After my win at Pac Grove, I was stoked to be traveling to Buffalo, NY with my training buddy Dylan McNiece for the USAT Elite National Championships. I was feeling really good leading up to this race and after looking at the start list I was confident I had a chance to place very well overall. This trip was awesome, the people I got to hang out with were awesome, and I had a blast! Everything about the trip was incredible except for one thing - my race.
I had a very low number starting this race and so I got a bad starting position on the dock. When the gun went off I ended up flopping into the water and getting dived on. The start of the swim to the first buoy was 350m away, but I still got pummeled and caught inside the buoy. At the first buoy I was in about 40th position and around the second buoy I got a heel straight to my forehead that put a solid shock through my whole body. I ended up shaking it off by talking to myself “It’s going to be ok, you can make it through this. Just stay calm!” and working my way up to about 12th at the end of the first lap. When I re-entered the water for the second 750m lap, I swam myself into 4th position by the turnaround buoy, and that’s where I stayed until the exit.
When I exited the water I was about 15 seconds down from the two leaders, Dustin Mclarty, and Jon Bird from Canada. I exited the water with 3x Olympian Hunter Kemper and a trail of about 40 other guys. On the fast run to transition I helped an Australian competitor unzip his race suit which he couldn’t get undone before transition – that made me feel like a hero before getting on the bike.
I had the fastest transition of the day and was on the bike 3rd about 6 seconds down from the leaders. I put my head down and charged. The plan was to hammer the first section of the bike and get a breakaway of 6-8 guys that would put a lot of time on the chase pack so we could have as much of a gap as possible before starting the run. It worked. The first part of the bike was so fast only 7 people out of the 65 on the start list were able to make the breakaway group (The groups avg speed on the first lap was 30.3mph, and this course had four 90 degree turns and two 180 turnarounds!). About halfway through lap one I was going to put my foot in my shoe, and I completely missed my shoe. I thought I just had glassy vision because I had water in my eyes and didn’t think twice. I caught back up to the pack and finally got my feet in both shoes. At this point I was in the back of the pack of 7 guys but it looked like there was 55 guys in front of me. I was starting to get dizzy, my vision was very cloudy, and I was getting a massive headache. At the turnaround to begin lap two I just pulled into transition completely confused. My adrenaline had died and the effects from getting a heel to the noggin were starting to take their toll. The next thing I knew there were two people holding my bike and another person holding me as I slowly “fell” off my bike. Thanks to the people holding me they just lowered me to the ground and unclipped me from my bike. I ended up laying there with the paramedics for about 15 min until I could get up and walk to the medical tent.
Turns out I had a minor concussion but nothing permanent. It was another case of bum luck, but I’m glad I had the smarts to call it a day when I did. There will be more races, and more chances to prove myself - today just wasn’t my day.