I’ve opened the season with J-hawk four of the last five seasons, each year using it as a rough benchmark of my fitness.  After a long winter focused on my running and a recent PR at the half-marathon distance, I had high hopes for the race.  However, recent life events, caused me to wake up race morning just hoping I’d show up in Whitewater with everything needed to race and get to my start on time!

Swim:
5:49 (1st OA)

I can’t recall the exact time I seeded myself at when I entered the race, but it put me as the second swimming in my lane.  The first swimmer was a younger kid with the look of a decent swimmer, so I didn’t worry about catching him and having to pass him quickly, especially since my warm-up was non-existent.  7 seconds after the first swimmer started, off I went.  I swam easy and relaxed, building into it.  My primary goal for the swim was to exit the water even with, or ahead of Matt Behnke, who was swimming in the lane next to me and one swimmer ahead.  So coming out even, actually meant a 7 second lead for me!

I caught and passed Matt around the 250, and caught the lead swimmer in my lane just before the turn at 450.

Bike:
33:33 (1st OA)

The goal for the bike was simple – ride fast enough to get to extend the lead.  If Matt closed the gap on the bike, Plan B was to put in a *very* hard surge until the elastic snapped.  Fortunately, Plan A worked out just fine, and I pulled into T2 having added 17 seconds to the lead, which put me 30 seconds up at the start of the run.

Run (Cross Country):
19:03 – (2nd OA)

I had a bit of trouble getting my Saucony A5s on in transition – the insole of my right shoe folded up as I slipped my foot in.  The same thing happened last year with the Kinvara’s and the A4s – they just don’t seem to be designed for sockless running.  I didn’t spend much time messing with it and just took off; I figured that a 5k wasn’t enough to cause any serious blisters or chaffing.

I felt very strong and comfortable as I started out the run.  I strapped my garmin on, I didn’t plan to use it for pacing, but simply to capture the run split and look at the download after the fact.  A little after mile one I let myself check behind me to see where Matt was, and my stomach tightened when I saw him only a handful of yards behind me.

Initially, my thought was crap – he shut down 30 seconds in a mile to mile and a half – I’m in trouble.  After about 5 seconds of panic, I put my pokerface back on and did like Jens Voigt.

By the time I cleared the wooded section of the run (roughly mile 2), I had started to open the gap back up, and by the time mile 3 rolled around it was back to 30 seconds and the question of the day shifted to breaking the 1 hour mark and setting a course record.

Summary:
59:41 (1st OA)

I crossed the finish line in 59:41, my best time on the course by almost 2 minutes and breaking the course record by one minute, 16 seconds – set by Michael Boehmer back in 2008.

A thanks for the support to: Brent and Steve and the rest of the gang at Emery’s, the new bike is great and the 808 FC wheels are hands down the most badass wheels I’ve ever ridden; RACC pb Gear-Grinder, my wife Mary and the newest addition to the family Ethan!

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