Here is the official race preview:
Going into the race, I knew the field would be a tough one. Proven 70.3 athletes like Richie Cunningham, Leon Griffin and Tim Don along with quick short course athletes like Cam Dye and Greg Billington meant that there would be plenty of action all day. I knew I was in good form, so I was looking forward to showing I could compete with anyone on any given day. This year has been a pretty big breakthrough year for me as far as consistency and confidence, so I came in ready to rumble.
All season, I've had the Rev3 series as a primary goal and have raced well enough to lead since Williamsburg back in June. Each race since then, I've been able to slightly improve my standing and for this race only a 3rd place or better would help. Going into the off season (and series championship in May at Knoxville), my goal was to stay on top and be the guy to beat next year. With all of the series players on the start list, the race was a great opportunity to put a bit more distance between myself and the chasers.
Starting the race, it took all of my confidence and experience to keep my head in the game as I got off to one of the worst swim starts I've ever had. The beach start with a bunch of quick short course guys meant I spent the first 400m fighting with the crowd. Coming around the first buoy, I'm not sure I was even in the top 10! I tried to relax and find clean water and by the half way mark had settled into the lead of the main group. Unfortunately, I missed the breakaway with Cam Dye that I had been planning on going into the race! Coming into the first transition, I had given up over :30 to the leaders and unfortunately towed in a long string of guys behind me!
After a chaotic transition, I came out in 9th place and shaking my head at how my race was going. Matt with the Sport Factory had told me that my fitness was good and it was all about execution. I almost felt like I was ruining a great training block on a very bad performance! This thought lasted through the first 5 miles as the tightly bunched pack proved tough to catch despite only being down a few seconds out of T1. Explosive riding isn't my strong point, but I knew I had the power to get to the front. Eventually, I did just that and was able to move to the front of the group and eventually snap the elastic as I caught Cam midway through the ride. I kept the throttle open and did my best to take the sting out of the group's legs. My strategy worked as I came into the 2nd transition in 3rd behind the flying Starykowitz and Cam, but with a solid gap going back to the group.
On the Run, I took off clocking 5:50 miles and waited for the first turn around to see where the field was behind me. I passed Cam relatively early and ran in 2nd before being caught by Richie right after the first turnaround. Luckily, he was running well and didn't have many people coming with him. Greg Billington, in his first 1/2 distance race, came flying by me and looked incredibly strong but other than that I held my pacing and ran in 4th through mile 10. I could see Richie and Greg battling up ahead but knew I wasn't losing much time. In fact, Greg started to fade pretty quickly and I was able to move back into 3rd with 3 miles to go. One last check at the turn around told me I'd be safe in 3rd if I ran strong and I was able to do just that.
I came across the line in 3rd place at 3:50, just about :30 behind Richie, with one of my most well-balanced races at this distance. After the early-race mental challenges, I was pleased with the result. I was able to make the podium, PR on the bike (2:04 split, 2nd only to Starky), and run an even split 1/2 marathon. I also solidified my lead in the series heading into Knoxville. It was a good day! The only thing I was unable to do was push myself to the level of Jacob Rhyner (CLASSIC, you can hear me in the background):
Congratulations to Starky on the amazing win coming off IM Florida and congrats to Richie on the solid race fighting back from his car wreck. I'm happy to share the podium with such great athletes.
It has been a great year with the Rev3 series and I go into the off season healthy, motivated, and focused. The Rev3 team puts on great events for pros and amateurs alike and I'm proud to represent them as the series leader. If I play my cards right, I will come out on top in Knoxville!
A big thanks as always to everyone who has made this season a great one. My sponsors have been incredible in their support and if you're reading this be sure to check them out on the Sponsor Page. I always make sure I represent quality companies so I have no problem recommending what they put out. The Sport Factory, First Endurance, BlueSeventy, ISM Saddles, Utopian Coffee and Carytown Bikes; each one of these sponsors has played a key role this year at one point or another. Thank you!
I'll end with one last reminder for the year that the War on ALS is ongoing and needs your help. I am lucky to be able to draw strength and courage from the story of the Blazeman and I hope you take the time to find out about the story. As always a part of my prize money will be donated to the cause.