I’ve now raced the Old Hickory Lake triathlon in 8 of the 10 years its been run. Year in and year out it’s my personal “super bowl”. Racing in my home town, my dad riding with me to the race before the sun rises, and my mom, Karen and the kids all being at the finish line have always made this race special to me.
This year I woke up early – 5:00am. I expected to be awake before dad for once, but when I walked into the living room there he was, fully dressed, drinking coffee, and watching TV already.
We got to the race site early. That allowed me to take the very first spot on the bike racks – right next to the bike in and bike out. Bill Hampton and I went for a short warm-up ride before walking down to the swim start. We were numbers 2 and 3, so we’d be starting at the very front end of the race.
A 20 year old kid hit the water #1, followed by Bill, and then me, and then a swarm of guys with good swim speed. We rounded the dock after the start with Bill still a few feet in front of me. Within 25 yards I came around Bill and set my sights on #1. As we got to the first left turn at the big yellow bouy I caught him, swam a few strokes in his wake, and then passed him. I swam alone for the next 200-250 yards in the very front. In the final stretch towards the ramp I was caught by a single swimmer. I noticed he was #10, so this guy was flying to have started that far back and still caught me.
I exited the water satisfied with my swim, quickly pulled my shoes on and started the one mile run to the bike transition. There were now two guys in front of me. I ran calmy up a long hill not wanting to blow up too early in the race. Once the course leveled off I caught them and ran just off their shoulders. One of the guys faded as we picked up the pace, so #1 and I ran into the transition area still the virtual leaders on the road.
Once on the bikes I followed him for the first mile, easing into my pace. We climbed an on-ramp onto Vietnam Veterans parkway. I’m usually strong going uphill so I seized the opportunity to pass him and take the lead spot on the road again. What an awesome feeling! I was the first person out there…just the lead motorcycle in front of me. I stayed in the lead until I was finally caught by the eventual overall winner at about 5.5 miles. He was going so fast that I didn’t even try to go with him. I stayed calm. I was riding fast at 22.5 mph, so he was flying. I saw Bill at the turnaround, so I rode hard up the long climb back up Vietnam Veterans.
We came into the transition area again in that same order. Sean Torr leading the race wearing #19 and then me. I was still 2nd on the road – hoping I had distanced some of my old rivals a bit. The first mile of the run felt like 3 miles. I kept waiting to see Torr heading back, but it took forever. He eventually crested a hill in front of me heading the opposite direction. There was no hope of catching him. About a 1/4 mile after I made the turnaround I saw Bill again – running strong. Shortly after I saw my old friends Javier Rodriguez and Brian Waller both running smooth. I felt better headed back towards the finish line and eased into a 6:50 pace…not hurting, but not quite loafing either. With about a 1/4 mile to go I ran past Karen, my mom, and the kids.
I crossed the finish line 2nd, but ultimately was 13th overall and 3rd in my age group. Not bad out of 400 racers. It was a new PR time for me by 5 minutes at Old Hickory Lake. It wasn’t my best overall finish there (12th in 2008), but 13th against a stacked field was still great.
Read about my special day in 2008 here
2011 Race Results round up (so far):
Hell of the South bike race – 17th overall
Country Music Half Marathon – 1:39
Florida 70.3 – 5:33
Boulder Sunrise Triathlon – 6th overall / 1st Age Group
Old Hickory Lake Triathlon – 13th overall / 3rd Age Group
Boulder 70.3 – ? Still to come