The day before the race, I was able to join fellow Collegiate Recruits Jason Pederson and Natalie Kirchoff in swimming/biking the course. We also met Andy Schmitz who is the director of the high performance at USAT. It was awesome to share my first pro race with these two other recruits as we could help keep each other in check mentally. I got a flat while riding the course, but otherwise the preview went smoothly. The water was an interesting coca- cola color, and was so dark, the visibility was under 5 inches. After previewing the course, I was able to kick back, relax, and watch Kona on the computer as I waited for the Pro race briefing.
At the pro meeting, it was easy to get intimidated, as multiple Olympians and members of other country's' national teams filed into the hotel conference room. Hunter Kemper sat next to me, and it was a huge honor to be able to introduce myself to him, and talk to him about his many accomplishments (such as being 3x Olympian!) The meeting was actually pretty funny, as the pro triathletes held no reservations about voicing their opinions on the course, the timing of the event, etc. It was a very different experience from an age group race meeting!
The morning of the race went pretty normal for me, woke up 3 hours prior to the race, jogged 10 minutes around a golf course next to my hotel, ate, and left for the race site. Being new at this, the only only male racer at the course at 7:30 am was Jason, so we were able to hang out and warm up together for the race as we watched the women's race. It was extremely exciting as Gwen Jorgensen, another member of the USAT Collegiate Recruitment Program won the race, and the overall series title!
When we finally got in line to be introduced for the race, the butterflies that were in my stomach had turned into elephants that were romping around in there! It definitely gave a new name to pre race jitters. The swim start of a dive went pretty well considering you plunged into darkness and had 35 men racing for the first buoy, 170 meters away. I go out pretty well, and settled into a group chasing the leaders. At the first buoy, I was trampled a little, and my wrist was kicked a lot (my wrist was likely broken before in the scaphold bone), so this did not help that situation. After one loop of the swim, I was in a group of three guys, not too far away from Kaleb VanOrt, who I knew was a runner that had frequently bridged gaps after the swim. I figured if I could stay there, I'd put myself in contention to be top 20 and possibly top 10. the second loop was a little more shaky, as I got a few more swift kicks to the wrist, but I exited the water in 20:40- a little slower than I should have been- but I honestly attribute part of this to my wrist having a fracture.
I hopped on the bike and started chasing like mad, but once I hit the first turn around, I was completely solo into the wind. I biked about 2 loops completely solo, then was caught by Jason and Rusty Pruden, but I fell off them at a turn around, when I accidentally put my inside leg down, clipped my pedal on the ground, and when I knew it, my group had dropped me! This was essentially the end of my race, as I biked hard for the next 4 loops, but was eventually caught by the leaders and forced to stop. This obviously was not what I was looking for, but I know I need to actually get a good base of cycling and swimming in. Last winter, I did a lot of running, but only biked or swam once a week. I know this winter of base will allow me to accomplish so much more during the upcoming triathlon season. I am taking two weeks of very easy workouts and days off. I have only taken 4 days off between last January and today, so I think my body needs some rejuvenation.
During this time, I am also rapidly looking for sponsors whom I can help by advertising, but they could also help me with equipment, funding, etc. I am acting as my own agent in this process, and it is difficult, but I am excited at some of the prospects I have already had. Trigger Point therapy has helped me out tremendously, as well as Brick's Multisport, and Middletown Bike Line. I hope to continue to work with these sponsors as well as growing that list. If any companies are reading this blog, and thinking, "Hey I'd love to sponsor this athlete!" Please send me an e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can furnish you with a resume, pictures, and anything else you may need.
"You are never a loser until you stop trying."
This quote helps me persevere through this tough race, and get ready for a huge winter of training, to follow with a huge triathlon season. My goals for the upcoming season include winning collegiate nationals, qualifying for World University Games, winning a U23 national title, and racing in U23 world championships.