New for this year, Leon’s Triathlon held the US Armed Forces Military National Championship. Athletes from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard all were competing in an olympic distance draft legal race fighting for slots to represent the US at the CISM Military World Games in Korea later this year. Leon put on quite the show honoring veterans and Armed Force members with a 21 gun salute during the opening ceremonies. With their race being draft legal, the military athletes had a modified looped olympic distance course and were slated to start 1.5 hours before the open race.
The military athletes took off in what looked like promising weather. But while waiting, the radar showed storms brewing just off the coast of Lake Michigan and was heading right for Hammond, IN. 30 minutes before the open race was to begin, the clouds changed color and swiftly made their way over to release a downpour of rain with 30+mph winds. The military athletes were deep into the race and were starting the run/finishing the bike when the storm hit. It did not seem to affect their performances though as the top athletes were very strong and fast.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to get a good amount of open water swimming in between the local lakes. Even the day before the race, I went out and swam the entire olympic distance course and had a new personal best 1500m swim time. Excited to get into the water and hold my own, I decided that I was going to go for it and try to latch onto the front swimmers. Since the course was modified, there was much chaos as to where we were actually supposed to swim. I thought that I knew the course and figured that I wouldn’t be leading the swim and could just follow along. Ready to attack, I took it out hard as soon as we started. Surprising myself, I was right near the front with only 3 athletes ahead. I was able to make it to the first turn buoy sitting right in 4th place overall. With swimming at max effort came some unclear thinking and lack of concentration. I slowly lost the feet of the 3 ahead of me, but still was able to see them just ahead. It was then that I noticed when I took a breath that there were masses of swimmers very far to my left and actually close to the swim exit. I panicked as I noticed that I was following the lead swimmers and that we had gone very far out of the way. I then shifted position and made a straight shot into the swim exit while watching as athlete after athlete popped out of the water. As I neared shore, I saw my teammate, Alex, running out of the water and felt a sign of relief as I knew I couldn’t be too far back since his swim has improved drastically.
We came here trying to defend the co-ed team title and did just that! Amazing job to the entire crew!