I love coming to Clearwater and racing. It is a great place to hang out pre and post race with great weather and beautiful beaches. We had four days after the race to relax and unwind with with family on a beautiful beach front home. I tell ya, I did feel pretty American after the race. I got redneck with my boy Justin Park and must have consumed seven or eight miller lights after the race. Yes Dad I know, I was drinking water. I then watched and talked football on Sunday while having my arse planted in the couch for almost the entire day. 10 days since the race and I now feel like working out again.
Swim started off poorly with everyone paddling out a good 50 yards past the start line in anticipation of the gun. If you come to Clearwater you have to play the game that somebody always starts. With 80+ pros in the field everyone had to play and start swimming before the gun despite lots of four letter words being tossed about. I started solid and was in the mix of the main pack that was stretched pretty long. I came out 15-20 sec back of the first few athletes. Great position for Clearwater because if you are not in the front pack you can kiss your chances good-bye of a top 10 place. However, just like ITU, if you fumble around in T1 your race can also be over. I funmbled for a little too long :)
Heading into the bike I just missed the tail end of pack one. I was riding with Colucci, Able, and another fellow but the gap was growing by the minute. Eventually we all were eaten up by a fast charging second pack. This group was massive!! Rode the entire way back with the pack and it was fast. Every athlete was jostling for position the entire ride which leads to many close calls. You're constantly accelerating trying not to lose your spot and decelerating avoiding the dreaded drafting call. The ride is madness. It was pretty funny because the lead women were riding with us. I recall one of them riding up and slotting in right in front of me! I thought it would be best to position myself near the back to do the least work possible to be fresh for the run. About 6-7 miles from home I realised I was going to have a tough time bridging up to runner 1 of this pack if he was 300m in front of me. I surged up as best as I could to position myself with strong runners up front.
Came in to T2 and didn't feel very fresh at all running through transition. Chris Leigh and Cunningham were just in front of me. They made a move I now wish I responded to, but the legs were not there at the time. I still was running strong and was realing in guys on the second lap.
Crazy that a 3:44 will get you 22nd! The gap to 10th was only 2-3 min and 13-22place was very small. This race is all about the swim and T1 in my opinion so I look forward to tackling Clearwater again in 2010 in a quest for my top 10 spot :)