Sunday, 19 May 2013 21:04
The day started under clear skies but we all knew that weather would move in. Glancing at the start list I felt a solid race could result in a Top Ten finish but, more importantly, I was after racing to a sub-4:30 time.
We entered the Gulf of Mexico at 6:50am to relatively calm waters and sunny conditions. It was an age group swim start so it allowed for plenty of room at the start. Growing up on this beach I have an advantage to entering the water by avoiding most of the waves and settled into a great rhythm early. My main focus is to set-up the bike by not over extending myself and being in contact with the front of my wave. My time was 30:30 out of the water for my second fastest 1.2-mile swim ever, coming in second in the 35-39 age group wave. I quickly transitioned to the bike and was ready to rely more on mental strength and experience to beat other athletes. I quickly rode off the first 10 miles in just over 24 minutes and settled into my goal range of heart rate. I was passed by several athletes who were flying in the early stages. I stuck to my plan and said they’d either pay the price late in the bike or on the run. If not they were simply faster than me and matching them this early would be a mistake. Around 35 miles in, several guys formed a small but legal pack. It started raining lightly and I was hoping it would hold out for the run. I rode about 30 yards off the back and watched my heart rate, readying myself for a solid run. By sitting that far back and knowing the pace would stay high I was able to relax and get my heart rate into the lower end of my goal range. Off the bike in 2:21 my second fastest bike split ridden for 56 miles. I pride myself on transitions so I dispatched of all the members of that bike group prior to exiting transition with a sub one minute effort. I quickly moved onto the run where I decided not to run any type of watch for pace, just to keep up with overall time. I settled in early and tried to stay within myself. I was most likely moving along around a 7-minute pace. Miles 5-8 are in a state park where usually everyone falls apart. My focus was to leave there feeling good. I ran with the eventual third place finisher in my age group here but at around 9 miles in he pulled away as he tried to go with a faster runner who came by us. My goal was to be patient until 10 miles and then see what I have left in the tank. Just before 10 miles those two had built a minimal of a minute lead on me. I looked at my watch and calculated I had to run 6:50’s the rest of the way to go just under 4:30:00. I slowly built my pace and became very focused in my effort. Just past 11.5 miles I overtook the gentlemen who I had run with earlier. By twelve I had reeled in two others guys who had taken off earlier and went on to put almost two minutes on them in the closing mile. By mile twelve I knew I was well I was within range of 4:30 and maybe better. I was all-in on the pace and hurting pretty badly. I pushed it out to the finish line and clocked a 4:28:28.
I want to thank Roswell Bikes for the solid bike for this season, Jon Adamson for helping fit it properly, and Jennifer Lesser for the use of a really nice set of wheels. They say racing takes a village! Lastly, thanks to my family (wife) who spent mother’s day traveling back from this event. Likewise, my daughter Haley whose 12th birthday was on Sunday. I can’t thank my family enough.
Hope to see you all at the races soon!