Leading up to this race, I knew that the competition was going to be stiff. The start list was posted on line 2 weeks before the race and I was shocked at the names on the list. There was literally one of 10 or so people on the list that could have won that race. Instead of concerning myself with everyone on the list, I picked out a couple names on line up I was aiming to beat. Those names: Chris McDonald and Patrick Evoe.
I picked these two out specifically because the last three or four years, one of them has won Ironman Louisville (my hometown race) and I felt that the progress I have made this year at least could put me in the mix of these two athletes. I wanted to beat them to have a mental victory and confidence booster going into Ironman Louisville, which is now about 6 weeks away. I shared this with a few people, so I could have some sort of accountability on my goals, but for the most part kept it quiet.
Race morning set up went like it usually does: hydrate, eat, set up in transition, get to the swim start. The water was 75.5 degrees according to Ironman, but over the years of racing I’ve learned that if the water temperature is close, the numbers will be fudged a bit to make it wetsuit legal. In Raleigh, I used my wetsuit and overheated in it during the swim in the same temperature of water. So this time, I took out my TYR Torque swim skin and used it. Did I put myself at a disadvantage not using the wetsuit when every other pro used theirs’? Maybe… but a few of them said I was smart for doing it once we got in the water to warm up. If I had to guess, I’d say the water was closer to 80 degrees or slightly under.
The countdown started and last minute nerves began to climb… the countdown, then the cannon start. Off we go…
The last couple weeks before this race, the coaches at Lakeside Seahawks worked with me on my stroke. After a few suggestions, and a video analysis, they came up with 2 or 3 three things for me to work on (as I’m sure there is more… but they didn’t want to overload me with too many things to think about). I was a little anxious to see how doing this on race day with little time to get used of the new feel of stroke, but I gave it my best shot to maintain what they suggested. It seemed to have worked. I was in the chase pack (two or three guys were way ahead) for most of the swim. I fell off the back with just 500 meters to go. I think this may have been because I still haven’t conditioned the muscles that are now being used more to last the whole swim, but I definitely stuck with the chase pack much longer than other races this year… so improvement has been made again. I exited the water probably 20 seconds back from the group. I got to my bike and saw Patrick Evoe’s bike still there and Chris McDonald was finishing up his transition and heading out on the bike, so I wasn’t too far behind him at this point.
I started out on the bike and was extremely thirsty. I drank an entire bottle of Infinit before mile 10 and was still dying for more fluid. I had to wait another 5-ish miles to get to an aid station. I grabbed a bottle and put it in my bottle cage and grabbed another bottle of fluid and drank as much as I could before leaving the aid station and threw the bottle. I felt better, but still not satisfied. Still a little bit of cotton mouth. I kept pounding the water and went through another bottle during the next 12-13 miles. I’m not exactly sure why I was so thirsty. I peed 3 times from the time I woke to race start. Perhaps I should have had some additional salt tabs to help me retain fluid before the race and drink another bottle of water (that’s the plan next time.) Started feeling better as the bike went on, but never great. With about 8 miles to go in the bike, Patrick Evoe passed me. We rolled into transition about 30 seconds apart. I knew he was a good runner and it may take a while to catch him, but I was going to do my best to at least meet half of my goal (since I figured Chris McDonald had too much of a lead to catch him with just the run left to go.)
It took me three miles to make up that 30 second head start that Patrick had on me. I was feeling smooth and with the help of some ice, cold sponges, and Infinit’s NAPALM the run was going well. I passed Patrick just after the 3rd aid station and did my best not to slow down. The turn around came and I knew I could catch one more person, possibly two. I passed the next guy at mile 8-ish. The sun started to come out and the humidity started to rise. I did my best to stay cool to help maintain my pace, but started to slow down in the final two miles. I could see 10th place ahead of me by about a 1/4 mile, but didn’t have enough steam or time to catch him (later I found out it was Guy Crawford).
I crossed the finish line in 11th place… but considering who was there, I’ll take it. I know that if I could have biked to my ability, I would have been in the top 10, and possibly could have broken 4 hours. But, there are some personal victories that I can come away with here:
- Stuck with the chase pack in the swim much longer than normal and was only 30 seconds back from them (even with choosing to use a swim skin instead of a wetsuit).
- Had a PR on the 70.3 distance by about 4.5 minutes
- Finished just 3:45 back from Chris McDonald (3x IM Louisville champion) and 10 minutes ahead of Patrick Evoe (1x winner of IM Louisville), who are both coming to Louisville in about 5 or 6 weeks to defend/reclaim the title. A major confidence booster going into the race knowing that I’m in the same ballpark as them right now.
Next up is the Challenge Race in New Albany on July 27th… looking forward to doing a non-Ironman branded race with a better prize purse… hopefully I can grab some cash at that race!