Saturday morning we arrived nice and early and I had no problems racking the bike or getting set up. I felt good on the run warm up and was looking forward to a good race. Once we were finally allowed in the water I got in a little swim and immediately noticed that for the large majority of the race we would be swimming straight into the sun. Not too much fun, but what can you do?
Finally the gun went off and we were off. Apart from the typical jostling, I actually got off to a pretty good start. I usually get beat up pretty bad at Collegiate Nationals (what do you expect with a bunch of testosterone laden competitive college kids?) but this time it actually wasn't too bad. So pretty soon things strung out and I found myself in a nice little group. I was pretty sure that the first place guy wasn't too far ahead, so I was content to find some feet and try to keep pace. As it turns out I was out of the water in 8th or so, about 40 seconds back. So a decent swim. At this point, I was feeling pretty good and thought I had a shot at it.
Off to the bike which for me usually means people passing me and me screaming obscenities under my breath directed towards my bike. This time however this was not the case. I started out by actually passing (!) a couple of guys who mustve just been fast swimmers and after 7 or 8 miles I found myself in a group with 3 other guys. We all took turns heading to the front and trying to separate ourselves but we ended up staying together the whole time. While we did end up staying more or less together, there were numerous officials out there and they stopped on multiple occasions to make sure we were riding cleanly. Coming into the end of the ride I was feeling pretty good as we were 3-7 and I was confident I could outrun everyone in the group, meaning I was looking at no worse than 3rd.
Out on to the run and sure enough, I separated myself within the first half mile from the three others. Marc Bonnet-Emyard was out on the course and gave me splits,
"2 min to 1st, 1 min to 2nd" he screamed.
"1 minute" I thought. "Totally doable."
So I set out to chase down Kevin (the guy in 2nd) even though I had no feeling in my feet due to the cold weather and just overall didnt feel that great. Occasionally I'd catch a glimpse of him while other times he was out of sight. The run course was tough with three pretty serious hills and multiple tight turns but unfortunately when he was in sight I noticed I wasnt really making up any time and I still wasnt feeling that great. With about 3/4 of a mile to go I saw Mark again and he let me know there was no one behind me at which point I realized I wasnt going to catch Kevin so I might as well enjoy the last few minutes of the race. I came into the chute and while I was disappointed to not win, I was still pleased with the result as it looks like the suffering Paulo has put me through on the bike might actually be paying off.
Incidentally, Kevin and I ended up tying for the fastest run, so as I suspected, I wasnt catching him.
So there it is, 3rd overall which as you can see is the first place that doesnt get interviewed. It is however good enough for some Coldstone but that will have to wait for Saturday, part 2...