First dip in the ocean was chilling to say the least but once I got some blood flowing I was able to settle down and focus on warming up for the race. 35 and under men were the third wave six minutes behind the start so the swim was going to be crowded right from the start. The swim began from the beach with about 50 feet of running into the water. As always, as soon as the gun went off the pace was fast, one might think I would expect this by now but I continue to be amazed how fast most people like to take their races out. I battled for position to the first buoy and had managed to grab the lead just before the turn. It took about five minutes but once things strung out I was able to relax my stroke and find a rhythm with my breath. Now that I had the lead I shifted my focus to being efficient with my stroke and weaving my way through the other competitors without losing any time or punching anyone in the face. Two other competitors were able to stick on my feet through the first loop and then I was able to distance myself slightly through the second loop heading into T1. I finished the 1800 yard swim in 21:45 and was feeling good about my effort heading into the rest of the race.
The run to transition was on a beach so I did my best not to rush and just focused on getting my wetsuit to my waist and running with a high cadence to keep my speed up through the sand. For the first time in awhile I was very pleased with my transitions, everything went on and came off during the first attempt and I was able to either hold or advance my position each time. Early in the bike my plan was to focus on controlling my effort and avoid fading at the end of bike or compromising the run. After about five minutes of the bike split there was only one competitor left and he eventually passed me so I made the decision to sit back and see what his pace was like. His effort was not quite as consistent or as hard as I would have prefered but we were in the lead and I made the decision to sit behind him for at least two of the three loops on the bike course and make a decision after that. Through two laps I had normalized just under 300 so I knew I had plenty in reserve and was feeling good about my run would compare to those around me. On the third lap I pushed the pace by about 30 watts and was able to make the pass. He stuck with me throughout the last lap and eventually came past again leading into transition and then onto the run course. My splits during the lap portion of the bike were 13:32, 13:29 and 13:22 with an overall time of 57:43 for a 25.5 mile course. I normalized 302 watts with an average speed of 26.3 mph. I certainly would have prefered to be alone and push my own power the whole time but it is good to know I can be tactful with my effort if needed.
Heading into T2 I was feeling very confident. I knew we had a sizeable lead and I knew I had kept plenty in reserve while on the bike. My plan was to relax on the first two or three miles and then see if I could push a little more coming home. For once, that worked, I hovered right around 6:00 pace for the first couple mile and was then able to dip into the high 5’s running a 5:47 for the last mile. The run was a simple out and back so at the halfway point I was able to assess my lead and knew that unless I made a sizeable error I would be able to win the race. With that in mind I allowed myself to push the pace a little harder but given the lead I had it was hard to completely ditch a sense of control. I ended up pacing 5:55 for a slightly long 10k which is my best ever although I know there is still plenty more to come. After a tough start to the previous season it was a big relief to get things started on the right foot. It is great to be back to racing, I am looking forward to a long and successful season for not only myself but also all of the athletes on the Endurance Drive and Yoder Performance Triathlon crews. Back to work.