First, Costa Rica is beautiful and is where Ashley and I honeymooned almost 7 (yes, 7!) years ago. It was great to see the country and I was even able to drive by many of the places we visited along my way from the San Jose Airport to the race venue. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this:
I arrived on Thursday and spent the next few days enjoying the local area and resting in my air-conditioned room. I felt excited and ready as race day neared and Saturday I was able to watch the Age Group Olympic race while eating breakfast at my hotel. My motivation was peaked!
Race morning started early and I was able to warm-up well in the water prior to the race start, which is always a good thing. As the race started, I was able to settle in nicely in the front group lead by Cam Dye. It was a two loop course with a quick run out/in between laps and I noticed how much time I lost while running in the sand... No problem, I just swam a bit harder for 50m and was right back in the middle of the 5 person pack. I love being able to use my swim at will, but the sand runnign would prove to be prognostic of my inability to finish well on the run. Regardless, I hit T1 right with last year's race winner Leo Charcon and US Olympic hopeful Manny Huerta. Perfect.
Starting out on the bike was 100m of a bumpy dirt road before attacking a HUGE climb with 20% grades. Anaerobic work is never my forte, especially so quick into the ride, but I was pleased to be able to maintain contact with the leaders. Cam quickly disappeared up the road and would never come back to the group as he cruised to the overall win, but the rest of us went back and forth throughout the ride. It was similar to an ITU course with 2 loops and 3 turnarounds per loop. The course ended with another big climb before a fast descent into T2 on ending on the dirt road. I entered T2 just where I left T1, right behind Huerta and Charcon. Again, Perfect. My running has been good and I felt confident I could maintain my top 5 position...
The first mile of the two loop run was on sand and any good vibes I had of my run disappeared quickly. My form was a mess and I couldn't get going. My 'big gringo' body seemed to sink each step while the 130lb Huerta seemed to just float away. Damn. Perhaps I can maintain and no one will catch me... But by the 2nd mile, I was passed by Jessie Thomas and Richie Cunninham. I was going backwards, but maintained contact through the first loop. Maybe someone would blow up... I hit the sand again and again had trouble. I was fatigued and steped a bit awkawardly one too many times and my right leg started to scream at me all the way from my ankle to my hip. Not Good. I pushed on and saw on the last turn around that I was securely in 8th place. Mentally, I wish I wouldn't have seen it because I started running in damage control mode instead of trying to race. I didn't know that Charcon was struggling and started to come back to me. Lesson learned (well, re-learned): the race isn't over until it's over). I ended up 90 seconds back of 7th and with a better effort may have been able to make that up, but instead came in for 8th place. As I said above, it wasn't what I wanted, but I earned a few points and started out the long road toward my goal of placing well in the overall series.
After the race, I enjoyed sitting around and enjoying the scenery with Cam. He was kind enough to spring for a few Imperial Cervezas as we watched the Half Rev racers push on through the 95 degree heat. The day concluded with one of the best views I've ever seen... Not bad:
I packed up the bike and drove to the airport this morning to fly back to Florida for a two week warm-weather trainng block before the Nautica South Beach race on April 1st. I've been sitting in the airport with spotty WiFi for the past 8 hours and will hopefully board soon after mulitple delays. I'm looking forward to swimming under my old coach Dave Gibson at the Hall of Fame pool and getting my body/mind ready to race again in two weeks. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped me have the opportunity to race. Sponors, friends, family, and competitors alike. More updates to come. Time to get on a plane!