When I mapped out my race schedule at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t planning on going back to South Carolina to do the DU. I started a new job and have some other early season goals, so taking 5 days off to go race didn’t seem feasible. But after moving some things around at work and with the help of USA Triathlon, I was able to make the trip.
The drive to Greenville, SC is about 12 hours (with no stops) from Michigan. My dad brought the RV from Big Rapids to Grand Rapids on Wednesday afternoon and we were able to leave that evening. Not only is he my bag man, he’s also my driver!
We made it to Greenville Thursday afternoon to have a day of relaxing before the craziness of the weekend got underway. The good news was that I only signed up for 2 of the 3 races instead of all 3 like I did last year! That hurt…a LOT!
As the week progressed, the weather outlook for Saturday and Sunday kept getting worse and worse. I was skeptical we would even be able to race with the thunderstorms and tornado watches that were forecast. Even up until Saturday morning, I didn’t think we were going to race. Thankfully, the weather held off for us the first day…
Saturday: Draft-legal sprint
I knew it was going to be a fast race toeing the line against Justin Lippert, Ryan Giuliano, Derek Stone, Jacob Capin, and 17-year-old Nick Holmes (9:30 2-mile guy according to Ryan).
Run 1- Guys! (pant, pant pant) Wait (pant) for (pant) me!
Wowzers! I did everything I could just to stay with the lead group. There were 6 or 7 of us in the front pack and I was just trying to stay in contact. Derek pushed the pace early then Justin and Nick had the lead for a good chunk of time until 2 other guys took the lead. They turned out to be a non-factor in the end, though. We averaged 5:06/mile for the first 5k which is just 4 seconds/mile off my 5k PR! But I knew I had to stay with the group if I wanted a shot on the bike so I just went for it.
T1- I made it!
Time- 39 seconds
I was the last of the group to make it into transition but had a great T1 and was out on the bike right behind Ryan. I was able to slide my feet into my shoes on the fly, so I was first out on the main road for the ride. I hope Derek figures out his transitions because he was only 4 seconds behind us on the run so he could've made the bike pack, but his T1 was 13 seconds slower than mine. He puts his shoes on before mounting the bike!🤦♂️Long-course guys…
Bike- Draft-legal is fun!
The bike was pretty uneventful. We didn't push the pace much; my average power was just 215W and my normalized was 243W. There was one time that I had to work pretty hard, though. At the first turnaround spot, Justin put in a good surge and I was last in line coming around the turn. My 1:00 power for that was 353W but I knew I had to get back on the train or risk getting dropped. There was one time I thought about making a break for it after the turnaround on the second lap. I was in the lead and had put in a surge out of the turn and nobody was coming with me. I had opened about a 15-yard gap and thought about just going for it. But I knew we still had another lap and a half to go and I didn't want to burn matches just for the group to catch up to me at the end and then have nothing left for the run.
T2- Stupid mistakes will cost you
Time- 40 seconds
I was second heading into transition behind Justin, right where I wanted to be. I saw my blue shoes and went to rack my bike...but those were not my blue shoes and I had run passed my spot. I'm pretty sure I let out an audible f-bomb...oops! So I ran back and VERY quickly got my shoes on to get out of T2. I came out of T2 4 seconds behind Nick, 2 seconds behind Justin, and 1 second ahead of Ryan.
Run 2- Don’t cramp, don’t cramp, don’t cramp!
My left calf was cramping and I wasn't running very well (I drank an entire bottle of GU energy drink mix during the bike so I'm not sure why the cramp). Ryan had pulled ahead of me and Nick and Justin were gone down the road. Coming out of the baseball fields at the top of the hill, I asked dad what AG the guy behind me was in because I just wanted to win the AG at that point (crazy, but we were all in different AGs!). Then, I started to feel better and caught up to Ryan. He told me to go get Justin and Nick and I was gaining on them. I started to pick up the pace after passing Ryan but he wasn't going away that easily. He caught back up to me and passed me for a minute until we were running side-by-side battling for 4th place. Now my goal was just to beat him and make the overall podium. But we were gaining on Nick and FAST!
At the last turnaround with just over 400m to go, Nick was within striking distance. I hit the gas and went all out after that turn. I knew it wasn't long until the finish and I was just had to catch Nick and stay ahead of Ryan. I caught and passed Nick but he and Ryan were RIGHT behind me. I kept looking over my shoulders to make sure they weren’t gaining on me. It came down to the final steps and I was able to hold them off and Ryan was able to catch Nick too! That was crazy because Nick had a 13-second lead on us at the first checkpoint and still 8 seconds at the last turnaround with 0.3 miles to go! Those are the kind of races you dream about. I just wish it would've been a sprint for the win and not second. Shout out to Justin for having a heck of a Run 2, though.
Finish Time- 54:16
1st Place 30-34 AG
2nd Place Overall
After the race, I was able to catch up with my brother and his girlfriend who drove all the way from Atlanta. Tyler and I even did a shakeout jog together after the race. He’s been working on his photography skills too and as you can see from the pictures below, he’s getting pretty good! Although, I will say he had a pretty easy “canvas” to work with 😎
Up next, the non-draft sprint tomorrow (Sunday)!