70.3 San Juan Champion – AGAIN!
Yes, we all have highs and lows, what goes up must go down. So when I returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico last week I knew there was only one place to go after winning last year, defend my title and be complacent or lose and nothing is more hateful to this American!
I got my biopsies back from my stomach and learned that there is an issue and I am going to need a whole bunch of tests done to figure out what may be causing the illnesses I have experienced over the last few years especially leading into Oceanside 2 weeks ago and Bilbao Triathlon last spring, but we will save all that for May. Yet it has made for some great photography:
The problem is that I cannot take the prescribed steriods that “normal” people can take and still race this month at 70.3 San Juan and Wildflower because it takes a month to get cleared for a TUE through USADA. This means HTFU and gut it out.
The swim start at San Juan was perfect, I started next to a human missile in the deep water and the rest of the field crowded the sandy waist deep edge of the swim coral. The horn sounded and I felt like Major Kong behind David Kahn!
Then reality set in that I cannot swim this pace for more than an open 100 without taking some significant rest. As that thought set in I looked up and “HE GONE” I slid backward and slotted in behind local Puerto Rican superstar Edgardo Valez. Then Ben Collins decided I was making too many waves so he kindly asked me to move back a spot because he didn’t like the view, I obliged. The next mile the cue did not change. In the final 200 meters the pack of 6 fanned out a bit in the dash up the ramp out of the swim. I stumbled like a drunk on Friday night up the ramp losing at least 5 seconds upon swim exit.
The 1/3 of a mile run to the racks was fun, NOT. When I finally made it to transition is when the fun began. While everybody was taking off their swim skins I just grabbed my bike and set sail…THANK YOU ORCA for making superior TRIATHLON suits.
The second I mounted the bike I did what I do best, constant pressure on those pedals. By mile five I had mowed down David Kahn and the only man left was the man that bested me on the bike last year Ben Collins. My 55 tooth Metron crank started to turn a little quicker feeling a bit of deja vu but by mile 10 everything was the way it should be…me out front.At the first turnaround (17 mi) the lead over Collins was slim and the only others in sight were Andi Boecherer towing Will Clarke. The next 9 miles to the end of the first loop was headwind and when I hit that turnaround it was very clear it was a 4 horse race, with the gaps not growing much. The pressure stayed high on the second loop of the course as the wind picked up and I was having to use the 55-11 in tail wind sections, at the final turnaround Boecherer had started to catch up to a fading Collins but still towing Clarke. On the bike course the volunteers were awesome with perfect bottle exchanges every time!
T2 included putting on some socks since I remember that this run course rolls more than a compulsive gambler.
The first section of the course runs along the bike in and I knew that I had at least 4:15 over second place. The Puerto Rican’s were out in groves cheering in decibels that would rival front row concert seats. At the first turnaround at mile 3.5 my lead was four minutes to Will Clarke and nearly 6 to a tired looking Boecherer. Collins was way back but for good reason…he had flatted. By the end of the first loop I was really starting to feel like I lacked fitness to go on. I felt tired, so I hit a double caffeinated Roctane Gu hoping the lights would turn back on…they did.My lead at the midway point of the run had fallen to 3 minutes over Clarke and the rest of the field was out of contention. 4.25-3=1.25 minutes/length Will was gaining, I had two lengths to go, 2lengths x 1.25minutes = 2.5 minutes…3-2.5= +0.5 minutes…Keep this together, don’t slow down and you win. I passed a limping David Kahn on an uphill and tried to give some encouragement but his response was priceless…I have bad chafing, I think my balls are bleeding.Finally the final turnaround, the lead was 1:50 over a guy that had never won a 70.3 before. I knew he was hungry, I knew I was fatiguing, I knew I had more guts. Clouds blocked out the sun and a little life crept into my legs. I still ran paranoid that Clarke would drop a 5 minute mile and catch me. Just before mile 13 you run over this little hill that is there just to slap you, at the top of the hill I took a glance and the coast was clear. Wearing #1 as defending champion I was going to finish #1.Clarke would come across just under a minute back and Boecherer rounded out the podium. Yet the biggest props of the weekend go to my co-back2back champion, Helle Frederiksen who is the first female to ever best my T2 gap at the same race…leading by nearly 12 minutes (yes, in a half) off the bike over Amanda Stevens. She is the sports new “HELLE ON WHEELS” Helle…it is game on in 2015. At the awards ceremony I gladly pounded some white milk thankful for the great sponsors, coaches, and family that I have around. Then hoisted my plastic IRONMAN 70.3 award.
Fighting to win and punish,