It has been just over 3 weeks since my adventure in Alaska, and although I bounced back pretty quickly after that race, I still felt in kind of a funk when it came time to race. Lake Logan is always one of my favorite races of the year as the entire area is beautiful and typically a bit cooler than Columbia. This year was no exception, and the front of the men’s race had plenty of competition since the International distance boasts a prize purse for the top 3. With 4 Pros racing as well as the formidable Ricky Flynn, I certainly wasn’t going to be “easing” back into racing with this one!
I stayed with Damon Little in Waynesville for the race which made it much more relaxing than when I used to camp next to transition. I headed up on the Blue Ridge Parkway Friday afternoon so I could spectate the Half distance race on Saturday. It’s always great getting to watch a local race to cheer people on, whether I know them or not! Getting to see everyone’s ups and downs during the race from the comfort of the sideline is entertaining, and hearing everybody’s stories after makes it even better. Congrats to Thomas Skelton, Lorand Batten, Lukas Rigdon, Meredith Rigdon, Bryan Milling, Corey Mckay, Marni Sumbal, Lisa Powell, and all the others that finished that day!
Sunday morning went smoothly with the exception of finding a hole in the armpit of my wetsuit 20 minutes before the start of the race! Luckily, I had my old wetsuit in my car and had enough time to change out in time for the start. After getting in the water, the announcer promptly gave us a 30-second countdown and we were off. I knew there would be a number of faster swimmers in this race, so I attempted to grab what feet I could and keep up the pace. I was able to keep a solid pace until a little over halfway through the swim, at which point my old wetsuit started fatiguing my shoulders since it’s a bit less flexible. I ended up having a decent swim and was just over 2 minutes down from super swimmer Matt Wisthoff.
Getting on the bike I wasn’t feeling 100% from the start, which isn’t great when the first thing you see is a large climb to take you away from the lake. Over the first 15-20 minutes I continued to force the effort and passed a few athletes, but was still not getting a huge return for how hard it seemed. I eventually was able to get a semi-decent rhythm going by lowering cadence below 80rpm and really grinding away, but before long the ride was coming to an end and I feared that had not gained as much time as I would need.
It turned out that I came off the bike in 3rd a couple minutes down from Matt Wisthoff and Derek Kidwell. Little did I know Tyler Jordan and Ricky were not too far behind and making a charge. With the first 3.1 miles being uphill the splits are always slower going out. I was holding a little over a 6 minute/mile pace and felt a bit better than I had on the bike. My legs were responding better than I thought they would considering it has been months since I’ve done any real speed work. But it still hurt! At the turn around I saw I had reeled in time on the leaders, but not at a fast enough rate to catch them. In addition, Tyler and Ricky were probably only 30 seconds away, with Ricky coming FAST! My next mile split came in at 5:23 in an attempt to carry some speed to fight Ricky off and maybe gain on the leaders, but he still came flying by. My remaining couple of miles stayed in the 5:30 min/mile range but my position was pretty much sealed at that point. I crossed the line in 4th Overall, just off the podium!
While this wasn’t an “official” Pro race, it was a ton of fun to race with some of the fastest guys in North and South Carolina. We all seem to come together for this one race every year, and it’s always a blast. Once again, I had friends from around the area racing as well including Weston Studer, Carlton Sink, David Hall, Steve Erwin, Yolanda Hundley, and others. Also a shout out to Garrett and Beth Molzer for coming out BOTH days to cheer people on, take pictures, and make cowbell noises with me.
I had the pleasure of hanging out and eating Mexican with Tyler and Yolanda after the race before heading home after a great weekend in the mountains. For those of you that read to the finish, I have recently hired a new coach and decided on my race plan for the rest of the season. I’m super excited to be working with him and will be announcing his mystery identity soon! :-O