My final race of the season was Rev3 Florida down in beautiful Sarasota. It's been a bit of a whirlwind two months of racing after a four month injury hiatus earlier in the year. From the almost-perfect race in Cedar Point to my surprise win at the Half Full race to my frustrating race in South Carolina, I was ready for anything as I made the trip south. I knew my form was good and my swim/bike fitness was right where I wanted it. My run on the other hand has been in a state of slow and steady decline as I've been limited in my running since Cedar Point. In fact, after South Carolina I told the Rev3 team that I was probably not going to make the trip down to Florida due to the pain I have while running. Of course, I didn't want to end my season with a frustrating race at SC, so I made the decision to toe the start line and do my best to have a good result and maintain my 5th place position in the series.
Everything went smooth in the lead up to the race. I met my homestay David, took care of a bit of bike damage from travel (thank you to Sarasota Cycles!), and found a great pizza place for my pre-race meal. The remnants of Hurricane Sandy made for a windy couple of days, but I figured tough conditions would be an advantage for me come race day. Unfortunately, the conditions were a bit too rough and the Rev3 team was forced to cancel the swim! They did everything they could to try to get the pros in the water, but sometimes mother nature just doesn't cooperate. To make matters worse, we would start with a 1.5 mile run as opposed to a time trial bike start. This meant I was going to have to run fast on questionable legs in order to set myself up for a good position on the bike. Great!
The horn sounded and the field took off well under 5 min/mile pace. Having not done 1 mile of fast running outside of races in the past 2 months, I was not ready to go fast AT ALL. I did what I could to relax and came through the first mile in 5:20 and already :30 down from the leaders! Starky and I ran together and came into transition about :45 down. My hip was already talking to me and I knew it was not a good sign. By the time I made it out of transition, I was 2nd to last and nowhere near the main pack. Instead of being fresh and in the lead I was sore, winded, and behind. Regardless, I put my head down and went to work on the bike.
I set out to track down the lead group and did my best to settle into a steady pace. The run apparently took about 10 watts out of my legs and I had trouble putting out the power I've been seeing in the last few races. Even with the lower output, I started to pick off athletes who went out too hard and were dropped by the front group. By mile 40, a media motorcycle drove up and asked me if I had had a flat. I think that's a compliment that they expected me up front, but I had to tell them 'no, I just really miss that swim!'. In the last few miles, I pulled into the top 10 of the race and came off the bike with a solid 2:08 bike split. Considering I rode 100% of the course solo, I was pleased with the ride. I threw on my shoes and took off knowing I had to run well to stay in the money.
The first few miles were smooth and I was able to hold a steady 6:10 pace. I knew I had a few good runners behind me, but I knew that if I pushed the pace i would simply implode! It was a frustrating feeling knowing that my running is at probably it's lowest level since I've turned pro, but I had to rely on it to come through in the clutch. I stayed relaxed and actually held my position through the first 10 miles. Unfortunately, the race was just a few miles (perhaps 1.5 from the beginning?) too long. My stride started to shorten and I lost a few critical positions in the closing miles. I came across the line in 12th place with my worst finish of the year. I also lost my position in the top 5 for the Rev3 Series, so in all it was the worst outcome I could have had!
Looking back, it's amazing how much of a difference the cancellation the swim made with my race. I have known for weeks that my run was not even close to good, but when it was put under pressure I was able to see just how far I am from being healthy and fit. I look at it as a positive that my swim is good enough to make up for the difference under normal circumstances. My cycling numbers have improved over 10% even with the shortened training year and I've got a great handle on what I need to do this offseason to get healthy and strong. I also look on the bright side that my results haven't been too far off even with roughly 60 TOTAL miles run in the past two months (yes, that's including the 32 miles run in the last 3 races...). To be in the hunt for a top 5 finish for the series after my injury was a pleasant surprise and to pull off a win at the Half Full race was a nice little validation for the year.
I'm doing my best to be lazy the next few weeks before getting back to work for 2013. I'll be writing a season review and a few off-season updates in the coming weeks, so hold your breath until then.
Thank you to the Rev3 team and David for making the weekend (aside from the actual race!) a good one. Also, thank you to my sponsors for their support though the year even with the injury. First Endurance Nutrition, BlueSeventy, ISM Saddles, Utopian Coffee, 3Sports in Richmond, and The Sport Factory all play a part in my racing and I can't thank them enough.
Picture Gallery from the race: