Pre Race: I originally was supposed to go out to Oklahoma to do the Long Course National Championships but I had been doing a lot of travel the last few weeks and I was really wiped so I decided at the beginning of the month to cancel my flight and hotel and stay local. My training since Pumpkinman has been minimal and I had not been having really good training sessions when I did get out there. I didn't feel like I would be able to race up until the Saturday before and at that point it was still questionable but I was still going to show up and see what happens. Adding to that I put on about 6 lbs since nationals and I was going into this race weighing the most I have all year at 184!
Swim (.9) (GPS 1.05) 25:46/Mile average pace 27:02 4/70 Age Group and 76/1009 overall
I started off in the fourth wave and besides the pros and physically challenged there were women 40-64 and M55-59 and Clydesdale ahead of me. Knowing this going in my strategy pre race to get in front of as many of them as possible. The gun went off and I stayed back for the first few seconds and let everyone fight it out before I got going. When I finally got swimming and into my rythym I looked up and I could only see one person ahead of me in my age group. I thought for sure that that would have to change but I didn't think anything of it. The way out was hard to sight as we were swimming directly into the sun but next thing I know I'm swimming into the thick of the wave that started 3 minutes ahead of me. I felt really good ans was surprised at how well I was moving.
As I came into the meat of the wave ahead I picked my path which I thought would cost me the least energy and kept going. I felt like I swam through the whole wave by the time I hit the first left turn buoy! As swam across to the other turn buoy and finally out of the sun I could see the pack of pink caps of the w40-64 and I thought to myself, could this really be happening? Am I really that far out in front already? By the time I hit the last buoy before the shore I swam through the majority of them and ended up from what I could tell at the very pointy end of the field and what I thought was leading my AG. As I hit the beach I was almost in shock as the clock read 27:00! I immediately knew the swim would be clocked long since theres no way I would have swam that slow and still been able to pick up in some cases up to 6 minutes on a majority of the Womens wave.
As I came up out of the water I was sure I was in the top 5 and I saw one guy who must have just beat me out of the water leaving as I was getting to my bike and getting ready to take off.
1st/70 Age Group. 11/1109 Overall
As I came out of T1 for some reason my chain came off as I mounted. I had tested everything before I left for the swim start so I'm really not sure what happened here. I managed to work it back on without getting off the bike, but it was still a little stressful trying to fix a chain issue when your heart rate is cranking at 170bpm. I quickly got into my rythym and picked off 2 guys in my age group within the first 2 miles of the bike. After that though it was hard to stay in a constant rythym as there are a ton of turns. The first 10 miles of the course is mostly uphill and to add to that we had to deal with a headwind for most of it. It was really slow going out as I barely cracked 20mph for the first 5 miles and I didnt even break 20 mph for the second 5. Although I wasnt moving very fast in this section I passed a good chunk of athletes.
About 13 miles in there is the final hill climb which is usually timed called Claires climb, by the time I had hit the top of the climb I was told I was in 6th overall. I thought to myself great then at this point I must be leading my age group. Within the next mile or so I ended up passing the guy who was actually leading the age group which kind of took my by surprise. I passed him and another guy and was hoping I would be able to put enough cushion in case the wheels fell off during the run. The second part of the course is mostly flat to downhill so I was able to use my weight to my advantage and I was able to put about 1:30 on him in the last 10 miles of the bike before we hit T2. I wasnt sure what I was going to have left coming off the bike but I initially felt great.
I took a final swig of my bottle and headed out on the run. I didn't know what I had left, but I promised myself before the race I was going to go for it and give it everything I had before I took my annual training break.
Run 6.2 Mi (GPS 6.31) 6:40/Mi Pace 3/70 Age Group 36/1109 Overall
I didn't expect to be so far up front given the last few weeks so when I came out of T2 and I was told I was the 4th place male(at the time) and 1st in my age group, I wanted to hold my place! I came out and I was so far ahead that the volunteers were hardly ready for me! As I ran down the boardwalk I was definitely pushing hard as I hit mile 1 my watch clicked off a 6:02 mile. Well I said I was going to try and empty the tank, so lets try and hold this. Running to the first turnaround I got to see some of the guys that were closely behind me and I didn't see the guy I had passed on the bike so I felt like I might be able to hold him off. There were a few hills on mile 2 so I expected my pace to slow which it did. A nice rolling/downhill relief had brought me back to a 6:26 for mile 3 which is right where I thought I would be after 3mi right around a 6:20-6:25 pace.
The volunteers at the aid stations were great! They would go crazy every time someone would be coming past their area. Unfortunately for me I could tell I was being closed in on because every time I would pass an aid station I could hear them cheering for the guys behind me as well. Mile 4-5 included the biggest sustained climb of the course and my pace had slowed to a 6:55 As I approached the last turnaround which was close to mile 5 it happened the cheering that kept getting shorter and shorter turned into footsteps. As I made the turn I could see not one, but two guys right behind me. As the first one passed me I recognized his kit, and I knew he was the guy I had passed on the bike. I did my best to stay on his shoulder for as long as I could and that last about 10 seconds, as soon as I fell back from his pace another guy passed me. At quick glance at his calf he had a 33 and I really was not expecting that. So now I went from leading my age group to 3rd place in a matter of :20-:30 seconds and I had absolutely nothing left to give. I was no longer the hunted, I was now back being the hunter and it looked like I wasn't going to be able to eat today!
Apparently the other guy who passed me was right on my heels all day, coming out of the water just :30 seconds behind me and basically matching my bike split, until then I had no idea there was more than one guy that close! From miles 5-6 my pace slowed further and my pace was now over 7:00! I could see on the out and back there was at least one other guy chasing me down and he looked pretty strong and I'm pretty sure I looked like crap. I managed to drop my pace down for the last .31 miles and nobody else had passed me on the run. The guys who did pass me managed to put 1:30 into me in the last 1.3 miles or so. I managed to hold on to 3rd in the M30-34 age group and ended up 20th overall in a very large field of 1109!
I have had a long, but gratifying season. I ended up finishing it the same way I started it, by getting passed by 2 people on the run! Even so I managed to meet or exceed most of my goals for the year and I couldn't be happier. Thanks to my sponsors Pacific Swim Bike Run and Endurance Films your support has been tremendous in helping me achieve my goals this season. And a special thanks to Erica for dealing with my craziness and traveling with me all season, I know how much you love the 4am wake-ups! I'm going to take a few days off completely now that I have no impending races on the schedule I'll know when its time to get back into it, but for now I'm not putting a date on it. I have some lofty goals for 2013, but for now I need a physical and mental break.