Winning St. Anthony’s Tri: Race Report from Dan Hedgecock

This weekend was my second year racing the St. Anthony’s Tri, and it was even better this year. Last year I travelled down to see how I would do against a strong elite amateur field and did pretty well, finishing 4th. This year was a little different. I already have my Hy-vee spot from last fall, and even if I didn’t the top 15 qualify. I’ve had a much more have fun, race to your best and don’t worry about the competition attitude this year and this race was no different.
   The men’s elite amateur field was really big for an olympic wave start, close to 75 guys. The race had us wade out into deep water to start and the buoys we were supposed to line up between weren’t nearly long enough for all of us. I moved well out to the edge knowing that at this point I would rather have clean water and not get kicked in the face since I’m not going to make the first swim pack anyways. Jake Rhyner, who was second, was treading water next to me while we waited for the start and he complimented my mustache, which is of course my secret weapon for this year and the single most important change I’ve made in my training.
   The horn sounded and I tried to stay smooth and in control while everyone else turned the water into a washing machine. Looking back on last year all of my best swims started with a little slower start and I wanted to consciously try that out for this race. I’d say the results were great. I still only swam 21:30, but I felt much better at the end of the swim and at the start of the bike, and still came out of the water around 20th. I think it’s going to still be quite some time before my swim is strong enough to go out really hard and then be able to recover enough to get back under anearobic pace.
First Race Riding the Di2
   The bike was flat and fast just like last year, and I felt a little flat from putting in mileage over the last few weeks, but Jake Rhyner came past me at about mile 5 and the two of us were able to pace off each other and pick off everyone else in the field except for two guys. It was pretty fun picking up most of the pro women’s field too. At the end of the day I checked my Joule and was a little dissapointed to see that I only averaged 269 watts. I averaged 283 at Powerman and was hoping to come close to that again. But like I said, I was feeling a little flat and it’s still a nice improvement over the 250 I averaged last year.
   After hopping off the bike and powering through the lead-legged feeling of the first mile or so, I was able to get into a good rythym and posted a respectable 32:30. I was surprised to see Jake running right with me after the bike, he’s a pretty big guy, but he can still run really fast.
   I finished the day 1st amateur and 26th overall, although I don’t think you can compare times to the pro’s because our swim was wetsuit legal. I was really happy with the results. It’s always immensely satisfying to see a long winter of work translate into faster times on race day, and mentally reassuring as well. The race also made me feel good about racing as an amateur for one more year before turning pro. 10th place for the pro’s was a 1:47:47, while my time was almost 6 minutes back of that at 1:53:15. I’m alright with that though, I still have plenty of room for improvement in my swim and bike and think I can pick up another couple minutes there between this year and next.
   I didn’t fly out until Monday night after the race, so Claire and I got to take a mini-vacation which was great. We grilled out on the beach and camped under palm trees with beautiful weather and then drove down to Siesta Key the next morning to go scuba diving. We got to see dolphins swimming on the swim course, a sting ray, sea urchins, sea slugs, crabs, fish, and more birds than I can count. It was tought to fly back to Minnesota, but today’s sunshine and 70 degrees is helping me get over it.
   I have to send out a big thank you to Kevin at Gear West Bike and Tri. I got to race on my new ride for the year, and the Di2 was so smooth I sometimes wasn’t even sure if I was shifting.
   Now I’m going to spend a couple of weeks down to recover from the long winter/spring training. Du world’s isn’t until the end of September and I’m feeling a little beat up and very creaky in the mornings. Last year I mentally and physically ran out of steam after Lifetime in July and this year I want to be firing on all cylinders for Hy-vee and for France.
   Thanks for all of your well wishes and support! Train safe and have fun!
(Follow Dan Hedgecock on his blog as he continues to race his hardest all season long)

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