This race was a blast! Let me start by saying that this race followed the morning after a wedding between two good friends of mine, Dr. David Ballantyne (aka Cambridge) and Kate Jernigan (now Kate Ballantyne). The wedding took place up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and a group of friends made the trip up to attend the ceremony and reception. This included fiancee Rebekah Akins, Timothy Gibson, Mike Lambert, Eric Lambert, and Dan McMahon who was temporarily down from Ohio for the activities. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was great talking with new people and getting some dance moves in at the end. It was a great event and I know those two will have a great life together.
Post wedding, Rebekah, Timothy, and I headed over to friend and former teammate Collin Zimmerman’s house for a few hours of sleep before heading to Anderson, SC. Much gratitude to Collin and his wife for setting us up as those few hours of sleep were needed before setting out on our 4 hour drive at 3am. Everyone that had traveled up to the wedding listed earlier decided to participate in the tri except Eric, who became the official photographer for the event. Everyone else decided to jump in despite how inadequate their training had been recently. As an added plus, we decided to go for a Team Speedo theme and were all outfitted in our scantily clad Speedos ranging from pink to flames. We were quite the site.
Since I had signed up a bit earlier for this race I was seeded with bib #1 for the 300yd time trial start. The main competitors were directly behind me in Peter Kotland (renowned Ultraman) and Jeff Brandenburg (an old guy who can ride a bike). While I am a slightly stronger swimmer, the 300yd swim reduced it to more of a formality and I simply tried to have fun with it before heading out to where most of the damage would be done, the bike.
Starting the pace hot I knew if I could keep the lead to the run then I would be all set. I was rocking my new (to me) Zipp Sub 9 disc wheel in the back which I like to think made me look super cool, especially paired with my pink Speedo. The course was rolling with a couple steeper sections to bring me out of the saddle but never got out of control. With only a few miles left I noticed one of the old guys behind me gaining some ground. I decided to keep the gas pedal on until he came around for the pass at the bottom of a downhill after I had spun out. With a mile left I followed from about 10 seconds behind into T2. Strava file here:
Upon entering T2 I noticed that the rider had been Jeff Brandenburg who was busy taking off his swimskin. Upon questioning why he would wear a swimskin for a 300yd swim he stated “I’m old and can’t handle the cold temperature on the bike” or something to that effect. After a decent transition I headed out and tried to light up the first mile to drop any hopes he had at catching up. The course attempted to thwart this attempt with 2 monster hills in the first mile that compared well to Columbia. After these hills the course continued to roll, but little enough that I could get a groove going. At the turn around I noticed that old Jeff was a good minute or so back already with the next athletes a decent way behind him. Knowing that, it was just a matter of putting some more time in to help increase the points I could get from this race to the South Carolina Triathlon Series. On the way in included some encouraging words from my other Speedo friends with some more hill climbing and a solid kick to finish things off. Strava file here:
After I finished I headed over to the transition area to begin looking for Rebekah to come in. This was Rebekah’s first triathlon in almost a year and she hasn’t swam, biked, or ran in many a month. Despite this, she signed up for Open Female in an attempt to complete 5 races in the South Carolina Triathlon Series and place in the standings. This put her being bib #5 in the race and set up for some serious passing in the pool as she has never been a confident swimmer. She came in looking rough off the bike and said that she had crashed but was okay. She headed out on the run determined to finish though despite a few setbacks.
In the meantime, the Speedo boys made it a mission to encourage athletes as they finished with some Macarena dancing and Hey Baby singing at the 3 mile mark. Many a person was scarred but most seemed to enjoy the enthusiasm. Rebekah probably fit into both of those categories as she finished with a strong kick to take 1st Open Female (she was the only one in that category but it doesn’t matter!)
This race was the most fun I’d had in awhile hanging out with some great people that I haven’t raced with since my time at USC. Afterwards we headed to Greeneville for some brunch at the NoseDive Cafe and had the best shrimp and grits of my life before heading back to Columbia for a much needed nap. Next up is the TryCharleston Sprint this upcoming Saturday to keep the fun times going!