had this year but a win is a win!

                It was a great weekend with Planet X out the whole weekend showing off their great bikes and good racing all around in all races. This is my final triathlon of the year and I end the season undefeated in all races in the Pacific Northwest, top 3 in the AG at National Championships in the Sprint, and a Team USA 2016 World Championships slot. Thanks to my incredibly knowledgeable coach Tim Crowley! Of course to Planet X for their great backing and amazing bikes. Big thanks as well to John at Death Row Velo who makes all of my training more comfy with great gear. To Ninkasi Brewing for their liquid love and the folks at Cold Fusion Laboratories for the caffeine encouragement. Ogio Int. provides the bags to carry all my stuff around in and save my back. And the boys at Sweat X help me not stink up the place with their detergent products. And lastly a huge thanks to my patient, loving family and friends! I’ll check in again after I eat some mud in cyclocross!

More on Evan Pardi can be found at:
www.evanparditriathlon.com

17 September 2015