Thursday, October 22, 2015

Races of all distances and formats

It’s certainly been a while since I’ve updated this, and I’ve raced a handful of times since NYC, with some great experiences. I’m typing this en route to my final race of the season for the ITU Tahiti Oceania Cup, where I’m the lone U.S. athlete on a start list of 11 men.
In the days leading up to and following NYC, I eventually came to terms with the fact that I had some sort of flu-like virus, having a pretty significant impact on my training.
A little initiative was required when I forgot my stem in Milwaukee. I was able to find a replacement, but it lacked a mount for my Garmin
I went out to Milwaukee for the elite showcase super sprint being held in conjunction with the Age Group National Championship. It was a great experience, getting to spend the morning cheering on friends in the Olympic distance race, including Coach Mace’s podium spot in his age group. As far as my race itself, a similar situation to my previous pro races developed, with some tactical error in the swim. I thought I was properly holding the feet of John O’Neill and Ben Collins until about 150m into the 325m swim, when I noticed the whole pack way off to the side of me, so I was forced to change course and get into the group where I could, which was near the back. Onto the first ride, where I felt less than stellar, and a similar feeling for the rest of the 37 minute race ensued. I certainly lacked confidence, feeling like I didn’t totally belong in that field that included several of the top ITU men from the U.S. in addition to a number of ex-collegiate swimmers and runners.
Really cool experience, with several rows deep along much of the course
I regrouped for the following weekend, choosing to forego a double race weekend in Luray and instead race the Strider Mile and Virginia Beach Lifesaving Association 5k ocean race. So, to clarify, I ran a mile on Saturday, and Sunday I swam 5k; certainly a bit backwards. I learned a lot about tactical and pack racing in both events, with my one and only ever conservative attempt at running resulting in just coming shy of a 5:00 mile. The 5k swim felt like a bike race to me, trying to cover attacks to hold feet, and ultimately finishing in a sprint to hold onto third place.
The next race wasn’t for another month, where I decided to take the plunge and actually race at Patriots Half. There was enough of a small purse to draw 3 of us local elites, including Adam Otstot, the 300-time defending champion of the race, and Dan Harris. I used some of my newfound open water experience to sit second the entire swim on the feet of a former D1 swimmer before taking the lead in T1. After that, it was a lonely, lonely 2+ hour ride, spent staring at my Garmin and the back of a motorcycle. I had some hiccups with the aid stations, with none of them being ready, but fortunately a race staff member flagged me down after the third aid station. Unlike last year, I actually quite enjoyed the ride for its entirety. When I made the turn back towards the transition near mile 40 or so, the thought actually crossed my mind that I had a chance to win. Ultimately, Adam ended up catching me within the last mile of the bike, and we entered T2 pretty much together. Despite committing a cardinal sin and putting socks on, I managed to get out in front by a bit, leading until maybe the 1km mark of the run before Adam came by. Then it became more a question of survival for the next hour and a half. Dan passed me somewhere around 7-8km, and I thought maybe I could keep him in my sight, but he went on to put a good deal of time into me. At that point, I tried to limit some of the damage, walking more aid stations and getting more fluid in when I could. When I reached the 10km mark of the run, I had to stop and answer the super-secret long course troll’s three questions to continue, and fortunately he let me go. The back half of the run felt like a slow, painful beating, where I just wanted to nap. I ended up just holding off Austin Jackson, a fellow All-Navy athlete, finishing in 3rd. I’m not going to say never again on a half, but it’s going to be a while.
Podium + dollars

Following Patriots, I was charged and ready to get going for my final race of the season, with a couple of tune-up races in the form of the MACTC Draft Legal event in Greensboro, NC, and the Old Dominion University Triathlon in Norfolk, but near-miss-hurricane Joaquin cancelled those plans. So that leaves me here, on a plane in the middle of a 22-hour travel day.
The hurricane may never have hit, but Pleasure House Point was still underwater


  1. Congrats on the prize purse and sometimes an extra few seconds to put on socks can save much time later if/when the blisters come. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. Are those Brooks Launch 2's? I'm going to those for my upcoming season.

    1. They are! I mostly race in Pure Connects (currently racing in the 4s), but I wanted a little more cushion for the half because I don't normally race that long, and I was treating it kind of more like a long training day, so I opted for what are my regular training shoes.