70.3 China: A Hard Fought Podium
I have sat on writing this race report for a little while, it has taken a while to digest. I have always thought I had confidence when it came to racing, but it hit me after this race that I have been lacking it lately. Maybe I have just had more of a "realist" perspective and have kept goals realistic, rather then over-reaching. Going into this race, the goal was to try and get into the Top 6, which would mean a pay check and a "free" trip to race, but no profit. Looking at the start list, I thought it would be pretty tough to get into the Top 6, but I thought it was possible.
The field was pretty strong with the likes of Brad Kahlefeldt, Stuart Hayes, Graham O'Grady, Dougal Allan, Luke Bell and a few others. I had raced Brad, Stuart, and Dougal a few times and I was hoping to be able to work with Dougal on the bike, if things went how I expected them to go.
The race venue was a split T1, T2, and finish area. T1 was 30 km from where the hotels were, T2 was 2 km from the hotels and the finish area was 1 km from the hotel and T2. So from a logistical standpoint it was a bit of a headache on Saturday with bike check having to be done via what ended up being a 2.5 hour trip via shuttle, BUT everyone had to do it. The swim was in a small "lake" and was one loop. The bike came 30 km from the swim area to the T2/Finish area and then went 30 km further out and back. It was pretty flat with a few small rollers, a bit of wind, and always 2-4 lanes on great road conditions. The run was a 2 loop run course and was flat, other than a bridge you went up and over on twice per lap. There were some really long straight sections that just seemed to go on forever.
The course was crowded with fans at the finish line and along certain points of the run course. The bike course was fully closed and gated, so much so that a friend wanted to drop out at 30 km and couldn't get off the course, so he finished the ride. They had guards/security every few meters on the bike course, it was amazing to see the amount of resources they put into this race. Overall it was a great course and talk was that it was going to be a fast day. I am really looking forward to seeing the expansion of Triathlon in China and Asia over the next few months/years, there is a ton of potential for growth here!
With only 15 guys on the start line, trying to find feet was going to be pretty difficult. I knew there were a solid group of swimmers that I would get dropped from pretty quickly, and then I was hoping to find some feet after that. I stayed with the group for 100 meters or so, but then they started veering right and off course, and I just stayed on the buoy line as I wasn't able to hold their pace anyways. I swam with Dougal for the first half of the swim, and then I went left of a few of the intermediate buoys and he had gone right, and I opened up a small gap. I came out of the water in 10th and knew I had some work to do.
I knew this course suited me well, I just needed to be patient and I was hoping the group would come back to me slowly. I caught a few singles in the first 20 km, and I was quite surprised to catch the main group just before 40 km. This was the quickest I had been to the "front" of a race before. I evaluated the group of 4 or 5 guys and realized that there were still 2 guys off the front. I didn't know if they were together or solo, but I decided I needed to attempt to get by the group and put a gap in as it contained Stuart, Brad, and Luke, all of whom are better runners than me. After less than a minute of being on the back of the group, I put my head down and went past them, luckily they didn't get on, and I was able to slowly pull away from them.
I caught the next guy 5 km later and he was on his own, which left Graham up the road in the lead. I got a time split around 50 km that he was 1:20 up the road and I could see him up there on the long stretches. I kept riding strong, and at around 70 km, the power started to fade and the gap stayed the same. I pulled into T2, in 2nd and Dougal was less than a minute behind.
Hammering Away on the bike (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
I didn't know how big the gap was to 4th place back, so I just focused on running my race. I found the comfortable-uncomfortable zone and just settled in there. Dougal caught me pretty quickly and at the first turn around I was able to tell that the gap was pretty big to 4th onwards, but the guys were charging hard. Brad Kahlefeldtcame by me just after the start of the 2nd lap, but Dougal was just hanging out in front at about 20-30 seconds and Graham was coming back in a hurry at this point.
At the last turn around things got really interesting…………I got by Dougal and Graham and was back in 2nd, but then the flying "magician" (he does some cool magic trick) Stuart Hayes came by me and Luke Bell was getting close as well. Stuart was flying and there was no way I was keeping up with him and I was running scared from Luke. With about a mile and a half to go Luke was still closing in and I really had to dig deep. With 800 m to go, I was able to see the pain on his face chasing from behind and I started running as hard as I could. The last 100 m was a bit technical through some fencing/barriers and I wanted to get to that section ahead of him so I could maneuver around any age groupers that might be in the way. I ended up holding him off and that is the deepest I have gone to hold someone off at the line. It ended up being 5 seconds at the end, definitely too close for comfort!
This is what happens when Luke Bell is chasing you. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Swim- 26:41 / Strava File
Bike- 2:05:05 / TrainingPeaks File / Strava File *Fastest Bike Split*
Run- 1:21:34 / TrainingPeaks File / Strava File
Total- 3:57:22 / 3rd Pro
2 former Olympians & some random guy....... (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Learned this one from Coach, don't waste the alcohol, enjoy it! (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
So back to the lack of confidence and being "realistic". After the race, I was stumbling around looking for my clothes bags to get out of the wet race kit. There was a moment where I was standing on my own in the parking lot and I just stopped there and it hit me, I can actually do this, I can race at this level. I actually feel and believe that I can continue to do this, and continue to find success. It is far from easy, but when you put the work in, the results typically follow. So Onwards and Upwards we go!
Huge thanks to my wife Hila for continuing to believe in me and support me. She stayed home with our son Asher for 5 days, and I knew it was tough, but I just did 3 days solo with him, and man it is TOUGH! So I have even more respect for her now and can't thank her enough for everything that she does for me and our family. Thanks to my family, friends, and fans for continuing to support this dream, without each and every one of you it would not be possible.
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