Recently I raced an olympic distance triathlon in St. Louis. It’s a new event, only in it’s second year, but drawing quite the crowd and competition. The race is well organized, features a great course, and fast times. It was a wave start based on age and I was slotted in the 2nd wave. There were some complications getting our wave started (a guy got his foot snagged on a fishing lure on the bottom of the lake so we had to wait for him to get freed and to safety before starting us). That meant rather than the 3 minutes between waves we had somewhere around 8 minutes between the first 2 waves.
The gun went off, I was on the front and expected the usual contact, but it was a bit more than usual. I couldn’t find any clear water, and eventually one of the many limbs that were pummeling me knocked my goggles down around my neck. I fixed my goggles and then moved off to the side a bit and started hammering to get back on the front pack. By the turn around I figured it was a lost cause since I had no one around and figured they were all up ahead. I exited the water figuring I’d lost a few minutes and wondered if I could pull any of that back on a fast bike and run course with some strong competitors.
As I ran through transition I noticed few bikes gone from my wave’s rack. I didn’t think much of it and got to work on the bike. The out and back run provided me the first chance to get a read on who was ahead of me. I figured I was about a mile out from the halfway turn around when I saw the lead guy coming back. Doing some math I figured he was 12ish minutes ahead of me, even if he started in the first wave he was still probably 4 minutes ahead of me. At that point I figured I was racing for 2nd or 3rd at best. (turns out I way over estimated the gap he had on me).
I managed to move up the field a bit still throughout the run and crossed the finish line somewhere around 5th man. Congratulated the guys ahead of me and then quickly learned I was actually the overall winner.
Never judge the race until it’s over!