For the fourth year in a row I was heading to Philly for what is definitely one of my favorite races, TriRock Philly. This year though, I was competing as a professional. The race was added to the 5150 series, so I knew there would be a pretty tough field. The start list was pretty stacked being led by guys like Cam Dye and Andy Potts, so I knew I would really have to bring my A game. Training had been going better than ever, and I was feeling pretty coming off the Rev3 Super Sprint, but being such a different race format, there was still some question about if I could compete with the best at the normal olympic distance. I guess it was time to find out.
Race morning we were greeted with pretty perfect weather. I was feeling good and still felt calm. I saw my heart rate was pretty low which is always a sign that there aren't a lot of nerves. Everything was ready to go and we headed onto the bus to the swim start. A point to point swim is nice for me since my swimming isn't at an elite level. I am solid in the water, but not a first out of the water kind of guy. I was excited to be able to try out a new swimskin for non-wetsuit swims. I have partnered with Zone3, the top wetsuit in the UK and an incredible product, to help me shave as much time as I can off my swim. I really look forward to the growing relationship between us and want to help spread the word about such a great product. I got a solid warm-up in and we hopped in to hear the gun go off in just a few seconds.
I was situated to the left of the field, and I could see Dye and Potts breaking away from all the way on the right. This was expected, and I just made sure to get in with the main pack. I was happy to be able to swim with the main group in a pro field. It is proof that my hard work has really been paying off. I exited the water in about 10th only 1:10 down on the leaders which is closer than I am used to being.
Onto the bike and I was feeling good. I was able to ride with a pretty strong lap for the first loop, but my heart rate was just too high. I know from my training that on the bike I can sustain a heart rate around 170 for an hour. My heart rate was at about 177. The competitor in me wanted to stick with the pack I was with, but I knew if I did it would come back to haunt me on the run, so I decided to back off a touch and trust that I would be able to run all of those guys down, which turned out to be the right decision for me. I finished the bike in about 58 and a half minutes, about 2 and a half quicker than last year.
I found myself in 8th place at the beginning of the run. I took the first 400m to settle in, and then started nailing it. I really have to wait most of the race until I get to my strength in the run to really drop the hammer. I quickly moved up a couple positions with an opening mile at 4:52. I moved into 5th place around 2 miles in. I came through 3 miles in 14:55 and was feeling it. Once I got into 5th, there was a big gap to bridge. This made it really difficult mentally for me. I like to look ahead and chase my competitors down and then go get the next one. Once I got about 6k in my legs started to go away from me. I was slowing and not feeling the best. I was afraid of being passed back, but I realized I was still running between 5:10-5:15 pace, so really I was still catching. My heart rate was holding around 188, which really isn't sustainable, but with a couple miles to go I just stayed with it and gave everything I had. The gap was just a little too big for me to move up any more, but I finished in 1:50:52, a little over 5 minutes quicker than last season.
To have a top 5 in this field was incredible for me. Definitely the top performance of my career so far. I was with 3 minutes of the winner, Cam Dye, and finished only 1:11 down on second place, Andy Potts. To be able to race with some of the guys in that field is really encouraging. It means training is really working, and I am continuing to improve.
Now it is back to work. ITU Toronto in three weeks, another race I feel like I could do very will in. I have to thank all my sponsors for helping me get where I am. I feel like I am in the middle of a break through season for my career, and by no means am I accomplishing any of that by myself. I have to thank my coach Matt Russ from The Sport Factory for guiding me in the right direction and sometimes dealing with my stubbornness. SCOTT running shoes are always keeping my feet happy and injury free. As I talked about earlier, Zone3 is there to help me be the best I can be in the water as well as Kiwami with amazing suits. You'll also be hearing a lot about NV Endurance in the future, and you will see me with them as well! Just remember the name. My parents were also at the race cheering me on like they always are which always gives you a boost. A lot of people have been reaching out to me with the success I am having. I want to say thank you to all of you. Each and every message means a lot to me and I am humbled that I have been able to provide any inspiration at all. Just work hard, and love what you do!