But this time, I DO have a race report that is filled with exciting things (and pictures, thanks to Ashley) in interesting places doing interesting things. Or at least, something close to that.
Buck Hurley was a fun race to do back in 2013. Admittedly I completely signed up because of the huge awards they gave out to winners but I was quite taken with the vibe of the race. It is a very small event put on by a close-knit group of people but they definitely do their best to make it FEEL like a much bigger event than its participation numbers might suggest. I did not get to do defend my win in 2014 due to the accident with the car and subsequent recovery and it maybe wasn't such a bad thing as Tyler and Matt took the course records by quite a large margin (although in my defense - paging @TriExcuse - I had been quite sick the entire week leading up to the race in 2013 and only participated because there wasn't going to be any competition). Luckily I was able to defer my registration to 2015 and so it became my first (official) road triathlon of the year.
I've been getting in some great training for the past month or so (maybe 6 weeks) under Coach David. It's been extremely refreshing and feel as though in some senses I am more "aware" of myself as an athlete than I ever have been in the past. If that sounds...odd, I understand. I don't know how better to describe it than it's the opposite of "checking stuff off the list" in terms of workouts. So even though it has been a relatively short period of consistent, focused training I feel quite strong.
I knew Derek was going to be at the race so I figured that's where the main test would be. Unfortunately Derek is no longer a "test" but a person who - when competing against - I need to be firing on ALL cylinders. It has been great racing Derek for the past 4-5 years because I think we bring out the best in each other. We both take very good and particular care over our equipment choices and show up to RACE, not to "do a workout." Other than that I knew of an Australian triathlete who was racing but didn't know anything about him.
It was a bit chilly on race morning but projected to warm up nicely so that was a hopeful thought as everything was setup in transition area. I decided to run the 5k course as a warmup so didn't get to swim all that much prior to the start of the race (but for a 300 yard swim, that's a trade I'd be willing to make). We all lined up for race instructions and I realized that being #11 might be interesting given some of those in front of me (for reference, I put in a 300 yard swim time of 3:30 and I had the 11th fastest start time and 8th fastest swim time...).
Swim 300 yards - 3:37 (8th)
I got going in the admittedly quite chaotic 300yd swim and ended up catching the person in front of me at about the 125 mark. I tapped his feet and he let me past at the turn and I continued on my merry way. I ended up catching the girl in front of him as well with about 75 yards to go as well but she did not want to let me by and so at swim exit I ended up pulling up the side and got around her headed into transition.
|That dude is sleepy|
|I'm only including this because that's the biggest my bicep has ever looked|
For the record, I actually swam faster this year than in 2013, when I had put in 30,000 yards a week for 3 months...
T1 - :39
I ran through the transition area gingerly as the ground was very cold, Derek was exiting as I was entering so I hoped to get out and see him on the road.
|Matching like a dang champion|
Bike 10.7mi in 25:49 (2nd)
I headed out on the bike and it was COLD at first. My legs were a bit heavy but I had the whole bike to warm them up for the run so I was....excited. I passed Jenny (who wasn't wearing her aero helmet!! jeez louiiiizze) and tried to set my sights up the road where I could just make out a lone figure in black heading up the hill. After the first right turn it is a longggg straight slightly downhill stretch and I could see the lead police car and a trio of riders up ahead (who I assumed would be Kevin, Australian, and Derek). They all made the next right turn together and I assumed Derek would burn through them on the third leg of the triangle.
I continued to push and got through the first lap and ended up doing the second lap feeling much better overall. The bike was paced pretty evenly and I rode quite a bit faster than I did back in 2013 (26:35) and was actually within 15s of Tyler's bike course record from 2014 (although Derek obviously beat it quite handily this year). I caught Liam (Australian) and Kevin at the end of the bike and got into transition at about the same time.
|Don't look at my age, it's wrong I swear|
T2 - :27
I had a good T2 (one of the fastest it would appear) and managed to get out on the run first among the triumvirate that arrived simultaneously.
Run 5k (well, 3.3) in 17:58 (2nd)
I felt quite choppy initially so it took until once we got on the greenway/path to feel somewhat normal in terms of stride. By that point (2-3 minutes into run) Liam was right behind me and breathing hard. Derek was somewhat visible although he was a speck at this point. At about the half mile mark Liam put in a real hard surge that my turnover couldn't match and he got a gap on me at around the 1mi marker. Once we turned right and headed up the long climb (basically 1 flat mile, 1 uphill mile, 1 downhill mile at this race) the gap stabilized though and even started to come down a bit. Derek was visible again and he looked like he was getting closer, bit by bit.
We got all the way to the top of mile 2ish and then turned right to head back down to the YMCA. This mile was faaaast and Liam's turnover picked up again. I struggled to turn my legs over much faster than 5:20/mi pace but managed to hold the gap pretty steady. I knew because he started in the 3rd spot that all I had to do was stay pretty close and I would beat him so that was my goal (along with trying to make up ground on Derek). We got to the bottom of the hill and saw Derek make the right hand turn into the last quarter. He finished and then Liam and I ran hard all the way to the finish line, pretty sure I was in 2nd OA but not quite close enough to Derek.
|OH YES THIS FEELS SOO GOOD RAWRRRR!|
|JUST LET IT END AWWFHHASFSDF|
I felt strong throughout and can say I put myself in a position to win, which is all I can ask for. Derek is a great competitor and anybody in NC would have trouble upsetting his spot on the podium.
Buck Hurley is a great race and I was super happy to get to do it again this year. It's short and sweet and eminently drive-able from Charlotte, which are all good things. It was great to get that first race out of the way (yes, Hickory Knob was a race as well but XTERRAs - at least for me so far - don't seem to carry the same sort of "pressure" that a road triathlon can, self-imparted pressure I should say).
Until next time!