70.3 Racine – 3rd
This was the fourth time in my career that I was pulling the Ironman/half ironman double and every time I have finished better in the second race. I was hoping that this trend would continue. Unlike most of the times in the past I felt ready as race day neared and not wasted from the weekend before. When the cannon fired I was ready to race.
The level of competition in the field looked to be hotter than the weather forecast. Sanders, Chrabot, Griffin, Cunningham, (Drew) Scott, Hanson, & Giardini…one thing was for sure, the bike was going to be blistering fast. We all did a partial dolphin dive at 7am when the cannon fired and quickly we were strung out single file. Giardini first then a small gap to Chrabot followed by Andrew Nielson with Drew Scott & I wrestling for his toes. After 200 meters of this I eased up and gave Drew Nielson’s feet and faded behind Drew. Next thing I know he let a gap open up, are you kidding me. Damn me for being nice. I busted around Drew and spent the next 1500m trying to nail back Nielson who was getting sucked along by Chrabot who was hard chasing Giardini. I rounded the final buoy and started to make progress on Nielson, because he had been dropped by Chrabot. I had never seen a race splinter like this at the front, but I was very happy with how I swam.
Next was my favorite part of the Racine course, transition. For the life of me I cannot run through the sand on that beach, Drew passed me like I was a spectator. I think I would be better off crawling next year. I quickly slid out of my Orca wetsuit as I tossed on my helmet and I jumped on the bike.
Way too much gear. The little incline out of transition felt like some of the steepest pitches in the Vuelta de Espana. It may have only taken 10 or 15 seconds but it felt like a half hour. Once on Main St the rodeo began, let that bike dance across the cracks. The next 56 miles were a blur of me shaking my head saying, where were these legs last week and the splits that I was getting from my brother and friends on course showed it. 45 sec, 1 min, 90 sec, 2 min, 4 min, 6 min, finally 7 minutes as I cut the left turn toward transition.
Usually I hit T2 and it is a game of how bad are the legs. Here it was a game of how fast can I run considering I haven’t run under 6:40 pace for an extended period of time. I established quickly a rhythm that felt good. I knew it wasn’t “fast” but it felt sustainable and with harsh memories of walking 19 km (12 miles) last weekend to close out Challenge Roth I knew the tortoise strategy for the run would probably suit me better at this time.
The first mile rolled through just over 6:20, so did the 2nd and 3rd and 4th, alright this is good. At this point I am now heading back from the first turnaround and I get to assess my gaps for the first time, it seemed forever until I saw Sanders. I knew I wasn’t running fast enough to hold him off, then it was a long time back to Charbot, Giardini, Cunningham, and Griffin. If I held this pace I can hold onto 2nd. I was shocked at the gaps! It was also great to race at home with so many friends and family cheering like loons which definitely motivated me mentally.
The 6:20’s kept coming until mile 8. Then I started to feel exhausted, the 140.6 miles of a week ago, trans-Atlantic travel, and a lack of fitness were starting to show their face, I was still leading but suddenly the pace felt impossible. I tried to stay springy and I hit a caffeinated gel at mile 9, come on kick in. I needed that lift, from mile 9-10 I ran the most pathetic mile, Kelly Williamson stormed by me. It was like a ton of bricks had fallen on my body and I was mentally and physically shot, finally mile 10, 7:34. Oh boy.
Sanders past me just past mile 10 as the caffeine reignited the engines and I rolled back into the mid-6’s, but now there was a new concern. Charbot was flying back into the picture gaining heaps of time. I just tried to keep smooth and I pulled my shit together quite nicely. The problem was that 1 bad mile put him within visual striking distance and he reeled me in like a fish. With less than ½ a mile to go he wrestled 2nd place away, I pushed but my body had no concept of how to go faster. I guess when you have hip surgery you have to reteach your body how to do stuff. Third place it would be, it was a great feeling to be competitive start to finish unlike the walk I was summoned to a week ago at Roth.
Time to keep the ball rolling and continue strengthening my hip and building my fitness, but 1 thing is for sure, I AM BACK!
Fighting to WIN & Punish!