Rocketman Triathlon Race Report

Aug 12 - Aug 18
S:  14,700 yds - 3hr 26min
B:  232.45 mi - 12hr 32min
R:  28.37 mi - 3hr 37min
Total:  19hr 35min

Aug 19 - Aug 25
S:  12,191 yds - 2hr 59min
B:  91.47 mi - 4hr 51min
R:  31.69 mi - 3hr 55min
Total:  11hr 45min

I've been looking forward to the Rocketman Triathlon for pretty much the entire year because it's an awesome race course and it is very well run, but mainly because this year race director Mike Gerrity decided to do an "elite open wave".  Since there are practically ZERO races in Alabama that do any sort of mass start or wave start, I was really looking forward to actually racing head to head against my competitors.  I'm really not sure why other races don't copy this format, but kudos to Mike for doing it.  If the goal of a race is to actually race against and compete against your competitors, anything other than a mass start is not ideal.  IMO, it just takes away something from the race.

Anyways, there were about 20 or so of us men and women in the open wave.  I thought I had a chance to bring home a win, but it would be tough.  Bruce Gennari is a stud swimmer with a very good bike, so if he's having a good day then he is hard to beat.  Jonathan Krichev and Kendrick Gibson were the other 2 guys on my radar.  I have beat both of them before but have also lost to both of them before.  In my mind it was going to be a pretty close, hard fought race.

Swim - 26:43 (23rd)
As we were all treading water waiting for the swim start, that first turn buoy looked a long way off!  I lined up near the right side and as the gun sounded, we took off.  The pace was high starting off but after a couple hundred meters I found myself solo with no one around me.  I immediately noticed two things: we were swimming into a very stiff current, and that first turn buoy really was a long way away.  Bruce was likely going to put some good time into everyone so we all had our work cut out for us.  As we were almost to the turn buoy, every triathlete's worst nightmare happened: I felt my chip come loose!  I stopped swimming and as I stopped it slipped off my ankle.  Luckily I turned around and immediately saw it, and then stuffed it down the front of my suit.  My goggles had already filled with water due to the heavy chop so I took that opportunity to put them back on.  Alright, time to race again.  After rounding the turn buoy we were with the current for the remainder of the swim.  At about the halfway point I saw a familiar stroke swim up next to me, and it was none other than Hallie Blunck.  We swam beside each other and then I finally moved in behind her and finished off the swim in her draft.  After hearing Hallie tell me that we swam 26:30 I was slightly nervous that I had lost the race for myself, but as it turns out the swim was long and the current really killed people.  I came out about 2 minutes behind Kendrick and Krichev, which is about where I expected to be.  Bruce had already put 5 minutes on me.

jumping in for the wave start

T1 - 0:38 (8th)
Transition was fast and uneventful except for spending 5 seconds putting my chip back on my ankle.  In hindsight I should have just stuffed the chip in my pocket...

Bike - 59:03 (2nd)
Coming out of transition, I felt my chip come loose again!  What the heck!  I reached down and grabbed it, and then stuffed it in my pocket.  From there the main goal was to reel in Kendrick and Krichev, as they are both good runners.  After a mile or so I passed by Sara and then Lori and wished them both a good race.  A few miles later I could see some men up the road so I knew I was in business.  We had a tailwind going out so I tried to get us aero as possible, save a few watts, and really focus on speed.  At about mile 10 I was rapidly approaching Kendrick and then passed him.  This put me into 4th because Jeff Fejfar had a stellar swim and was riding in 2nd place behind Bruce.  A few miles later I passed Krichev and moved into 3rd.  I could not even see Bruce or Jeff up the road so that was kind of demoralizing.  Watts were good on the way back in and I tried to kick it up a notch into the headwind, knowing that I needed to at least give myself a shot at a win.  As I rolled towards transition I reached into my pocket to pull out my timing chip, and then noticed that the chip had fallen off the strap!  Crap!  I yelled to all the timing people as I rolled into T2 and they made sure that I was marked down.

on the bike

T2 - 0:59 (14th)
No mistakes here, and I was quickly out on the run course trying to reel in the leaders.

Run - 39:39 (8th)
The run course starts off with a section on trail before moving onto gravel roads, and then finishes up with a nice little climb and then downhill into the finish.  I was hurting pretty good but felt like I could still throw down a good run.  The first few miles were all around 6:20 to 6:30 pace and I felt like I was managing myself good.  During the out and back section at around mile 3.5 I could see that Bruce had a sizable lead and that he would take the win, but where did Jeff go??  Somehow I was now sitting in 2nd place.  As it turned out, Jeff made a wrong turn out of transition and was way behind.  At mile 4 on my way back towards the finish I saw Kendrick and Krichev and they only appeared to be 30-40 seconds back...crap!  I was running scared now, but I managed to speed up just a hair and maintain the gap, crossing the line in 2nd place.  As I crossed I yelled to the timing officials to make sure they got down my final finish time.

on the run...

trying to stay strong

Total - 2:07:02 (2nd overall)
A win would have been nice but Bruce had a stellar race and crushed it.  Unfortunately for Jeff, he made a wrong turn that probably cost him 2nd place (although you never know), but that's part of racing and I've certainly been there before.  Kendrick and I go back and forth a lot so it was nice to be on the winning end of that match-up, although I'm certain that he will be back and ready for revenge next time.  Also, huge congrats to Lori for taking 2nd overall female with a 2:19:09 in only her 2nd Olympic distance race!  And kudos to Birminghamian Hallie Blunck for taking the win and to Sara Gibson for rounding out the female podium in 3rd! 

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