My wife and I didn't leave for the race until Saturday. I actually started getting really nervous during athlete check-in. My wife could tell something wasn't right and asked me what was going on. I told her I was trying to decide if I made the right choice. I had a really good race at Racine last year, and wanted to see how I could do with a better fitness level this year. On the other hand, I didn't taper into the race at all. After I got checked in, got some dinner, hit up the outlet mall (my wife's favorite place!), and returned to the hotel, I still hadn't figured out my plan for the next morning. I was still trying to decide how to approach the race.
Overall: 4:01:51- 1st AG, 1st Amateur, 9th OA
I woke up at 4:15, had my typical pre-race breakfast and left the hotel. We stayed about 25 miles away from Racine, so I didn't arrive to Transition until about 5:15, much earlier than I needed to but my wife was volunteering at the race. I had plenty of time to get my gear set up, make a trip back to the car to drop off my bag, and make a trip (or two) to the bathroom before making my way to race start. I was wave 21 so I didn't start until over an hour after the pro wave. The Racine course has about a mile walk from transition to the swim start. I took my time and got my head right for the day. As I walked along the beach, I could see how choppy the water was. The waves were looking pretty nasty. I had struggled previously in races whenever there was choppy water so I started to get a little nervous. I stopped and found a quiet spot on the beach 1/4 mile from the start right as the Pros were running out to start. I don't really know how long I sat there, but I was able to get focused. I decided that I wasn't going to think during the race at all, I was just going to push: Swim hard, bike hard, and run hard and just see what happened. I said a quick prayer, got in the water for a warm up, re-adjusted my goggles about 10 times, then got in line for the race start.
Like I said before, the water was extremely choppy. I had watched a few waves start and remembered from last year how far the sand bar went out. I got off to a decent start, but as soon as I actually dove into the water to start swimming I started to struggle a bit. Swimming against the waves was tough. It was really difficult to sight, but I could see that I was in the middle of the pack of the green caps, which wasn't where I wanted to be. I just couldn't find a rhythm. I started to get a little frustrated, then remembered what my motto for the day was going to be. I tried to focus on just swimming hard. I finally got to the first turn so the waves were hitting me from the side. They seemed to calm down a bit in the deeper water, but I got quite a few mouthfuls of water as I tried to breath. It was hard to see the buoys but thankfully there was a big crane straight off in the horizon that made swimming straight a little easier. I was able to find some feet and actually draft off of another swimmer for a bit, something I have struggled to do in the past. I swam through quite a few of the waves of swimmers that started ahead of me. There were a lot of people holding onto the boats and treading water due to the choppy water. I got to the second turn headed back to shore thinking that it would be a quick swim to the finish.The waves would throw you quickly forward, then it felt as if they were sucking you back. It was tough to know when to stop swimming because you would be in 6 feet of water at the top of the wave and 2 feet at the bottom. I butterflied a few times, then ran into transition.
This race had a long beach run into transition. I quickly found my legs and ran to the volunteers helping out with the wetsuits. I lucked out and I got into my wife's line so she got to play another role in my race day! I quickly found my bike area, threw on my helmet and started running toward the bike out.
The start of the bike course is probably the hardest part of the whole bike leg. There is a short but decent incline just after the mount line. I ran through bike out with a pretty large group of people so it was a bit of a cluster at the mount line. I ran past the line a few feet and moved to the far left to mount. I got up the little hill and rode almost a half mile before I actually put my feet into my shoes. I finally got settled in and started to ride. I didn't use my power meter for this race, so I was going somewhat blind. I just stuck with the theme for the day...no thinking, just racing. I pushed pretty hard for the first five miles, then settled in trying to keep as much pressure on the pedals as I could. I spent the entire race dodging in and out of the other AG competitors. It was frustrating at times, because they were often riding 4 wide. Definitely a drawback of starting at the end of the race. I was able to sling shot around a few of them, but the turns were congested and I had to break quite a few times to avoid crashing or running into oncoming traffic. The road surfaces were pretty bad...I think I have a case of shaken future baby syndrome after that ride. There was a sign that said "Bump" about 30 miles into the course...it was about 30 miles late! That being said, the course was flat and the wind was low. You could maintain speed well and really push on the course without beating up your quads too much.
I rode my new Illicito for the ride with Hed 90 wheels. I was felt really comfortable on the new ride. The DI2 was awesome! I actually shifted a lot more than I normally would have because I didn't have to worry about throwing the chain or waiting for the gear to switch. I carried all of my nutrition for the course with me so I didn't have to worry about the aid stations. I filled up a Profile Design aero bottle and another bottle with my Custom Infinit blend, a third bottle with Gu Roctane, and had a flask with Infinit Highly Caffeinated Napalm. I went through everything that I brought with me, finishing the final drinks of the Roctane right before I turned to go down hill to T2. I ended up riding about 3 minutes faster than my previous PR for a 70.3 course and was the fastest in my AG. The weather was perfect for a ride!
Not much interesting here, I had a pretty seamless T2. I dropped off my bike, threw on my Zoots and grabbed my glasses and visor and ran to the run out.
The run was pretty flat overall with a few short hills that you can just punch up. I ran really consistent splits. My fastest mile was mile three with a 5:28, my slowest mile was mile 10 with a 5:50. I hadn't looked at my watch really at all, so I had no idea what overall time I was shooting for, I just wanted to put up a good run split. My legs felt really good, I really didn't have to fight to maintain my pace until about mile 8. It was a little frustrating to have to dodge people to get nutrition at the stations, especially on the second lap. The volunteers were great and were working hard which really helped. It was also nice that a lot of the people who lived on the course brought out their hoses and would spray you down as you ran by. The weather stayed pretty decent and I never really struggled to control my temperature. I took water at the first aid station, Perform at the second, then just stuck with water for the rest of the course. I carried a flask of Infinit Highly Caffeinated Napalm with me for the run and took a swig every 3 miles so didn't really want any more sugar. I felt great and didn't cramp at all. I ended up running the fastest run split on the day (barely!).
Overall, I was really happy with the race. The day went with as little friction as possible. I am really getting my nutrition dialed in and am learning a lot about when and how hard to push. I have a few races before Kona, but everything from here on is meant to help me prepare for the big day. It is going to be a tough 12 weeks!
**Still waiting for a few pics, but wanted to get this up while I was thinking about it! I'll update soon.