Here is where the big difference comes in pro racing. With this race not having a pro field, I was able to take a few extra seconds to hop on my bike, put my feet in my bike shoes, and settle into 70.3 bike pace. I started a little on the low side then built from there. I passed all but two people during the bike leg. Here is my Training Peaks file from GCT Bike It was very even paced and very few spikes. With it being a flat course there were very few power surges as well.
The rest of the run I spent trying not to let my quads cramp up and not get over heated. I walked quite a few times during the second half of the run and kept looking back thinking that I had someone running me down. I did, but he ran out of real estate. (pun intended). I crossed the line in 4:08 something. My fastest 70.3 since 2011. The bike was 1 mile short but I was happy with the result, and happy to win a race with such history. Slowtwitch even had a little write up on the race which was unexpected.
Casey and I were able to spend the rest of the day on the beach and have a relaxing weekend. PCB wouldn't be my top beach to visit, but it was nice being at the beach for an extended weekend.
The very next weekend, I traveled to Challenge Knoxville to compete against 60+ other Pro's. Big difference from the previous weekend when I only recognized names on the start list that were from Middle Tennessee. With Knoxville only being a few hours away, we drove over Saturday morning, attended the pro meeting, caught up with some buddies that I haven't raced/seen in a long time, and relaxed the rest of the afternoon. Casey and I were lucky enough to have an awesome homestay (Thanks Muna!!) that was close to town and took the pressure off of us trying to find a hotel on such a busy weekend.
One thing that I'm very strict about is my pre race breakfast. For the past 2 years, I find something that settles easily and has about 400-600 calories depending on the race. And something that has some caffeine. Eboost gives me my caffeine fix with one of their 4 oz shots, and the new Generation UCAN bar settles super fast and keep me full. I also had a Picky bar for the first time and it was amazing. And of course I took my 2 pills of Vector450. Also sponsors Matt Hanson, winner if IM Texas. Must be something to this stuff ;)
Race morning was cool, but nothing like last year. I got everything ready and walked to the start. At 6:50, we were off. I started right next to my boy Kevin Ryan, and drafted off of him for all of 20 yards. But I did have clear water for the first 200-400 yards which is how I like it, then I came over a little, found some feet, and stayed there for the rest of the swim. It's nice to swim in a pack and recognize the guys next to you in the water. I was right where I needed to be for the swim. About 6 of us came out of the water in just over 27 minutes and transitioned quickly to the bike. We ended up on the wrong side of the cones for the first mile of the bike, which led us to being on the wrong side of a barrier so we had to turn around and get back on course. We ended up behind about 5-8 guys that we had out swam by at least 1 minute, and also the top 2-3 girls. Ugh!!!! I worked hard for the next 4-5 miles to get past them and just stayed focused on not crashing in the rain soaked, pot hole filled roads of close-to-downtown Knoxville.
Here is where my power on the bike was jumping from 500+ to 0 because of the surges of the guys around me, the steep uphills, and the steep down hills. The first 15 miles my NP was 310. I was not prepared to do this, but I did not come to this race just to sit on my bike and watch my power meter to make sure I was "pacing" myself. I came to race, and if I had to walk the 13.1 miles, then I was going to do it as long as I kept these guys close on the bike. The pace stayed hot from 15-30 miles as my NP was still in the upper 290's. We settled down a little from 30-40 miles, but then the last 14-16 miles were hairy because we got back onto the Olympic distance bike course where there were hundreds of triathletes still competing. Imagine trying to pass 10-15 age groupers every minute, while keeping your competitors close, and avoiding the bad sections of the road. Our pace dropped significantly here as we were just trying to get back to T2 safely. Here is the power file. We witnessed several crashes and several others almost crash. A group of about 8 of us all came into T2 together. I had a great transition and ran out to have my brother tell me I was in 5th position. I was third out of our group meaning there were only 2 up the road. I knew something must have happened to one of the guys up the road because at the last 180 degree turn on the bike, there were 3 guys leading the way.
|Ryan and I sporting the Tri4Him uni's.|
|Old Roomies taking 2 of the top 10 spots|
I settled into pace and passed Thomas Gerlach early. AJ Baucco ran past me about about the 1 mile mark and I picked up the pace to run with him. We ran together for a few miles before he slowed a little. I passed Kevin Ryan around mile 5 or so and he told me I was in 3rd. I couldn't believe it but didn't want to think about it right then. I held my pace but then Thomas and Justin Metzler ran past me about mile 6 like I was standing still. I kept them close until about mile 9, but managed to hold my 5th position all the way to the finish. I finished in 4:07 something which was amazing considering the run course was much harder than last weekend, and I rode 2 miles longer than last weekend.
These results wouldn't have been possible without Casey there by my side at the race and throughout the winter during my "rough" patches. My family and also my Tri4Him team and their continued support. I love representing our team every where I go. It's a great conversation starter before/after the race (kind of hard during the race) and I've had several people contact me after the race to give them a little more info about our team. The Lord has blessed me with the ability to go fast and to suffer and I try to put those to use in His name. Without Him, none of this is possible!