I didn't sleep well on Sunday night...I actually didn't sleep well all week due to a chest cold that had me coughing non-stop Thursday-Sunday. I wasn't worried about it effecting my race because it didn't seem to be draining me physically but it was very annoying laying in bed every night coughing so hard I couldn't sleep. I think I got about 2.5 hours of sleep before getting up at 2:40 a.m. in anticipation of the 6 a.m. start time for the Elite Amateur wave. I had Stephan drop me off at the course around 4:30 and got my body marked and picked up my chip. My legs felt great on the warm-up of 2 miles. There were about 1,400 people competing in the Age Group race with 50 of us in the Elite Amateur wave scheduled to go off first right at 6. I was hoping to have a better swim than I have been having. I knew with bumping to the Olympic Distance could mean I would be further behind after the swim but I was hoping to limit the gap between myself and the leader to 3 minutes or less.
Swim- The water was too warm to wear wetsuits which I knew wouldn't help me. Wetsuits tend to be a bigger advantage for swimmers who aren't as good because they make up a little for stroke deficiencies. When the horn sounded I dove in and tried to swim with the pack. I was hoping to draft as long as possible. We made the turn at the first bouey which was probably only a couple hundred yards at most into the swim. I thought I was in a good spot with lots of guys from my wave around me. I continued to try to stay in the group but at some point in the long stretch to the next bouey I lost contact with the main pack. I swam most of the rest of the way on my own and what I thought was a good swim to start turned into another big deficit when I exited the water. I looked down and saw my time was 25 and change. This wasn't a good start. I was also a little worried because when I got out of the water my left hamstring cramped on my first steps out. It's never good to be cramping with an hour and a half left to race. My hope was that it would go away on the bike when I could take in a lot of fluids and rest the hamstring muscles to save them for the run. When I got to my bike in transition I saw what has become an all-too-familiar site...a mostly empty bike rack except for mine. I knew I had a lot of catching up to do. As it turned out my swim time was 25:37 and that ranked me 42nd out of the 50 Elite Amateurs. I was nearly 5 minutes behind the swim leader. Overall out of the 1,398 finishers my swim ranking was 120th.
Bike- I pushed hard out on the bike knowing I had a lot of time to make up. I knew the swim had cost me too much time for a high finish but I wanted to keep racing hard to place as high as I could. The bike course was a fairly flat out and back with a couple decent sized hills. On the way out we were into the slight 8 mph wind. I began passing some of the Elite Amateur riders but not as quickly as I would have liked. I definitely realized in this race that when I'm in an Elite Amateur wave the guys I'm racing aren't going to be slow in any of the areas. It takes much longer to make up the big gap that I created in the swim. By the turnaround I had moved into 30th place and I was excited to turn back with the wind at my back. I passed 6 more guys on the way back to put myself into 24th place getting off the bike. The bike course was a few tenths of a mile long. I had it at 25.2 miles on my computer instead of the 24.8 standard distance with the Olympic Race. My time for the bike course was 1 hr. and 33 seconds. My ranking was 15th out of the 1,398 competitors. I had a good transition from the bike to the run and was out on the course hoping to have a good 10k...my first of the year.
Run- As I headed out on the run I recognized the guy who was running next to me. It was Eric Ott, last year's QC Triathlon champion who finished one spot behind me last week. He had been out of the water a few minutes ahead of me but I had managed to catch him on the bike leg. I knew he was a good runner and I wanted to stay with him as long as I could. They didn't have the miles marked but I'm guessing we were through the first mile in about 5:45. I was feeling pretty good but the pace was too fast for me to handle. We had passed a couple guys when I fell off the pace and couldn't stay with Ott any longer. I was on my own trying to stay in a good rhythm. There were a couple decent sized hills on the out and back run but the temperatures were still good which made for a much nicer run than I had been used to this past week when temperatures for training were very high. I passed a couple more guys before the turnaround and then got passed by Micah Moore who was flying. I knew he was a tough runner and I tried to up my pace to stay near him. I heard one of the volunteers say we had 1 kilometer to go and I was still feeling good so I pushed on harder toward the finish line. There was a guy breathing down my neck I wanted to stay ahead of. I had a very good finish and came in 18th overall out of the 50 Elite Amateurs. My time was 2:04:37, a new Olympic Distance PR by 41 seconds. I was hoping for a bigger PR but put myself in much too deep of a hole on the swim. My run ranking was 9th out of the 1,398 finishers. Overall my time was beat by two guys who raced in the open age group division so I ended up placing 20th. I was hoping to be somewhere between 10th and 15th but I realize for this to have happened I needed to have had a better swim. This is becoming quite the theme to my season....get way behind on the swim and spend the rest of the race trying to catch up. It's made me realize one of two things have to happen...I either need to get faster at swimming or bump up in race distance to the 1/2 Ironman where the swim is only a few hundred yards further but then I have an extra 31 miles on the bike and 7 miles on the run to catch people. I'm going to look into doing a 1/2 Ironman on August 8th in Boulder, CO with Stephan Marsh. I know my training volume is enough to handle that distance. In the meantime I'll continue working very hard in the pool. I also ordered a new Blueseventy Helix wetsuit that should be arriving this week. It's a top of the line suit that I hope will help me a little bit on the swim. I had a solid training week of 20+ hours total time. I didn't want to back off too much for this race. I ended up being 4 minutes from the top 3...nearly all of that was time lost in the swim. I'll hit this week hard and then back off for the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis on July 11th where I'll once again hope for a better swim. Congratulations to former QC triathlete Jen Foley for placing 3rd in the women's Elite Amateur race. Jen has moved to Colorado but it was fun seeing her do so well in a loaded field. My brother and his wife teamed up with my wife to do a relay and they had lots of fun. My wife ran the 10k and had lots of people to catch...296 to be exact as she counted to keep her mind occupied while running! It was really fun watching her come in passing lots of people. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!