As everyone within earshot knows by now, this last year has been difficult for me with regards to training. I damaged my ankle on the Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon last year, and it's been a very slow recovery.

So this year I went back to Pacific Crest again. I'd been training, but still wasn't quite where I'd like to be in terms of both speed and endurance. My main concern was finishing the run without further ankle problems; I had done long training runs without "breaking" anything, but it still felt fragile. With that in mind, I started the race with the goal of just finishing respectably, and at the very least finishing faster than last year when I spent over two hours limping through the run course. I figured 5:30 would be a reasonable goal.

The swim was refreshingly cool, and the temperature was perfect on the bike. My power meter went on the fritz early in the bike course, so I paced myself with heartrate alone and probably underdid it. There's a fair amount of climbing on this course —it goes over Bachelor Pass— but compared to my other half-iron experiences (Auburn "World's Toughest Half" and Wildflower Long Course) it's not bad. I got off the bike at 3:38, and then the real test began.

My goal pace for the run was 8 min/mile, and I must have checked my Garmin every 15 seconds through that whole 13 miles. For the first half of the run, it kept telling me to slow down! By mile 7, I was still on pace and my ankle was not giving me any trouble at all; that's when I began to really believe that I would make my goal. I slowed to 8:30 pace for the last two miles (exhaustion, not ankle trouble) but finished with a grin.

Final time: 5:25:37. That's a new record for me for half-iron distance, and my ankle is just fine.

And now, credit where credit is due: Chico Triathlon Club, and Kristi. It is an amazing privelege to train with this group of incredibly talented athletes. Greg, Sean, Joanne, Manny, Jackie, Jason, Josh, Justin, and all the rest of you: I wouldn't be anywhere near this level of fitness without the hours I've spent trying to just keep up. Thank you. And Kristi, thank you for all the physical therapy and for the training time. I couldn't do it without you.

Oceanside, anyone? I'd be interested in trying a half-iron course that doesn't have a mountain in the middle of it.