There’s not much to say about this weekend.Probably the best weekend I’ve had in a while. It is amazing what confidence in your talent and ability will do, even when you are undertrained (which probably is the wrong word. It’s not that I’ve undertrained, it’s that I haven’t trained enough to expect to improve a ton). This was the first half where I’ve ever gotten onto the bike thinking, “alright, now it’s time to race for a podium spot”. And though I came up short of the podium, I don’t care. I raced and raced hard. I put everything I had into the effort and never had a really negative thought on the day.
First in your hearts
#2 in my shorts
Woke up at 6:30 Saturday morning and headed up to Old Orchard Beach, ME. Got into town and grabbed my wetsuit. Met up with a bunch of teammates down on the beach for a practice swim. Lo and behold, who was also getting ready to swim but Courtenay? She was deep in conversation with someone else, so I put on my wetsuit and jumped into the ocean. Swam .4 miles, practiced a start, then said my hellos to Courtenay and headed back to my car to grab my bike and join teammates for a short 30 minute shakeout ride. Legs felt good, body felt good, and my mind was clear and focused on racing. My sister and brother-in-law came into town while I was eating with Tim, Ryan, Elaine and her sister. Met up with Chris and Kerry, walked down to the beach, and then got some precovery done in the Normatec booth. Met my parents at the hotel and then went out to dinner with a whole bunch of Rev3 teammates. Bed time came early, but sleep didn’t come at all. Fairly certain that I slept maybe 30 minutes Saturday night before the alarm went off at 4:20.
Picked up Chris at his hotel and drove down to transition. Set up is typical and very easy. Tried to do my business, but nothing was doing. Grabbed my swim gear (BlueSeventy Helix, BlueSeventy Nero Race goggles, and TriSlide) and walked .8 miles to the swim start. We watched the sun rise over the Atlantic. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that and it was simply magnificent. On the beach, a wave of fear hit me: “I have to take a shit. Of course I do now when there are no portapotties on the beach”. The course was set up so we should have a decent current with us along the .5 mile cross leg, but I don’t think there was that much current. I was sighting pretty well (despite what my family thinks, I swim a decent straight line). Found feet from time to time, but nothing that was consistent. Got out of the water (never seeing a clock, or really caring) and ran the .3 miles back into transition to get my bike. I saw Tim pulling out of transition, and figured that was a good sign… he’s a fastie. I figured I wouldn’t see him again until the out and back on the run as he’s a stronger cyclist than I am. I was pretty shocked to see most of the bikes on my rack still in transition.
Steve and I had talked the day before about a plan for the bike and the run. For the bike, I was going to target 200W and try to ease into it. I left as a group of other riders were leaving transition (I didn’t lose any spots in transition) and I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose sight of them. Typical of my races, I spiked my watts a bit coming out of transition (short climbs, fresh legs, etc). The bike was billed as flat, but would more correctly have been billed as rolling. No long sustained climbs or descents. I started off with a few niggling issues: tight hips, tight hamstrings, but as the ride went on, these disappeared. It might have been the first half bike where I’ve felt comfortable being in the bars for nearly all of it (there were a few climbs and some turns that required getting out of aero, but a lot of it was just continuous turnover of the pedals. Around mile 20, a group of 2-3 riders (one guy was from DC Tri Club and was racked right next to me in the morning) caught up to me, and we spent the next 15 miles, passing and re-passing each other in a totally legal way (get passed, drop back 3 lengths, then pass them back). I noticed that I was slightly stronger on the flats, getting crushed on the climbs, and crushing on the downhills, which meant 1 of 3 things:
- I’m fatter than they are
- I’m more aerodynamic on the bike than they are
- Riding a smarter race (not spiking watts on the climbs, trying to maintain watts on the descent)
Not really sure which is the answer, though it could be any of those. Around mile 30 I got stung on my inside thigh by something, which made me ride pissed off for a bit, and I eventually dropped them around mile 40 as we got passed by two other guys in my AG and a girl riding the relay (I got chicked on the bike. I’m man enough to admit it). At some point around mile 40 or so, I lost my remaining full feed bottle (I had already consumed the other), so from there on out it was water all the way. I’m sure the bike course was very pretty. I’m told it was. I don’t really remember much of it as I was just so heads down focused (for the first time ever. honestly. I didn’t look around to see what scenery was around me. I was just going. It was/is an amazing feeling).
