So my debut World Cup Triathlon is over, which is a relief. It was the hardest race of my life, and Iâ€™m really happy with my result. 17th â€“ which is the second highest debut world cup finish by an American (Andy Potts was the first with 19th until last year when Ethan Brown finished 15th in Hamburg). Now that should have an asterisk next to it because only 28 people finished this race of 37 on the start list (one of those 9 to drop out was my teammate Kevin Collington) and most World Cups have closer to 75 starters. Then again, Hamburg only had 31 finishers, so Andy is probably still the most impressive. But thatâ€™s a big aside (there may be multiple in this post, as my head still hurts pretty badly from what may soon be known as the â€œBen Collinsâ€ finish, in which the competitor crosses the line and passes out into the outstretched arms of some poor medical volunteer).
The swim was hard. It was relocated to the Mooloolaba River because the surf was too big for the ITU to feel good about (but it made for some awesome body surfing this week). The river had a strong current, which we fought for half of the way around an island. Actually, this may be the coolest triathlon swim since Hamburg. We swam out from a small sandy beach, then around this island, under a bridge, past a bunch of yachts, and back to shore. It was also the most aggressive swim Iâ€™ve been part of, and Iâ€™m wondering what itâ€™s like with a full 75 man start list (there were 101 when I raced in Poland, and that swim may have been comparable to this with regard to aggression). Anyway, I came out of the water in good company, just ahead of Matt Chrabot, but behind Josh Amberger (a U23 guy that swims like a fish, but struggles with the bike) and his finned friends who formed a three man breakaway on the bike. I was with the big pack, but getting onto it was tough. I was on Chrabotâ€™s wheel when I made the mistake of trying to follow his lead in putting on my shoe. I didnâ€™t do it fast enough and he opened a gap that had me redlining until half way up the first hill. Ouch. From then it was actually pretty similar to the Momentum Multisport crit I did a couple weeks ago â€“ just way faster. We went out and back with a strong wind pushing us and pulling us and a dozen breakaways failed (I went with every one I could, but nobody seemed to want Chris Gimmel to get away). Nobody would work together, and the lead group opened up 80 seconds on us by the end. I did make it into T2 first, however, by attacking on the last third of a lap. Nobody seemed to care if I wanted to kill myself for 5 or 10 seconds.
I lost those seconds in transition by parking my bike on top of my running shoes. Rookie mistake. Then I lost nearly everyone from my bike pack within 200m as they charged onto the course. Somehow Chrabot lead the entire first lap in under 8 minutes. I was nowhere near his pace, but when people started to fade I started passing. I worked my way past several guys and started feeling stronger and stronger as the run went on. Then I tried to surge with 1200 meters left. Too soon. I passed one guy, but he came back past me with 400 to go, and by 100 meters I was just hoping to make it to the line.
Thatâ€™s when I stumbled and was carried into the med tent. Two IVâ€™s, a dozen bags of ice and a few puke buckets later I was diagnosed with pulmonary edema, which means I have fluid in my lungs and may need oxygen on my flight to LA in the morning. Sweet, right? Good news is my temp never crossed 40, so I while I was definitely sick, it wasnâ€™t heat stroke, and I may have saved a few brain cells for learning biochemistry and Spanish.
Kevin Collington (nope, I didnâ€™t forget to finish that story) missed the bike pack and ended up crashing himself into the pavement on a roundabout. He may have broken his wrist, but he did two more laps before deciding that putting weight on his bars hurt too much to finish.
Also on the US medical (needing) team was Jasmine Oeinck, who also had a heat related collapse, but didnâ€™t quite make it to the finish line. There were six American athletes, and three had medical visits. The doctor said itâ€™s typical of the US, apparently heâ€™s done a bunch of these races and always seems to find an abundance of sick Americans in his tent (he pointed out the table that Potts used when he was there a couple years ago).
For the good news, Matt Chrabot came in 9th (great job!) and Jillian Petersen came in 6th!! And Jenna Shoemaker (also a Garmin Triathlete) came in 14th. It was a great showing for a small USA team of first time Mooloolabers.
Anyway, top 20 was my goal, and I made it. Iâ€™m really happy with the race overall. I learned some stuff for next time, and I bumped my world ranking up into top 150. Bodacious, right?