Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Elite Race Series Finale

When you think of Myrtle Beach, you probably think of spring break parties and beaches.  Well, this last weekend I ventured there for an ITU draft legal race.  I was a little worried when the race was put on the schedule because it could be hot there and not in South Bend in early October.  Well, as it turns out, South Bend had warmer temps and sunnier skies this past weekend.  The course was fantastic and UltraMax organized a great event.  The course had a good roll to it which is a lot more fun than a lot of the pancake flat courses I have been on this year.  This course was one of my favorite of the year.

Swim – It was a two loop swim in the intercostal waterway.  The women had to fight a strong current, but that was not the case for us.  This was my first race seeded in the top 10, so I got announced before the race, which was pretty cool.  This also meant that I would get a great starting spot!  As the top guys went to the left side of the starting line I ventured to the right hand side.  I breathe to the left so I like to have the group on that side, plus the first turn was a left hand turn so that meant I would not get pinched off by people coming in on me.  I got a great start and was in good position at the first buoy.   I was on feet early but they slowly pulled away.  I am not sure what happened.  With my swim where it is I think I just lose focus for a few seconds at a time and this time it was very costly.  I lost the front pack and I tried to close the gap, but I could not.  I was in a small group with Jeff Helmer and an Australian guy, Tim George, so I stayed with them and hoped there were more people close, so we could get a bike pack together.  But I realized this was not the case when I exited the water.

Bike – I had a good T2 and was off on the bike.   I was able to get my right foot in my shoe before going up the only hill on the course, right out of transition.   Once at the top I got my other foot in and commenced to chasing.  Tim, Jeff and I got organized quickly and were making good time.  We caught a few guys and by the end of the second lap, of eight, we were 5 strong, organized and chasing.  We were all working well together, but the front pack of 15 was moving a little faster than we were.  We kept the chase on and Karly was giving us split updates until I gave her the sign to stop.  The time gap was getting larger and that was not helping me stay motivated.  With 3 laps to go the gap was steady, if not coming down.  This gave me a little more hope and started taking longer pulls at the front.  At this time I could not worry about the run.  I had to be close enough to have a chance to run people down.   Going with the wind we were hitting speeds of 34 mph, so I was having a lot of fun with that! 

Run – This race T2 went well and I was off and running.  I was about 1:35 down to the lead pack, so I tried to set a hard pace to catch some guys.  I knew it was going to be lonely on the run, but this is how most races have been this year.  It was up to my run to get me in the top 10.  I knew if I could pull off a good result I would end up 3rd in the elite draft legal series, and take home a nice yearend bonus check!  After the first lap, or four, I had not caught anyone but the announcer was trying to get the crowd pumped up – I had a shot at the top 10, maybe even the top 5 if I could keep up my current pace.  The wind and the hill were taking its toll on everyone, including me though!  I knew I could not quit, this was my last race, plus I hate to lose.  I had to stay on the gas, for my coach, my sponsors and most importantly my family that was there cheering me on!!   I was finally catching people halfway through lap 2. At the end of the lap, the announcer said I had a shot at the top 5.  By the last lap I was starting to fall apart and sitting in 9th place.  I kept it together as best I could and made my way into 6th place.  As I got into the finish chute 5th place finished, so I shut it down and handed out high fives.  The crowd was small but it was great throughout the entire race.

After the race I found out I ended up in 3rd place in the series.  The two people ahead of me were Jarrod Shoemaker and Hunter Kemper.  Not bad company at the top!!  A big thanks goes out to my sister for cheering for me and giving time updates the whole race (except those 4 laps on the bike).  Thanks to my grandparents for once again making the drive to my race.  I have a great family that is very supportive!!  Thanks Greg, for not only getting me ready to race, but for your words of wisdom during the race – through Karly!  I could tell you were giving her things to say!  And thanks to Champion System, Profile Design, John Cobb, Skip at Nytro , Look, Hammer Nutrition, and Rudy Project for helping me be competitive at races.  Hard work and great coaching get you so far, after that quality products get you across the finish line quickly race after race.

I made it through my first season as a pro successfully and learned a ton!  I am planning on giving updates on training throughout the off season.  But get excited, next year should be a fun one!

Never, never, never give up.  ~Winston Churchill