Clermont Draft Legal Challenge

Finally, March has arrived and I got to travel away from the snow and cold conditions in Lee’s Summit to Florida for my first two draft-legal triathlons. I’ve been looking forward to these races all winter and I was anxious to get my season started. The plan was to arrive in Florida Thursday evening. However, after being notified that my flight was going to be delayed 3 hours, I called Southwest to see if I could get on an earlier flight. After talking to the call rep, she informed me that it was a 6-hour delay (which turned out not to be true). Luckily, I was able to change my flight to an earlier one that flew to Chicago, then to Florida.

Friday was very low-key. Friday started off with a pre-race clinic at the race venue where myself and several other athletes worked on riding in a pack and working together as well as swimming in the lake and getting familiar with the course. The rest of the day was spent resting for Saturday’s race.

Saturday – Day 1                                                         Sunday – Day 2

Swim: 14:02                                                                 Swim: 12:58

T1: 1:40                                                                         T1: 1:17

Bike: 32:03                                                                   Bike: 29:39

T2: 1:23 (slowest T2 by far)                                     T2: 0:26

Run: 16:58  (3rd fastest)                                           Run: 16:38 (2nd fastest)

Total Time: 1:06:05. 43rd place                              Total Time: 1:00:56. 6th place

Saturday’s race was, needless to say, a terrible race for me. There are many excuses I could make, but the truth is I just wasn’t ready to compete. I was shivering prior to entering the water and could not get warm. I discovered that trying to get a cold body to perform at a high level in a short, fast race is not going to work very well. I ran the 5k at the end of the triathlon and had no visible sweat on my body or jersey. While many things didn’t go my way in this race, I did walk away from it with many new experiences and lessons learned.

IMG_5892                                                                                             Day 1. Not having fun. Couldn’t even get my helmet on straight

After analyzing some mistakes that I made on Saturday, my coach and I devised a plan to be better prepared for Sunday’s race. I warmed up by running (as opposed to swimming like I did on Saturday) and was wearing full sweats in 70 degree weather to guarantee that I would be sweating prior to starting the race. There were less people competing in Sunday’s race, which was nice considering Saturday’s swim was extremely physical. I noticed after the second turn buoy that I was at the back of what I assumed was the 3rd pack in the water. Exiting the water included dolphin diving or running roughly 50 yards in knee to waist deep water. After exiting the water, I made a move and passed several people as we ran to where T1 was located. After a swift transition, I was out on my bike with 3 guys and ready to work. Eventually our group consisted of anywhere from 10-13 people. Unfortunately, since several were competing in their 1st or 2nd ever draft legal triathlon, no one wanted to work together and the rotation kept falling apart. I noticed on the 3rd of 4 laps that I had good legs as I was able to cover gaps very easily. I knew we weren’t going to catch the 2nd bike group on the road, so I figured that I wanted to enter T2 at the front of this pack to avoid congestion. On the last lap, I launched an attack and gapped the group. I went with just under 1 mile to go and was surprised that I was able to maintain that gap entering T2. I had a very quick transition, and headed out to run. I felt pretty good early on and was looking forward to catching the guys in the 2nd bike group that was ahead of me. I left T2 with one guy who was setting a fast pace (eventually had fastest run split) and just tried to stay on him as long as I could. After the 1k mark, I got dropped from him but still kept a quick pace. I eventually caught everyone in the 2nd bike pack besides one guy and ran my way up to 6th place overall. I was very pleased to improve my time by over 5 minutes and redeem myself after a very poor and embarrassing performance on Saturday.

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IMG_5949                                                                                            3rd from back

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Post race. Thank you Elite Cycling for hooking me up with the Dura-Ace C50 wheels.

One thing I’m definitely looking forward to this year is being part of a team. I didn’t realize until my first race how nice it is to go to a race, especially one out of state, and have teammates there to race with and meet. I enjoyed representing Every Man Jack in Clermont with Matt Organista, James Thorp, and Steve Mantell.

IMG_5912                                                                                                  Steve, Matt, Kevin, James