Saturday's heat race had its hicups, but it went pretty easy for me. My goggles filled up when I dove in the pool. It was already difficult to see without any lines on the bottom, so that made it even harder. I hit the ropes a couple times and was thinking I was in trouble. I got out of the water and was at the front of the race within a half mile of the bike.
I just sat in for the bike ride. We had a group of 6 with a pretty big lead, and the top 7 would qualify for the final, so everybody was feeling pretty content. I started the run and took the first lap pretty hard. I know I didn't have to run too fast, but I didn't want to take any chances, and that's just how I race. I went right to the front and pulled away. It felt easy for me and it was under 5 min mile pace, so that was a good sign.
I was able to come through first in my heat which was pretty cool. I also ended up with the number one qualifying time out of both heats, so I would be seeded first in the finals. To be honest, I didn't see that happening so I was enjoying every second of it.
All set to go feeling good. I was in a lane next to Eric Limkemann who is an incredible swimmer. I figured if I could stay near him then I would get out of the water in great position. The horn went off and I swam great. I got out right next to Eric and saw the leaders were only a few seconds ahead of me. Perfect. 250m didn't separate the field much, so the pack swelled pretty large on the first bike leg. I figured that was exactly what would happen, but I knew the big boys would start throwing some punches, so I was ready. When we got off the bike I ran right to the front to set a high pace. I wanted to get rid of some guys enough that they wouldn't be able to be with the group on the next bike. I was running hard but very much within myself. The field got pretty scattered but I was out front. Near the end of the run I pulled my goggles and cap out of my suit and started putting them on to prepare for the second swim which I knew would be important. I backed it off a little to catch my breath and then dove in. The first flip turn was the worst. Going from rapid breathing to holding your breath is pretty awful, but I swam really strong. A lot of guys were diving in about 50m behind me, so I knew there was a gap. When I got onto the bike, I looked back and didn't see anybody withing 20-30 seconds. I was not expecting this, and I had two options. I could go for it on my own and if they catch me I'd be dead but I might stay away, or I could sit up and save the legs. I felt the gap was pretty big, and sitting up is just not my style. Gotta leave it all on the race course. I just started hammering and knew I would need a special ride to stay away from a hungry pack behind me.
Giving it everything to stay away
It really was a special ride for me out in the lead for the entire second bike leg. The crowd was going nuts every time I came around turns 1 and 2, and for those few seconds it was like the pain just went away because the crowd was pushing me along. I knew there were some really strong cyclists teaming up to come and get me, so I had my work cut out for me. Those 7 laps around the track felt like 100. The gap had come down to about 10 seconds, but I was saving a little in the tank and cranked it up a little. I was actually able to stretch the gap back out to about 20 seconds by the end of the bike. As soon as I got off my bike I knew the run might be trouble. I got my shoes on and took off. I was running as hard as I could, but that just wasn't fast enough. I had to bike so hard that there was just nothing left in the legs for the run. I ran as fast as I could but Justin Roeder was able to reel me in about a half mile from the finish line, and I held on for second place, my first podium as a pro in only my 3rd race. It is hard to say if I would have been better off sitting up on the bike, but I think with a gap that big I made the right decision to go on my own. Going for it is the only way I know how to race. I would say I think my efforts definitely won the crowd. It was so humbling to have so many people who wanted to meet me and talk to me after the race. The little kids who wanted to talk to me just melted my heart. Just so humbling to think me trying as hard as I can out there can affect and inspire some little kids. That was truly very special to me and I will never forget it.
Excellent race to Justin. He ran me down like a rocket. Congratz on a well-deserved victory
I have to thank all of my sponsors for helping me get to the start line and perform at such a high level. I always feel like I have some wings on my back (and today some fins) when I put on my Kiwami tri suit. It was at least 90 degrees out there and I wasn't hot the entire race. I'm always thankful for my SCOTT running shoes keeping my feet very happy and turning over at that wild sub 4:45 pace on the day. The Sport Factory has been guiding me in the right direction so that my body could perform the way it has. And thank goodness for a local wheel company, The EDge wheels for helping me get some light aero wheels on my bike. (Will be posting a detailed review in the next couple days) Without them I may not have been able to have that inspired ride off the front. My supporters and sponsors are what make this all possible, and I couldn't be more grateful to have all of them in my life.