There were three other elite men racing, all of whom I have raced before and am fairly familiar with their strengths. Brian LaVelle is a strong guy all around and has had some great Ironman performances in his life, Ken Rakestraw is a stellar runner and certainly holds his own on the bike, and Stephen Kilshaw who I didn't know all that well but is a beast apparently were the other guys in the field.
Instead of a swim we started off with a one mile run and from the gun Stephen went to the front and started pulling away from us...Ken followed suit and Brian and I fell back a bit. After that mile run Stephen had 15-20 seconds on Ken who had a further 10-15 on Brian and I who rolled out onto the bike together. My original plan was to stick with Brian on the bike because I knew he was capable of putting up a stellar time. When we caught up to Ken, Brian paused though so I went past both of them to start setting a pace I thought might bring back Stephen who was still visible 300 meters or so up the road. After a long stretch on the front pushing hard and a few rollers I looked back and saw that there was a gap to my fellow chasers so I decided to go it alone. I knew that Brian could outrun me and that I would need multiple minutes on Ken to hold him off on the run so I put my head down and my eye on the lone figure far up the road.
I had no idea that Stephen was such a strong cyclist, I mean I didn't really know much about him, but the gap was not coming back and after the hilly middle section of the bike he was well out of sight. I had a stellar bike split but he absolutely flew; he posted a faster split than all the guys that were riding in a pack of thirty for the first ten miles! Just teasing guys :) It was a great ride for me putting even a little time in on Brian and Ken is a great indicator for me. I definitely put in a couple of diggs that were a little beyond my ability and definitely felt it as I hit the run.
All the guys on my team did well and were all over the podium. It looks like it should be a strong year for us at Wildflower in a couple of weeks. I wish I could be there but I am absolutely certain that my sisters wedding is going to be way more fun :)
Photo Credit: David Condon