I headed back home for the weekend to race at the Black Bear Triathlon. It didn’t have a pro race or anything, but I really wanted to get a non-draft Olympic race in before Trirock Philadelphia in three weeks where I hope to go really fast. Doing small local races give you an opportunity to get good race experience and test out your fitness without all the pressure.
We got a perfect day of weather for the race. Just a little bit of heat to get you warm, but not so much that it would be bothersome down the stretch. The course at Black Bear is probably the most challenging one I’ve ever raced. The swim is beautiful, and then the bike is constant up and down through the Pocono Mountains. The run is more of a trail run taking place on all trails through the woods or big gravel paths, and is also incredibly hilly.
My swim went great. I was happy that my body took off at the gun and was able to get out in the front. I hopped onto the feet of the lead swimmer and us two swam away from the field. At the second-to-last turn I felt like he was going wide, so I turned to what I thought was a more direct line. I really couldn’t see anything and ended up losing about 10-15 seconds in the deal, but lesson learned. I swam about 2 min faster than last year with an 18:48, so the focus I have put on swimming is paying huge dividends. If I can do more open water training I think I could swim 18 flat possibly this year, which would put me in the hunt at the ITU races.
I got out on the bike and was having a pretty solid day. The hills were hitting me pretty hard, and racing a course like that was pretty rough. I felt like my legs were going away from me about 35 min into the ride, but this is always a possibility when you are just training through a race. I kept on it as hard as I could and was happy to bike a little faster than last year even with them changing the course and it being a little more difficult.
I got out on the run and my legs felt really good. I forgot to start my watch for about a mile, but I ran the last 5.2 miles of the 10k at a 5:15 average. I was incredibly happy with this since it was so hilly and on trails the whole way. Had that all been on road I think I would have been able to run around 31:30 for a 10k. It definitely gave me a lot of confidence that I’ll be able to run a low 31 at Philly if I am having a good day. I think the fitness is looking pretty good. I have three weeks to fine tune everything and develop that last little bit that I can until Philly. I think I could have a really breakthrough race.