We stayed just a few miles from the start of the race at Lake Catamount, which along with the 8am start meant we had a leisurely alarm call at 5:30am - late compared to most race days. Something I hadn’t considered when driving into the Rockies was how cold it might be in the morning. Having been used to warm Boulder mornings, I was totally unprepared for temperatures around freezing, walking around in my shorts and flip-flops! Fortunately it started to warm up gradually and by the start of the race I could just about feel my fingers and toes.
I’d decided to try and be a bit more aggressive at the start of the swim, with the intent of keeping in touch with the leaders. The 1500m swim was a triangular clockwise swim, with the first leg heading directly toward the rising sun, making sighting difficult. I followed feet and soon reached the first turn buoy. From there on in there were quite a few surges and breaks in the small packs that had formed, but I managed to keep up most of the way, coming out the water in 21:22.
I’d also been a bit sloppy in transitions over the last few races, so this was another area I hoped to address. Once on the bike I was soon at the front of our wave, probably until around the 5 mile mark where I was passed by the eventual race winner. I tried to stay as close to him as I could, without encroaching on the draft zone. I passed for the lead just before the turnaround point, only to stupidly be confused by the road layout, costing me valuable seconds. Before I knew it he passed me again and was heading off into the distance. From there on in I raced solo, continuing to lose time, which was made worse when I missed a turn when a marshal was looking the other way. Fortunately at the end of the day it turned out to be insignificant. I came into transition with a 57:51 bike split (those ENVE wheels are FAST!) and went with a flying dismount, going way too fast and nearly ending up on my arse! Fortunately I didn’t…
As soon as the run started I knew I was going to struggle to have a really good run split. It wasn’t that I felt bad, but there just wasn’t any spark. It was lonely too, being around 3 minutes behind the leader starting the run. The first 3 miles ticked by quickly and for the second half I picked up the effort a little, managing again to negative split the run. At the halfway point I had a two minute lead to third place who was running well, so I had to work hard to hold him off. My 38:24 run split managed to do that by just 18 seconds as I finished in 1:59:12 for 2nd overall.
At the end of another good week of training I was pretty content with the race and the effort I put in. It was great to come away with a sub-2 overall finish time at my first Olympic distance race in two years. It had been a long week, a long weekend and a hard morning of racing. There was still a 4 hour road trip back to Boulder – I was flat out!