The White Lake Half Pro-Am was my first race of the 2022 season. It's a long-running local race in North Carolina, which featured a pro prize purse this year, thanks to the tireless work of Aaron Kolk, a fellow pro triathlete who had secured sponsor deals and the support of the PTO (Professional Triathletes Organisation).
This race had a long, long shallow water run into (and out of) the lake, and with the "Aussie exit," (run up on the beach, make a U-turn, then run back into the water for the second lap) that meant four installments of a high-stepping 50 yard dash through shin-deep water. I had played around with this the day before, practicing my entries and exits, and quickly discovered that despite the greater supply of sea level oxygen, my general lack of anaerobic training was a limiter when it came to maximizing my vertical leap. Still, the long-leg swimmers and natural hurdlers have a clear advantage, and there was a brief moment early on in the race where I couldn't see anyone around me and had the sensation of leading the swim. That's not really my thing, so lucky for me, Ali Brauer handled it by churning her way into a four minute lead on the rest of us. I eventually tucked in nicely behind Summer Deal, and even stuck with her when the wind sent a giant triangle turn buoy swinging right towards my face. Instinctively, I dove underneath it and porpoised my way back up the surface on the other side, which worked like a dream. Swimming like a mermaid just makes everything better.
I exited the water in fourth place, but my quick transition got me out on the bike in third. I chased down Ginger Howell and moved into second, aggressively pursuing some wattage goals that turned out to be just too ambitious for me. Or too ambitious for me that day. Or maybe too ambitious to maintain while tucked in aero position for 56 miles of the flattest course I've ever seen.