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AUSTIN RACE REPORT

It has been a hectic few weeks since my last race in Columbia. I travelled back to my base in Florida for a few days, did a bit of training and packed our house up before heading west Dallas. With my sister Maxine and training partner Dane we flew into Dallas and then hit the road to Austin, about three hours drive away. We had heard many great things about the city and were excited to see what the hype was about.

 

Austin CapTexTri was the first of the Toyota Series Cup races for the year and the start list had an amazing line up of athletes.  Quite a few of the athletes I had grown up watching and admiring their racing so it was an honour to toe the line with them and actually race them! It was a challenging course in the centre of down town Austin. The city came to a stand still for the race, it was great to see the unique town come out and support the race. It was a 1-lap swim then 4 lap bike followed by a 2 lap run. I wanted to use this race as a step in the right direction of my ultimate goal of wining an American non-drafting race.  I felt good leading into the race and was excited to see what I could produce.

 

The two fastest male swimmers of triathlon were at this race and I wanted to position myself close to them to see how I would go! It was a very basic rectangle swim with an in-water start. I positioned myself along side defending champion Andy Potts with notoriously fast swimmer Dustin Mclarty just a little further to the left. Dustin took off incredibly fast when the gun went off so I jumped on Andy Potts feet for the start. I felt good getting towed along on Andy's feet and Dustin seemed to be holding a similar pace to us once he made a break at the start. I decided to sit on for the rest of the swim and save some energy for the tough bike coming up. Cameron Dye was again in this race, he is the benchmark on the bike and I wanted to see if I could try and ride with him. I jumped out of the swim about 5th and had a good transition.

 

The start of the bike is a little technical and I managed to be leading by the time we went over the bridge for the first time. Cameron quickly joined me and I knew now was the time to get going! I paced off Cameron with the stagger rule heading up Congress Street through the centre of the city. It is an undulating bike course and with some corners thrown in it made for a challenging cycle ahead. I held onto Cameron up around the first u-turn and was feeling ok. We started to head back along the fast section towards the bridge, it was a quick but tough course. I wasn't able to hold the relentless pace Cameron was riding down the hill and had to back off. It is good to see how hard he rides so then I can adjust my training accordingly to help me maximise my chances at my next race. When you get back to the bridge you hang a right and have another out and back section along the river. By the end of the first lap I was in a group of the race favourites with Cameron out in front solo. I was looking at guys who I grew up watching and felt great to be mixing it with them out on the bike, Andy Potts, Courtney Atkinson and recently qualified Olympian Hunter Kemper.

The group stayed together for the second lap with everyone keeping an eye on each other. By the time we hit the third lap people were starting to struggle, Hunter attacked off the front, followed by Andy as I found myself left with one other athlete. Ben Collins who exited the water with the front bunch but had to serve a penalty in first transition caught our group just after Hunter had disappeared up ahead. Andy came blazing past and I managed to surge and break off the front with him. We caught back up to Hunter and Andy and I started to struggle with the pace set by Ben. I dropped off the pace slightly but we only had half a lap left to ride so I came into transition not far behind.

Coming into transition Cameron was still leading the way on his own followed by Hunter, Andy, Ben and myself another 20seconds behind. I got into transition and put the shoes on and ran out feeling all right. I thought I could try and run up through to the group in front. By the end of the second lap I saw I was holding nearly the same pace as Andy and Hunter., but could also see that Courtney had nearly caught me. I tried to pick the pace up but he joined me at around the 7 km mark, he ran past me and I jumped onto his shoulder. I managed to hold pace with him until he put in a surge. I started to drop off as we headed into the final last two kilometre's, one kilometre around the block then one kilometre back to the finish. He opened up a gap but then I started to hold the distance to him, I could see that he was not surging anymore and had steadied his pace again. I started to get closer to him so I surged to try and close the gap. I caught him and decided I needed to keep the pace on going past him so he couldn't get on my feet, Courtney is renowned for having a great sprint finish. By the time we finished the block I had opened up a good gap over him and could push onto the finish. I ended up in 5th place overall and was happy with the result against a strong field. I was 30 seconds down on 4th place and 30 seconds ahead of 6th.  I was definitely happy with today, it had been a quick turnaround with two races in two consecutive weekends but I can definitely feel I am getting stronger and smarter with each race.

 

After the race we were lucky enough to have a guided tour of Austin with Swimming legend Aaron Peirsol, he is multiple Olympic Gold medal winner and previous world record holder. He is an amazing guy and showed us some amazing sights of the city. Austin has a great vibe and energy to the city with some interesting sights to see. We managed a visit to Lance Armstrong's Bike shop which is incredible! Aaron took us to a local bar to watch a legend of Austin and country music icon perform for a wind down from the weekend. It was a first for Maxine, Dane and I and definitely one to remember. The next morning the three of us headed back to Dallas to the fly out to the UK where we are now based for the next 6 weeks. It is very different here in Loughborough, the first two days were filled with rain and a maximum of 10degrees compared with the 38degree days we were enjoying in Florida! I have some races in Europe coming up and I am looking forward to putting some of my new knowledge to use to try and get my first podium.

 
 
 
 
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