The swim start was a running beach entry which is my favorite type of start. I was able to time the high-knee running/dive perfectly and get out in front from the get-go. My plan wasn’t to lead the swim, it was to conserve energy and swim as easy as possible and still make the front pack. I was surprised when no one was coming around me as I was cruising along, and I even looked back a couple times to find that I had a slight gap. After the first 750m I looked back to see who was around me and was happy to see all the main guys I was hoping would be there were there. I continued to keep it smooth the second lap and exited the water in front with a slight gap to Alistair Brownlee and a few others.
I had a good transition and was out on the bike first. I got a chance to get my feet in my Specialized Trivents (which are freaking awesome!) and drink some water before the lead group bridged up. When they finally did I took my time to drift to the back to see who all was there. I was happy to see that the group included Brownlee, Royle, Gomez, Alarza, Vasilliev, Raphael, Schoeman, and Varga. The perfect group! …so I thought.
After the first lap we were completely disorganized and still trying to figure our group out. Brownlee and I had been doing a lot of work on the front with some help from Royle and Gomez, but other than that I was wondering where the rest of the group was. I was thinking “surely after this lap we will get organized and we are for sure going to stay away!" Wrong again. Even though we had a significant lead over the chase group (which included all the other major players) our group was not working together.
This went on until we got caught after 5.5 laps. In the time of being off the front, not once did the 9 of us have a full rotation of athletes, even with Brownlee screaming at everyone to pull through and get organized - it was really frustrating. After the groups had combined, there were about 34 athletes riding together and the pace was extremely slow. I just rode safely out of the wind and out of trouble to prepare for the fast run that was about to go down. Coming into transition there was a group of three athletes about 20 seconds up, and another athlete about 10 seconds up. I didn’t fight for position leading into T2 like I normally would, but I felt safer and more comfortable riding where I was (don’t worry, this won’t be the case in future events, just getting through my first WTS of the season safely and confidently).
I had a pretty good transition and was out on the run feeling fine. I was ready to build through the run and start picking off people that had gone out too hard the first lap. It was working too! I ended up passing a bunch of people at the completion of the first lap and was closing in on the top 15 guys at the beginning of the second lap.
After the aid station starting the second lap, I ended up getting Re-passed by some guys I had passed much earlier. I tried to go with them but my body wasn’t having it. I ended up getting a major side ache and felt really gassy in my whole upper body. I ran as hard as I could but was just getting passed by more and more people and I ended up finishing 32nd (and my stomach issues turned in to me spending the rest of the night on the toilet).
At the end of the day I was pretty frustrated that our bike pack didn’t work together and that I didn’t have the run I am capable of, but again, it was just another learning experience and I’ll take the Pros and Cons into my training and next races to become a better athlete.