Two weeks after completing a tough Columbia Triathlon course, I headed up to Connecticut to tackle an even tougher Rev3 Quassy Triathlon. The name of the game would be hills and more hills on the half distance race that is the marquee race for the series. The large prize purse and challenging terrain draws in some of the best pro triathletes in the world and this year was no exception. I drove up to the race knowing it would take a strong effort to crack the top 10, but I’ve convinced myself that I can mix it up with the big boys. Like usual, I planned on racing from the front and holding off the strong group of runners who would be chasing me down in the late stages of the race. Here is the preview video of the race (note the quick topless cameo… gotta get a new picture in there!)
The days leading up to the triathlon race went smoothly as my buddy Ed and I met up with our all-star homestay and spent some time previewing the course. We drove the bike and rode the run course and the takeaway message was “be ready to climb and be brave on the descents”. Our place was on the same lake as the race, so we literally walked out our front door and into the course! Not a bad place to be:
Body and mind were ready to go on race day as I rode the bike 3 miles from the house to transition. I made up my mind early that I was going to be aggressive, so I made sure to get in a very thorough warm up in all three disciplines and got ready for the horn. When it sounded, I put my head down and went to work.
I figured I’d have a few guys with me by the first turn buoy 1/3 of the way through the swim, but when I got there I realized I had a 15 second gap on the field! Encouraged, I maintained my speed throughout the swim without pushing so hard that I’d fade on the bike. I came out of the water with a :30 lead on the chase pack and a 1:00 lead on the main group. The swimming with Peluso Open Water and my BlueSeventy suit (along with decades of swimming) worked like a charm! I had a smooth T1 and hit the bike hard. Here’s a somewhat shaky video of my transition with no one in sight:
I knew I needed to stay out of sight as long as possible and the first few miles were downhill, so I pushed upwards of 40mph out of the gate before settling into the constant, winding hills of the course. Around mile 15, Andrew Starykowitz came by and we battled back and forth for a few miles before he pulled away. While we were together, we joked that the pack was coming, like it or not! Sure enough, around mile 30 I was swallowed up by a group of 8-9 guys who were riding in a legal, yet very organized pack. Frustrated that I’d been putting in a ton of work only to get swallowed up, I made the quick decision to pull away and take my chances pushing the envelope. I rode on frustration for the next 10 miles and by the last turn around I’d put about :45 on the group and knew it wouldn’t be enough to hold off the somewhat fresher runners that would come out of it! A good bike shot of both me and the chase group can be seen on this Slowtwitch gallery:
I kept my head down and came into T2 about :90 down from Andrew and about a minute in front of the group. My time of 2:17.01 was over 13 minutes faster than my ride from 2010 and I came onto the run in a solid 2nd position.
Out on the run, I knew the hills would be coming fast and furious, so I stayed relaxed on the first few miles. I could see I was gaining on the lead, but I could hear the sound of runners by the 3rd mile. I was passed by a group of 3-4 runners just as I bridged to the lead and instead of moving into first, I moved back to 5th! By mile 7, I was sitting in 6th and starting to cramp pretty hard. I knew I needed to stay hydrated and get calories in my system, so I made sure to suck on my First Endurance liquid shot and took as many water cups as I was offered. During that time I just tried to keep from falling over, hitting over 16mph on some of the descents. I felt like I was a part of one of those crazy cheese chases:
I shuffled through miles 8 and 9 before coming out of my funk and getting my legs back underneath me. By that time, I’d faded to 7th but I could see on the last turnaround that I wasn’t going to be passed again unless I completely blew it. I was able to hold on for a not-so-quick 1:20 run and 7th place finish in 4:03.24.
Like the Columbia race, my legs were completely shot from the hills but I was happy with the improvement from years past. This time, I was over 16 minutes faster than my previous attempt at the course and had improvements in all 3 disciplines. My aggressive race plan worked very well and I’m pleased with my racing mindset I still need to work on my run speed, but it will come. Perhaps staying with the group next time would keep me from cramping on the run, but honestly I hate the idea of racing that way. I am happy to be in the middle of a very noteworthy group of athletes in the top 10 and love the idea of racing the best any chance I get. Here’s the Rev3 video recap of the race:
Thank you to the Rev3 Triathlon gang for putting on a first class race and doing a fantastic job with race coverage and press. My host Garrett and his family were fantastic and very gracious sharing their amazing home with me and I can’t wait to get up there for a training camp on those crazy hills! Thank you to my sponsors for their great support. Be sure to check out the sponsor tab and support these great companies! Finally, thank you to my buddy Ed for taking care of me over the weekend and fighting NYC/DC traffic while I laid back with my feet up. I’ll be posting a bunch of his photos from the weekend in the next few days. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to support the Blazeman foundation. A quick click on the link to the right of the page only takes a minute and any little bit helps. I’ll be back in action at Rev3 Williamsburg Triathlon in 3 weeks. Until then, train hard and enjoy!