After one of the coldest and wettest races I have ever raced in at Rev3 Knoxville, it was a short 2 weeks later I was on the starting line at Ironman Florida 70.3 in Haines City, Florida in the exact opposite conditions where the water was warm, and it was sunny, hot and humid. With the long winter and cold spring (actually downright cold at times with flurries on Mother’s Day the weekend between the races), the key factor in race day success would be the ability to perform well in the heat. Typically, I perform well in the heat, but that is after a summer to acclimate to the warmer temperatures, and I wasn’t sure if I could adapt in such a short time. With the forecast pretty much set with the race day high approaching 90F, I spent race week using all my tricks to adapt and come to the race ready to perform.
The fun part about Haines City, Florida is that it is about 25 minutes away from Disney, and with a young family, this is a great race to bring the kids along. On Thursday my son and I flew down, with my wife and daughter joining us on Friday. Saturday was spent picking up my BMC TM01 from Tri Bike Transport and making the final adjustments for race day. On to race day….
The Pro start was an early one at 6:30 AM. This meant my alarm was going off at 3:30; which was nice to beat the heat, but dang, that is EARLY! After going through my standard pre-race prep, I went for a short run to loosen up the legs before I headed into the water. I was feeling pretty good on the run, but I was already drenched…..it was already mid-70s and the humidity had to be close to 100%. At 6:15, I got in the lake to warm-up for the swim. I’ll admit, I was never real keen on swimming in a Florida lake. Between the murky water, mucky bottom and ‘gators, I was “highly” motivated to stay with the swim pack. Of course when I entered the lake I was putting on my goggles, and as I took my second step into the 82-degree water, I sunk to mid-shin in muck. Not a big deal in the big picture, but still not a fan…
|New SLS3 FX Race Top for 2013!|
|The standard pre-race bike pic in race set-up|
After a short run up the beach and through T1, I was off on my bike. In driving the course before the race, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the bike course. With the exception of the first and last 3 miles, the roads were smooth and in great condition. The profile is flat to gently rolling for the first 25 miles, then a section of about 20 miles of hills, nothing major but a few steady climbs and rollers and finally the last 10 miles is back to gently rolling hills. Add in the heat, lack of shade and steady winds, this course deserves some respect. After the swim, I figured I was about 3 minutes back from the pack in front of me, so I decided to push a couple of extra watts in the first few miles to try to catch-up. Within the first 3 miles, I passed the Pro Women that beat me out of the water. About Mile 10, I could see the next Male Pro about 30 seconds ahead of me. Unfortunately, for the next 37 miles I could not close the gap. I could see him on the longer/flat stretches of roads, but the time gap stayed at 20-30 seconds during this time. During this time, I started to notice some slight cramping in my hamstrings. I’ve never had this before, and it could be a result of changing saddles 2 weeks before the race. I thought I had it set-up the same as my previous saddle, but this is definitely something I need to look at as soon as I get my bike back. Finally around mile 48, I was able to make the pass. The rest of the ride was uneventful as I made my way back to transition. I was off the bike in 22nd Place with a bike split of 2:18:57 (24.2 mph avg).
During the bike I stuck with my trusted HIM nutrition plan. Loaded on my bike, I drank 2 bottles of First Endurance EFS and a half flask of First Endurance Liquid Shot with a ½ scoop of Pre-Race powder. I also took 2 Salt Stick tabs for the added electrolytes. From the course, I drank 1 bottle of Powerbar Perform.
T2 was like T1, in and out pretty quick and off to the run.
As I started the run, I was feeling pretty good. It was sunny and warm, by now probably 83-84 F and after a short flat section, it was time to climb some hills. Similar to the bike, this is an honest run course. The course is 3 loops, with 2 big climbs in the first 1.8 miles, then flat to slight downhill for the rest of the 4.4-mile loop. By the 1-mile mark, I lost the position back to Victor Laroque. I stayed about 50 feet behind him until Mile 4, where I re-passed him and created a gap. At the end of the first lap, I was feeling pretty good. My pace was about 10 sec/mile slower than my plan, but my RPE was right on, and I was able to maintain my pace up the hills for the second time on Lap 2 so my pacing seemed correct for the conditions. Even though my pace was off, I was able to move up 2 more positions on this lap. As I started Lap 3, I dropped my salt tabs at the first aid station. With about 4 miles to go, I decided it was worth the risk to finish the race without them and not stop to pick them up. As I charged up the hills for the third time, it was getting warm now. No matter how much water and ice I dumped on me, it was gone by the next aid station. The priority now was to stay cool and not slow down. About Mile 11, I made another pass and was still feeling consistent. Finally I made my way back to the start area where I turned up the finish chute. About 100’ before the finish I saw my wife on kids on the fence, and I slowed to give my son a high five before I crossed the finish line. After that, I made my way to the finish line and stopped the clock with a 1:26:47 run split (6:37 min/mile) and a total time 4:21:42, which was good enough for 19th Male Pro out of 26 starters.
|At the finish|
Overall I am really happy with my race. Comparing to where I finished last year, I moved up a few places. For an early-season Half-Ironman, I have a few key things to improve on for my next race, but I am off to a good start. It was also interesting as I picked up my bike after the race to return to Tri Bike Transport, I noticed my front tire was flat. I don’t think it was flat at the end of my ride, but I don’t know for sure. Either way I’m glad I was able to ride to the finish.
A race like this would not be possible without the help of so many. Thanks to my wife and kids for joining me in Florida, getting up before sunrise to sit in the hot sun while I got to race.
Special thanks to Paul Rogers, Ron Schmid, Chris, David and rest of the crew at Fraser Bicycle for getting my bike race ready. Ron Tew from BMC Bicycles for setting me up with the BMC TM01 for the second year. Sebastian and Sylvie Linke from SLS3 for the great race clothing and post-race recovery socks and sleeves. First Endurance for the best in nutrition products. Bonnie Karas from BK Training Systems. As well as NormaTec MVP, Spy Optics and X-1 Audio.
Now a few weeks to get ready for my next race at Rev3 Williamsburg on June 23.