This past weekend is one I will remember for years to come. There was racing, training, leading of a triathlon clinic, eating, relaxing and spending time with family, old friends and making new ones. All of this wound not have been possible without the Luray Triathlon and race director David Glover.
The Luray Triathlon is one of, if not the biggest races near Charlottesville, VA. It takes place right in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains offering breathtaking views and breathtaking climbs! The race takes place at Lake Arrowhead - a popular destination of Luray, VA to escape the heat and enjoy the beach. As I was scanning the internet for an Olympic race to do this year this race came to my attention. In its 9th year, this race offered close proximity, a competitive field and even a prize purse. What made it even more enticing was how inviting David had been when considering to do the race. I really wanted to race this but was unsure how this would effect the training leading up to Ironman Chattanooga at the end of September. In talking with Coach Doug he made it clear that no tapering would be done and that I would even be doing extra training daily along side the races. I trust in what Doug has to say and knew that this weekend was going to be a painful one but would make me stronger in the longer run for Chattanooga. The weekend prior I had a wedding up in New Jersey for my college friend Sahil. Even though there was a wedding - training still had to get done. I was able to get a nice 130 mile ride in up to Sandy Hook, NJ and a 20 mile run in on the way home with long time friend Anthony Wind (and 2014 North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile DC champ!). After that weekend with all the travel and training I was pretty beat up but new I had to get through one more week of training and end it with an Olympic/Sprint Double. After getting through the days leading up to the race I had some very tough patches mentally and physically where I had to keep reminding myself of the goal of racing well at Ironman Chattanooga. I had never gone into a race with such heavy legs and really was doubting how I could perform. However, it is amazing how the body can respond.
This weekend also was a chance for my sister in-law and two nieces, as well as Dr. Franklin and her daughter, Emmy to come watch me race. It is nice to be able to show people what a triathlon is all about and see the results of all the hours of training. Friday, the night before the Olympic race, I decided to stay in Charlottesville and go for dinner on the Downtown Mall with Chelsea, Wendy and my two Nieces. It was a beautiful night and a relaxing one. It was also great to sleep in my own bed before racing.
Day 1 of the Weekend- Olympic Tri and training
When getting up at 3:45 am to make the 90 min trip up to Luray I realized my legs felt surprisingly well and began to get excited for the weekend of festivities. After an uneventful drive through the backwoods of VA, I arrived to an unseasonably cool morning at Lake Arrowhead. As the race start came near I saw that Chelsea had arrived along with Wendy and the two girls in tow. I was excited to see them and to get going with the race. This race a unique in that there was a prize purse that had drawn other pros and top age groupers to this small yet scenic mountain Paige County, VA town. My goal this weekend was to get top 3 in both the Olympic on Saturday and the Sprint race on Sunday as each race paid 3 deep. I knew this race was going to go out quickly in the swim as John Kenny, a 5 time US National Open Water Swim Champ was in the race.
As the gun went off I knew I had to do my best to limit the losses as in all Olympic distance races the swim plays a much larger role in the race as it does in longer half and full Ironman events. After really working the entire swim, sighting well and trying to have a smooth stroke I exited the water in a PR Olympic time of 22:11 and 3:30 down from John. I was actually really happy when Chelsea told me how far back I was because I was confident that my bike and run could bring me back into it.
I ended up getting onto the bike and really started to roll. This is a very challenging bike course and can be tough to get into a rhythm. I fortunately had the opportunity about 2 months back to come ride the course. I am glad I did as I knew the turns, descents and other places that might cause me to slow down. I credit my Pro cycling friend Curtis Winsor of Winsor Creative for helping me work on my descending this summer. I have a long ways to go but much improved thanks to him! I was able to work my way back to within striking distance off the bike with a race best bike split of 1:03:40 for this very hilly difficult 41Km bike leg. After coming into t2 in 3rd place I was a couple mins down from John and ITU pro Dan Feeney.
I knew Dan could run like wind so I was really hoping to see if I could catch John. After running a first 5k of 17:20 i wasn't gaining ground on Dan but I was gradually gaining time on John. However with 2 miles to go I was still 1:03 down from John. He looked good at the turn around and with no one behind me I thought to save some energy for tomorrows sprint. The likelihood of me catching him at that point wasn't very good. I ended up cruising in with a 10k split of 35: 11 for 3rd overall in a time of 2:03:24. Finishing 1:30 down from Dan and 58 seconds down from John.
Overall I was really happy with the race and how it went considering it was an Olympic distance and in my opinion of all the triathlon distances that is my worst. I was pleasantly surprised with how my legs responded considering the amount of training I had put them through over the last few weeks without much recovery. After the race I quickly changed my shoes, changed out of my race kit, said hi to Chelsea and the family and started off on my second session of the day - a nice 8.5 mile cool down. After a few mins in, my legs that had felt great just moments before became heavy and lethargic. The back mountain roads didn't help that feeling much either. After slugging through the hour run I showered, ate some food and got ready for the awards ceremony. Brad Rex the announcer and David Glover did a great job with the awards ceremony and we even came home with a wine carafe with etched glass.
