A bit late on this post after a super busy week between competing in both the Raleigh and Eagleman 70.3 races. June 4th was the Ironman Raleigh 70.3 triathlon which was coming off of competing in Chattanooga only 2 weeks before. After a bit of a disappointing race in Chattanooga, I was excited to get a bit more training and take another shot at the distance. The Pro field had a few similar guys in it and paid prize money to the top 8. I have never competed in this race, but everything I have heard told me that it plays to most of my weaknesses. Hot, humid, and hilly.
Rebekah and I drove up that Saturday morning for the Sunday race. We arrived in plenty of time for the Pro meeting and had time to socialize with some of the guys that I know that live and compete in neighboring states. It has been great to get to know these guys better and learn more about how they manage to fit racing and training into their lives as well! After the meeting, Rebekah and I went to drop off my bike at Jordan Lake where the race was to start in the morning. We managed to get lost a couple times on the way there but we made it with about 10 minutes to spare before they closed things down. We then made our way to stay with Joe and Jess Wilson and their family just outside of Raleigh. Joe had competed with me in Chattanooga and ended up qualifying for 70.3 Worlds at that race. He was doing Raleigh as well since he was already signed up and couldn’t resist another good race! We had a delicious dinner at a nearby restaurant after arriving and got to bed for our 3:30 am wake up call the next morning.
After the standard early morning wake-up, we made our way to downtown Raleigh where the finish line and bike finish was located. Rebekah stayed here while I boarded the shuttle to go to Jordan Lake where the race started. Everything went smoothly and before long, I was making my way into the water for a short warm up with the other Pro men. The lake reminded me a lot of Lake Murray right by my house, especially after one guy said he thought he saw a snake. I promptly moved away from that spot and after the National Anthem, everybody took their positions. I lined up towards the middle where it wasn’t too condensed and then we were off!
While the very start wasn’t as brutal as some of the races I’ve done recently, this was by far the most tactical and involved I’ve ever been in a triathlon swim. I don’t think 10 seconds went by in the entire swim that I wasn’t in physical contact with someone else. This was great news for me as I was able to stay in a solid pack of athletes throughout the entire swim. I recognized many of the faces near me as Matt Russell (1st in Chatty), Adam Otstot (2nd in Chatty), Tyler Jordan (strong cyclist and runner), and many others. I exited the water towards the back of the large group of athletes in 19th and quickly got to my bike in an attempt to keep them from getting away.
I expected the beginning of the bike to be hard and I was right! Everybody wanted to break away and get some separation so there was a lot of position changes in the first few miles. At around 15-20 minutes into the ride I decided to attempt a pass on a line of guys to try to take over the pace. There ended up being about 5 guys lined up in a row which meant I had to pass all of them at once to avoid any drafting penalties. This resulted in having to put out a large surge to come around them all. I knew that this kind of riding was not going to be sustainable and I definitely wanted to save a bit of energy for the run after what had happened in Chattanooga 2 weeks ago. Eventually, I let these guys re-pass me and stayed far to the back so I wouldn’t be caught up in any pace changes that happened in the group. This allowed me to stay a bit more consistent over the middle 30 miles or so of the race rather than burning matches. The group started as about 7 guys, but as the ride went on the group got smaller as people fell off the pace. In the last 10-15 miles I started to make some surges toward the front until it was just Tyler Jordan and me with the rest of the group behind us. I felt fresh from a relatively easy ride and allowed myself to pick it up in the last hillier sections. I ended up coming off the bike in 12th and I felt ready to take on the run!
Starting the run, Tyler started to slowly pull ahead and I knew better than to start chasing at the very beginning. Tyler has outrun me twice already this year and I knew that I needed to stay smart to have a good run. I was clicking off right around a 6:20 min’mile feeling comfortable and making sure that I got in fluids and cooled off at each aid station. My position was holding steady and I could tell that I was gaining ground on a few athletes ahead of me. At the end of the 1st lap (out of 2), I was in either 10th or 11th and still feeling relatively good.
Shortly after mile 7, though, the good feelings stopped. My stomach started to disagree with me and I was starting to quickly fall apart. At mile 9 I made the decision to jump into a port-a-potti in hopes that a quick stop may remedy what was happening. This was a bit difficult with a 1 piece suit, but went better than I expected. Unfortunately, things only continued to get worse as my pace quickly turned into a run/walk for the remaining 3-4 miles.
I don’t know how many athletes passed me in the last portion of the run, but it was very frustrating to go from being so close to the top-10, to just wanting to finish in one piece. I was able to maintain a run for the last half mile or so to finish the race as 17th Pro male in 4:20:03.
To take away the positives from the race, I am very glad that my swim in progressing to the point that I am able to stay with others actually be a factor in the race. I also feel that I executed the bike well and continue to make up ground there. When I look back at my races now, I don’t only see what I have done wrong, but the aspects of my racing that are improving. As well as the parts that still can improve to help me place higher. At the end of this race, I believe a combination of the heat, humidity, and a lack of endurance prevented me from capitalizing on what was almost a very satisfying performance.
With only 1 week before the next race, I was eager to see if I could put it all together at Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, MD!