|Mountaineer 70.3 RACE REPORT||July 1 , 2007
Morgantown, West Virginia
The idea for the race, after having talked it over with my coach, was to race the swim and the bike like I would normally then take the run at an easier IM pace. Why? Well, this was three weeks before my A race- IM Lake Placid- and the effects of recovering after a hard run effort was not a great situation to be in with a few weeks to go. So mentally I was really tuning up for my goal race and this was more about making sure everything was in place. This obviously took some of the self impossed presure off.
As we rolled in, the temperature was cool and we went through the heart of town on our way to the hotel. It's a small place. It also has its share of steep short hills. We checked in and headed out for dinner trying to keep tabs on which roads where part of the course and which ones would be the ones to look for. The next day we drove the course and got a good idea of what it was all about. This could actually be a fast course- it was pretty flat at the beginning and then it was sloping upwards for a while with two considerable hills before sloping back into town- two loops. But no harsh climbs. The run on the other hand had one section of steep climbing through a couple bolcks in town- and it was also a two loop course, the second loop dishing out the climb at mile 11.5.
The rest of the day was pre-registration, bike check in and chatting it up with friends. We had a great group dinner- the group was great, the dinner was ok. But it was nice to talk a little smack and jostle back and forth to see who was gonna dish what on race day. The momentum was building.
We got to transition and then made our way to the swim start. The distance between the swim out and T1 was a good ways away and that would play itself out during the race. Christal and I said our good-lucks and then I took to the dock- I was in the second wave after the pros.
The mark to GO was announced and we dashed out to the first buoy where you turn left and left again for the length of the course. It was pretty decent without much incident and I felt like I was swimming by myself for most of it. My only concern was that I wasn't using the advantage of grabbing some feet but it was rather well spread out. It was odd because it was such a straight course and I started to wonder if I wasn't making the best of my line-- maybe I was drifting and not on course. But I had swimmers on both sides and I kept at it. After the last turn I hit a little bit of friction and it was clear that the finish line was in focus and we were all converging. I took a few stronger sets in there to get myself out of the way and that seemed to help out. Before I knew it I was back to the dock and lifting myself out.
There were a couple young guys doing the olympic which came up on me and were clearly taking turns pulling eachother. I tried to stay in my box- my plan- my power and heart rate zones- but it was just gonna have to wait. I rode up right next to the guy in back and yelled out that it wasn't a draft-legal race, back off. He looked over and basically looked back down- nothing. I dropped back because I wasn't about to keep that level of intensity. It was only about a minute later that we hit the first hill and I was about 50 yards back. I geared in for the hill and they were out of their saddle- luckily that endurance training stuff works. I gained my distance on them before the top of the hill and then I jammed up right next to them and got between them. I slowly slowed down to put space between the two and started to smile. Not a very nice thing to do but it felt great. After we dropped back like 15 feet the guy in back of me sprinted around and took his turn- pulling the other guy away. It was sweet to see them again struggling on the next climb of the day as I passed them, and never saw them again.
Bike Elevation (one lap)
The first lap was smooth and I came back into town looking forward to having more space on the second lap. It was a pretty tight turnaround to get back out on lap two and some idiot spectator decide to cross the road just as I was approaching. I slammed on the breaks at the beginning of my turn as my back wheel began to slide. Somehow I released the breaks just enough so the wheel wouldn't continue to slide- then gained some balance and hit the breaks again before plowing into him. It was a spectacle where everyone in the crowd was ooowing and ahhing as I completed the wobbly turn. I'm sure I said something under my breath but was so shocked to still be upright that I took off and sat back down.
Lap two was steady. I could tell more or less where my friends were on the course from two out and backs during the lap- this gave me a little incentive to keep my pace up. Before I knew it I was back at transition.
The hills came and they were brutal. It was short steep climbs that had most of the field walking- and at times walking hunched over. I took it as easy and steady as I could but they certainly took their toll. The good news was that the reward was a slightly downhill grade through the rest of the town until we got back on lap two for a flat section again.
As soon as lap two started I began my finish time calculations. It's just one of those things that keeps your mind working on something. If you run X minutes for Y miles that will put you at about Z for the finish time. Of course one calculation isn't enough- because you never know how the rest of the run will go. So there's a best case scenario, a worst case, a steady case, a best case with a 30 second bathroom break, a 10 second per mile slow down, and so on. What I started to figure out was that I was on track for a sub 5 hour half iron without ever thinking I was in that ballpark.
The mind game then was to keep steady and not deviate. Sure I have the juice to go faster but keep that A race in mind. That's the real prize. Not bad having a sub 5 HIM to boot though.
In the last miles I was passing people left and right. They were really struggling and I was high on endurance training. I was talking with the volunteer kids and encouraging other racers on. "Thanks for volunteering, how'd you know I wanted water?" I knew I was out of control- who wants to hear, "you've got it- almost there" when you're gasping for air and being passed. But as I rounded mile 11 I was at the climbs again and just a couple miles from the end. They weren't easy- the day was getting hot and the end surely could have come sooner. Ice cream was near.
In the last block before the finish chute I saw a man shuffling forward with an olympic race marking on his calf. He was struggling but pushing through. I told him that he was just a block away and it was all downhill from there. I think he could have kissed me from the huge smile on his face and the outpouring of gratitude.
The finish chute appeared and I coasted through. I was done!
Heart Rate Graph