This morning was the Tri the Midlands Sprint Triathlon as part of the SC Triathlon Series. This race is pretty close to home for me in the Lake Carolina neighborhood of Northeast Columbia. After so many weekends of races, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t excited about the prospect of pushing myself hard for a sprint again so soon. While I could certainly take the race easier and keep the stress low, I know that isn’t in my nature, and that in the end, I would end up pushing myself hard to achieve a good time. Also, teammate and friend, Ricky Flynn, would be present to make it a tight race. Armed with a new racing bike, I knew Ricky was a serious threat, and that it would take a good effort from me to come out on top.
I actually got to sleep in a bit later than normal with a wake-up time of 4:20 to give me plenty of time to eat and get to the race site, before setting everything up. I had plenty of time to socialize with friends from the area and get a bit of warming up in before heading down to the swim start in Lake Carolina with my dad. With a water temp of 86 degrees (WARM) and only a 500-meter swim, I decided to forego using the swim skin to keep cooler and save some time in T1. I lined up in the middle next to Hunter Janus and Ricky, and then the race started!
I regularly swim with Hunter and know that he is a better swimmer than I am, so I wasn’t surprised as he began to pull away. For a bit, Ricky and I swam next to each other about 5 meters apart. As we neared the first turn, Ricky pulled ahead to chase Hunter, and I decided to stick with my pace rather than chasing. The rest of the swim was spent alone while Hunter and Ricky pulled a bit ahead. I came out of the water about 30 seconds down from the 2 of them but was able to get some of that time back with a quick transition putting me just behind Ricky.
I knew that the first and last parts of the bike course had the most elevation, so I immediately got to work on catching Hunter and Ricky in front of me. I passed Hunter right at the first turn in the neighborhood and was able to make the pass on Ricky about a minute or so after we got onto the main road. At that point, I knew that it would come down to how much of a lead I could gain on Ricky before the run. While I don’t typically have to worry about getting passed on the run by most people in local races, Ricky could definitely do so since he regularly posts 15-16 minute 5k runs at the end of races. In my mind, I figured I would need at least a 2-minute buffer to be somewhat “safe”. That didn’t change the fact that I simply needed to ride HARD and FAST. Soon, I was unable to spot anybody behind me and I was all alone on the course.
Before too long, I was definitely starting to feel the fatigue from all the racing and training over the past couple months and I watched my power fade as my legs and lungs really started to hate me. I kept trying to remind myself that it was just a sprint though and that the ride would soon be over. Eventually, I re-entered the neighborhood and made the descent back into transition with a semi-successful flying dismount. Despite a relatively low for me power of around 305 watts for the ride, I posted a new bike course record by well over a minute which shows just how much my attention to efficiency and aerodynamics is paying off.
After an okay transition, I headed out on the run. The conditions were already hot and humid and my legs certainly did not like moving. Both my turnover and stride length were suffering as I have not attempted any speed work in quite awhile with my focusing on the longer distances. All I could do was keep pushing and hope they would come around. The course is basically an out and back, so although I knew that I had built a very good lead, I didn’t know how much until after the turn-around point. After seeing Ricky while I headed back and doing some math, I figured I had a lead of just over a minute and a half with less than 1.5 miles to go. I realized that unless I simply blew up, that he would not be able to close this gap and I was able to relax a bit. I actually finally started to settle into a rhythm in the last mile and as I approached the finishing chute I heard Rebekah and Garrett Molzer yelling at me! Apparently, I was very quickly approaching the hour mark for race time and they were yelling at me to speed up so I could break an hour! I gave it a strong surge up the final small incline and came through the line in 59:58 (run time 17:58) which meant a new Course Record!
Ricky came in just under a minute later with a fantastic run split of 15:40. I learned that he apparently dropped his chain while riding which slowed his bike time a bit. This guy is definitely a threat in the local racing scene, and I have no doubt that he will have success in stepping up to the Pro division in the future.
Congrats to everyone that raced today in not easy conditions including Timothy Gibson, Patrick Armeen, Rick Weslock, Michal Kovac, Hunter Janus, Shawn Shealy, Jeff Allums, Lorand Batten, Jeffery Kane, Joe Roof, Jim Agostini, Carlton Sink, George Manos, Joe Morgan, Javier Romero, Tom McManus, Kristin Cattieu, Jen Kryzanowski, Abby Russell, Fiona Martin, Barbara Brandenburg, Ilia Owens, Dianne Fladung, and so many more! Also, a huge thanks to Jeremey Davis, Kelly Page, and the rest of the race staff for consistently cranking out great races, and my dad for coming out to watch me race and get some pics! I always feel blessed when I realize how many people in my community support my goals in the sport and I always love the words of encouragement. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my friends, family, and fellow athletes.
Today marks 3 weeks until my first Full distance race at the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon. I am glad that I picked a race that will have a bit less pressure than a large Pro race for my first Full distance race. I also know that my training hasn’t been ideal, but I’m looking forward to a great time and a beautiful course up in Alaska and getting out of this Famously Hot heat!