Well I have now completed the first leg of my four races in four weekends and have to say its not exactly the start I was looking for. US Pro Nationals were in Tuscaloosa over the weekend and for the first time in my pro career pretty much everyone who races ITU in the US was there. The weather was ridiculously hot and humid and like it or not that dictated much of the race.
Going in I have been feeling extremely fit and ready but in the back of my mind I knew the heat would be an issue for myself and for the way I wanted the race to go. As we all know, a good ITU race for me requires a fast swim, an early break away, and then ideally an even smaller break on the bike leading into T2 with a significant lead. Saturday was pretty much the opposite of all that.
The swim started well and I got myself into a great spot on Dustin and Kalen’s feet but we just weren’t going anywhere. There was no current but the water was so warm, about 85 degrees, that swimming any faster than the pedestrian pace we were rolling would have meant heat stroke before the race even started. Unfortunately, a slow swim means a big crowd on the bike and with all the guys that made the group a break away was going to be nearly impossible. I stayed in the first 5 or so guys for the majority of the ride but no break away attempts worked and we spent the main part of the ride just rolling along on an up tempo group ride. If you live in Boulder and have ever done the bus stop ride, this was no where near the intensity of that weekly hell on wheels.
We hit the run in a group of 20 or so and on top of that I was already experiencing some major cramping in my legs and low back. I thought I had eaten and drank enough during the ride but the heat and humidity are just so far out of my element I’m not sure I could have executed much better. I started out ok on the first lap of the run but faded quickly and slogged through a painfully slow 10k to finish in 20th.
To my credit I finished the race, and I still believe there is something to be said for that. I got in a solid workout, hopefully not putting myself in a hole for the next 3 races, and my parents got to see me race, although not as well as I had hoped.
The trip was a learning one, complete with some good southern eats at Dreamland BBQ and another nationals under my belt. Now it is time to switch gears to non-draft and get ready for LA and Dallas these next two weekends. I am excited to get back on the TT and hopefully throw down some solid performances to round out the season. Thanks to all my friends and family that were in AL cheering me on!