I have lost track of how many times that I have raced the Sentinel Triathlon but I am certain that I will race it many more in the years to come. It was the first triathlon I ever did and every inch of the course is meaningful to me. The Sentinel falls at a tough time of year for me because of a long string of racing and recovering that leads up to it. By the time race day came I had been feeling tired for about a month but I was still performing well in workouts so for myself I needed to tough it out.
Leading into the race I was just trying to make sure everything was loose and opened up to perform at top end. I felt ok the day before and I with my parents coming to town and so many people I know racing I was excited to enjoy a race right in my back yard.
My morning routine ran right on schedule and with a quick trip down to transition I was soon catching up with old friends and teammates in transition. It is so fun to know all of the racers and volunteers and to be surrounded and engaged with them in mutual adventure! I was able to chat with people for a while and was feeling pretty good so I went for a quick jog to warm up. I noticed that the fog was a little heavy down by the wharf but did not think much of it at the time.
After some stretching and mobility exercises I scooted back to transition to get my wetsuit and get to the beach. Transition was packed and I was glad to see that so many people had come out for the race. The long train of athletes headed to the beach is always fun because you inevitably bump into people you know and have not seen in a while and there is always this moment of mutual understanding that you both can not believe that you are voluntarily up so early to go swim in the ocean :)
When we got to the beach, the fog was fluctuating in and out and compromising visibility fairly bad so we were in a holding pattern. I dove in for a swim a handful of times to keep warm and awake and after forty minutes found my parents and girlfriend to steal a snack and water from them. My breakfast and coffee had gone through me and I needed some more calories in my stomach. I am so lucky for the support of everyone around me because I wouldn't get through a single one of these without the support, be it through cheers, food, money, companionship or Facebook 'likes'.
We were delayed by an hour and fifteen minutes but the water was warm and smooth and once we got started it was a beautiful race day. I felt good from the start of the swim and soon found myself alone to swim my tempo. I may have stretched my wetsuit too much or maybe I didn't fasten the neck strap all the way because water was seeping into the upper arms. It did not effect me really and I had a good swim, coming out to the cheers of my friends and parents.
I pushed hard to transition because I knew Jack Calhoun would be flying and with his strength I would have to go deep if I was going to make up time on him. I pushed hard from the outset of the bike and by the time I saw Jack coming the other way he was already almost half way back to town. I didn't have a way to objectively measure the gap but I knew he was on a good ride so I tried to keep my head down, rail all the corners and extract speed wherever and whenever I could. There was an unusual head wind on the way back and it was really draining me but I took the pain for what it was and held on.
When I got to t2 people were giving gaps that indicated Jack was a up on me by a minute or so and I was simultaneously really impressed and a little intimidated with the task ahead. I knew that he could run time into me so at that point it was just a matter of going hard and hoping for the best.
Although I felt like I was running well I knew that I was not at my best and I knew that it would not be enough to get back the time I had lost. When we passed on the run l told him it was all him and that he was doing great. I held in for a decent run and ended up second overall.
When I finished I could not believe that it was second again and for some reason the irony of it just hung so heavy on me I couldn't do anything but sit on the ground and shake my head. I couldn't be happier that it was Jack who took the victory because he is an awesome guy and a tenacious athlete.
I suppose the elusive win at the Sentinel will have to wait at least one more year. Thanks again to everyone for all the cheers, nutrition, support, understanding and tolerance of my alternative lifestyle choice.