Last year I happened to be the runner-up at USAT Nationals and 3rd overall at the race. This year I wanted to do well, but with it being my 3rd race in 4 weeks, I was not sure how it was going to go. Going into the race I was battling some fatigue but once the horn sounded I felt surprisingly well.
Swim - It was not a wetsuit swim, but the water and the air were chilly so I decided to warm-up in my wetsuit. In the first 200m I was repeatedly smashed into and took another "punch" to the eye. The physicality of the swims seems to happen to me a lot, so I am starting to wonder if all swims are like this or if I just happen to be the one that swerves all over and causes the contact. But at any rate I was tired of it so I did what I normally do in this situation: I grabbed the hip of the person to my right and pushed him under me to the left so I could be on the outside. I felt good in the water and I knew I was swimming well, because I was with William at the first buoy. I maintained contact with the people around me and for the first time in as long as I can remember I got out of the water in a good position and I still had some energy.
Bike - Once on the bike there were single people strewn out on the road and I could see a pack about 15 seconds ahead. I rode as hard as I could to catch William, he got on the bike about 5 seconds before me. I knew if I caught him, we could catch the pack within sight. Once we caught that pack I realized there was another pack about 50 seconds up the road. Darn it!! I had a good swim but I was afraid this was going to happen...Ben Kanute is a great swimmer and a very strong cyclist. If he had a pack with him, I knew it was going to be a long day. There were only about 4 guys in my pack that wanted to/could do any work. I spent a lot of time pushing hard at the front and after 3 laps of maintaining or losing 5 seconds I had to start thinking about the run. Not what I wanted to do but with minimal help and a strong cyclist at the head of the front pack I had to cut my loses, keep it close, and wait for the run. I still spent a lot of time at the front of the bike pack, but it was more to keep my pack going than to catch up. I also spent some time drifting back to yell "words of encouragement" at the rest of the guys with me. At the end of the 40k we were 2 min down. I had a lot of ground to make up on the run.
Run - My transition was a lot better this year! Although, I still struggle to get my feet in my shoes occasionally. I was off and running with a lot of lonely ground to make up. Finally after 2 laps I caught someone. Then I caught Ben Kanute. It was frustrating to lose time on the bike, but after seeing him death march the run, I knew I made the right decision to not go all in and try to catch the front pack. On the last lap I could see 3 guys 25 seconds up. I tried all I could to go faster and run them down, but I ran out of road. I finished in 7th. Not a stellar place, but I was happy with how I raced and how I felt during the race. It just wasn't in the cards to have a repeat of last year.
Thanks to my mom for driving me to and from Buffalo, NY and for getting me where I needed to go. And thank you to my amazing fiancee!! Melissa, her mother, and her sister, Kristyn, made the 7 hour trip Saturday morning. It was great to have them there for the race. It was also nice to have Greg and William's family there to cheer on Team IE!! And thanks again to all my sponsors. This life would not be possible without them!
Never complain and never explain. ~Benjamin Disraeli