I am so blessed to have so many great events come to Williamsburg. The Patriots Half, put on by SetUp Events, has been a mainstay in the Virginia triathlon calendar for six years. That is partly due to a fantastic course that tours rural Charles City, historic Route 5, and a run that stays mostly shaded on the Greensprings trail system. Mostly though, it’s because the Viginia Triathlon Series does a super job every year and continually seeks to improve their races.
After winning the past two iterations of this race in 2011 and 2012 by a combined total of 58 minutes, I was content with passing on the opportunity to race this year. I didn’t realize, however, that this would be the first year that prize money would be awarded to the top 3 males and females. Hmmm, maybe I will race…. 🙂
After Steelhead, I took a short break and shifted my focus to the run in preparation for the Richmond Marathon in November, so I would be lying if I said I was totally confident in my swim and bike strength going into the race. I figured the prize money would attract some out-of-town studs, so I mentally prepared to hurt on the swim to stay with the group so that I could be there on the bike in case someone tried to get away.
For the first time since 2009, the swim was wetsuit legal (barely), and since I’ve only had the opportunity to wear my Xterra Vendetta once while racing this year, I took the risk and suited up. I was happy to get away from the masses relatively quickly, and soon found myself leading the swim along with two others. As the swim carried on, it was clear that the calm surface of the water, which sharply contrasted the turbulence of the Rev3 swim, still carried a strong current that was pulling us away from the outer buoys. By the far turn buoy, the lead pack had grown a bit to about six guys, and I took a backseat, fully content to catch a draft and use the others’ sighting skills to my advantage. Well, that plan worked marvelously until we turned the final buoy and hit what was to be a complete wall of sun glare as we headed back to the shore. I could not see anything in front of me for at least 4 or 5 minutes as we headed back. Add to that the current pushing us, and the way back was fairly comical. Guys in the lead pack would come up and breaststroke for a couple seconds to try and realign themselves with the finish. I doubt we swam as straight as an arrow, but I also doubt too many others behind us did either. When we got close, we hit the shallows about 100 yds out from the shore, and the dolphin diving commenced. And it continued. On and on, there was just an endless amount of dolphin diving. And then everyone was tired. So most of us in that front pack ended up walk/jogging the last 25-30 yards or so until we got on land.
6th overall, 29:33
Despite having a heck of a time getting my wetsuit off, which involved actually sitting on the ground and talking to myself (and my wetsuit, I guess), I still had the fastest T1 of the day.
I got out of T1 in third position, right behind the top two. The plan for the bike was to ease into things, pace with the leaders for 10-15 miles, evaluate how I felt, and then either stay put, or take off. I stayed in third position for the first 13 miles, then decided to go. I laid down some watts for about half an hour, and by mile 30, I was completely out of sight. Now it was just me and the lead moto. I stayed relaxed and smooth on the bike, and came off just slightly faster than I did last year, in 2:20:16, which netted me about a 7 minute lead on second place.
Again the fastest T2 of the day. I think this is the first time I’ve had the fastest transitions in a race.
With a 7 minute lead, I was confident I could run relaxed and take the title. I didn’t want to bury myself if I didn’t have to, so I opened up running between 5:55-6:05/mi. That was very comfortable, and definitely a pace I could maintain for the duration. Halfway through the run, my lead had grown to about 10 minutes, and at that point I coasted as smoothly as I could to the finish. Finished in 1:19:2x and broke my own course record of 4:14:04 by going 4:12:16 in what were extremely fast weather conditions for this race.
It felt great to be at the front of a race again, and I will use that feeling this Fall as I train to race those pesky pure runners in half and full marathons.
Thanks again to my sponsors for the incredible support: Snapple Triathlon, 3Sports, Xterra Wetsuits, Louis Garneau, SweatVac, Mizuno Running, and Rudy Project.