The race venue was in a giant parking lot behind the Rivera hotel on the Las Vegas strip and was held on a Thursday during Interbike (the biggest cycling convention in the country). They built a portable 25m pool that we swam in, and then did a crit style course on the bike, and finished off with a run on a slightly shorter version of the bike course.
The format was a trials and finals event, where there were three heats of 10 men and the top three in each heat (with the fastest 4th place person) qualifying for finals. The super sprint distance is a 300m (12laps) swim, a five mile (7 laps) bike, and finishing with a 1.5 mile (3 laps) run. In the morning during the qualifying heats you do this course once; but in finals it’s a whole new ball game as you have to do it twice through - with no break!
When I dove in the pool, I was stoked to have flashbacks of when I was a pool swimmer. There was no chaotic fighting for position like in normal ITU races, each athlete had their own lane and could pace the 300m swim how they liked. I slowly built into the 300 and noticed that Ben Kanute and I had a substantial lead on the rest of the field so I just kept it in cruise control.
Once onto the bike Ben and I rode hard but I felt terrible. We ended up getting caught by Josh Amburger and Eric Lagerstrom on the 3rd lap and rode with them the rest of the ride. I had a good transition and was out on the run first, but once again, felt really labored. I got caught and passed by Eric and Ben on the first lap, and then on the 2nd lap a hard charging Peter Kerr passed me which put me in 4th place – which was not an automatic “A” final qualifying position. I knew our heat was going to be fast though so I kept pushing the pace to try and get the fastest 4th place time. It worked. It turned out that our heat was the fastest by quite a bit, and my time (even though it was 4th place) was faster than all the winners of the other heats. After I finished I could barely move. I flopped into the pool and just floated there for about 10 minutes thinking about how in 10 hours I was going to have to do this all over again… twice!
I had a long day in between trials and finals, but my “recovery” wasn’t the standard rest I would normally take. Since the race is near interbike I had a few meetings to take care of with current sponsors and I wanted to introduce myself to some companies that I would like to work with for 2014. I rode my bike the 20 min from my hotel to Mandalay Bay and got a chance to take care of the business end of the sport. It was a great experience but by the time I was heading back to the hotel I was toasted. I got back to the hotel and tried to sleep to get ready for the 9pm final, but I couldn’t sleep at all and ended up just hanging out with my foam roller.
Once again the swim played out exactly the same with me and Ben Kanute swimming side by side nice and smooth. I was out on the bike first once again but this time I wasn’t planning on staying away. I was absolutely shot, and I told Ben beforehand I wasn’t going to try and hammer the bike so when we got out there I just got on his wheel and got dragged around the course for about 3.5 laps. Halfway through lap three Luke Farkas rode up to us so we had a group of 3. Once we had 3 I decided to pull through. I ended up riding hard with those guys until the lap when Ben put in a huge attack. Luke did a great job to limit the loss by bridging us back up pretty close to Ben by T2. When we got to T2 the chase pack of about 5 guys were JUST behind us. I had another good transition and was just trying to stay relaxed and not think about the entire second round we had to do.
I came into “T3” to start the second round swim with Peter Kerr, Ben Collins, and Ben Kanute. When I dove in it was seriously like a warm down. I could barely use my legs and my arms were Jello. The 2nd swim was probably a 30-40 seconds slower than the first, but once again, Ben and I limited our losses and we were out on the bike in the lead with Peter Kerr.
Ben attacked pretty early and I wasn’t going to bridge Kerr up to him so I yelled to him “Go Ben Go - You got this!” and I just sat on Kerr’s wheel. After the 2nd lap Kerr and I got caught by the group of Cam Dye, Ben Collins, Luke Farkas, and Eric Lagerstrom. After that it got semi-tactical as no one wanted to go to the front. We ended up catching Ben on about lap three and so now we had a group of seven. Luckily I was positioned first or second wheel for the rest of the ride which was excellent position when Cam Dye attacked and I was right there on his wheel. The final lap of the bike I attacked with about 800m to go and had another solid transition and was on the run first.
At this point it was survival mode. My body was just trying to hang on for dear life. I tried to run with the guys but kept falling off the pace each lap. Towards the end I realized I was the last athlete of our lead group of seven and there was no way I could catch Cam or Ben. I was satisfied to just jog the last 300m to the finish and hope that would help speed up recovery so I could get back to some solid training to focus on the Cozumel/Tongyeong World cups coming up in a couple weeks.
I’m pretty happy with this result given the very short time I’ve been back training and with zero speed work, and also it was great to see consistency in my transition skills. The race will be aired on Universal Sports at 8pm on October 7th.