The most beautiful race in the world! Pacific Grove Triathlon

Entering this event, I had a few goals in the mind after placing 2nd in my age group the year before. The loftiest of the goals was that I was going for the overall victory, but a realistic goal was to place in the top 10 with a 1st place in my age group.
Staying in Monterey the night before instead of home near Santa Cruz helped with a shorter drive. This allowed some additional time for the coffee to kick in and do its job. Setting up transition I could tell that this day would be great! I told myself no electrolyte drink in the morning (which causes additional saliva during the swim) and only pure, wonderful and beautiful water.
A couple of really good friends were also competing in this event, so it felt a bit more close to heart to know that my spin instructor would be out on the course with me at the same time.
Wearing my brand new Santa Cruz Triathlon Association #SCTA onesy, I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the water. A new program this year at the Pacific Grove Triathlon announces any last year age group winners and if they are racing again this year. So since I was in the 25-29 age group and I placed 2nd last year, they announced that it is up for grab and that I am now in the 30-34 age group.
“Steve Doinidis – you have a bull’s eye on your back!” I took it as a challenge and told myself to go out in the swim harder than expected.
The gun went off and we sprinted into the water and after a few dolphin dives freestyle was our choice. The kelp wasn’t nearly as strong this year so I found myself staring at the ocean floor and enjoying the sights. Swimming hard, I knew I wasn’t in the front but I was able to pass the majority of the sprinters by the first buoy. We made a left turn and there were only two or three guys in front of me that I started heading towards pretty hard. I passed all of them by the last turn and then it was just hammering straight. I couldn’t believe I was leading the entire starting corral of 30-39!!!!! I’m not even a swimmer!!! (at least I thought I wasn’t; thanks, coach!).
Exciting the water in first, I could feel the chaser right on my back as we ran up the hill to transition. I had a slower transition (need to work on my wetsuit stripping). Hopped on the bike and immediately laid down the hammer! The Kraken has exited the water and is chasing down its prey! There was only one biker in front of me from our corral and I was gunning for him. I gained 1-2 seconds on him by the first turnaround at mile 3.1. I pointed at him and I received a point in return for recognition. Heading back towards transition (two-loop out and back bike course) I was hoping to ride the wind; unfortunately so was he. I think I gained another 1-2 seconds over a 45 second lead he had on me.
Another point and this time I called out “I’m coming for you!” at the turn and kept nailing it. Except this lap I didn’t have the burst that I was looking for to catch somebody 40 seconds ahead of me. I saw my good buddy Paul out on the course and we exchanged pleasantries while passing each other.
Heading into transition I’ve really dialed in unstrapping my shoes and peddling all of the way to last second and then hopping off my bike into a sprint with the bike. I really do love this part of triathlons because there is always a crowd, everybody is cheering and yelling at me to catch the guy ahead of me. Trust us…it helps!
Quickly racking my bike, unstrapping the helmet, slipping my Zoot tri-slippers on and literally grabbing my visor and belt to put on once I leave transition, less than 45 seconds and I was off!
I figured I’d have to run both miles at a 6:15 pace to finish first, and I was correct. The only flaw with my theory is that I was dead after the sprint of a bike and I could only bust out two miles at a 6:51 pace. Not quite fast enough to catch my competitor…the competitor. I finished hard and I finished fast!
With a final time of 55:40, I completed my goals of finishing 1st in my age group (30-34) and in the top ten with a 6th place finish!!!! My competitor, Chris Bridges, finished first overall.
A great follow-up from last year’s 2nd in my age group and a stellar performance in preparation for Ironman Arizona!
A big thank you to all that have helped me throughout the journey thus far!
#BioSkin for proper recovery!
#saltedcaramel for the caffeine out on the course!
@IAmSpecialized for my beautiful Shiv Pro that rockets me!