Final races of a season always bring with them a little different emotion than the rest of the races during a season. In one way it’s a relief to be able to not think about training for a few weeks and allow the body to fully recover, get some neglected things done around the house, and start marketing for next year to get some more sponsors. But, on the other hand, it’s exciting to test the fitness one last time and battle it out with some of the best in the business.
And, the best in the business were at Augusta 70.3 this week. Out of the all the starters there this weekend, about 9 of them have at least been crowned champion at one 70.3 or 140.6 distance. I knew my chances of placing in the money were basically nonexistent. However, a big lesson I learned this year was to only focus on what I can control.
Race morning started out very interesting. Two people sky dived and the national anthem was played during their fall to earth. On the closing note of the song, the guy with the American flag hit the ground. It was absolutely amazing to see the precision of when and where they both landed. The other thing that made race morning different was the start. We jumped off a dock, like what you see in an ITU race.
The cannon shot and all 32 pro males jumped into the water. I struggled finding someone’s feet to get on during the swim. I seem to have a harder time doing this when the field is big. Not sure why that is, but it’s just something that I’ve noticed. I eventually found myself in the middle of hte pack of swimmers and nearly missed the exit. The sun was low and made seeing the last buoy a bit difficult. I exited the water and ran as fast as I could to my bike. I opted not to wear my wet suit because I like speed suits better. I also knew I could run faster in my speed suit during the long run from the water to the bike and could probably make up more time doing that than in the water. My plan worked. I passed about 2 guys on the way to my bike.
The days leading up to the race I decided I wanted to push the bike harder and try to ride with some guys during the 56 mile trek around GA and SC. I didn’t care who it was in front of me, I was going to push hard to catch them. And that’s exactly what I did on race day. I saw two people up ahead of me after getting out of transition and onto the main road. I put my head down and rode hard for about 6 minutes and finally reeled them in. As I approached them, I could tell the two people were Ryan Rau and Patrick Evoe. Both of these guys are good cyclists, so I was curious how things would end up. Would I crack an hour or so into the ride and fall off the pace? For about 30 minutes, the three of us worked together. I looked over my shoulder and noticed that Patrick had fallen off. I told Ryan what happened the next time I passed him. He was also surprised. But we agreed to do our best to keep him from catching back up to us. We picked up the effort a little and put a safe distance between Patrick and us.
About half way through the bike ride we caught two more cyclists, and could see a group of 4 up ahead. We slowly reeled them in and caught them with about 5 miles to go until T2. My legs were screaming. I looked down at my watts just because I was curious about what I had sustained. My watch showed about 290 watts! Upon reaching T2, about 5 us all rolled in within 20 seconds of each other. I was now on to what I consider my strongest leg of the race. However, with the previous 5 weeks being very busy with IM Louisville, a a 50-mile trail run, and now a 70.3, I was a little concerned how my legs would hang on.
The run started out very well. The first 6 miles ranged between 5:45 and 6:00/mile. Then the mile splits began creeping up: 6:10, 6:15, 6:30, etc. I knew I was loosing it. I did a quick check of my nutrition throughout the day. It was spot on. Hydration was good since I had peed once already, and my electrolyte intake was adequate. I came to the realization that I simply had taxed my body too much in the last 5 weeks. I crossed the finish line with a respectable time still, but not as good as it could have been.
After the race, my friend, Ryan Rau and I talked a bit. He congratulated me and told me he was surprised to see that I hung on as long as I did with all the tough racing I’ve done in the last 5 weeks.
Would things have been different if I didn’t run that 50 miler a few weeks ago? I believe they would have, but I have no regrets. I’m happy that I chose to spend the weekend with a good friend of mine, Chris, to run the trails in Hell, Michigan. It was something I’ve never done before. Life is about experiencing things and trying new things.
With the triathlon season officially over for me, I’m looking forward to being somewhat lazy this week. It brings a bitter sweet feeling. This is the first year that I can remember not being both ready physically and mentally to call it quits. I know my body needs a break, but my mind wants to keep going. I think that is a good sign. It means that I’m having fun and reaching goals.
Thanks for following my progress this year… it has been a great season. God has blessed me tremendously!