Pulled into transition (feet out of the shoes) and racked my bike. A decently speedy transition given that it was a tenth of a mile long and I was halfway down.
Threw on my Pearl Izumis and lucky visor, had my Garmin find satellites quickly, and took off. Two AG guys were maybe 30 seconds up the road. Steve’s suggestion was to ease into a 6:45 average pace. My Garmin was showing 6:19. I backed off a bit and made it to mile marker 1 in 6:28. I continued reeling in the guys in front of me. My legs felt fantastic. I thought there was nothing that could stop me from running a 6:30 pace half. Passed the two in front of me on an uphill (breathing quietly to make it seem as though running up the hill wasn’t hurting me at all). Turned onto the hard pack mixed use trail and started reeling in more runners in front of me. As I hit 3.5 miles in, I knew there was no way I’d be able to make it to the finish line without a stop in the portashitter (I didn’t want to be this guy). So at the next aid station I ate my Powerbar gel and then made stop number 1 for number 2. 30 seconds later I exited and found that everyone I had passed had now re-passed me. Shit. Nothing to do but reel them in again. At mile 6 I saw Tim coming the other direction. “No way I catch him a mile down with 6 to go, but I haven’t counted too many other people. Maybe a top 20 is in the cards?” By the turnaround, I had reeled everyone in who had passed me. And then I realized that I would not be able to finish without another pit stop. That’s what I get for a breakfast of goldfish. Another stop (30 seconds or so) and I was on my way. Still needed to re-pass people. As I passed one guy, we chatted for a bit.
“Haven’t you passed me three times?”
“Yes, but every time I pass you, I get the overwhelming urge to shit”
“Oh. It’s a shame. You’re running really well. I’ve gotta pee really badly”
“Just go man”
“I can’t while I run”
We’re a strange breed (I think runners fall into the same category) with no respect for decorum or bodily functions. Around mile 9 I thought “My legs are losing it a bit. But I’m so close. SHUT UP LEGS! Only 26 minutes to go”. We left the hard pack for pavement, and at this point I was all in. Passed Chris as he was a bit more than a mile into his run. I’ve never seen someone so excited about having 12 miles left to go, but I understand what an accomplishment this was for him and I’m incredibly pleased for him and proud of him. At this point the finish line couldn’t come soon enough. Josh would tell me later “You looked totally gassed at the end”. I was, but I had no idea where I was in terms of placement and I wasn’t about to walk (lest I get kicked off the #awesometrain). Rounded the corner to the finish and heard the shouts of encouragement from my parents and Kerry, as well as a special shout from the announcer as I was finally sporting my Team Rev3 kit. I felt exhausted, but elated. After grabbing a cold towel, some drinks and my medal, I looked back at the clock: 4:41. Which meant I had come in around 4:40. Tim had actually had stomach issues as well, and I finished not too far behind him.
Run Stats (I created a new lap for the first pit stop, but was out of it at stop 2).
I grabbed my phone out of transition to tell Steve what I had done, and he had already emailed me this quote from my prospective athlete questionnaire:
“Short term goal is to go sub 4:40 in a half within the next year. Long term I’d like
to be competitive within my AG (moving from top 40 or so to top 10-15).”
I had forgotten I said within the next year. Good. No pressure on me to do that. I think I had qualified the competitive to say something along the lines of a large race, but today definitely was. Now I want to grab a podium spot (even if it’s a roll down podium spot). That’ll require hard work.
Giant thank yous to (in no particular order)
You all make this so much sweeter than it would otherwise be.
You all make this so much sweeter than it would otherwise be.