Racing by Bo Parrish
In case you're wondering, it was HOTTER THAN HOT on Sunday in Austin, TX! With temperatures in the low 90s (in late October....what the heck?!) and my swim wave starting last, I managed my best race of the year! It was extra sweet to finish the 2014 season with a podium finish and a 70.3 World Championship slot for Austria! Ok, so here's the long and short of my race in Austin.... I often tell myself (and others) that I would rather be lucky than good. Unfortunately my mantra didn't work out so well this time around. I arrived at athlete check-in on Saturday afternoon to discover that my wave would start last. Yep, wave #19 starting at 8:55am, nearly 90 minutes after the pro start! I simply reminded myself that "what is, IS" and there was nothing I could do to change it. The fact that THE weather forecast called for temperatures in the low 90s didn't make it any easier on my nerves, BUT OH WELL... I made it through check-in relatively quickly and then left to pick Marietta up at the airport. She had a prior commitment on Friday which required us taking separate flights. I was thrilled to have her with me for the weekend! I scooped her up and then headed for the hotel to get off my feet. I love late season races for many reasons but at the top of my list is SEC college football Saturday! There were 3 fantastic games on which made relaxing that much easier. Dinner time rolled around and Marietta and I found a good place nearby. Pasta with chicken and mixed veggies hit the spot and we were back to the hotel in less than 2 hours. Now it was time to sleep, which I have never been good at the night before a race! The alarm went off at 5:00 and I was up into my race morning routine! We were out the door and on the way to transition by 5:30. Austin 70.3 is a 2 transition race so parking was set up to facilitate a shuttle ride to the lake. My wave went last so I took my time setting up both transition areas. After why seemed like a century, my wave was called to the water. The swim was packed already with over 2500 athletes already having begun. I took my place at the front left and started with an all out sprint to for the first 3 buoys. My swim has been much better this year and so my confidence as allowed me to start in such a manner. I settled into my pace and felt great. As I finished, I looked down at my TIMEX Race Trainer Pro to see "29:15!" The run up to transition was long but I maintained my composure. T1 was huge and spread out and my bike was NOT ALL CLOSE to the bike out. I carried my bike out of transition at the advice of the volunteers. There were burrs everywhere and I had no interest in strutting with a blown tube! By now, the sun was high in the sky and it was hot! The pavement was rough, which made for an extremely uneven ride. I am so glad that I decided to put less air in my tires as there were athletes everywhere on the side of the road changing flats. Even after 9 years of racing, I still learn new things with each race day experience! At mile 25, I looked down at my Timex Cycle Trainer to see "1:07!" I was super-excited as my Trek Speed Concept was smokin'! I was doing everything I could to stay hydrated as I was pouring sweat by now. I felt strong despite the heat and began preparing for what would be the most grueling leg of the day. I cruised into T2 with a bike split of 2:34. The last 10 miles were tough with a head wind and a couple large climbs. After a quick turnaround in T2 I was out on the run and completely exposed to the elements. As you can probably imagine, there weren't too many trees in the parking lot of the expo center (which is where a large portion of the 3 loop course took place!) Fortunately each aid station had ice and I did everything I could to keep a handful positioned beneath my hat in direct contact with my forehead. I had dropped my salt tabs on the bike after having taken only 2. I knew I was WAY behind on my electrolytes so keeping my body temperature low was my number one focus on the run. Lap 1 was the most difficult part of the day. It was so hot, and the surface was a mixture of uneven pavement, gravel and dirt. Lap 2 was more manageable and by the time I hit mile 7, I started having fun again! I love triathlon in so many ways, but the run takes top measure! I found my stride and kept my pacing even. Lap 3 was a bit of a grind but by the time I passed mile 12, I was ready for the indoor expo finish line... The best part of the entire race was the minute I ran into the Rena and out of the sun. I crossed the finish line with a run split of 1:27 and an overall time of 4:38. I had no idea what my place might have been. There were 2 waves of my age group and 300 athletes. The run course we jammed packed and with 3 loops I just couldn't keep track. My swim felt great as did the bike and I always feel strong on the run. My thinking was that since we started so late the results would come down to suffer management! 4:38 is not a stellar time by any stretch of the imagination but co spidering the conditions, I surely hoped that it would be good enough. After searching for Marietta in the massive crowd for over 30 minutes I finally found her and she showed me her phone. It was in that moment that I saw my results!!! The first thought I had was, "dang it...I missed 1st place by less than 2 minutes!" But then I came to my senses and rediscovered my gratitude. It was a tough day and I managed to hold on for a 3rd place finish. I was also fortunate enough to qualify for the 2015 70.3 World Championships in Austria. I went ahead and took my slot to keep my options alive for next season! Marietta and I smiled together as she took a few photos of the awards ceremony. We went back to transition to collect my things and headed back to the hotel. After a quick bike packing and shower we found another great local restaurant and ate as we counted our blessings! 2014 is officially in the books. I am beyond grateful to represent such a world class organization in Timex. I am honored to have been given another season as a member of the Timex Multisport Team. 10 races stretching from New Orleans to North Carolina to Coeur d' Alene to Racine to Florida to Canada to South Carolina to Texas. 5 podium finishes and a little prize money to go along with the hardware! An incredible sentiment of thanks to all my rockstar teammates...you guys inspire me to go as hard as I possibly can! To Tristan Brown, Tom Schuler, Brian Daniels, Sam Martin, Brett Jacobson and the rest of the Timex family, my heart goes out to you. And to Trek Bikes, Shimano, Blueseventy, Newton Running, Powerbar, Castelli,.....you are the BEST in the business and I am honored by your sponsorship. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!