Collegiate Nationals 2016. Sko Buffs!

When I moved to Boulder to begin my Ph.D., I was unsure if I would join the triathlon club. I was hesitant initially because I assumed people would say things like, "you're old and have raced ITU, why are you sandbagging?" I realize the talent at the collegiate level is high enough that sandbagging is not the case, but I was still concerned how it would look.

In any case, I could not be happier that I decided to join. One of the first days of orientation, another graduate student, Jesse Frank (former president of the club), assured me that it wouldn't be a big deal and the team was fun. In addition, Nick No-one echoed Jesse's sentiments. One of the best parts of the team is the actual team atmosphere. It is close to how running for a D1 XC/track team felt. This is not just a group of people who do races together, but rather is an awesome training group. Low and behold, Nick and Jesse became awesome training partners (Nick being one of the strongest cyclists who needs only about 3 weeks to get in shape) and friends. As a result, I was most excited to be a part of the Buff's 7th consecutive national championship!

For this weekend, I would be racing the draft legal sprint on Friday, the Olympic Saturday, and the mixed team relay Saturday afternoon. This schedule was brutal, but it's nice to have a team to compete for, and it's an honor to be able to do all of the races.

Draft legal: 2nd 53:32 to winner winner, chicken dinner, Mike Meehan

Start of the race and I am 4th from the right. Next to JR Creekmore, who I grew up swimming and running with

Start of the race and I am 4th from the right. Next to JR Creekmore, who I grew up swimming and running with

Maybe it's because I am getting older, but I seem to be building into my swims now. I moved up the second half of the race to get out in 7th position at 9:20. We were 50 seconds down to super swimmer Greg Harper, but it appeared that we would have one large pack soon enough.

I am sitting second wheel behind teammate, Timmy Winslow

I am sitting second wheel behind teammate, Timmy Winslow

The group came together quickly and there was not much organization. As a result, I tried to sit in the front 5 wheels and hit the turns hard but otherwise conserve energy. It was also nice having a teammate in there. This worked pretty well until I was 7th wheel going into T2. 

Midway through lap one of the run

Midway through lap one of the run

I fumbled in T2 to get my shoes on and was out about 12 seconds behind Mike Meehan, Michael Arishita, and Jonathan Felix. I tried to build into the run and found myself in 2nd after about 1.5km. By the end of the first lap, I was 8 seconds down to Mike Meehan, but could not close the gap. He ran like an animal and had a great race. I ended up second. It was not the perfect performance, but agonizingly close. Initial splits had my run at 15:20 and Mike's at 15:10. They seem to be changing on the results site daily, but regardless it was a hard 5k!

Post race with Timmy and Coach Brad

Post race with Timmy and Coach Brad

Post race with Brit, the national champ and fellow Buff!

Post race with Brit, the national champ and fellow Buff!

The Olympic distance race was a 10:30 start on Saturday. The race would prove to be hot and humid. I ended up 5th overall in a so- so race. I came out of the water in decent position and soon had bridged to the leaders. At the end of the first lap, I was in 7th or so riding about 20 seconds behind the lead bunch of Meehan, Arishita, JT Rogers, Nick Noone, Colin Chartier, and Sam Douglas. At this point, I got popped from their pace and rode solo until the 22 mile mark. At this point, a massive pack caught me. I could see them gaining time the entire race and was not super pumped to be caught, especially due to the swollen pack. There were over 20 riders in the group with no real way of going off the front. After an attempt to go off the front, I ended up sitting legally behind the group for the last 2 miles to T2. 

I got into T2 and out feeling comfortable. I ran 5:05 for the first mile. I was running with Sean Harrington from UCSB and we were reeling guys in quickly. We were 3rd and 4th at the end of one lap, but I started to fade. This is a pace I should not have trouble holding as I have done it before but the previous day's race was creeping up. After a strong first 3.3 mile lap I began to fade. Thankfully, I saw Ernie Mantell and teammate Jack Toland and was able to run with them the second lap. Colin Chartier caught me on the second lap and dropped the hammer the last mile. 

Our CU team relay: Timmy Winslow, Britt Warley, Ali Schwein, and myself

Our CU team relay: Timmy Winslow, Britt Warley, Ali Schwein, and myself

The team relay was tough. Everybody was pretty beat after two days of racing, but it had a fun atmosphere and was a painful 15 minute endeavor. Our relay ended up 4th after some solid performances. 

As I write this, I am preparing for 70.3 St. George in about 10 days time. It is the north american half distance championship with a stacked field. I am excited to race the pro season, which is largely an individual effort (aside from Major League Tri events), but these last 7 months of racing with CU has reminded me how awesome it is to go to races with teammates, cheer, race, and laugh together.