Heading back east is always an experience to race in, it is almost guaranteed to be humid and will likely be hot as well and I was hoping that my attempt to prepare of the heat would pay off. When I stepped off the plane though I knew that nothing could prepare me if it stayed like it was, 100 degrees and humidity in the 90's. The only saving grace was that according to the always accurate weathermen it was going to get cooler as race day approached, fingers crossed. In the first couple days I spent most of it drenched in my own sweat even when I was standing still. Craig of course got a great laugh out of this because every time he looked at me I was dripping in to my own puddle. Thankfully Will Kelsay, Shelby Katz and I were able to get out of the heat and was very conveniently staying just off of the bike course thanks to Jon and Patti. It was great to be able connect back with Jon after riding together in the Springs in March. Patti destroyed her age group in the 21k on Saturday by 18 minutes, and Shelby was going to use it as a long run until she got stung by a few yellow jackets and just decided to do the 21k and not add on an additional 9k afterwards still finishing mid pack of her AG with a nice stop to change socks with Will.
|2XU Compression Tri Singlet and Short|
|Chatting before the start (blue cap on left is me)|
Thankfully nice cool temperatures greeted us on Sunday morning, it was great to be able to ride from the house down to transition for a good warm up. The nice warm water was great for another non-wetsuit swim, and I got to break in my new 2XU Compression race kit as well.
The swim in Richmond is interesting, it is a bit short because for the constraints of the river but there are plenty of times where you can run and you regularly hit rocks as you swim along but the XTERRA crew did a great job of getting things cleaned up and managed to lengthen the swim as well so it was a bit more fair as well. I thought I had read the river correctly with the current before the start but I realized quickly that I needed to start further upstream and really use the current to carry me towards the first buoy. Dan read it perfectly starting further upstream and hit things perfectly to the first buoy and had a small gap on us. I managed to be just off their feet as we hit Belle Isle for a nice 50m jaunt across before diving back in for the second leg of the swim. With the warm water I struggled a bit to go hard but managed to pull things back as we neared the end of the swim. Just before we exited though a kayaker decided that we didn't know where we were going and forced me off of my path to exit in a different location than originally intended. I punched it a bit out of the water to make sure I was still into transition on Craig, Conrad and Dan's heels.
|Craig and I headed up to the road chasing Dan and Conrad. Photo Courtesy of XTERRA|
We road up on to the highway to get over to the single-track for a two loop bike and Conrad powered away from us, Dan did his best to chase and Craig and I sat in behind for the long bike.
|Heading toward the road, Craig, Dan and Conrad are just ahead. Photo Courtesy of XTERRA|
Into the forest I sat behind Craig knowing that he was better at the tight technical trails and I could gain by staying on his wheel. I bobbled a bit not shifting to a lower gear before a hike a bike section and couldn't close the gap that opened when I struggled to push the large gear to get going.
|Across the concrete bridge solidly in 4th, Photo Courtesy of XTERRA|
The big issue that we then ran into was that there was a shorter sport race that started ahead of us and immediately we started catching the slower athletes on the bike. It made the bike interesting for sure but it was frustrating because we were racing for a paycheck while they were out racing maybe their first tri and they were having to get off their bikes to allow us to pass. By the end of the first lap for us we passed 85-90% of the field after starting thirty minutes behind them and swimming a longer course. I felt bad for the sport course athletes because we did not intend to but ruined their race in some respects.
|Getting a fresh bottle for the second lap. Photo Courtesy of Will Kelsay|
We had about 2 miles or so of clear trails as we started the second lap before we then started to run into the tail end of the Championship race who were on their first lap while we were on our second. The further we got into our second lap we were passing more and more racers who were more competitive and reluctant to let us by until they knew that we are the pro men coming through. I was very happy to be running the Ergon GS1 grips as not to hook any trees or fellow racers through the course.
I came into transition a minute thirty down on Craig, but Dan and Conrad were out of reach being five and seven minutes up respectably. I did the smart thing this week and grabbed my bag of ice from the cooler this time and hit the run. I got Craig in my sights as we hit the bridge and then the flood wall and reeled him in just before the Mayan Staircase.
|About to hit the staircase after catching Craig. Photo Courtesy of XTERRA|
|Reaching the top trying to open up the gap on Craig.|
After getting over the top my legs started to struggle a bit, I managed a decent pace but it was definitely slowed compared to before climbing the stairs. I didn't have any time checks to know how far the speedy Nico Lebrun was behind but hit the Dry Way and found a nice route through. I debated but decided to get a time check from Shelby and at first things were fine and Nico wasn't visible. Three seconds later she tells me he's thirty seconds back. I keep it moving but he passes halfway through Belle Isle. As we are in the last mile over the pedestrian bridge across the river I notice that the gap he opened is getting smaller and smaller and I am pulling him back in, I surge as much as I can in the closing mile, it just isn't quite enough. I fall 8 seconds short and finish in 4th. It was a little tough because I was 9 seconds off of the podium last year so to come up just short again, you really think about where you might have been able to find 8 seconds. It is still a solid finish to a great year thus far.
|Craig/Jessica (5th), Nico/Suzie (3rd), Shonny/Conrad (1st), Melanie/Dan (2nd), Chris/Me (4th), Photo XTERRA|