To get straight to the exciting news, I’ll now be competing with my wife, Alexis, at the 2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas in September! Although I had a good race at the Ironman 70.3 Eagleman race early in the month, I did have to rely on a little bit of luck to get the slot to Vegas. Due to being in the second last wave, I had to wait until over an hour and half after the Pro start and early age group waves to begin my race. Despite the waiting, I had a strong swim, coming out of the water in first place for my age group. My bike leg went better than I had anticipated. I was able to hold my goal power and it translated into a much faster speed than planned. This had me coming off the bike in 4th place in my age group, and I felt good about all the hydration and nutrition that I had taken on during the 56 miles in the saddle. It turns out I probably felt a little TOO good at the start of the run and my first mile was a good bit faster than my race plan. Not long after that, I started to pay the price for this excitement, and it was further exacerbated by the heat, humidity and lack of shade on the run course. Mile by mile, my splits kept dropping off and it was all I could do to keep my legs turning over and not start walking. At each aid station I was taking on water and Gatorade and putting ice everywhere I could to try and cool down my body. I was really proud of myself for continuing to run for the entire 13.1 mile course, but I was definitely disappointed in the overall run time given how training had been going coming into the race. Once race day comes around, you just need to suck it up, deal with the conditions at hand and do the best you can though. As people kept passing me in the final miles I fell to 9th in my age group, which I thought meant that there would be no shot at a Vegas slot. Overall I was happy with the race, which was a best time by about 25 minutes, but it’s also exciting to know that I can still keep improving.
The way the Vegas slots work is that you wait around after the race and then they tell you how many slots are available in your age group. From there they start reading out names by finishing place and see who wants to go. My age group ended up with 2 slots, so 9th was definitely a long shot. As it turned out, the top 6 people had either already qualified or didn’t want to go. The 7th placed guy took the first slot and then after a few anxious moments as they read out the 8th place finisher’s name they moved on to me and I claimed my spot to join Alexis on the start line!
I then got to enjoy a few days off from working out to let the body recover as I hobbled around my day-to-day life. The rest was short lived, however, and after an extremely painful, but amazingly good, post-race massage from Brian, I was back to training as I looked towards the TriRock Philadelphia Olympic triathlon 2 weeks later. This was a much “shorter” race (just over 2 hours vs. just over 4.5 hours) at a much higher intensity level. It’s always nice getting to race on “home turf”, in this case, in and along the banks of the Schuylkill River. This time I was second out of the water in the elite amateur wave (first was about a minute in front of me, so there was no chance of catching him…), which was 12th overall, including the Pros. It took me a little while to settle into a good rhythm on the bike, but the overall bike split was in line with my result at last year’s race. Last year I blew up on the run and I managed to rectify that this year. Although I wasn’t quite as fast as I would have liked (everyone always wants to go faster, don’t they?), I had a decent run split, which contributed to finishing in just under 2 hours and 10 minutes. This beat my time from last year by about 5 minutes. I was happy with the result, especially after considering the half-Ironman two weeks before and the increased volume in the 10 days leading into the race. It was great having Phila Massages manning the post-race massage tent so I could go and see Brian, Natacha, Olivia and all the other team members right after I finished. This really helped reduce the impending muscle soreness that would normally show up the next day and allowed to resume training without any time off.
Going forward I have the Musselman half-iron distance race in the middle of July as another good test with heat and hills, which should help me strategize for Vegas and then it’s 8 weeks of training until the World Champs. As I try to acclimatize to the expected temperatures in Vegas of high 90’s to low 100’s, I’ll probably be doing a good number of my weekend workouts in the middle of the day to take “advantage” of Philly’s lovely summer heat and humidity. I hope for your sake that I don’t see you out there then but that you can enjoy the slightly cooler mornings and evenings.
Have fun out there,