This is a little late, but I got lazy. Culpeper Sprint in... Culpeper, VA... was to be my first triathlon since Columbia, and despite it being really just a training opportunity as I was in no way rested or tapered (not after 2 straight weekends of race doubles and the typical weekly training schedule), I was quite hungry to perform well. Especially on the bike... now that I have a perfect bike fit there are no more excuses for me! Matias was racing as well as his fiancee Katie, so a Snapple podium sweep was possible, but I would have to hold up my end of the bargain (something I didn't do in Fallston earlier this year with Dirk!).
750m swim, 16.8mi bike, 5km run.
The swim was pretty uneventful. I got out ahead of the crowd quickly and after 250m or so I settled behind two pairs of feet swimming side-by-side. I felt the pace was little easy, but that's probably a benefit of the mega-draft I found myself in. I stayed on the feet until about 100m to go when one of the guys appeared to pick up the pace. I stayed relaxed and left the water in 6th place, 11:26. Was surprised how calm I felt, my HR was low but I was pumped up!
I had a slow transition thanks to once again being unable to quickly find my bike. The rows all looked the same and I didn't have the concentration to focus on the aisle signs. Finally found 002 and ripped off my speedsuit and got on the bike. One of the guys who came out before me was leaving transition next to me and his dad or some guy said to him "Good job! Only a few guys ahead of you, you will quickly catch up to them and win!" Wrong thing to say around competition! I got on 002 and pretty quickly got ahead of him and 5th place. 2 more people to catch! I found myself moving quickly on the bike through a VERY hilly course. No flats, as opposed to what was advertised, which was a good thing! Just up and down. Within the next couple miles I passed #3 and around mile 6 passed #2. Only Matias ahead, but I knew I wouldn't see him until we pass each other on the run. Fine. I just focused on building a gap and keeping that tempo effort, which I did. Came back to transition feeling pretty good still in 2nd place (3rd overall bike split, 44:52, 22.6mph).
Hit the run and kept looking back toward transition to see where #3 was... I got about .3 miles out of transition until I saw him just pulling in. So it wasn't going to be a very close race. I settled into a good pace and went through the first mile. A race volunteer mentioned to me that "there's only one guy ahead of you, and he's wearing your jersey." I said "Cool, I know." Coming back past the mile 1 marker I finally saw #3... looked to be at least 2min behind me at this point. A little past this point Matias and I almost ran into each other (on his way to the finish of course). Knowing he was about 4:30 ahead of me, I didn't have much motivation to hammer the run. I settled into tempo pace and held it, all the while opening the gap further on #3 (3rd overall run split, 17:42) I cruised into the finish 2nd overall, 1:16:09. Matias won handily and Katie D. was the 2nd overall woman (11th overall in the race if I'm not mistaken). That made the result quite a bit cooler.
Despite what I consider largely slow splits, I am very happy with this race, especially with how tired I was coming in. The swim had to have been long, since Matias was about 90sec slower than last year's top swimmer... that's not realistic. And I was a good minute slower than what I am capable of swimming (and have swum) for 750m. The bike split I am actually very pleased with. It was hillier and slower than Columbia, yet I averaged quite a bit faster and had the 3rd best split, which is the first time I have had as good a bike rank as run rank. Compared to splits from previous years, I rank near or better than guys who I have considered superior cyclists, so that's cool. Granted, I didn't take the run very hard, but it shows the Elite fitting is finally letting me use the power I've developed since the winter months. In all I feel this race was great practice, I didn't have to dig deep or crush my legs, and the result built my confidence a good bit.
And I got a sandwich