Its nice to have friends in high places. In the weeks leading up to Sodus I was not sure if I would be ready to race. With about a week to go before the race I was able to squeeze in under the radar thanks to me Fleet Feet team membership. Definitely made the right decision.
Sodus NY is about an hour drive from Rochester so it was quite an early morning. My Dad and I made our way out at around 6AM and the weather could not have been more perfect. Thankfully the rain and thunderstorms that were predicted held off until the late afternoon, upon which they made up for being tardy by flooding the basement of my apartment. In door swimming pool anyone? But that is neither here nor there. After about an hour drive we arrived at Sodus and I made my way to transition. It was nice to get there a bit early. I found a nice spot in transition and met up with a lot of my friends who had raced at Placid to exchange war stories as the rest of transition slowly filled.
As I slipped into my Xterra Pro X2 wetsuit and made my way down to the beach an announcement came over the PA system warning athletes that there was a good amount of seaweed accumulated on the waters edge and to tread lightly to prevent injury. Seaweed ... right ... that was an understatement. More like Seemuck, one and a half feet deep and ten feet long along to entire shore. Awesome. Something to look forward to on the way to T1.
The women started 5 minutes ahead of the men, and as they made their way through the first section of the course we began jockeying for position. I found a nice place on the start line in the center of the course. When the gun went off I put my head own and put in a solid 200 yard sprint to separate myself from the field. As we made the first turn on the square course I was in the lead with a growing lead. At this point we began catching the trailing women but as they were spread out navigating through them was relatively easy. I made sure to give everyone plenty of space; one of my biggest pet peeves is unnecessary contact during the swim. Everyone is here to have a good time. There is a time and a place for violent washing-machine like contact (read Ironman Lake Placid) but these types of local races are not it. As we made the final turn I was still leading and feeling great. As we approached the shore I happened to glance behind me a found a fellow competitor right on my feet. With 25 yards to go he pulled aside me and starting challenging for the swim win. For a moment I started to go with him ... and then I remembered the Seemuck. Ya know what buddy, you want to race through the slime you go right ahead, I will see you in T1. Made it out of the water (and safely through the slime) a few seconds down to the race leader but feeling very good.
Everything went off without a hitch. Had my eye on the race leader as I entered and noticed he seemed to be having a relatively long transition. Thought maybe I could beat him to the exit but came out of T1 just on his heals.
Bike: 00:33:02 (*Bike Course Record)
The first section of the bike course were very technical. Lots of sharp 90 degree turns with very little room to accelerate. Once we go on the main road I settled in and began to push a hard pace. I wanted to catch the leader and I wanted to do it fast. As I began closing the gap I noticed that he was riding like a man possessed. Not in the sense that he was firing on all cylinders, but rather like he was turning himself inside out, giving everything he had to maintain every second of advantage he had. As is turned out he was 17 years old and he had trained all summer for this race, his first triathlon. He ended up having a great race but I made the pass shortly thereafter and regained a solid lead, with only two women ahead of me. I continued to push a hard tempo and quickly caught the womens race leader one of my good friends who had also race Lake Placid. I slowed only briefly to give her a word of encouragement and then I was off. Now this next section was my favorite part of the race. The race directors had arranged to have a police pace car for the race leader. Sirens, flashing lights, the whole shabang. AWESOME! I had been in situations before were I briefly lead out of T1, but never had I been given a police escort. As we approached the turn around I really started to find my legs and went through a 5 miles stretch were my speed did not drop below 31mph. It was a pretty cool feeling to be flying down the road, police car ahead of me with sirens blaring and everyone on the road pulling over to the side to let me through. I managed to maintain my speed all the way back to T1 and entered transition with a sizable lead.
Again, flawless. I wanted to make sure I kept as much of my advantage as possible so I was in, out and on my way.
As I exited T2 I immediately pushed the pace. At this point I did not know how large of a lead I had. The run course was two loops with some rolling hills and I never looked back to see if anyone was behind me. I stayed focused and ran hard from start to finish. On the second lap as I ran past on of my Fleet Feet teammates I heard them say 'Stay strong Rocket, your killing it". Rocket being the nickname my buddy and training buddy Matt Kellman gave me at the beginning of this season. With that I pushed it that much harder and approached the finishing straight. I crossed the line (01:03:30), took the win and felt great. After crossing the line I looked behind me, for the first time since leaving T2 and I saw no one. Then the waiting game began. It was another 6+ minutes until the second place finisher crossed the line, I had literally won by a mile, and it felt great.
I was very pleased with how the race went and aside from not leading out of the water I do not think I could have scripted a better race from start to finish. Even better was being able to celebrate with my Fleet Feet teammates afterwards, all of whom had outstanding races in their own right. A great day and an outstanding race!