I started out race morning with an attempt to warm up spinning on the bike, but it was an exercise in futility as I started to loose feeling in my hands and feet. I racked the bike and set up my transition area before a slightly more successful run warm up. Along the way, I stopped for a bathroom break and came across the most welcoming Port-a-Potty I've ever seen! Potpourri, carpet, decorations, hand sanitizer, and loads of toilet paper! I was so impressed, I took the time to snap a quick picture before getting back to work...
After a final transition check, I zipped up the Blue Seventy wetsuit, donned the matching neoprene cap and slid into the water for a quick warm-up. The 62 degree water actually felt good compared to the air and I felt strong as we lined up for the start. As the cannon sounded, I took off into a steady rhythm and quickly found myself in the lead. Knowing it was going to be a longer day than the Olympic races from earlier in the year, I stayed relaxed and stayed in control of the race all the way until I came out of the water 23:23 later in the lead.
Coming into T1, I maintained my lead as I took the time to dry off and then the arm warmers came on. Then a hat. Then the gloves. I finally made my way out onto the bike with already-numb extremities and worked to find my goal wattage. For some reason, I am not a good cold-weather athlete and I gave up quite a few minutes early in the bike. Knowing the first 10 miles were mostly uphill, I stayed calm and tried to keep within 15% of my target output. At times throughout the ride, I was putting out over 500 watts with a single digit speed and a max speed of 51 mph with no power output! Every time I'd start to warm up, there would be a quick downhill that would give me a chill. Despite the challenge of the hills and cold, I achieved my goal wattage (just over 87% of my threshold levels) that would let me run well off the bike. I came into T2 in 8th place and knowing I needed to run a sub- 1:20 half marathon to stay in the money. With numb hands and feet, I slipped on my Newtons and took off feeling very, very good.
The run course mirrored the bike course with a steady diet of hills throughout. Through highs of 7:45 pace and lows of 4:45 pace, I maintained a sub 5:55 pace through the first half and started feeling even better as my feet started to regain feeling. Unfortunately, along with feeling came the realization that the fast downhill running on numb feet had produced a large, painful blister. My legs wanted to go, but each step felt like I was stepping on a thumb tack. I was passed at mile 12 as the thumb tack turned into a nail. Knowing I was in 9th place and just out of the money, it was a frustrating hobble home for a 1:20.34 run split and a 4:10.12 final time. My finish earned 330 valuable 70.3 World Championship points for the 2012 season.
|Doesn't look like much, but ouch!|
All told, it was a solid first 70.3 race for the season. My weakness on the bike and poor performance in the cold were on display, but having the fastest swim split and a solid run split were positives. I executed my nutrition and pacing plan perfectly and did not make mistakes that affected the race. Looking forward, I'm hoping to build on this performance for the final two races of the year.
Thank you to Jason and his family for making the trip an enjoyable one and thank you to all of my sponsors who make it possible for me to race month after month. I'll be back in action in two weeks at the Poconos Mountain 70.3. Until then, train hard and stay warm!