Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Making Strides at South Beach

PRERACE – It was a 6:55am race start so I was up early to eat breakfast and get my stuff around for the day.  I got into transition around 5:30 and I felt like a freshman on the first day of school!  With a couple of the big names from the Ironman circuit here and a handful of the usual suspects for the non-draft Olympic scene I felt a little out of place.  I just went about my business and got my transition area set up and headed out for a jog warm up.  The swim was about 1200m away from the swim exit/transition, so I did a little shorter jog warm up because I was planning on running to the swim start after stretching and doing swim cords.  After a few last minute transition checks I did swim cords, grabbed my Profile Design speed suit, and jogged to the swim start.  The beach in South Beach has a “road” running down it so I jogged on that.  It is very hard packed sand, and I felt more comfortable running barefoot on that versus the concrete path.  I did a 5-6 minute swim warm up and then waited on the beach for the start of the race. 
SWIM – It felt like they held us on the beach forever, but finally the horn sounded and we were off.  I am starting to enjoy beach starts more and more!  With my height and natural bounce in my running stride I am able to run a lot farther out into the water than everyone else.  This time around, that meant I was winning the race when we started dolphin diving/swimming!!  My lead only lasted a few seconds but it was fun!!  After we rounded the first buoy, I was still in a great position so I tried to stay on the feet of some of the best swimmers in the sport.  It did not last long, I quickly found myself swimming solo so I just set tried to set a solid pace for my current swimming level.   The water was rough and I was getting tossed around but it was fun to be swimming in the ocean as the sun was coming up!  A couple people went around me and I tried to draft them but I could not hold on.  Finally a pack of 4-5 caught me and I was able to stay at the front of that pack.  Coming out of the water there were sprayers since it was a salt water swim, but I think I was the only one to run through them!  Oh well!  I also noticed I had lost my chip!!  This was the first time this has ever happened to me.  I did not know what to do but so as I ran into transition I yelled “Number 14.  No chip!”   I think I was hoping that would allow them to record a time for me and mark that I was not cutting the course in any fashion.
I had a great swim for the conditions and I knew I was doing well when Wes (Nicole’s husband) yelled at me that I was 30 seconds down.  I did not know if that was to the front or the next pack, but I was feeling good!  I think the Profile Design speed suit played a huge role in this and I was happy to have it on!  With no results posted for me I believe my swim time was somewhere around 21:10.  I’ll take that!
BIKE – This was my first time in a large race riding a disc.  I just got a Quarq on my bike, so I am able to ride a disc now and have power data.  I have heard a lot about how a disc is faster, but I had no idea!  I felt like I was flying and the sound it makes as it rolls down the road is one of my favorite!!  If you have ridden a disc, you know what I am talking about, but if not, to me it kind of sounds like a quiet jet engine.  Hence the feeling I get that I am flying!!  I felt great as I started out on the bike but a few guys went around me pretty fast so I just kept myself calm and rode a tempo I thought I could handle.  There were two 180 turns on the course so I was able to get time checks on the guys ahead of me.  At the first flip I was about 4 minutes down to Cam Dye, who was leading the race, and about 2:30 down to a group of 5-6 guys.  At the second flip I was about 4:30 down to Cam and about the same down to the group.  I knew I was doing well!!  I have never been this close to the top 10 at a non-draft race!!  With about 2 miles to go on the bike I started to feel the power leaving my legs.  This is a normal felling for me at the end of a 40k but I was doing well so I fought it off as long as I could.  I was around 13th coming off the bike, and I thought I could get in the top 10 with a good run.  I had finally put together a swim-ride that would allow me to be competitive!!  I was very happy with my wheel combination of a disc on the back and an 80 deep Profile Design on the front.  Profile Design just entered the wheel market and they make some very good wheels!  I think my ride was around 57:10, which is by far the fastest split I have ever had!!
RUN – My legs were not happy, which is normal coming off the bike, but I had a shot at the top 10 so I had to push.  I hit the first couple miles hard.  At most races the volunteers do a great job and overall they did at this race as well, but I had issues at the aid stations.  At each aid station they had accelerade and water and not only did it change what cup each was in from station to station, but the volunteers where mixing it up as they were telling me.  This would not have been an issue, but accelerade is similar to Gatorade, and contains too much sugar for me!!   I am a Hammer Nutrition man and I cannot handle anything else during a race.  I did not want to bonk on this run, so I did not get any fluids at the first 3 aid stations.  At the third station I tried to grab both color cups to be sure, but I just knocked a white cup straight to the ground.  Of course, that was water at that one!  Finally at the fourth water station I slowed down and made sure I grabbed 2 water cups!  It was hot and I needed a drink!  I am not sure if it was the lack of water during the run or the fast pace I was running early but with 1 mile to go in the run, I was cramping up but gaining on Andrew Yoder, who was in 5th.  I tried to push and catch him but my body was out of energy.  Had it been 11k I would have caught him, but I did not have enough speed at the end this time.
POST RACE – I found Nicole who was 2nd overall!!  Amazing!!  She is a rock star!!  I congratulated her and we got some photos together.  What a great day for TEAM IE!!  With extra points and money involved with the fastest run split, I went to the timing tent to see if they could get a run time for me.  I was not sure if I had the fastest run or not, but I at least wanted to make sure!  They ended up being able to calculate my time based on when I left transition and when I crossed the finish line.  I did it!  I outran the second fastest run by 13 seconds!!  We later found out that Nicole had the fastest run for the woman!
I believe Greg is the best coach in the world, and results don’t lie!  All TEAM IE athletes get faster, but it still amazes me on how well they continually do!!  There will be ups and downs in life, especially as an athlete, but there are far more ups than downs on this TEAM!!  Thanks Boss!!
And a big thanks to Wes!  It was great to have you on the trip!  It was a lot of fun to hang out with you and you were a great spectator, with your strong words of encouragement and split updates.
“The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed.”  ~ Richard Brinsley Sheridan

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