2nd – 70.3 Austin
Coming off a blistering fast 70.3 Miami just a few days earlier I knew I was bike fit but I was frustrated with the piss poor run I had in Miami. No matter how well I had been running in training, I really started to have the mindset that the 8 months of not running due to hip surgery was terminal to being competitive for a win this year. Yet, when the Longhorn triathlon (now 70.3 Austin) got underway, I knew that this race was my race to shine. It was a cool day, rough roads on the bike, and best of all, my rowdy Texas fan club was representing. Let’s face it everything is bigger in Texas.
The swim was simple, 700m out, 500m across, 700m back and it started fast and furious from the gun. I think that there were a lot of cold bodies and a fast start to the race would get their body temperature up. At the first buoy I around tenth and thinking to myself, wow they got this thing pinned. After we rounded the first buoy the pace slowed quite a bit. I started swimming by guys and by the time we hit the final turn buoy I was sitting third behind Flieschmann and Sam Appleton and swimming next to Ben Collins. Shortly after we made the turn for home I realized that the leaders were following the buoy line, which I noticed before the race, led back to the start and not to the swim finish which was 100 ft down shore. I reached over and pushed Ben over and made a break for it. Everybody behind followed the leaders figuring that I was swimming off course. For some reason Ben followed me and we went stroke for stroke with the group. I was gambling here, either I was going to be money or a total idiot…I was money emerging from the water 1st in the Orca Predator wetsuit.
T1 was a blur and I quickly hustled onto the bike course and wasted no time to get on my Mavic shoes and crank the power up so high that my Powertap was telling me to settle down. Within the opening miles the group of us that emerged from the water seconds apart were no longer shoulder to shoulder but spread minutes apart as my Metron drive train delivered unrelenting power on the rough Austin roads. At mile 25 I got Cozumel deja vu. A flat tire, in Cozumel I race tubulars and flatted, here I was racing clinchers but the result was the same. I quickly pulled the tire off and ran my fingers around the inside of the tire feeling for any glass or stones sticking through, felt nothing. I popped a new tube in and started to get the bead back on the clincher. My hands were not steady enough to get the bead to hook. I stopped and took a few breaths to calm my heart rate and my nerves and steadily put the tire back on. As I was finishing up the bead a bike flew by and a mechanic pulled up with a pump. I opted to take a few extra seconds and get the tire back to full pressure instead of using a 16g CO2 that usually gets a tire to 75 or 80 psi. As he finished pumping another bike passed me, the stop took me just over 4 minutes, not a catastrophic tire change, but not at all a blistering fast tire change.
I quickly got up to speed and checked over my shoulder, nobody in sight. There were only 2 guys within 5 minutes after 25 miles, what the heck happened. I had no idea who had passed me, but they were now getting hunted. I caught Igor Amorelli at mile 35 and he buried himself to keep pace. The Texas roads were truly a rodeo and that Prologo saddle was like the back bone of a brahma bull and I was riding it like a world class wrangler. Finally at mile 45, Sam Appleton was in my sights and on a long tail wind section the AtomicSS coated bearings rolled right up to him just past mile 50. I would build a 30 second lead coming to T2 which really should have been 5 minutes…but the sports world lives on should haves, would haves, and could haves.
T2 I had a 1st, running through T2 a gust of wind caught my front wheel and I crashed with my bike, “Some pro I am” was the thought that went through my head. All the run transition bags were required to be tied to the racks for a “clean transition,” let me tell you this just causes panic in athletes. I spent a second or two attempting to untie it, then I just grabbed and ripped, that worked well. I took the time to put on socks because I was racing Ironman Arizona just 7 days later and could not afford to destroy my feet.
The run felt like a pool swim or an ITU race. It was 6 lengths, 3 laps, out and back. I felt great heading out of transition and rolled a 5:41 mile but somehow lost my entire lead over Appleton, he ran just under 5:10 for the opening mile. It motivated me after the first turnaround to see that this was a two horse race with third place 5 minutes back and fading and fourth was 3 more minutes back. I just thought to myself, keep the pressure on and Appleton will crack, full gas ahead. I kept ticking miles in the 5:40’s on the rolling course. After the 2nd length (first lap) his lead was 50 seconds, I fueled myself on some Infinit working towards one of infinite possibilities. After the 3rd length the lead was 45 seconds, the 4th length it was cut to 40 seconds, into the final turnaround it was down to 30 seconds, I was making up ground but not fast enough. Finally at mile 11 it became certain, unless he melted down the race was over. I thought big picture and cut the pace, I slowed from the 5:40’s to just over 6:10’s for the final 2.1 miles, still faster than the pace I will need to run 26.2 miles in just 7 days! I fought hard and ran well for the first time in nearly 2 years, closing out a 1:16, unfortunately the result was a runner up.
Looking at the result now, it was more than 7 minutes back to 3rd place and had I just gone out and just cruised a 1:20 or 1:21 I would’ve finished in the same spot made the same amount of money and had a lot more glycogen stored up in the legs for Arizona…yet would I have raced different? Heck no, I race to win, it’s why I do this, it is what I love, and I won’t pass up a chance to do it.
Fighting to Win & Punish,