It’s been several years since I have raced a triathlon in Austin and I was looking forward to getting in the mix with a solid international field. Leaving Terra & Zane’s by 5am we successfully avoided the traffic jam other athletes experienced. I was able to get things sorted in T1 with no issues and hit my pre-race warm-up of movement prep exercises followed by a short run before walking down to the swim start. During the closing moments of the National Anthem someone must have inadvertently pulled the power plug as the singer’s microphone died and the swim start arch began to deflate. With a slight chuckle I briefly pondered if this was a sign of how my race would unfold…
Swim (26:37) – With a decent number of athletes toeing the line I figured it would be pretty easy to secure a draft. The only question being, would I be able to get myself in the proper group. I made an aggressive start and was able to position myself in the first main chase pack which included Trevor Wurtele (CAN) and several others. The pace felt peppy, but not out of my range. I exited T1 with a group of about six other athletes.
Bike (2:15) – The first 15 miles of the bike proved to be somewhat messy at times as athletes were jockeying for position. I saw three penalties being dished out with the head referee keeping a close eye on our group. After watching one of the Europeans receive a drafting penalty and then proceed to ride on the yellow line (perhaps some confusion of whether or not we were racing under the stagger rule) I found myself getting impatient and wanting to get around him. Looking back a couple of times I could see the race official was busy noting the play of the guys behind me and not seeing this athlete riding to the left. I finally had enough and passed him on the right. Sure enough a few moments later I was flashed my first penalty card, a yellow, for an illegal pass. I politely pleaded my case and even asked the official to confer with his driver how long the guy had been riding the yellow line. I successfully negotiated my way out of the penalty. Riding up on Ian Mikelson (USA), I exchanged a few words of the sketchy nature of things at the moment. Ian’s response of, “This is a freaking comedy show” summed it up pretty well. The remainder of the bike was a bit of a cat & mouse game as our group picked up a couple of other athletes and shed a few as the bike progressed. My legs felt steady & strong through the midway mark and I was hoping to pick up the pace over the final third of the course. With proper fueling and a focused work rate I was able to maintain my pace and finish the bike well improving my overall position from 17th to 13th.
Run (1:18) – Exiting T2 outside the rodeo hall, I was intent on running hard and finding my form. Within the first mile I passed Peter Clode (New Zealand) and a couple of others. The backside of the run course featured a three mile stretch over uneven grass with some hills. It was pretty quiet with no spectators and tough to exactly know my position as the course twisted & turned through some wooded areas. It was the type of course that can create an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality and I dug deep mentally to press my pace. Reaching the turn-around back near the rodeo hall I noted I was running in about 10th position. While it appeared I was too far back from the last money spot (5th position) I continued to work hard. I caught Mikelson around the eight or nine mile mark and tried to encourage him to keep digging. He was hanging tough on a difficult day. Lapping a few age group athletes I made a final push towards the finish, passing Lewis Eliott (USA) and Wurtle in the closing segments of the run finishing 8th overall in 4:04.
It was a decent day for me as I finish off my build for IMFL in November. This is a great event with a challenging bike & run course. Throughout the weekend athletes were treated to Texan hospitality. You gotta like a race that serves up barbeque and ice cream at the finish line! I had the privilege of speaking at the IronPrayer service Saturday afternoon before the race and it allowed me to really appreciate the opportunities God has given me. It was great to have the support of friends on the course and coach Zane. I would also like to thank my sponsors for their continued support: Team Sport Beans/NTTC, Valdora Bicycles, Rudy Project, Spira Footwear, blueseventy and TriSwim.
Keep it smooth,