Following HyVee I had no concrete plans to finish out my racing year but was hoping to get in a final half Ironman. I talked my brother into taking a weekend trip to Austin, called on some friends for a place to stay, and registered for Austin 70.3.
The swim was a 73 degree wetsuit swim in Decker lake, the bike a winding ride through the ranch land east of Austin, and the run a rolling three loop jaunt back by the lake finishing inside the Leudecke Arena.
My major gripe with the 70.3 series is continuing to put the male 30-34 age group last to get some of the slower waves on course sooner. However, in the end everyone vying for the win has the same disadvantage racing in the heat, I just wish we didn't have to. So although the pros were off at 7:30 we got in the water at 8.45.
The swim was very uneventful with a calm start at the front and quickly finding some feet to pull me around. My swim time was 28.21 (56th overall including pros). Not too bad considering the closest thing I've had to open water swimming since May is going around the perimeter of my 25yd pool thanks to the algae blooms in local lakes. Transition went well, and as far as I can tell from the results I had the fastest of the amateurs.
Although the bike roads looked pretty sketchy the day before when I drove the course I didn't notice that much on race day as I cruised around the 56 mile course. The wind picked up on the back half of the loop but I was not that surprised since it had looked that way the day before as well. I rolled back into transition with a 2.18.16 (15th overall), 24.3mph avg.
By the time I got off the bike around 11:30 it was warming up into the 80's with a pretty stiff South wind. Although I felt I had done my best to acclimate from the cool KS weather I also knew from past heat struggles that my body wasn't ready to rip off sub 6's. I settled in around 6.20-30 pace and felt i could hold that for the 3 lap rolling course. With 3 miles to go I was passed for the first time by someone in my age group and I knew that could likely be a place on the overall podium. I gave chase with everything I had left but it wasn't enough. Sure enough it was second place overall finishing just 16s ahead. On the helpful side that chase propelled me ahead of 4th place by 5s who finished in another age group at a different time. Run time was 1.29.03 (15th overall) and total time 4.18.59. Good enough for 15th overall, 3rd overall amateurs. First and second place amateurs were from out of country so it was nice to finish as first American as well.
Although I thought this was my first automatic pro qualifier, I was unaware that USAT had changed the criteria once again to races with 20k+ pro prize purses. Austin's purse was only 15k so it no longer qualified. However, this was a by product to what was one of my better finishes in my tri career and I was not intending to make use of it just yet anyway..
On reflection, although I have had struggles with heat on all but 1 of my 5 half ironman attempts this was probably the only major problem area I didn't execute on. The swim, bike, and transitions went to plan. Nutrition strategy has become pretty much a non issue, nailing it in every race since June. Finally, my recovery was easily the best its been from this distance which is probably almost completely attributed to my recent use of pre and post race massage (props to Eddie Ulloa). I think I may write about this a bit more later as a newby to massage for those who have, like me, been wondering if and how much this can benefit your training/racing.
Have a great off-season!