When the awards ceremony ended I said my goodbyes to Chelsea, Wendy and my two nieces as they were to spend the rest of the day at Luray Caverns. I decided it was best to get out of the hot sun and take a nap, roll out my legs and stretch. When 4:00 rolled around I went down to the beach and help lead a transition and swim clinic for the next day's Sprint race. It was nice to see so many people out there, hear their stories and just give them advice in which I have picked up over the years. It was also great to get to know David better and realize what an amazing job he does with the race and the positive impact it has on the Luray and Paige County community. David was also very helpful in helping me set up a home stay with a wonder couple, Jim and Virginia Newman. They opened their home to me and even took me to their
grand childrens performance of Alice in Wonderland at the Trackside Theater in Luray. It was nice staying only 6 miles from the race site so I got so sleep in a little extra. I was going to need it as I had a very long day ahead of me.
Day 2- Sprint Tri and more training
After getting to the race site I went through the normal race day routine. When I was taking out my bike to get it ready for the race I noticed that my rear tire had gone flat. And to my surprise, I remained calm, changed my Reynolds carbon clincher rear tube and continued on getting everything ready. A few mins later put my front wheel on but noticed some unusual brake rub like the wheel was out of true. I thought, this couldn't be- maybe the front brake came out of alignment while in my car. However when I inspected it more quickly I realized there was a 4-6 inch portion of my brake tract that had bowed out. I knew right away this wheel was nice safe to race on and I quickly went to David Glover. He told me to go to the Bonzai Sports mechanics and see what they could do for me. I was really worried as I didn't even have an extra training wheel with me like I normally do! Jason from Bonzai Sports was truly amazing to me and actually had a front Zipp 404 carbon clincher that I could use! I didn't even have to change the brakes or anything. If it wasn't for them being there I am not sure what I would have done....so a HUGE THANK YOU to them!
After surviving a mild heart attack I realized it was about 30 mins from race start and I hadn't even completely set up transition. I did that quickly grabbed my wetsuit and headed down to the lake. Fortunately when I go there I saw Chelsea's smiling face and a she quickly noticed the anxiety in my face. She helped calm me down and get the wetsuit on. After that, I was able to say hi to Shannon Franklin and daughter Emmy before getting in the water for the swim. I noticed as I approached the water there were a few new faces that hadn't raced yesterday. I knew I would have to swim even harder this morning as it was only a sprint. As the races get shorter the races become more painful. Don't get me wrong, the longer races are painful too but this is a different type of pain. After getting out well the first 350 meters I turned into the sun and could not see the next buoy as I was blinded. I just kept swimming in the direction I thought I was supposed to go to but a short while later a kayak guard got in my way and re-directed me as I was about 25 degrees off. A mistake like that could easily have cost me the race but I couldn't do anything about it now and just kept swimming hard. As I finished the swim Chelsea let me know I was 1:45 down from the leaders. That was a surprise- the wrong direction on the swim really cost me time. I got out of the water in 11:02.
As I started the bike and climbed the first, hill I realized that my legs weren't going to be there like yesterday. A little while later, I actually got passed by Matias Palavecino. I knew I couldn't let him go otherwise it would be that much more ground to make up on the run. I got back up to him a little while later and we actually ended up working together for a majority of the ride, exchanging leads trying to get ourselves up to John and Dan. With 5 miles left we saw the two leaders up in the distance. We kept pushing to get to them...Matias pushed hard enough over the last few miles that he actually got to T2 right with them as I came into T2 25 seconds down from the group of 3. I ended up riding better than expected with a 2nd best split of 43:06 - having the seconds fastest split behind Matias' split of 42:32 for the 17 mile bike.
As we started the run I knew the other racers were right in front of me, I just had to reel them in one at a time. At the turn around I was only 8 seconds from John and Matias where Dan was about 30 seconds in front. I had that point in the race where you either go for it or you don't. A few meters later I went for it and put in a massive surge to first go by John then right by Matias. I knew I had the strength to hold it together till the finish. After no response from either I found myself in 2nd place with a half mile left. I kept pushing and looked back coming into the park to see a comfortable gap from me to 3rd but too far to catch first. I ended up having the second fast run split of 17:20 and a runner up finish to Dan in an overall time of 1:13:43.
After the race I congratulated everyone and took a breath realizing I had put in two quality races back to back after a monster training block. After saying good bye to Shannon and Emmy I was able to spend some quality time with Chelsea, shower, get some food then head over to the announcing booth to help Brad as the finishers came in. I was trying my best to stay off my feet as I was only partially done with my day. After the awards ceremony and a great weekend in Luray, Chelsea and I headed out to go get some lunch.
You would think I would be done with the training/racing for the weekend right? NOPE! After lunch Chelsea dropped me off and I proceeded to bike the 80 miles home. It was a tough 80 miles but I knew how important it was to get the miles in. And to make for an even better weekend...when I finished the 80 mile ride back to our house in Crozet I got to run another 8 miles. Needless to say I was exhausted from the weekend's festivities but it really was a great weekend.
I want to give a huge thank you to David Glover for putting on a great race, being so gracious with the prize purse and for being so helpful the entire weekend. If you have never done the Luray Tri I would highly recommend this gem in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Now, in the middle of a down week I am trying to catch up on life, let the body recover and spend time with Chelsea. I am excited though for this next block to really give it one last push before Ironman Chattanooga. I am looking forward to labor day weekend as I will be headed down to Chattanooga to familiarize myself with the course and get more comfortable with the city. Sorry it was such a long race report but a lot happened! Till next time...thanks for reading!