So that was a fun little race, but nothin compared to a triathlon! The next weekend was a big race that I had been excited about for a reallllly long time. Throughout all the years here at my school, I have been wanting to compete at collegiate triathlon nationals, but there has never been much of a team organization. Well this year was a little different. The U of I team actually has a little leadership and its been a lot of fun having some guys that are willing to race and have some fun. Ever since the start of the school year this race was talked about with my team. We planned on going to this race and having a good showing for our debut. I can successfully say that it was a success!
The U of I team ended up sending 9 athletes to the race, 7 guys and 2 girls. You need at least three athletes to count for scoring and getting a team place, so our guys team go a finish while the girls did not. We drove down to Tuscaloosa, AL on a Thursday night and drove through the whoooooooooooole night. Having three cars and only 5 that were able to drive the rental vans meant that I was driving much of the night. I got buy with my Monster energy drinks. Those have seriously saved me so many times when driving while tired. I definitely recommend the Orange Monster drink to anyone out there. It has a fruity taste and gets you all fired up!
We got into Tuscaloosa early in the morning, got a little of the course tested out, swam, and had a little to eat over at good ole Subway. I realized that my front tire was losing a lot of air over time and got pretty worried about it. I called up my dad, and being the savior that he is, he went to the store back in Chicago, picked up a new tire and some glue for me. He was flying into AL later that night, so I was just going to glue my tire on in the morning.
The rest of the night was just relaxing and getting all the race preparations done. I went to bed around 10pm but woke up at midnight because my dad finally arrived. So there I am trying to stretch out a tubular tire at 12:30 in the morning the night before a race. I finally got the tire on and glued thanks to Tufo tape at around 1. I also had ordered a set of wheel covers to convert my rear Zipp 808 into a disc. They were shipped to my Chicago address instead of here at school, so my dad brought those along too. I was trying to set that up on my bike at about 2 in the morning. Around 2:30, I finally hopped back into bed only to wake up to my alarm at 4:15. Wonderful...1 hour of sleep 2 nights before the race and only 3 hours the night before. I definitely wasn't expecting my body to be too well rested!
So race morning, I tested out my sweet new ride with the disc cover and tire. Everything seemed dialed in and right. I had a good amount of time just to make sure everything was set up right in transition and seemed ready to go. I put on my new BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit thanks to a recent sponsorship with them and headed over to the start line. I was in the first wave since I was the number one guy from my team. There were a lot of people in my wave! I was a little scared because these were all of the best athletes and most likely better swimmers than me. I got a nice little spot next to my best friend John from the Northern Illinois Tri team. The gun went off and WOW. I started to panic. I thought my swimming was ready, but I haven't done too many tris in the past with mass starts. I was being pushed around, dunked, hit, pulled, you name it. I started to panic and could not catch my breath. I had to stop and let some of the swimmers go by so that I could try to relax which ended up saving me. Once I had a little opening, I found a little groove and got myself back into the race. I almost thought that I was going to have to drop out of the race for a second! Well after finding out that I was going to be ok, I started swimming a little faster and passed a few people that were ahead of me..definitely a good feeling! I finished up the swim with a good amount of energy..only problem was that I was 4.5 minutes back of the leaders! Yikes! My swim time for the 1500 meters was 22:45.
Into transition and onto the bike! I immediately felt at ease on the bike. My dad yelled out that I was in 51st place or so coming out of the water. Soooo I had a lot of catching up to do. I started passing a few people near the start of my ride, and as the ride went along, I was passing more and more. I felt really strong and made every effort to keep pushing to go faster. My legs started to cramp up a litle bit, but I took in some fluids with Carbo-Pro and immediately they felt better. The only problem that scared me was that my cassette came loose! I heard this jingling noise around the second lap of the 2 loop course. I wasn't sure what it was at the time, but after the race I had to check it out. I didn't tighten my cassette all the way from the previous night while installing the disc cover. I guess that shows ya how tired I was! The bike course was pretty challenging with some slow long grades. I was surprised with how well I handled all of the hills considering I never ride on any. It must be from the constant riding in 30 mph+ winds of Champaign, IL!!! For the ride, nobody passed me, and I finished with a bike split of 59:51 for the 40k. It was just over 25 mph avg and the 5th fastest split of all the riders.
Finally to my specialty! I zipped through the 2nd transition and endedup having the fastest 2nd transition out of every triathlete! I started running pretty hard but my feet were completely numb still from the water. (The water was sooo cold!) When I started the run, I was in around 30th place so I had some ground to make up. The course was very difficult since it had three very large uphill sections. There were points when I was almost walking up them! I still put it into race and cruise mode. One by one I was passing athletes...actually there were a few times when I passed multiple athletes at once :) I didn't feel like I was going very fast, but I guess that is for me. Coming from a running background definitely helps as I can run faster than most other athletes. Near the end, I was just dead tired and ready to be done. I crossed the line in 1:59:02 for my third ever Olympic distance tri. My first two were 2:16 and 2:18...so quite a difference. For the run, I had the second fastest split (2nd to Kevin Collington..a pro triathlete) with a time of 34:30. It was a tough course and I know that I should be 32 and change, but I'll take it for the day considering I only got about 5 hours of total sleep for the last two nights combined.
Overall, I was happy with my performance. I ended up finishing 5th overall. So I passed a lot of people on that run! (...and it shows how bad I was hurting to pass them). The guys team ended up with a 25th place finish so it was a decent showing in our debut. Its a little sad that I only got to do this race once...but once I go to grad school I will definitely be back gunning for that overall win :)
Here is me with the tri team prez Jimmy followed by a team shot as we watched the Olympic trials (which I will be in soon :) )....
So that about caps it up. It was a fun little trip, and I definitely caught up on sleep the next day! ...and by that I mean I went to work at 4:30 am on Monday came back at 7:30, fell asleep til 3! Oh well for going to class on Monday!
Up next...I'll post a race report from Elite Duathlon Nationals which I raced in this past weekend. I should have the report up this weekend...once I get some pictures so that I can post them on there!
In the meantime, check out my main website at www.rybread.com Its in the process of being changed so there will be some updates on there! Thanks for readin and hope you enjoyed, please leave a comment!!!!!