Prelims on Saturday are always a bit nervous as the goal is just to advance as easily as possible to finals but you still have all the nerves because this race location and all was so unfamiliar. The first swim ended up going really well and I exited the water 5-7 seconds back of Eric Limkemann and Colin O'Brady- two former all american (I believe) swimmers in college. I chased hard for two laps but did not get any closer than 10 meters behind them. I looked back and saw a group of three were coming up, so I sat up and was absorbed and figured it would be better to relax before the run especially with knowing I could outrun many in the group. After a bit of confusion on the number of laps, we got into T2 and off on the run. I ran about 800 meters pretty hard and just cruised in the rest for 3rd in my heat and advanced to finals.
That night, I slept 11- hours and woke up feeling pretty refreshed. I went for an easy 20 minute run in the morning since finals weren't until 1:30 pm and felt fantastic.
Finals were going to be much more competitive and had 15 pretty strong athletes on the line with a combination of fast runners, swimmers, and bikers. I lined up in lane 6, in between John Kenny and Colin O'Brady and we were off. I got out hard the first 50 and flipped even with Colin and John and had delusions of grandeur that I would stay swimming with them. In the end, they put 8- seconds on me in swim number one, but I just began drilling it on the bike and caught to lead pack of 7 two laps in with two really hard solo laps with my feet on top of my shoes. I went straight to the front as I wanted to keep the pace on knowing some fast runners were behind me. I got a few shout outs from the announcer for immediately going to the front and we had a few guys really willing to take hard pulls like John and Colin and Eric but we also had guys that would only attack on their pulls going off to the side and trying to take a flier. Not really a great strategy in ITU because 1. the pack does not appreciate it and 2. it hurts the pack. None of those stuck and we were caught by three others, making a pack of 11 heading into T2.