Age Group National Championships 2018 Race Report
The gun went off. I was not ready. Not even remotely ready. In fact, I didn’t even have my speedo on. But it was okay, because I wasn’t in the first wave. I didn’t start for another hour and ten minutes, at 8:10 am. So we watched over beautiful Lake Erie as the 30-34 year old men swam and swam and swam. And we watched as the calm lake started to get choppier and choppier and choppier as time went on. Then my teammate Cody, standing next to me, says “the swim is long.” And if you know me, you would know that this is music to my ears, because I love swimming! (just kidding. It is actually the opposite. So if you actually know me, you know swimming is my weakness (for now) and that was sarcasm.) Cody said he started his watch at the gun, and they were already 23 minutes into the swim, and the first swimmer was not even close to being out of the water. Now, usually in an Olympic distance triathlon, the first swimmers will exit the water in around 18 minutes or sometimes faster. So they were waaaaay back there. Great. Thanks for the news, Cody.
By my swim start, the lake was not calm anymore but instead pretty choppy. The waves were big enough that you couldn’t see past them. So you could only see the sight buoys if you happened to sight while at the top of a wave. It was a long, tough swim. I will not bore you with details or tall tales from the swim. When I got out of the water I felt three things: 1. Joy because I was done swimming. (This is a feeling I get every time I finish swimming.) 2. Trashed. I felt awful. The swim took a lot out of me and it felt like I was stumbling my way towards the transition area. I thought my day was over right now because I had no energy. 3. I felt the smooth flow of air on my skin over my entire body as I tore off my wetsuit. Damn do speedos feel nice.
Swim time: 26:08
No crashes, falling down, flat tires, wardrobe malfunctions or anything else of note in transition. Mostly smooth…. Onto the bike.
Transition 1: 2:19
My race plan for the bike was as follows: Go so hard that you don’t think you’ll be able to finish the bike leg. Not a SINGLE watt is to be left un-mashed. Always be sending it. Do not lose focus. Are you sending it? No? Then let’s go. Don’t you dare leave your 53-11. This is grind time baby. The bike leg wins the race. If you have the fastest run split you didn’t bike hard enough. This is not a triathlon. This is a 40k TT in a watermelon speedo. #skin #is #aero.
I knew a bunch of people in my age group. My friend and old Clemson teammate Jeff is a really strong swimmer and also a solid biker. When I passed him on the outbound expedition (before the bike turn around) I figured things were probably going pretty well for me. Then on the return mission back towards transition I passed what I assumed to be the lead group of bikers from my age group. There were 5 or so of them, and I knew these guys were some of the fastest swim-bikers in my age group. At this point I knew I was either at or close to the front. I #sentit all the way into transition, never failing to mash a single watt, dismounted, and heaved my bike onto my shoulder cyclocross style. (At the Boston (du)Athlon a few weeks prior, my bike hit a bump and I ate it in transition, so I wasn’t taking the risk today.) The transition area was long and I’m not gonna lie… my arm was pretty tired halfway through from carrying my bike. But I knew I had to just suck it up and #sendit all the way through transition. As I approached my age groups section of the racks, I saw a single, lone bike. I must be the second one here. L. F. G. #lit #speed #gainz #aero #speedo
Bike Split: 56:26
Transition 2: 1:04
If you know me, running is my strength. And this time that isn’t sarcasm. I ran D1 cross country at Clemson University and am usually a top 3 run split in triathlons. So being second onto the run is pretty dope for me. The plan now was to #sendit (still in a watermelon speedo) for 10k. I felt pretty trashed after that bike leg, which is a good thing. All according to plan. Save absolutely nothing for the run. All out on the bike. So far so good, now I just gotta hold it together for 10k.
On the run I right away see my coach James Petersen. Thankfully he decided last minute to fly out to Cleveland for the race. Also - big thanks to USAT for providing live tracking updates and for smartphones that allow you to look up past race results very fast. As I pass him, he says, “You’re 50 seconds back. And you run a minute faster than this kid.” Well damn. If that isn’t cutting it close then I don’t know what is. But I want to win the overall, not just my age group. So I turn back to him and ask, “for the overall?” “Yes,” he shouted back (20-24 earns the title of most dominant age group), and I scurried along and up the steep hill at the start of the run course.
Fast forwarding through (almost) 5k of pain (it was a 2 lap course), I see my coach again before the start of the second lap. He says that now I am only 23 seconds behind. If you do the math, I am gaining time on first place, but slowly.
So we hit the turn around and go up the steep hill again. I can see first place and I start counting once he reaches the top of the hill. Then I get to the top of the hill. 15 seconds behind. I just picked up another 8 seconds in barely any time. This means he was slowing down a lot. Game over. It was at this point I knew I had it locked in. I saw my coach again and I gave him the “we eating” motion, because, well, we were eating. My coach then actually texted our teams group chat that he was updating during the race and said, “15 seconds down and just gave me a “eating him up” skit.” Locked. Down. Pack it up boys. Watts were mashed and now we just “cruise” in to victory. And I put “cruise” in quotations because I was still sending it and this was one of the most painful runs I have ever done. I cross the line, do a little post race interview, and then ship off to the drug tent for the next two hours where I had to be watched until I could “produce a sample” aka piss in a cup. It takes a long time to pee after doing a triathlon on a hot day….. something something dehydration…..
Run Split: 33:33
Total Time: 1:59:29