It had been several weeks since my last race, and I could feel a bit of rust in both my pre-race prep and in my performance. I didn’t expect to kill this race, as I found it more important to shake the rust off for Augusta rather than peak for this little sprint.
I got there late and had very little time to set up my transition area and warmup. In fact, as soon as I pulled my bike out of the car I noticed that my front tube was flat, which meant I had about 5 minutes to throw my spare on and get over to the swim start. I managed to get the tube changed and get ready for the race, but it cost me my warmup, which is something I value tremendously. Had this been an earlier race, I probably would have panicked and missed my start, but having been through various stressful pre-race situations, I was able to pull it together. I got to the swim start at 7:01…my wave went at 7:05. Close call!
This swim was the strangest I’d experienced this season, as it was a 1500m swim that relied on the current to reduce the length. We swam through a causeway, which was filled with boats and docking areas, making it very difficult to sight and to stay on course. There were also a lot of people in my wave, so the crowd was pretty big and the water very choppy.
I took it easy ont he swim because I wasn’t sure where I was going, and I could feel the current pull me to the side near the docks. I couldn’t tell if I was on course or off, but I knew I had to be close because I saw a few blue caps in front of me. Rather than panic and try to speed up, I just kept sighting the best I could and hoped that I’d make it to the end with a good time.
Unfortunately, my time wasn’t very good (28:22, which includes a long run to the mat), but I came out feeling pretty good knowing that I still had plenty in the tank. My T1 time was 1:18.
The bike was interesting, as I had another issue with my skewer not being strong enough to keep the wheel out of the cutout (I need to check my limiter screw), but I only lost a minute or two there. I pushed hard and tried to stay with anyone that passed me on this flat course. I passed several people and was wishing I had more time to catch up when I reached the dismount line at 35:45. I spent 1:28 in T2 and moved quickly to the run.
I came out pretty fast on the run and noticed that I ran my first mile in just under 7 minutes. There was a time when I thought I would run the 5k in under 22 minutes, but I fell a bit short of that goal. Again, I passed quite a few people and tried to keep up with anyone that passed me by. The run also felt rather quick…I came in at 22:33 for a total time of 1:29:25, which was 264 male division, 468 overall (1300 people entered this one), and 35/71 AG.
The key for me in this race was to improve my NCTS standings, but more importantly get ready for Augusta. I realized rather quickly that I was a bit flat because I was still peaking for next weekend, but overall I’m happy with the result. I’m currently 11th AG in the NCTS this year, and I think that I can reach 10th with a strong showing at Pinehurst in October.