Right now I sit on an airplane cruising from Tampa, Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada. Flying standby doesn’t always get you home in the most direct fashion. Sierra and I had to split up and ended up with very different journey's to Tampa International, and I was left to port two bikes across the airport. But many thanks to Sport Systems for allowing me access to these cheep guest passes to get me from race to race. Most of the time, these flights go very smooth.
I find myself being drawn to Florida a lot these days. Races, training camps and family have brought me here 2-3 times a year recently. And this time, I raced for the first time the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. For several years now I have heard great stories about the amateur race and the professional competition.
I’d like to applaud the race producers for a wonderful home stay program and very kind attentiveness to the needs of not just the professionals, but everyone. I also am grateful for the dedication this event has to the pro racers in a crumbling Non Draft Olympic scene. The venue and course are laid out nicely through the scenic parks, golf courses, country clubs and neighborhoods of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay.
I remember standing nervously on the beach moments before the start with a group of other silent men waiting for the water craft to be positioned and the race to begin. In those moments I concentrated on the race plan and months of training Trista and I worked so long to create. I did happen to look up and notice the sudden and splendid colors of the sunrise. The sky, clouds, and water all blended, reflected and became one for just a moment. And then the announcer called us to the start line, bringing me back to reality, so we all waded and swam to the deep water start line between two buoys.
For the first 700 meters I held on to the group better than normal. At this point the water was fairly calm. As we approached the only left turn into the bay, all the men had spread and formed a line. This formation stayed together for short time. It seemed we made that turn into instantly choppy water. At this point everyone spread apart. It was just me and two others making our way out into the bay. I got swept slightly off course at the far point of the swim. An unexpected tide grabbed me for a moment and it was a fight to get back to the final turn buoy to get back to shore. Some how the two other guys and I stuck more or less together through all that chop.
I clocked a quick transition and passed one of the racers. I proceed on the bike course more conservative than normal with the idea of ramping up the effort as the race went on. But I still struggled to get my power and effort level up on the level, but gusty bike route. Off the bike, I was by myself for the first 4 miles of the run. I started to catch some racers near the end and bettered my 15th spot to 12th. 9th-12th only ended up being 1 minute apart. And I ran a slower than normal 10k. Heat and Humidity were a factor, but all my training suggested a much faster run in the tanks.
I do find some hope in the fact that an off day landed me 12th this weekend, when my all out last year earned me the same position. Until my next race at ITU Dallas in June, I have to revisit some details.
The real success story of the weekend belonged to Sierra Smith, and her long sought after professional qualification. Visit her site for the play by play.