After last year’s Santa Rosa Island Triathlon being canceled due to a potential storm, our team was excited to get back to the Island as one of our key events. The morning on the eve of the race, the water was smooth with little wind, looking to be a really fast race but Mother Nature had other plans. Arriving at packet pickup at 6:00am, the wind was picking up and the Gulf began to swell. After receiving my race packet, I made my way to transition to get my bike set up, meeting up with team mates along the way. Evan and Mindi (Sister Chain) came over to help me analyze the transition area and we noticed I had an awesome spot on the end rack with swim in, bike out and run out right by my bike setup, perfect!
Walking down towards the swim start, watching the sun rise on the horizon was a beautiful site. Jumping into the water to test it out before the race began, the temperature was perfect but further into the waves it became a challenge to get past the surf. I suppose a triathlon isn’t supposed to be easy or everyone would do it. Lining up for the start of the race on the wonderful Pensacola Beach, we were lined up two-by-two ready to pounce into the water. Every 5 seconds another group would enter the water and finally I came up to the starting line. Go! I raced into the water dolphin diving to get past the surf as soon as possible. Being one of the first ones in the water turning past the first buoy, I was alone the rest of the swim. Finally turning the last buoy, attempting to body surfing the rest of the way onto the beach was a must.
After treading up the beach to reach my bike I was finally able to breathe a “little.” Knowing Logan was on the prowl to catch me, I attempted to put as much ground between us as possible. I knew he was going to be coming in hot. Not knowing how much traffic would come from the 2 loops on the bike course, it was very quiet before the “storm.” Making the first U-turn on the loops it was a breather after having a headwind. Now it’s time to fly on the way back to Portofino. Starting the 2nd loop with the turnaround being at the Portofino, the rest of the field were just beginning their first loop, it was crowded real quick. Knowing Logan was not far behind, I felt like I was flying, until Logan came zooming by like I was a sloth on the bike. The crowds did not seem to faze Logan at all. Finally making our way back to the big beach ball in the sky, the crowds and volunteers were awesome, cheering us all on.
Attempting to speed through transition, I decided at that moment I needed a nice massage. Having all of the volunteers and crowds cheering us on, made the pain a little easy to handle. After having my watch break the night before and not having a backup, I felt a little lost on the run. The phases of the run were real for me: 1) I feel great. I might set a PR today. 2) I can make it to that next light pole without walking. 3) I’m about to die. Thank you marching band at the water station, you are the real heroes. You gave me the bounce to make the next light pole. Headed back to the finish line, I have never been so happy to see the huge beach ball in the sky.
The team had an awesome showing with Logan taking the crown and Aaron with a respectable 2ndoverall.
Thank you to the race director and volunteers that put this great event together.