Off to the Races

By JR Creekmore | March 11, 2016, 6:32 p.m. (ET)
My rookie season for triathlon kicked off this past weekend with two races in Clermont, FL at the Clermont Draft Legal Challenge. Both races were Elite Development Races so there were elite cards on the line. This being my first triathlon of any type, I was very nervous going into the weekend although also super excited. Fortunately, Barb Lindquist and my coach, Sean Edwards, were there on Friday as we practiced some biking, swimming, and transition skills which helped ease those nerves a little bit. I had been waiting a long time for this season opener and preparing as best I could, so it was finally time to show how that hard work over the winter paid off.

JR Creekmore Once the first race got going, all those things I was thinking about beforehand were forgotten and I was just racing. On Saturday, I got out of the water between the first and second bike pack, but ended up riding the entire way with the second pack. I lost a little bit of time each time we would go through turns, so there was a constant sense of catching up. Unfortunately, the group didn’t work well enough together to close the gap on the first group, so I wasn’t able to run down everyone in that group even with the third fastest run split, only making it up to 5th. All in all, I was pleased with my performance on Saturday learning a lot about urgency in T1 and the necessity to get closer or into the first bike pack.

Using what I had learned on Saturday, I was much less nervous going into the Sunday race. My legs were a little tired from the day before, but I was just as excited to get to race again. On Sunday, I got out of the water right on the heels of the leader, but had a poor T1, getting hung up with my wetsuit on my timing band. So instead of getting out of T1 with the first pack (right where I wanted to be!) I was now on the back of the second pack. Then on the first lap with the rider in front of me losing the wheel in front of him and not enough bike racing experience to make a quick enough decision, he and I were both off the back of that pack. I ended up riding two laps by myself before another pack caught me. With a disappointing bike, I was able to run down quite a few athletes in front of me but only getting up to 14th by the finish. Again, I was too far back to make a huge impact at the front on the run.

JR Creekmore Before the races, Sean and I had talked strategy and tactics quite a bit, so I felt prepared in that regard. However, every race is different. This racing experience will go a long way in helping me perform better in the future.

If I hadn’t learned enough already, Barb brought in Derick Williamson of Durata Training and a USAC Level 1 cycling coach; they both worked with myself and several other collegiate recruits for two more days on all aspects of triathlon with a focus on cycling. In addition to the drills, riding, running, and swimming that we were doing, all of us were staying in the same house, so I felt like I was learning from the time I woke up until I fell asleep. Returning home after a week in Florida, I am nicely tanned and tired. More importantly though, I have my first races under my belt. With the learning experiences of the races and the post-race camp, I am invigorated for my next race, getting back to my normal training schedule, and utilizing what I learned in my upcoming races as well as everyday in my training.  My next big race will be Collegiate Nationals on April 22-23 in Clemson, SC. Between now and then, I will also be doing a little bike racing the weekend of March 19-20 in Columbia, KY at Lindsey Wilson College and a triathlon race weekend at Purdue University two weeks before Collegiate Nationals. Now that the season is rolling, I’m just excited to keep on racing!