This year the national championship was held in Cleveland Ohio. The Olympic distance race was Saturday, followed by the sprint distance on Sunday. This weekend Alexa and I planned on racing both races, so we had the best chance to get to Lausanne Switzerland for the 2019 World Championship. Alexa and I met on the way to Cleveland and the following day headed to the race venue to get a swim in and check out the expo, along with dropping the bikes. Alexa had a brand-new bike and this one was a different gearing which didn’t match her old wheel, so we had to find a place to rent one for the weekend and ended up finding a ZIPP 808 wheel that looked incredible on her new bike. After getting that figured out we headed to swim. The swim looked rough, and really far. We dropped the bikes and ran around the expo before heading out to do the practice swim. The waves had grown again, and the buoys looked much too far for an Olympic distance from shore. We met up with Billy and the three of us planned to swim to the first buoy of the three going out, then over to the last of the buoys coming back to the finish, then to shore. After we arrived at the first buoy we all were in disbelief. The waves were inconsistent, and breathing was near impossible. With the swells it was hard to sight even the gigantic orange and yellow buoys. We continued on towards the next buoy and then to shore. I had a really tough time and knew it was going to be a long weekend with water like that. After finishing the swim and looking at the distance, we knew the swim was going to be much longer than it should have been, we hoped and prayed for some good weather as we headed to the hotel for the night.
The next morning the forecast was beautiful. Arriving at the race venue was spectacular and everyone was excited to race. Alexa went off way before me, so I helped her get ready, braided her hair, and off she went to CRUSH her competition. I then dropped our bags and started my warmup. As the morning progressed, the waves grew. My age group entered the water and as usual, no one said a word to one another. I found Billy and after a quick fist bump, we were off into the water. The normal kicking and thrashing and punching happened for the first 300yds until the group finally thinned out. After 2 buoys I had swallowed so much water and still couldn’t get in a consistent rhythm for the waves coming in. We finally turned so I could breathe to my right, but I still felt off and couldn’t get any sort of momentum going. After turning into shore, I looked up and realized that once again, I was coming out of the swim last.
Coming into transition everyone’s bikes were gone except for mine. I mounted and took off on the course. The course was full of rough roads but was a beautiful and straight course for the most part. I cruised with a fellow teammate back and forth for most of the bike, posting just over 25mph and slowly realized that I had over-done the bike.
The run I completely fell apart. I ran the first 2 at the pace I was hoping for and the next few miles were miserable, I couldn’t find the legs I usually have, and just suffered to the finish.
At the finish I was met by Alexa and we shared our race experiences, She had dominated her pack and was an All-American!! We went to the awards that night to get her All-American Award and Team USA slot for 2019 Worlds. Then back to the hotel to regroup for the next morning.
Sunday came and as we arrived at the start line again, my heart sank. The waves were huge and the boats in the lake were even getting pushed around. On top of all of this the course once again, was obviously too long. I was wearing headphones but all of the sudden everyone started walking as packs towards transition. I took them off and heard there was a mandatory meeting in transition at 7am. We all met in transition and they made the announcement that the Coast Guard had made the decision that there would be no swim today. It was changed to a 2.7K run, normal bike, 2.7k run. A Duathlon. Alexa and I had never done one, but this played to my strengths. We regrouped and made a new race plan. I braided her hair again, we warmed up, and it was time to line up for the run!
! I lined up just in front of an All-American track runner because I figured that would be a good gauge of where I was as far as everyone went because he would lay down some great splits. The first run I took off and averaged 5:12/mile. Murray (the runner) passed me as we entered transition. I hopped on the bike and once again laid it all out. I immediately passed Murray along with a few other guys from waves before me. I let no one pass me and put my head down to muscle out the best bike I possibly could. I came through at just under 26mph. back to running! Legs showed up this morning and I muscled out another couple miles around 5:15/mile. After coming through the chute, I knew I had put together a much stronger performance and had done what I could. Alexa also had an incredible day for someone who “wasn’t a runner” put out some of the fastest bike splits AND run splits of anyone her age. I missed the All-American but made Team USA for 2019! Not the weekend I had hoped for, but I have focused in for South Africa which has been my main goal all year. Thank you to everyone for all the incredible support, and to Alexa for keeping my head on straight and being the biggest supporter of all. I could not have asked for a better person to have by my side from race weeks to hiking to waterfalls. I love you so much! To my sponsors, I could never do these things without you. YOU ROCK!!!! We leave for SA next Sunday!!! Can’t wait to see what happens down on the coast and then down under in Australia!!