Even after 6 years as a professional and 60 career wins, I still have my doubts sometimes about my ability. Going into the Rev 3 race, I was uncertain if I would be able to produce a good result with such a quality field (probably the best field outside of the World Championships). Putting forth the effort was never a question, but after a hernia surgery in 2008 and another in 2009, I lost the “uber” bike speed that I had in 2006 and 2007. I’m still one of the faster cyclists in the pro field, but I can’t relay on the bike segment to dominate the race right now. I also had knee problems in 2008 and haven’t felt as confident in my running ability as in the past. The youthful notion being indestructible is gone, and I haven’t had a satisfying run in a half for a year because of all the injuries.
Moving onto the race, the swim was non-wetsuit this year. Almost every pro race is non-wetsuit now since the water temperature for wetsuits changed to 68 degrees. I came out of the water in the second group of about 6 swimmers, roughly 60seconds down on the lead group. Andrew Starykowicz was just ahead of us in no mans land but behind the lead group of John Kenny, Bjorn, Richie, Crowie, Matt, Terenzo, and Joe Umphenour. The lead group could have been spread out too.
I couldn’t tell. Talking to Craig after the race, Bjorn was out in front of the bike the whole time and he, Craig, had tried to make a couple moves to separate himself from the group. He thought he was successful 5 to 6 times, but they kept coming back. If you aren’t familiar with the Rev 3 course, it’s 56 miles of hills and fast corners. It’s probably the best half bike course in the country. In addition to being a hard course, it’s also scenic.
I left T1 with Joe Gambles (2nd last year) and 2 other guys, who transitioned quickly. We passed John Kenny fairly quickly and were catching Ander Starykowicz. Joe Gambles caught Andrew and I was about 15 second behind just before the 1 aid station when I noticed my seat post had slipped and was continuing to slip. I rode the entire race last year with my seat post 2 cm lower because it slip when I mounted, but this time is was continuing to worsen. Luckily, I noticed volunteers at the aid station wearing bike helmets, so started yelling for an Allen wrench, and someone had one.
The bad news now is that I lost Joe Gambles and Andrew, and I had to catch and drop John Kenny and Victor Z again. I’m a stronger biker than Victor, but he does everything he can to hang around, which can be frustrating. Around my 45 (the turn around), I saw Bjorn off the front; Joe Gambles in Second trying to drop the group, and a group of 5, which I probably would have caught minus the mechanical – bummer. I was still trying to get rid of Victor, which I eventually did just after the turn around and caught Joe Umphenour just before T2, who lost contact with the leaders.
Coming into transition, I could see Bjorn leaving on the run in front with Joe Gambles, Andrew, Matt, Terenzo, Craig, and Richie in that order. The time from Bjorn to Richie was probably 2 minutes and I was 60 seconds back from Richie. I left T2 feeling good despite expending a lot of energy on the bike.
The first 2 miles of the run are fast because it’s downhill, and I was optimistic because I could see Andrew, Bjorn and Richie getting closer. I went through 3 miles in 16:25 and passed Andrew and Bjorn around this point, which was good. However, I still wasn’t certain I’d have a good run. Last year I felt just as good until mile 9 and I was in 2nd, only to fade to 4th. I bruised my feet on the rocky gravel road, which was coming up. I had to walk/run to the finish in 2009. With a different shoe selection this year, I made it through the hilly gravel section without a problem and passed Richie, who is an excellent runner. Approaching the turn around and mile 6, Joe Umphenour finally bridged the 20 yard gap to me. He had been hanging behind me since T2. At the 1st run turn around Terenzo was leading with Matt running on his shoulder and Crowie 30 seconds behind. I confirmed the race standing with Joe because I was surprised we were in 4th and 5th. After having the problem on the bike I didn’t think moving up this far was possible. From the 1st turn around Joe and I ran together for almost the entirety of the race.
Similarly to the bike course, the run course is filled with rolling hills. I was running the down hills fast and Joe was taking his turn at the front on the up hills. I had a few physical concerns going into the 2nd run turn around. My calves and quads were starting to exhibit signs of cramping from the constant up and down, but I was still running fast. At the 2nd turn around Crowie and taken the lead and Terenzo had separated himself from Matt. I was still think about how to get rid of Joe Umphenour, who was tucked in behind me. In the last mile of the course there is a long up hill, around 50 meters from the top Joe U. let a 5 yard gap open up. This was my opportunity and from my experience of being burned last year in the same spot, I gave it everything I had to the top of the hill. If you have been in this situation, you know once you make a surge for the finish there’s no slowing down. You have to hold it all the way to the line. If the chaser sees you slow down, it's like blood in the water. Anyway, I was happy to finish 4th – big pay day.
1. Craig Alexander 3:59:20
2. Terenzo Bozzone 4:00:20
3. Matt Reed 4:02:10
4. David Thompson 4:04:34
5. Joe Umphenour 4:04:58
6. Victor Zyemtsev 4:08:13
7. Richie Cunningham 4:11:03
8. James Cotter 4:13:36
9. Andrew Starkowytiz 4:13:36
10. Dorian Wagner 4:16:05