Ouch! This race did not go as planned. For the couple months leading up to the race I was getting excited to race something longer than a sprint to see where my fitness is at for a longer event. I had been easing back into running and it was finally starting to feel like it was coming back since the couple months off due to the achilles. When race week approached I was feeling okay until a few crazy shifts at work and some overtime which really put me into feeling like I was in a hole. Either way, Saturday came and it was off to Greenwood with a 3:30am drive with Rebekah.
This was a two transition race with the start and T1 being at Lake Greenwood and T2 and the finish being in Downtown Greenwood. This made the logistics of navigating the morning more difficult than your typical race but everything went smoothly and I arrived at the start with plenty of time to spare and after getting in some decent warming up. Last year for this race I placed 2nd Overall to David Hall who was participating this year as well. Considering he put nearly 3 minutes on me in the swim in 2014, I thought I might try to jump on his draft hoping my swim fitness was improved to be able to handle the pace. As the gun went off I surged the start with many athletes to my left and right. As I saw David pulling ahead I threw in another surge and found his feet for some quality drafting. The pace was high for me but was mostly maintainable. That is, until David decided I was tickling his feet too much and threw in a surge as we approached the first turn buoy about 500m in. I wasn’t able to respond to this for very long and I watched him start to put some distance on me. As that happened I noticed Peter come across the side just far enough away to make staying with him difficult with the effort I had just put in. The rest of the swim was spent solo trying not to bleed too much time after burning a lot of matches in the first 500m.
After coming out of the water I blew through T1 and mounted the Speed Concept hoping to put some time into the 2 that had gotten away. I haven’t done many longer hard efforts recently on the bike but knew that my fitness was generally okay so I started laying it down early in hopes of seeing where they were at. The course was point to point and a net uphill meaning times were slower than the average Olympic and just generally feeling slow. The longer I rode the worse my legs began to feel and I never saw anyone ahead or behind me. This continued until hitting T2 where I was not feeling my best.
Upon putting my running shoes on I immediately cramped up in the right calf and shook it loose quickly to head off to hopefully reel in David and Peter. As I was leaving I learned I was down about 4-5 minutes. This was not good news. Unless I began running amazingly and both Peter and David were way off their game, then I was almost certain to not catch them. Either way, I set out and settled into what felt to be a hard, yet sustainable pace. Upon the first mile split the Garmin spat out a 6:02min/mile. This was good and I wasn’t feeling terrible yet so I tried to keep at it hoping it might be enough. Second mile equals 6:18, okay but definitely not the direction I wanted to be going. Before mile 3 I was passed by someone I had not seen before and later learned it was Nathan Buttrick. He was hitting a very solid pace and I knew I wouldn’t be able to respond so simply kept trying to hold my pace. As I neared the turn around I noticed Peter Kotland had quite the lead on everyone but that I was quickly gaining on David. After I hit the turn I immediately felt that things were suddenly not right. Hitting the pace became very difficult and I began noticing the heat much more. Mile 4 came in at 6:37 but at a much higher effort. After that mark my body just felt finished. I’m not sure why but I suddenly couldn’t even get any faster than a 7 minute/mile and at many times felt the need to walk. I watched David pull away and realized this would not be my day. I still kept the effort high but with much worse results and crossed the line in 4th.
This was the first race of the year that I did not podium and it felt strange. I am partially glad for the result as I had begun to take a lot of things for granted and had forgotten some of the basics of training and race day. Particularly underestimating the heat and that sprint speed does not necessarily cross over to longer distances. I have been incorporating a lot of speed work lately and will be starting to lay back in favor of more volume. My next Olympic will be the Lake Logan Triathlon which has become one of my favorite races due to the scenery and great race environment. There will be some money on the line so the next 2 months are important in preparation for that race!