Having the luxury to drive to an ITU race is always a plus. Just a ferry buffet and a 2hr drive away made Monroe (scottish for Hard Hike) an anticipated race on the calendar.
Arriving Thursday night I was welcomed by homestay Jose and his family. Their home was just off the race course in the small town of Monroe, about 1hrs drive from Seattle, Washington. Jose and Margaret made me right at home and I thank them for the great weekend. The kids kept me occupied and relaxed as I prepped for the race Saturday afternoon.
The man-made lakes temperature fluctuated quite a bit with its shallow waters and rainfall. In typical fashion of the precision of TD Ulf Schuetze, 1hr before the start the temp was measured to 4 sig figs at 19.77C (wetsuit legal).
My race plan was quite simple. Do as Kemper does for as long as possible.
Ranked #2 i had second choice behind Hunter on the startline. Looking at the start area the day before I was convinced the left side was shorter to the first turn bouy so when Kemper choose the right side I was a bit muddled. I went with my gut and went left....well there goes the race plan i guess. There were quite a few strong swimmers in this field and they all proceeded to go right, i was starting to get a bit nervous I would be seperated from the pack until Fishies Andrew McCartney and Kalen Darling joined me on the left side.
Out to a great start I swam in clear water for 150m before slowly merging with the pack. Very little contact in this swim, was a nice change. With wetsuit swims you do not have as clear a picture of who you are swimming beside or behind. Prior to the start I made a mental note of a few of the stronger swimmers wetsuit and goggle type to recognize them in the water. The pace was fairly solid for the first 1000m, then a slight lull for 300 before picking up for the exit. I found myself right where I wanted to be, in the mix of the front group.
On the bike a group of 10 formed quickly. Teammate Jon Bird and Dustin McClarty had about a 20s gap that we managed to close within about 2k. There were a few notable absentees from our group that I think most of us noticed. This motivated the group to work together and have the gap grow. As Simon calls it 'Playin the Game' on the bike was my focus and I did everything I could to ride as smart as possible while contributing to the group.
The run turned into quite a tactical affair. Hunter was long gone from the first 100m. Then was Ben Collins and then was a group of 6 of us. A decent cross wind was coming off the field adjacent to course. I in essence 'drafted' off others in the group to conserve the first 5k. I wanted to negative split the run, at least effort wise to finish strong. At about 6k I was on my own in 3rd with Ben, the carrot, hanging in front of me by 15s. I just could not close the gap, it seemed like whenever i surged he instinctively did the same, maybe he could smell me? No oldspice next time.
Crossing in 3rd I was stoked for my first ITU podium. It was quite an honour to stand up there with Ben and Hunter.
Congradulations to Chantell Widney who won the womens race the same day. I feel she could have a great race in just under 2 weeks in her hometown of Edmonton.
That being said, Edmonton is fast approaching and I am eagerly looking forward to this one. Marked as my first 'A' race, the challenging course and field will be a great test. Edmonton was my World Cup debut in 2007, where I was rocked beyond this galaxy from the horn. I value that experience very much though as it gives me confidence in knowing the course and what/where to expect the surprises.
Will keep you posted