St Anthony’s this year had a little bit of a different feeling. With the ending of the Lifetime Series and the dissolving of the 5150 races, it meant that St Anthony’s was once again a stand alone race, but also one of only about four North American non-drafting olympic races left with a pro field. As a side note, I gotta say another thank you to Philip and his team down there in St Pete that every year do such a great job of taking care of the pro’s and putting on a fantastic race. If you are looking for a travel race, I highly recommend that you put St Anthony’s at the top of the list.
Every year St A’s is one of the races I look forward to the most, as it was my first ever major pro win, and because of that it will always be one of my favorites. These last couple years I have struggled a bit there, but this year I had done more running going in, and felt like I was in good form to be in contention.
Race morning the weather was the usual humid windy stuff that we have come to expect at this race. I went through my morning routine, with breakfast and then a good solid warm up. If you want to see a more in depth look at my nutrition before and during the race check it out here: First Endurance. This year I decided to try and get in a better swim warm up, so instead of walking all the way to the start I got in by transition and swam my way over. The field this year was a lot smaller with no HyVee points on the line, and that made for a more fair start, without having 80 guys trying to sneak in front of each other.
Once the canon sounded, I put my head down and did my best to get on Zaferes’ feet, but after about 200m he was starting to pull away. Luckily, another ITU stud, Eric Lagerstrom was there to fill the gap and I did my best to hold his feet as we started to pull away. Over the course of the swim, I lost contact a couple times, but was always able to put in the surge required to get back on. Good thing too, as we were able to establish an almost minute advantage as we headed out on the bikes. After a solid transtition, and once we were over the cobbled section that starts the ride, I got my feet in my shoes and went to hammering the pedals.
This year the wind was solid, and the first bit is into a headwind. Most people don’t like it, but I love it, as it makes the riding much harder, and in a true non drafting setting it separates the men from the boys a little bit. By the time we hit the first turn around and I started to focus on maintaining my speed in the tailwind, I could see I had a solid gap on the boys. I continued to push but really tried to be smart and put a little bit extra into the headwind, and focus on keeping my speed as high as possible by adjusting my aero position when I had the wind at my back. By the final out and back turn around I could tell I had over a 2 minute lead with a few miles left, so I did my best to maintain a good cadence, get in some good hydration and get back to T2 with the biggest margin. Anytime you know Van Ort, a 30 flat 10k guy is lurking in the background no amount of time seems completely safe.
I felt decent as I started out on the run, and as I heard someone yell that I had 3 mins, I tried to stay composed, and focus on the extra running training that I have been putting in lately. I was starting to feel the humidity and get a little bogged down but to keep my mind in the game I tried to throw in a surge every mile or so. The run course is a simple out and back, so when leading the goal is to get to the turn around with as much of the lead intact as possible. As I rounded the turn and headed back I started counting strides, and about the time I hit a minutes worth there was Kaleb trucking down the road. With two minutes I felt ok, but knowing the heat was taking a toll on me I put my head down and hoped that maybe he had run too hard the first couple miles and would lose a bit of steam.
To be honest it wasn’t until I made the final right hander and had the long straight mile into the finish that I felt like I had it won. I was still focusing on my cadence and form, and anything to get my mind off the pain in my legs. I have never been so happy to have a head wind that kept things cool for the last bit, and I was able to power home with about 45 sec of my lead.
The interesting thing was that my run was slow. I mean one of the slowest ones I have ever had at St Anthony’s, but I had also just done the fastest bike split I have ever done by a huge margin. Its interesting because after all he extra running I had done, I thought I would be able to run faster at the end, but the reality is, with the way I race that isn’t always possible. The reality is that more efficient running simply means I can maintain better after my monster bike efforts and hold on to leads better. I’ll never have the fastest run splits, but if you are winning the race, who cares.
I am super happy being able to win my second St Anthony’s title, and it was a great start to the beginning of the season.
Thanks to all my amazing sponsors who’s support and belief in me continues to make this dream possible!
Pearl Izumi, Shimano, Fuji, Blue Seventy, ISM, Stages, First Endurance, Nathan Sports, Rudy Project, Breeze Bars
Next up is Challenge Knoxville, which this year will be a half distance race. With short course disappearing it is forcing me to move up so this will be a great first go, on a course that I know well, and a race that I really enjoy!