This was my 4th time racing in the city of Chattanooga and probably the most thankful I have been to be on a start-line. The night before was filled with severe storms that made all of us seriously doubt whether they would even have a race. Somehow, it didn't even rain on race day!
This was the second race of the season and my coach, Cliff English and I definitely had a plan of attack on this one. It was important to do a few things differently this time around. We had a goal to go under 4hrs on the course, but to try to do it while also gathering some data, learning a bit about a few athletes who I'll race again later in the season and seeing how the body handled certain efforts.
There was probably 2" of rain that fell the night before the race and even though they shut the dam off a few hours before the start, the water was still flowing quite quickly which made for some very slow swimming to the first turn buoy (350m upstream).
I started in my usual spot and had a good improvement over Puerto Rico 70.3 a few months back. While I still have a little ways to go, I easily slotted into the chase pack with a few of the race favorites about 90sec back from the front group of a few.
I had been riding well leading into this race, so this event would be more about taking a few chances on the bike and hopefully putting myself in a good position at some point on the bike to finish well.
Matt Russell came around immediately out of transition and I knew he'd be on a mission to the front of the race. It seemed like a good test of the legs; my power numbers and definitely RPE told me the same thing.
I rode 5-15sec back for around 20 miles or so and almost got up to the front. Unfortunately almost doesn't cut it and my legs decided to cramp on the climb halfway through the ride. The gap went from just over 20sec out to just north of 40sec by the time I made it to the top. I knew that THIS was the time when I needed to back it off if I wanted to have a chance of running the half marathon decently well.
The rest of the ride was steady with lots of fueling and hopes that the legs would come back around. I was passed by a few guys as we got closer to T2 and arrived into transition about 2' back of the front group.
The run was basically damage control with a few stops to stretch. Though the 3rd discipline definitely was not what I planned, I got through it, finished with a top 10 and was happy to be "in the race" for much of the day. Additionally it was great to be racing with so many of my athletes. They always add another level of motivation.
Thanks to those who support me including all of Team BBMC, Cliff English, my family, my awesome homestay Ann & Charlie and of course all of my sponsors and those who make racing possible. Now it's time to plan the middle part of the season, take things up another level and then start to build for some fall Ironman racing.