August 27, 2009 -
All anthemed up and ready to go and...the race start is delayed 15 minutes....bah. There is this eerie fog over the water that looked as though it was ready to swallow any swimmer who ventured into it. We all wait patiently dressed up in our wetsuits and nerves. For the most part it is quiet, but you can hear the anticipation. People are getting pep talks, sharing their plans of attack for the day and just standing still....watching that fog covered lake.
After about 15 minutes the pro's were in the water and off! I was only two groups behind so I made my way up the doc and within 6 minutes I was in the water with the rest of my age group watching the other swimmers ahead disappear into the fog that still hugged the lake. With a 10 second countdown from the announcer and crowd...the gun went off and we were underway!
The very first thing I noticed was how easy it was to take off with hundred or so age groupers rather than 2200 of everyone as in IM CDA. I quickly swam through the mess and was swimming free in my own space within a couple hundred yards....very very nice. The swim was good, but seemed to drag as I couldn't spot the buoys until 20 or so yards out from them. The fog still seemed to be thick on the lake causing me to swim a little zig-zaggy, which I never do. I typically find pride in my straight swimming but whatever crack I smoked this day was weaving me all over the swim coarse.
I usually judge my swimming by the buoys using the next one as my visual and motivational marker swimming buoy to buoy knocking out one after the other and getting to the finish. This swim was different though. Not being able to judge or see the next marker made it tough to gauge my progress causing the swim to seem much longer. Eventually however, I could start to hear the announcer and the shore appeared through the haze and I could finally judge my one last sprint to the shore....and the swim was done.
Swim: 39:16 (Last year was 41:53)
I cooked it up through the corral of spectators to my bike where I tried to make a point to move through T1 very quickly. I ripped off the wet suit, threw on bike shoes with no socks (a new preference), pounded a GU and was on my way.
T1: 3:44 (Last year was 4:03)
I headed out on my bike with the attitude to not even consider the run. All I wanted to do was race and you can't race if you are worried about your nutrition, or saving your legs for the run (which is a good thing for your first couple). I decided I just wanted to try and kill it and I would deal with the run when I got there. I started out cooking pretty good, climbing the hills as hard as I could and going for raw speed on the flats and downhills. I averaged 20mph on the first hour and kept pretty close...about 19.5 going until about mile 35. This is where I was so in the zone of just killing the bike that I rounder this corner following about 15 other cyclists. I can remember going over this small wood-planked bridge and thinking it was odd I didn't notice this on the first loop of the course. After a couple miles I could see the end of the road and the first bikers in the pack yelling and turning around.
We took a wrong turn!!! They noticed when they hit the end of the road and saw all the other bikers coming down the correct loop of the course. We had taken a side road straight through the loop and came out on the other side of the course! We all backtracked to the course, which ended up being a little over a four mile detour. The bikers were yelling at the cop directing traffic at the intersection and he tried telling everyone that we weren't listening...but I find it hard that about 15 cyclists staggered all couldn't heard this guy. What a poop!
After this I was really fired up so I started cranking harder than before, but I could tell as with last year, that the second loop of this very hilly course eats your legs for lunch....whatever, I had to make up about 12 to 14 minutes by my guess. I kept cranking, gradually wearing down and starting to wonder when I hit the loop cut-off to head back to transition...when would this bike end? I forgot there was another eight miles or so after that cut-off. Finally, I came screaming in missing my goal of breaking that three hour mark....this time. (Odometer read 60.3 at the end of the bike...I rode and extra 4.3 miles!)
Bike: 3:05:37 - 18.1 mph (Last year was 3:23:05)
I raced up to that dismount line and watched some guy (happens every time) try to do this riding dismount thing and totally eat it giving himself the gift of road rash. I clicked out one shoe...came to a mostly complete stop...and hopped off. That first 20 yards or so right after you hop off your bike and start running in your bike shoes with your bike toward T2 is always a little awkward. I made it in though and switched out for running socks and shoes, visor and power tabs. I pounded one more GU, swigged some Gatorade and was back on my way to do this thing.
T2: 4:59 (Last year was 4:28...slower, but I threw a pee in there that had to be about two minutes as I held it for 30 or so miles on the bike.)
I headed out onto the run course where the legs were feeling surprisingly solid and the sun was out and warming up. I just started cooking along trying to keep a consistent pace and keep up with the hydration and power tabs as it was getting hot...but I was full. My belly had that end of race slishy sloshy feeling. I was full buy needed to keep the nutrition and hydration coming. For the first six miles I was hitting eight minute miles, which was fast for me in that distance race...I was expecting to hit 8:30's to start off with. It was about mile seven however when the gradual slowdown started. I incorporated some walking through the aid stations and some slow jogging as I at my tabs and I could feel myself starting to accept that I hadn't trained as much as I should have and I may have went a little too hard on the bike.
It was then I remembered...hey wussy boy...you came here to race...suck it up...gut it out...and do it. So I pressed on the last few miles with everything I had left to offer that day, which pretty much was just running a slow pace and not stopping. Finally I came along the waterfront and could see the finish line across the lake. It is a great thing when you can visually judge the distance you have left. I pounded out that last half mile or so and found the power to sprint out and spaz out (as per usual) the last 100 yards of the race. I raced up through the finish chute between the spectators yelling and throwing my hands up, raising the roof and coordinating the general spaz out finish that I love to do....and then...not so gracefully....but with rediculous enthusiasm I crossed the finish line. It was then when a spectator came out of the crowd to find me, give me a high five and said, "now that is the way to finish...thanks man." Sweet. A perfect compliment on a great race and season finisher.
Run: 1:54:47 - 8:46 pace (Last year was 2:03:00)
Overall was: 5:48:23 - a new 70.3 PR by eight minutes - (Last year was 6:16:25) - I beat last year's time for the same race by 28 minutes...even with four extra miles on the bike!
I moved through the finisher's area grabbing a slice of pizza and a coke relaxing for a little bit in the sun. Then...since there wasn't really anything going on and my family was waiting at home...I hit the road about 20 minutes after finishing. I packed up my gear, loaded the bike in the car and headed for the real after party.
I was stoked for this finish breaking new ground in my times. While I can, I always want to work hard enough in this sport to get better, faster and smarter progressing to new levels. A new PR was a great way to end the season of Ironman. I look forward to training through the winter and readying myself for a solid 2010 season of 70.3 and Olympic all out racing and not having the full IM on the books...for now.
Until then...I enjoy tri - ing nothing for a change.
5 years ago