This weekend I was in Branson, MO for the latest stop on the Rev3 Series. I’m in the lead for the year and needed to come away with a 4th place or better in order to improve my point total and hold off the athletes behind me. With athletes like Ben Hoffman, Richie Cunningham, Leon Griffin, and many others on the start list, I knew I was in for a battle. Here’s the official Rev3 pro preview:[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/75106474[/vimeo]
I was looking forward to this race because it was a return to the half distance and because I’d heard some pretty daunting talk about the bike course. Between the course and the tough field signed up to race, I knew it was going to be a great event. Here are my thoughts on video:[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/75123119[/vimeo]
It was a pretty uneventful lead up to the race, so I was pretty relaxed when I woke up Sunday morning… Until I opened the door and the 46 degree air hit me in the face! I put on almost every item of clothing I had and headed to transition. This course was another point to point race and the Rev3 team did a great job of making sure the logistics went smoothly. I set up my bike and reluctantly peeled off my jacket to ‘warm up’ in the water.
It was a non-wetsuit swim despite the cold air, so the lake felt fantastic while giving off a steady blanket of steam. It was a pretty neat effect, but made it difficult to sight the buoys once we were off and racing.
I led the first 800m or so until I noticed Kevin Collington leading the group about 20m to my left. I realized that I was sighting a wrong buoy (AGAIN, see Maine report), and quickly got back in line. Once I did, Kevin almost immediately went off course (to the tune of 3 minutes off course!) and Kyle Leto held the correct line. I followed Kyle and between the two of us we managed to get back to shore in relatively short order. We hit transition with a pretty good lead and headed out on the bike trying to keep it that way.[youtube]http://youtu.be/jezC7kgktvw[/youtube]
The cold air combined with being wet and flying down hills made for some uncomfortable moments, but I gradually warmed up and took over the lead by mile 10. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before a group of 5 caught me and made the rest of the ride a constant position battle. Everyone was strong in the group, so we kept the pace high and put distance into anyone behind us. The hills were just brutal and we were either climbing at 10 mph or descending at 40 mph. I did my best to keep my power steady and did what I could to take in calories with concentrated First Endurance Liquid Shot. By the time we hit the 2nd transition, there was no question that we would be the top 6 at the finish, it was just a matter who had the run legs.
The first mile out of T2 was 5:30 pace and I felt good with the leaders just a few steps away. The second mile was the same and I remember thinking ‘someone will pop’ at this pace… By mile 3, I realized it would probably be me if I kept it up so I settled in to a more reasonable 5:45-5:50 pace and let the lead group of 4 pull away. The tough bike course was taking it’s toll on me, but I knew that I had the legs to hold on to a steady pace. Around mile 10, my strategic slow down paid off as I reeled in Dave Thompson who was pushed a bit too hard to stay in front. I kept moving steadily and focused on grabbing hydration to keep my 4th place position through the finish.
By mile 12, I knew I wasn’t going to move up to 3rd or back to 5th, so I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the last mile or so into Branson Landing. Although I didn’t have the run legs to stay with the leaders, I put together a solid race and managed to slightly improve my point total for the series. The first Rev3 race in Branson was fantastic and I’d encourage anyone looking for a challenge to give it a try. Afterwards, there is plenty of comfort food and entertainment waiting to reward a hard day’s work!
I’ve got a good, solid training block planned before my last race at Rev3 Florida down in sunny Sarasota. Every Rev3 race that I do, I admire the race organization more and more. They really do care about the athlete and work their butts off to make sure everyone has a great time. If you haven’t done one of their races, you’re missing out! As always, big thanks to the sponsors: First Endurance, ISM Saddles, BlueSeventy, The Sport Factory, 3 Sports, and Utopian Coffee. I’ve been fortunate almost every race this year to be able to donate a portion of my prize money to the Blazeman Foundation. Please do your part to help find a cure to ALS!
Here is the Pro Recap Video. Enjoy:[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/75199621[/vimeo]
To follow Eric, visit his website at: http://ericlimkemann.blogspot.com/