This past weekend was the Lifetime Fitness race in Dallas, that has in the past been the finale to the series. This year Lifetime has added another race in Oceanside in two weeks so this race wasn’t the finale, but for me it was still a very important race. Since I flatted at South Beach at the beginning of the year, and then skipped out on the race in Chicago to focus on HyVee I had left myself very little margin for error in my pursuit of a repeat Lifetime Series title.
Having won the races in Minneapolis, and Tempe, I needed another big result in Dallas to put myself in a position to have a shot at the title in Oceanside. With Ben and Hunter having done all the the races and being able to throw away their worst scores I was under some solid pressure to not only repeat at Dallas but get in the position I needed for the series. So it was back to Rockwall this year to see what happens…
When I think of Texas I usually think of super hot and dry, however, this year makes two in a row where the weather in Rockwall was as advertised on Friday and Saturday, and then on race days turns cold. We woke up to chilly low 50’s Sunday morning, but at least there was no rain and wind so the temperature was manageable. Then after a decent warmup the race management was kind enough to let us stay in the water after our warm up which made that whole process a lot easier and warmer. The water was a nice 78, with not much chop so it was set up for a quick swim.
At the horn I put in a good solid 200m’s and was able to get to the front of the group rather quickly. Once there I tried to keep the pace honest to get rid of the lesser swimmers, while at the same time saving my own legs for the rest of the race. The course is a simple 2 left turn triangle, and even with foggy goggles I managed to navigate it well enough to get out in the lead, with all the major players on my feet. It also helps to snag the 1/2 a point for the series as a prime, knowing how close these finishes have been the past two years.
Normally I have really good transitions, and my transition was solid, but when I went to mount the bike at the bottom of the steep ramp out to the road one of my feet slipped and I was forced to do the skateboard pedal until I could get my foot back on the bike. Although not catastrophic it was enough to let a gap open up to James and Hunter that I hadn’t intended on letting happen. From there I went into chase mode and made up the gap as quick as possible, and then tried to open a gap just as quick. By the time we got out on the major roads it was down to myself and Ben Collins at the front. Ben put in a couple surges to overtake me, but being stubborn, and a self proclaimed front runner, I decided I liked the view from the lead better and put in the efforts required to repel his challenges. I had also hoped that maybe those surges would be enough to pop Ben, but he is a very strong rider and we just continued to put time into the rest of the field. By the time we got off the bikes, we had a little over a minute to Stu and then another couple to Hunter.
As we all know Hunter is the class of the field on the run, so no lead ever seems big enough, and as Ben and I exited T2 I put in a surge up the hill and immediately tried to drop Ben. This run course in particular is a tough hilly course, and actually one that suits me well as it is a strength course that doesn’t let the gazelle’s really open up their legs. It is also a two loop adventure, so if you can get to the mid point without being seen, it is easy to stay out of sight for the final lap. Although my back and legs were getting really tight running the hills of the bike, I was able to put in a good enough run to hold on to the lead ahead of a Stu and Hunter.
What does that mean…it means that more or less Hunter and I have a one race playoff for the title in the series. Now obviously its not that simple with the primes, and the many great guys racing at Oceanside, but in its simplest terms whichever one of us has a better day in 10 days will be crowned the series champ. Plenty of motivation to continue training hard these last couple weeks, and keep my eyes on the prize. Then if I am running short on motivation, there is always that little race in Hawaii this weekend…
If you want to join me in Oceanside for the finale, use the promo code: TriClub20 for 20% off your entry and the first 1000 people registered also get a free backpack.
Have a great weekend, enjoy the Ironman in Kona, and keep your eyes on the prize.