Impromptu podium: Peter Kotland (2nd), me, Mark Woody (3rd)
I'm very happy to have come away with the win this weekend at Lake Murray. I haven't managed a "W" in a (sizable) race in nearly 2 years and for it to come about at this race is a huge bonus. This race is staple in the SCTS and is longest running triathlon in the midlands area and was definetly one that I'd dreamed of winning. It's also about the longest "sprint" distance I know of in that the swim is 750m and the bike is 16 miles instead of the standard 20k (12.4 miles).
After the half ironman in Charleston there was no question what my strategy against Peter needed to be. During the ride in Charleston I could sense that I was stronger on the bike but I also knew after Charleston that I didn't want to run shoulder to shoulder with him. The dude is tough as nails and holds the double marathon course record at the Ultraman World Championship and has won tons of races. He doesn't give up when the race gets hard (take a look at what he did two weeks ago in Charleston, repassing a competitor to take back 2nd place with .5 mile left). I had to come off the bike with a cushion. In talking with Paul Harrell last week I think I said I would need a minimum of 20 seconds - he outran me by 25 seconds ... thankfully I had 90 seconds coming off the bike and was able to stay out of striking distance.
Mark was also on my pre-race radar as he consistently does well here ... 2nd last year, 4th in 2010, 5th 2009, 4th 2008 ... I consider these longer sprints distance events his sweet spot because of his super fast swim and good run. In 2010 I didn't catch him on the bike until the very end and then he was out of T2 before me and I wasn't able to catch him on the run. So I knew I wanted to get him early on the bike and put time on him before the run.
So the plan was to swim on Peter's feet, pass he and Mark early on the bike and hammer, hammer, hammer and hopefully get enough cushion and have enough left in the tank to hold out for the win.
As soon as the horn sounded I was on Peter's feet. The pace felt hard for the first 200 meters or so then it was full on cruise mode. After we made the first turn we were swimming directly into the sun and I was really happy not to have to sight the buoy. I felt like I was conserving energy which was great! When we got out of the water I quickly ran to transition passing Peter along the way and actually crossing the timing mat first. I couldn't help but think back to two weeks ago when he essentially did the same thing to me coming off the bike after he sat behind me for 55 miles ... it's just racing.
Mark was up the road a little and Peter made it out of transition before me, but I passed him while we were mounting our bikes thanks to my running / flying mount! I pushed the pace out of the gate to try and get a gap as I set out in pursuit of Mark. I managed to get past Mark before we made the left off the park entrance road. From there it was just a matter of pushing hard and and getting as much time as possible. My quads were screaming and I really didn't know if I'd have any legs left to run with. I managed a 25.25 mph average speed on that course which I was pleased with. The Orbea rode excellent once again. I think Mandisa likes going 25!
Rarely do things go exactly to plan, but that's exactly how it played out with the exception that I had much more time than I thought I would coming off the bike.
Not much to report about the run ... just a matter of hanging on and managing an abdominal cramp.
Thanks to big John Wellens for giving me splits to the others on the run! That took some of the pressure off at the end and helped me enjoy the final stretch knowing I had it wrapped up.
Thanks also to Harrell's Bicycle World for all their support and of course my family for all their support and encouragement and embracing the triathlon lifestyle. My kids are looking forward to their race in a few weeks!
Results are here: http://www.setupevents.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=event_results&id=2883
Next up is a big block of work ahead of Festival of Flowers Olympic in June. I need to develop some foot speed and raise the threshold power on the bike to achieve my goal there.