The first race of the season is always a bit of an unknown. Did the off-season work pay off? How will I stack up against my peers? I had a small hit out two weeks ago at the local Chasing Chicken race, but this weekend was my first ‘real’ race with a full pro field toeing the line. It was an Olympic distance race with a tough bike and plenty of tough competition. To add to the challenge, the weather was mid-50’s and rain with a sub 60 degree water temp. The conditions were very similar to the Half Full race from last year, so I was optimistic as race day approached. The Rev3 Preview tagged me as a factor and referred to me as a “workingman’s athlete”. I’m not sure if they knew that I carry that mentality to my racing and training daily. Hardhat, lunch pail, sweat, and grit day in and day out. A bit of the old school Pittsburgh work ethic.
The pro field was a pretty solid one including Cam Dye, Conrad Stoltz, Kaleb VanOrt, Dave Thompson, Chris Foster, Kyle Leto, and plenty of others. I knew that I could put out a pretty good effort over the Olympic distance, but with my focus being on the longer races this season I wasn’t sure how I’d stack up going it. I figured I’d swim hard, bike hard, and hold on for dear life.
Race morning was pretty miserable, but everyone had to deal with the same conditions so I went about business as usual. Luckily, transition was in a parking garage, so we were dry as we set up our bikes and did some light jogging to ‘warm up’ in the cool morning. I put on my BlueSeventy wetsuit early to stay warm and headed down to swim start. The ¾ mile walk in the rain was enough to numb up the feet and the jump into the river was enough to numb the face and hands. We swam for 2-3 minutes before the gun sounded and we were off.
I had a solid swim, but didn’t have the early speed to catch a hold of Cam’s feet. I swam steady and keep him in check the entire swim while putting distance into the main group. I came out of the water in 2nd a few seconds back with a decent gap to the group. There was a 1/3 mile run to transition and I did my best to maintain the gap on the solid runners in the field. I mounted the bike and did my best to keep Cam in my sights. I had planned to pace at around 350 watts early, push it up the hills, and be cautious on the wet, technical downhills. Unfortunately the heavy rain played havoc on my Quarq, so my average power for the first 5 minutes was over 2000 watts…. Ooops!
went by effort and pushed hard, but still lost a minute to Cam by the mid point turn around. I had about: 30 on the main group, so I knew I had a chance to stay away until the run. I was probably a bit too cautious on some of the downhill portions, but I am not about to spend another season on the injured reserve! Heading into T2, I had a small gap to Xterra legend Conrad Stoltz and couldn’t see anyone else. I took off on the run knowing I’d have to really push to maintain my position with the strong runners in the field.
The run was relatively epic as the constant rain created ankle-deep puddles every 100m or so for a majority of the run! A few guys even wiped out from the treacherous terrain! I felt like I was running well and was able to hold my 2nd place through the first 3 miles. Soon after, Chris Foster came by me and I knew there would be a few more hot on his heels. I did my best to keep my turnover moving, but about a mile later Kaleb VanOrt came by as well. Both Chris and Kaleb are phenomenal runners, so I thought to myself that I might be able to hold off the rest of the pack. With ½ mile to go, I looked back and saw a fast-moving Russian ITU racer coming past Conrad with me in his sights! I’m not exactly known as a sprinter, so I gave it everything I had for the last 800m to stay in 4th. Luckily, I made it with 6 seconds to spare (and around 12 seconds back to Conrad in 6th!).
I was pretty happy with the result after a very tough race. It’s a good way to start the Rev3 Series and a promising way to start the season. I’m looking forward to building on the race and building up to the half distance races at Quassy and Williamsburg. Before I move up in distance, I’ve got another Olympic distance race at the Columbia Triathlon in two weeks. Hopefully I’ll have the run legs there to hold off the runners’ charge!
Thanks to Rev3 for putting on yet another stellar race. My travelling companions Jay and Don helped put on the race and I know first hand how much time and energy go into making it all happen! Also, thank you to my great sponsors: BlueSeventy Wetsuits (and neoprene hoods, which came in handy this weekend!), First Endurance Nutrition, ISM Saddles, Utopian Coffee (hot coffee never tasted so good with the cold, wet weather), 3Sports in Richmond, and The Sport Factory. I was able to win a few dollars this weekend, so I will be donating a portion to the Blazeman Foundation. I encourage you to do the same.