My old nemesis: Stumpy Creek. I hate this race. At least that's what I said 2 years ago when I raced it. After that, I swore off the Olympic distance. I have not raced one since. For me, I'm at a competitive disadvantage. The swim is just too long compared to the bike and run distances. That's why the half is my sweet spot. The swim is only 30% longer, but the bike and run are more than double. I need that distance to make up the deficit I have coming out of the water.
|Obligatory Swag Shot|
I was kinda hesitant since that means you start in the very first wave with all the really good people. So it was gonna be a little embarrassing to come out of the water dead last in that group. But the next wave will catch me, so I won't be coming out of the water in no man's land. The best part are racing open is the bib number. 5. Yeah that's it. Just "5". Single digits, baby! I feel so pro. I just wish I could swim.
Since this race is local, about an hour away up in Mooresville, NC, I just drove up that morning and got my packet. I won't bore you will all the logistical details as I've droned on about them before in 2012 and 2013. So I'll just say it was kinda fun to pick up number 5. A few comments from the chip pickup people and the body marking people and I was into transition.
Plus you get to rack in the "Pro" rack right next to bike out. At this point in time, I thought, screw it, I can hang with these Open people. I cut my number and used electrical tape to put it on the seat post. So Pro. Oh, you may notice in the pictures that Green Lightning has been updated. I'm working on the blog post, but it's not ready yet. It's coming soon, so be on the look out for it (how's that for a teaser?).
At last I had the new Quintana Roo PRsix locked and loaded. Then I walked through transition to check out the port-o-let situtation. I gotta say: It's a pretty sweet feeling when you are checking out bikes in transition and you do NOT have bike envy. Honestly, there was not one single bike there that I would take over the new Green Lightning. Then I used the John.
After that I kinda hung out talking to some buddies. I had forgotten how fun it can be to do a local race with some friends. I ate some more and then I slipped on my BlueSeventy swimskin and headed down to the water for a warmup. The water was low 80's so felt pretty good. My new Finis Lightning goggles felt good as well.
Soon it was time for the national anthem. Then me with the purple caps. The first ones in the water. We strutted down the ramp . . . really I just tried to look like like I fit in. I did that arm circle warm up thing that I thought I saw Ryan Lochte do one time. You know, just to blend in. We made our way over to the start buoy and we had about 30 seconds before the gun.
Officially 31:32, 8 / 9 Open Men, 37 / 124 Overall Men
Garmin had 31:09 as I stopped when I popped my head up out of the water. Almost 4 minutes faster than 2 years ago. So there's that. I started out really hard and after 100 meters I was still clinging to the back of the pack. That (very) quickly faded and soon I was out in no man's land. I just kept telling myself, wait for the bike, they'll come back. Just as I reached the first turn buoy, my buddy Nathan passed me, so he made up 3 minutes in less than half the way. I just kept pushing.
|Are we having fun yet?|
Mentally, I just tried to dig, and eventually I rounded it and headed for home. I swam until my hands were scraping the ramp and then I popped up.
1:07, 7 / 9 Open Men
It took me a little bit to get the swimskin off. There were only 2 bikes in the open rack (bibs 1-10). I put my shoes on and clacked my way out of transition.
Officially 1:05:39, 1 / 9 Open Men, 1 / 124 Overall Men
Garmin had 24.8 mph average over 27.1 miles on 254 watts. I didn't quite stop it at the right time, but that pretty much jives with the official time. I was at a 260 watt average before coasting all the way down that last hill.
|The new Green Lightning|
The first climb about a 1/2 mile in I was pretty glad to have such a light setup with the PRsix. I cranked out 277 watts for that first 5 miles and that got me a good start. Then I just tried to to keep the pedal to the metal.
I started reeling people in. I started feeling better about racing Open when I started passing some of them on the bike. We came up to an intersection just after the 15 mile mark and there were no volunteers. There was a JRC sign on the side of the road. It said to go left, so I ran through the intersection that had about 5 cars in it and just kept going. I had just passed one of the women and I turned my head around to make sure she followed me.
|Bike Elevation, Power, and Cadence|
A mile or two later we came up on an aid station, and I felt a lot better that I was on the right track. I had a little bit of a power lull there and only averaged 246 watts from 15 to 20 miles. Once I got to 20 however, I knew it was time to hammer home.
I tried to push up that last climb as I knew that after the final turn to T2, it was all down hill. I coasted down there and got my feet out of my shoes. I really milked it for all I was worth, as I was going pretty fast and did my flying dismount right on the line.
1:22, 8 / 9 Open Men
Cody Stadler came into transition about 5 seconds ahead of me. Other than that the rack was completely empty. I felt good about that. That faded as I kinda forgot how I racked my bike. Lost a bunch of time there and putting on the socks. First race with the new bike/saddle/hydration setup. What are ya gonna do?
39:05, 3 / 9 Open Men, 3 / 124 Overall Men
Garmin had 6.11 miles for a 6:25 /mile average. So Stadler had a good 30 second lead coming out of T2. I was able to catch him before the first mile marker, which I hit in 6:21. As we turned into the neighborhood for the first time, one of the volunteers told me that I was in third. I had seen Derek Kidwell coming into transition as I was leaving. Evidently he had taken a wrong turn on the bike. I kept waiting for him to catch me on the run.
I plodded through the nonstop hills of this course, just trying to keep the legs churning. My second mile was respectable with a 6:27. Then the big hill came. I just pushed and pushed. I kept telling the the sprint people who were walking up the hill to "Keep it Going". One lady said I was her hero for running up the entire hill. It's all about perspective, I guess.
So when I got to the top and Kidwell hadn't caught me yet, I figured he wasn't gonna. I used the downhill as much as possible to make up for the hill and split 6:31. I kept that momentum going through mile 4 with a 6:21 split. I didn't really feel like I needed a gel. I had one in my back pocket. It didn't take one in either transition or on the bike. I just drank water and took some wet towels on the run.
Going through the neighborhood the second time I bogged down a little bit and split a 6:30. I actually hit the big hill at the end pretty good. I mean I stayed strong all the way up. I guess those hill intervals are paying off. So the last mile before the finish with the downhill I was able to hit in 6:24. My final run time was only 25 seconds slower than last time.
Officially 2:18:42, 3 / 9 Open Men, 3 / 124 Overall Men
Pretty pumped to go from 37th out of the water to 4th off the bike and then finishing on the podium. Easily my fastest time on this course. "I's Justified" as they say, to race open. I'm really glad I did now.
|The Overall Podium|
|The Fort Mill Crew|
|With Mr. Epoch, Paul Harrold|
|With the Epoch/EPT Racing Crew|
So this concludes my 4th race in 4 weeks. I celebrated this race by running 8 miles Sunday morning and then riding 100 miles that afternoon. Kona waits on no man, woman, or child.
Big Thanks for my BlueSeventy PZ3TX Swimskin, Finis Swim Lightning Goggles, Quintana Roo PRsix bike, Cobb JOF55 saddle and rear hydration, Rudy Wingspan Helment, Fuel Belt Race Belt, Zoca Kit, Newton running shoes, SLS3 compression, Ruby's Lube and Epoch Universal IT Solutions!