I woke up race morning to find out a quick storm had rolled through, which made for what was already going to be a muggy morning even worse. The humidity and bugs at Pleasant Creek State Park were outrageous. Once getting to transition, I set up my transition spot and headed back to my car for a bit before getting in a warm up jog.
I debated for several days whether or not I should wear a wetsuit since it’s only a 500-meter swim. Water temp was 70 degrees race week, 72 at packet pickup on Saturday, and 73.4 degrees race morning. With the air temp also a very muggy 70, I decided I’d go without a wetsuit and risk losing a bit of time in the water in order to make up time on the long run to our bikes and obviously no need spending time to get out of my wetsuit. I think I made the correct decision.
I started off well and just tried to find the feet of the two pros (Jake Rhyner and Alex Libin) early in the swim. I got on them but only lasted for 100 meters or so as they slowly pulled away, which I expected. After the turn around buoy half way out, there were two guys just in front of me. I put in a hard surge to get with them and it worked. I finished strong and was quite happy with my swim, exiting in 5th place.
T1 is typically pretty low key, but unfortunately for me, this one was not. I ran hard on the beach and passed the two guys I got out of the water with. I knew running hard to my bike was important since I decided to go no wetsuit and, thus, didn’t have to reach behind me to unzip my wetsuit or pull it down to my waist while trying to run. I could just run hard, so I did. The run to our bikes is not an easy one at Pigman. After the long stretch in the sand, you run on grass that is a rather short but steep climb that isn’t enjoyable after swimming. I finally made it to my bike only to see it knocked over and on its side. I picked up my bike, put on my helmet and took off. As I ran uphill through transition, I looked down at my bike and thought, “what’s missing? Something is definitely missing.” Wait, where’s my water bottle? Apparently when my bike got knocked over, the water bottle I have between my elbow pads fell out. I had a moment of hesitation while deciding if I turn around to go get it, which would easily cost me 45-60 seconds, or just screw it and go without hydration or electrolytes on the bike. Jake and Alex were just in front of me, so I decided to go without.
I started the bike just 15-20 seconds behind the two leaders. I quickly decided to put in a very hard 3-5 minute segment to see if I could close the gap to the leaders. By the time we exited the state park (just over 2 miles into the bike), I had made up roughly 8-10 seconds, which I was ecstatic about. But I knew I still had a lot of work to do to make up the next 8-10 seconds to get with them. After flying down the big hill, I put my head down again and hammered hard to try to close in on them. They were legally working together and I knew being in that group would help me a lot. At the first U-turn just before mile 5, I was within 5 seconds. Unfortunately, this turn gave them a chance to see me (they probably didn’t know I was closing and I can only assume they weren’t going 100% yet) and they took off! Damn. I worked so hard to make up roughly 15 seconds and now they were slowly pulling away from me. I kept at it and just tried to keep them within sight and minimize the damage. At the second U-turn just past mile 10, I was 40 and 30 seconds down, respectively, to 1st and 2nd. Going up the hill to get to the park entrance, I started making up time on Alex. We rode within 10 seconds of each other all the way to transition, which gave me hope for the run.
After racking my bike, slipping into my Saucony Kinvara’s, and taking off my helmet, I grabbed my race belt and located my water bottle that was a few spots over from my transition spot. I grabbed it as I headed out to start the run. During the uphill run through the parking lot (transition area), I drank from my bottle the entire time. I managed to drink half of the bottle before setting it down right before leaving transition, and I told the volunteer I’d be back for it after the race. Very much needed, I was extremely thirsty and had cotton mouth for the last 6-7 miles of the bike ride.
I felt absolutely horrible right out of transition, but Alex was just up the road 10 seconds. I really wanted to get with him to make it a head-to-head running race. I tried to use the downhills throughout the first half mile to close that gap. A little past the half mile when the course flattens out across the dam, I got an unofficial time check to Alex; now down 23 seconds. Crap! He’s moving. I haven’t felt this tired and worn out in quite a while during a triathlon. I got 2 cups of water at both mile 1 and mile 2 aid station. I hardly ever get anything from aid stations in Olympic distance races let alone a sprint distance race. I started to feel slightly better around half way, but it wasn’t until after the 2nd mile that I finally found my stride going back across the dam toward the finish line (run course is out-and-back). Unfortunately, I had to go up the same hill I came down earlier in the first half mile and it hurt, but I was able to finish strong over the 3.2 miles.
Overall: 1:01:19. Third overall.
I’m quite pleased with my race at Pigman this year. I was able to walk away making a profit after factoring in all my expenses; which, is never a bad thing. I was over 2 minutes faster than last year and I biked over 3 minutes faster than 2016 (I will admit, after analyzing the two files, 2017 bike course was a tad bit shorter than 2016, but not by a lot). I tried sticking my nose in with some pros to see if I could hang. Unfortunately, my bike was accidentally knocked over in transition and I didn’t realize my water bottle was gone until it was too late. While I do feel it impacted my race, I do not feel it impacted my placing, only my time. I do think being more hydrated and having electrolytes on the bike would have helped me on the run considering how muggy and humid it was. Regardless, I had an absolute blast racing and it was another fun test. For now, I’m going to take some much needed rest. Racing 4 times in 5 weeks has certainly taken its toll on me. I will follow up with my thoughts on that in a few weeks in another blog post.
I have to give a huge shout out to my mother who made the trip with me. The support (and pictures) are always very much appreciated.