I googled a bunch of local races throughout the dallas area to see what i had available for me, and found a cool unique race i hadnt seen in michigan or seattle before. Its called an X-50 (1 mile swim, 40 mile bike, 9 mile run) and seemed like a perfect season opening race.
Training had been going very solidly leading up to the race, no injuries, solid volume. Overall i was highly optimistic about the race. When i got to the park, and parked in my spot I started to get in the zone and excited to race again. A triathlon "in the zone" feeling is way different than just a swim meet or a 5k feeling. It really amps you up!
After dropping my bike off in transition and getting everything laid out, i headed down to the water to warm up. The lake was incredibly warm, something absurd like 86 degrees. Last time i swam in something so piss warm was age group nationals in Tuscaloosa one year in August. It is far from ideal for any swimmer, let alone a floater.
For the first time in my triathlon career I was nervous for the swim. I had not swam more than 3 times in 6 months. I figured since i had always been a strong swimmer that would stay with me...i would never lose it right? WRONG! I couldnt swim straight, my stroke was so weak i couldnt keep my head above water and I drank multiple gallons, i ended up in a seaweed field off course, I had never made any mistakes in the history of all the swims i had done in a triathlon, and here i am giving up 3 minutes to the lead pack. UHO
I got out of the water and usain bolted to transition, and had the fastest T1 in the race. I got on my bike and the goal was to settle into a solid pace, focusing on riding steady and holding a power range suggested by Andy. After about 15 miles (just before the turn around for the 2nd lap) i realized that i hadnt made up any ground on the leaders, and in fact i had lost about 30 seconds, but i was riding a higher power than andy suggested. I kept to my game plan and said 'if these guys are riding like this, they have to give some back to me in the run.'
I got off the bike down 3 and a half minutes and was in 3rd overall. I had calculated that if i run about 20 seconds per mile into these guys i would be right back in it. The first time i saw them and got a time check i found out i had cut in 30 seconds into their lead, but it took 2.5 miles, so i was behind pace. I maintained my effort, and stuck to the game plan. After exiting the woods a half mile later i had missed a turn that i needed to make and lucky for me i had a random spectator tell me that this wasn't part of the course, so i had to turn around and right the ship. At this point i was irate. I was making ground on the leaders but missed my turn due to poor marking and gave up the time i had made...probably lost :30 seconds at this miscue.
I got back on the right track and was really pressing the pace to make up for lost time. Made it out to mile 4 and it was an out and back point where i would be able to see the leaders again for another time check. I ran past an aid station, and they yelled at me turn around!! Perfect another poorly marked and managed part on the course. The problem with this race was that they tried to run 3 different distances and it really threw a kink in their marking systems.
Lucky for me I had only gone 20 yards out of my way before i was corrected. 10 yards in front of me i saw a couple racers coming back from the long road, and it hit me...the leaders had gone way out of their way and I was back in the race! We all turned around together and were back on course in a lead pack of 3. Now my 30 seconds i had given up by going the wrong was was minimal to the 2-3 mins they tacked on. Within a short distance our pack shrank to 2. Me and another local young phenom, who had tons of support out on the course. He had tons of friends, family, and even coaches i presume, and here i was a new import from out of state, all i had was my lonely self to cheer me on. We ran together for awhile, probably 2 miles before he made a push and i fell back a little bit. We still had plenty of race to go and I wasnt trying to get caught up in a pissing match at this point. I never let him get more than 10 seconds ahead of me and that margin held for another mile or so before i realized i was starting to gain on him again.
We hit mile 7 and the gap had been closed, we were shoulder to shoulder again. Unfortunately I had started to hit a wall, as my nutrition wasnt as spot on as it could have been, and he started to gap me again, and before i knew it he was out of sight. This really hurt me. The windy roads through the woods allowed him to get away. At the final turn around with a mile and a quarter to go i was on E. I heard they had coke at this aid station when i went trhough the first time and i was all over it the second lap through. I took 2 cups and downed them asap, and within 1 minute i was back and ticking again. I began to run upright again, and the turnover came back to me. I was opening it up putting everything i had into it, but it was too little too late, he had done the necessary damage when he neeeded to, and when i was at my lowest, and it was the right move. I ended up losing by 1 minute, probably giving all that time in that lowly mile stretch. Great race and a great competitor to race alongside during the crucial points in the race.
I ended up getting 2nd overall, with a much faster time than expected. I had biked about 5 minutes faster than I predicted going in, and ran a few minutes faster as well. The swim, well that was another story and will come back when i get my A$$ back in the water consistently. My splits were 22:15 in the swim (def wasn't a mile!) 1:41:33 for 40 mile bike (23.6 mph) and 1:00:30 for the 9 mile run with the miscue, good for 2nd fastest run of the day, probably looking at 6:30s per mile pace.
With the swim aside i was very pleased with the result. Had a very solid bike, for what little bike work i have put in so far this season, and to hold it together on the run, and finally post a good feeling run without cramping or having major race blowing nutrition issues was a huge plus!