The swim was wet-suit legal but the water felt very warm. The race directors never really said what the temperature was but it felt very warm. The course was basically an upside down triangle. We started at one dock and finished at another one about 75 yards down the shoreline. After the gun went off I headed out strong to get in front of all the mayhem and succeeded. The top swimmer took off by himself and left the rest of us in his dust. Between him and I was a small pack of about four racers. I used them as a sight guide. At the first turn I was keeping the same distance between me and the group in front of me. While passing the buoys I was strategizing, should I make the push to catch the group so I could draft or stay back in the clean water and conserve my energy. I decided to conserve my energy figuring it would probably only save me about 30 seconds but deplete me of valuable energy. So for the rest of the swim I kept pace with them never letting the gap increase and finished strong, trailing close behind. I climbed up the ladder to the dock and headed towards the T1. I saw the second place racer but never caught a glimpse of the leader, who blew the field away by about 3 minutes (which turned out to be a bad race decision on his part). I had a very smooth transition ripping my wetsuit off gathering my nutrition and bike before heading out on the bike course.
I hopped on my bike and was off. The course was a square with a short 2-4 mile out and back around mile 40. The course had a lot of false flats, and a small head wind for parts. I never felt the need to get out of the saddle but did just to stretch out. I was right around some of the other racers and kept a strong steady pace for about 12-15 miles before I settled in and began a strong but conservative pace. My plan was to race my own race and try not to get wrapped up with the other racers. I stayed true to my plan. There was a couple times I wanted to unleash but I painted the big picture and held restraint. After mile 15 I was by myself for a long time on the long straight-a-ways. There were three aid-stations on the course and this was really my only gripe with the race. Every aid-station on the bike and run course was way undermanned. It must have been chaos when the masses came through. At all the stations on the bike they only had two people there handing water out and they were side by side. I usually like to take 2 bottles one to drink and one to pour on myself but with the volunteers so close I never could get two. Just had to deal with it and continue on. I never really knew exactly what place I was in but I felt that I was losing ground on the leaders. My mind kept telling me to push harder to go get them but I had to listen to the logic and just kept pace. I was also hesitant to push because my legs never felt all that great/fresh. When I finally came up to the short out and back at mile 40ish I was finally going to get a glimpse of what the damage was. I was about 1.5 miles back from the leader, in eighth spot with two guys on my tail. I figured that I was probably about 5-6 minutes back and had my work cut out in order to catch up. I really started to doubt my strategy. Once I made my way from the out and back I got passed by the two guys that were on my tail. I figured they saw me and decided to push to make the pass. I kept these two guys in my sights. At about my 45-48 I had another salt tablet, my last GU Roctane gel, and a two pack of fig newtons and made the decision to start a push to T2. My nutrition plan was working I had my timer set for every eight minutes to take a drink of my GU Brew electrolyte drink consuming 2 bottles worth, had about 2 more bottles of water, 3 GU Roctane Gels, two salt tablets, and one double pack of Fig Newtons. My legs felt surprisingly good probably the best they had felt on the bike the entire day. I went with it and pushed on. I passed a total of 4 people in the last 10 miles and was feeling pretty good and strong but still figured that I was about 6 minutes back from the leaders. I found out later that as I was pushing forward at the end of the bike the leaders were slowly coming back to me. I figured I would have to post times 30 seconds faster per mile in order to catch them, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I slipped my feet out of my shoes heading into T2 and made a very smooth transition ditching my helmet and bike and replaced them with my running visor and my Brooks ST5 Racers.
I headed out on to the run course just looking to finish strong and make up as much ground as I could. The course was an out and back so it was going to be a while till I could see what the damage was so I settled into a strong pace and decided to try and hammer the course step by step, mile by mile. As I entered the chutes to head back to the course my father-in-law yelled to me “five back, go get ‘em.” I wasn’t sure if that was fifth place or five minutes. Then I figured, probably both were true. I was in fifth place and five minutes back? The heat and humidity were starting to become a real issue. It was about 86 degrees out, very humid and not a spot of shade for the rest of the race. I played it very smart for nutrition, at every aid station I took two cups of water, and a wet towel. I would pour one cup down my Tri Suit, drink the other, and ring the towel over my head. At mile three and eight I took two salt tablets at each station to keep my electrolyte levels in check. So after I made it out onto the course I saw the next athlete struggling. He had very short shuffling strides and by the first mile I put him in my back pocket. The next few miles were uneventful not seeing another racer, I thought I was pretty far back but I was keeping my same strong pace that I felt comfortable with and was hoping to be making up ground. At the 4-5 mile mark a spectator was yelling at me saying I was 3:30 back from the leader and closing fast. That gave me a big boost of confidence. By mile 6 I had moved up one more spot passing another struggling runner. When I got to the 6th mile marker and the leaders still hadn’t passed I was starting to get anxious thinking maybe I can pull this off. Then the leader came flying by looking super strong and confident but I was on a tare and had the confidence that maybe I could get him. After figuring out that I was actually in 4th place now and on the heels of the third place guy I wanted to turn it up again but restrained myself knowing I still had about 6 more miles to go. When I came up to the 7 mile marker I saw the third place guy and it looked like he was suffering. I wanted to catch him as soon as possible so he wouldn’t resist the pass and I could break him. I passed him without an issue and continued on my drive to catch up. Now in 3rd I was trying to locate 2nd place which was becoming difficult as the mass of later waves were now infiltrating the run course. I finally saw him by about mile 8 and I was closing. I noticed he was starting to take a little bit longer at aid-stations so I thought I might be able to catch him and by about mile 10 I was within about 100-150 meters of him. At this point in the race I started to fizzle a bit. I tried to hold it together and keep the distance the same and hope he would get tired but he started to pick up his pace. By about mile 11 he was about 200-300 meters out in front with the leader no were in sight. I kicked it in for the last mile but made up no ground on him. After passing the last aid station he didn’t take anything and neither did I, the one volunteer yelled to me second runner, second runner. I thought she obviously made a mistake because I knew I was in third. So I made my way to the finish saw the 2nd place racer turn down the cattle chutes to the finish line and I knew I was close. I made my way to the finish area to be greeted by lots of cheering fans, it was pretty cool. The announcer said “Kenrick Smith Schnecksville, Pa Second Place Overall.” “What” I thought. What happened to the leader? I guess he bonked and dropped out. Bonus. That could easily happened to me if I wouldn't have raced smart. I ran the fastest run split of the race so I was very happy about that.
That was probably the smartest race I have raced at that distance. I was extremely happy with my self-discipline, effort, strategy, and everything else that went into this race. I want to thank all my sponsors Bridgeton Group, Walabax Construction, Popeye 21, Champ-Systems, PXT, Gu Energy Labs, Honey Stinger, Easton Outdoor Company, Fine Line Racing and all my family and friends who supported and followed me. Thanks to my in-laws for opening up there house to all of us that stayed there and to the race day support from my father-in-law.