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Rockin' in Philly

By JR Creekmore | July 11, 2016, 4:19 p.m. (ET)

The Philly Tri (formally TriRock Philly) is more or less my home triathlon. I was able to sleep in my own bed the night before and the results are published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which many people around Delaware read. I’d always heard about it when I was younger, but until this year, when I started pursuing triathlon, I had never done it. After coming up just short of earning my elite license in the spring in several draft-legal races, I am amidst a non-draft season to obtain the license. The qualification process is somewhat complex for non-draft races, so it’s important to be strategic in picking races. Fortunately, the Philly Tri usually draws a competitive field, so it was a no-brainer to compete.

JR CreekmoreRace morning was a beautiful Mid-Atlantic morning in the 60s, with clear skies, and with the typical high humidity. I couldn’t help but notice this, especially as I was warming up and the sun was rising over the Schuylkill River. With recently warm temperatures, it was a non-wetsuit swim, a huge benefit to me as a strong swimmer. And with a time trial swim start, I positioned myself back slightly so I would have people to chase in the swim. Just after halfway through the swim, I had taken what I thought to be the lead and was feeling good. I kept on pushing through the calm, flat water and finished strong.

Quickly through T1, I made my way out onto the two-lap bike course. It was an eerie feeling that I had biking through the roads I only knew to have countless cars with horns honking and the buzz of the city in the background. This was not the Philly I was accustomed to, but I liked it. I realized after the first turnaround that I was, in fact, not in the lead. The first lap I struggled to find my legs and breathing rhythm, moving from second back to fourth. The second lap was much different, though, as I had found the rhythm that I thrive on and attacked the course, moving up into third. Biking is the weakest of my disciplines, so I was stoked to get off the bike with only two guys ahead of me.

I set out on the run with the same focus with which I ended the bike and one goal in mind: catch the guys in front. It took me longer than usual to find my legs and within the first mile I still had no sight of the two leaders. I almost let this cut into my focus, but at mile 2 a friend of mine told me I was gaining on them albeit 1 minute, 20 seconds behind. This re-established my focus and confidence, so 2 miles later when I did gain sight of second, I knew I could catch him. I ended up finishing second overall as there was just too much ground to make up in order to catch the leader, who I later found out ran in college and races elite.

JR CreekmoreWhile continuing to improve my performances, this race was a step in the right direction. I will be racing again at USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals in Omaha in August, so until then I will have a solid training block as well as a Collegiate Recruitment Program camp at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.