1st – Rev3 Florida
The 8 days between Ironman Florida and Rev3 Florida were all about recovering. I spent the week with my wife visiting my Grandparents enjoying great food and helping out around their house. Friday came way too quick as we drove from the Florida panhandle down to Sarasota and it was time to gear up for the last race of the year.
Saturday I did my final swim, bike, and run for the year and felt quite strong and mentally recovered from Florida. I was confident I was fit but the largest question was: was I physically recovered?
http://vimeo.com/78998683 <Race Preview>
Race morning was beautiful and I determined that the best race plan for me would be the standard: race flat out in the swim and then ride just above Ironman pace on the bike and count down the miles to the end of the season on the run.
The Gulf of Mexico was flatter than a pond on a quiet summer day while the tension in the pro field was at high tide. At 7 am the horn sounded and the final race of the season was started. Right away Cam Dye and Skipworth broke away and I was swimming flat out to try and nail them back. At the buoy I could almost reach them but I was just outside of their tow. The field was quickly getting strung out as I charged hard to try and close the gap but I was making zero progress and starting to slip away inch by inch. About 700 meters into the 2km swim Eric Limkemann pulled up next to me so I throttled back a touch and jumped in his wake. The rest of the swim there was no change.
T1 went smooth and with a quick transition I got on my bike. Getting settled on my bike took me a lot longer than I wanted, but once I was in my bike shoes I rolled just like I did a week prior. The course had a series of out and backs so it was going to be hard to get a massive lead. I quickly passed Skipworth and Dye and by mile 10, the first turnaround I had opened up a gap of 30 seconds on Dye and a minute on a hard chasing pack.
The lead grew steadily until mile 40, which was the final turnaround. At this point the lead was 4 minutes on Dye and Limkemann and the chase pack was just 15 seconds behind them. I calculated that I would have about 5.5-6 minutes over the field entering T2, which is dangerous territory for the stellar runners. I kept driving the legs and as I neared transition it became apparent that I was going to be well under 2 hours, putting the total of sub2:01 bike splits to 7. Unknown to me the field had started marking each other and the lead was 6 min over Dye, 6.5 min over Limkemann, and 8 over the pack.
T2 I said to myself…final 13 miles.
Each mile I counted down, my feet started bleeding in the opening miles still raw from the two Ironman’s in the last 29 days. My pace fluctuated greatly as my body was really fatiguing from these races.
At the first turnaround I learned that my lead was just under 6 minutes but there were quite a few guys chasing really hard. The mile 7 turnaround was a loop of a pond so you don’t get a reading on what the gap is. I did get to pass my wife who was in her opening mile of the run and give her a little pat on the butt. By mile 9 my feet were in so much pain I was grimacing as the shoe slowly became a pool of blood and sweat. I rounded the final turnaround and saw that Richie had run away from the pack was just about 3 minutes back and Eric was running well in 3rd just about 4 minutes back. It was a sizable gap behind him. I let up a bit and tried to find a comfortable stride for my feet. I could feel my plantar fascia tightening due to my feet tensing up every time they pounded the pavement.
I hit mile 12, 1 mile. I kept asking runners on their way out was there anybody behind me. They all said no but that did not keep me from asking. That mile seemed to take an hour. Finally the finish chute, I was so happy to have won after going sub-8 just 8 days earlier that I did a really bad cartwheel as I neared the line.
I was completely exhausted.
Just a few minutes after I finished I got to greet my wife at the finish as she finished the Rev3 Olympic. It really is awesome to have her out on course and to be able to share the little stories from the day. Still today I am shocked and thrilled about my performance. I truly am thankful to have great sponsors and series like Rev3.
Thank you for the support and I look forward to watching Hawaii on Saturday on NBC!