I knew I would have to get great positioning on the swim as to not lose too much time to the top swimmers. Unfortunately, I didn’t. The Collegiate Men’s wave was 166 deep and the start was a battle! I lined up at the front, but got pushed back since we were past the timing mat. Once we were underway, I fought to find the front, but ended up being pushed wide of the first buoy. By that point, there were no fast feet to be found. I swam ahead of the main pack and behind the leaders. I came out of the water 25th in 22:20.
As usual, I was excited to get on the bike and make up ground. On the way out, I passed quite a few riders and was in the Top 10 nearing the turn-a-round. Then I was passed shortly thereafter. I subconsciously settled into half Ironman pacing, but snapped out of that and rode with more urgency coming back in. I came into transition in 8th and my bike split was 1:09:31 (5th fastest).
Before the race, I figured that I would have to run a sub 38 minute 10k in order to be competitive, but that was much easier said than done considering the hills on the course and my lack of speed work. Regardless, I was out there to reel in as many people as I could. I tried to stay as steady as possible on the climbs and let loose on the descents. I caught the 6th place guy around kilometer 4 and saw the
5th place guy not too far up the road ahead. I was steadily gaining time and eventually pulled even around kilometer 7.5. I decided to stay with him and said “Let’s push each other, keep the people behind us, behind us, and finish strong.” As we continued to run together, the intensity was picking up.
More and more spectators were lining the roads and our little battle was getting attention. He stayed behind me the entire time, so he had the upper hand, but my confidence was sky high. As we rounded the corner leading down Lynch Hill, a spectator yelled “Who wants it more?” It was at that very moment I decided to go. I let go of my form altogether and just started hammering down the hill. I had no idea if my break was going to last since the descent is a mile and I had cyclists zooming by on my left. Essentially, there was no opportunity to look over my shoulder on the hill to see if my decision was going to pay off. With 300 meters to go, I glanced back and saw that I had opened up a comfortable gap and then turned my focus to the finish chute where I saw 4th place guy about 80 meters ahead. Had I had more real estate to work with, he would have been mine, but I was content with my position and enjoyed the run down the chute crossing the line in 5th. I ran a 37:19 and that gave me the 5th fastest run time for the Collegiate wave. I finished 11th Overall.