I decided to head across state and participate in the New Town Triathlon in St. Charles ( a St. Louis suburb) instead of racing locally, for what would have been my 5th time, at the Shawnee Mission Triathlon. There were several factors impacting this decision: prize money, course, potential competition, and as it turns out, weather was a factor which I didn’t initially plan for but played a huge role. SM Triathlon is hilly and I was going to race short course (500 m swim, 9 mile bike, 3.2 mile run) vs NT Triathlon which is completely flat and longer (1k swim, 20 mile bike, 4 mile run). With my next big race being Age Group Nationals, and knowing that the course is relatively flat, especially the run, I decided that NT Triathlon would better prepare me for AGN. Plus, with the added incentive of prize money, it was a no brainer. As it turns out, the SM Triathlon was canceled due to inclement weather, so my decision to drive across state was definitely a smart one.
Race morning was same as always, up early, eat a light breakfast and head to the race. I got to the race early to take my bike for a quick spin to make sure my bike was shifting properly and brakes were not rubbing. This was the first time I’ve traveled to a race in my Honda Civic instead of my dad’s truck, so I had to take the wheels off to fit in my car.
I was told that the swim course was reverse from last year and started in a different spot, so instead of swimming the 1k like they said it was, it was actually over 1100 meters. It didn’t matter to me how far it was, I was just excited that they actually allowed for a swim warm up. I got in the water a good 20 minutes early to warm up. I know this helped me in the swim because I had one of my better swims this year. I got off to a fast start and was side by side going into the first turn buoy with another athlete. After turning the buoy, I put in a surge, took the lead, and opened up a gap to avoid him drafting off me. I felt really good half way through the swim. Typically after a fast start, I hit a lull where my form breaks down and I more or less just splash in the water and drastically slow down. However, that was not the case here. I felt strong and I know the swim warm up was the main reason for this. I eventually was passed by a former high school swimmer and happily sat on his feet and drafted until we exited the water. I was only 3 seconds back. Just over 1100 meters (according to several Garmin 910’s) in 13:37 is definitely a good swim for me.
Transition was very small and it only took me 39 seconds to get out of the water, take off my speed suit, put on my Rudy helmet and glasses, grab my bike and run out of transition with it.
The bike course is extremely flat (62 ft elevation gain over 19.6 miles according to my Garmin) with a lot of 90 degree turns (at least 10 of them). I must admit, it’s probably one of the hardest bike courses I’ve done because you have no hills to break up the flat sections. I just had to stay in the aero position and try to crank out the necessary speed/power. It’s crazy to think I averaged roughly 26 mph but my max speed was only 28.5 mph. I took the lead only a half mile into the race and worked hard on finding a rhythm and trying to open up a gap. Seven miles into the race, the gap was only 5-10 seconds. Finally, around mile 13, I put in a big effort and started to open up the gap on 2nd place and came into T2 with roughly a 45 second lead. I posted the fastest bike split with a time of 45:52 for 20 miles (which was really 19.6 miles).
T2 was extremely quick, only 24 seconds to rack bike, take off helmet, put on my Saucony Kinvara shoes, grab race belt, run across transition and head out onto the run course.
The run course was pancake flat and I just tried to settle into a nice tempo early on with the goal of staying consistent. There were no mile markers on the course, and I wore my regular watch rather than my Garmin, but I felt like I kept an even pace and focused on staying relaxed. It was a two loop course and I went through the first lap in around 10:20. I was happy I kept a consistent pace and finished the run with a split of 20:43 for 4 miles.
Overall I’m happy with my race. It’s nice to win some money, which doesn’t happen very often for amateurs. This race was also a perfect race to help prepare me for AGN and served as a rust buster as I am just coming off my mid-season break. I’m anxious to see what I can do at AGN on August 9th and 10th as I will be racing both the Olympic distance (on the 9th) and the Sprint distance (on the 10th).
I have to give a huge shout out to Cameron Bogue and his family for allowing me to stay with them while I was in town to help save on cost. It was greatly appreciated. Also, thanks to Every Man Jack for getting me clean after what turned out to be a very muggy and humid morning. Thanks to my parents and Cameron who were at the race cheering me on and taking pictures. And, of course, many thanks to my coach, Ryan; who adjusted my training on the fly this week to adapt to my busier than normal work schedule and an unexpected battle with fatigue/dead legs all week long. Without these adjustments, there is no way I could have performed the way I did.
P.S. I think every race should have a post-race shower like EMJ did at Vineman 70.3!