I boarded the plane at KC International knowing that the stars were aligning for a smooth trip. For whatever reason I was chosen for an upgrade and moved up to the front row where I now had extra leg room. Perfect! It was only a 2hr flight but it sure was comfortable. My bike arrived unscathed, I found my home-stay with only a minor detour, and built my bike without trouble Friday evening. The calm continued through Saturday with my pre-race routine...drive the bike course, 30min bike, 20min run on the run course, and check in. I was back to the house with plenty of time to relax and watch the first half of KU vs. Ohio St.
Race day was as expected with temps in the mid 70s, humidity in the 80s, and a slight breeze. I had already been looking forward to my unusually early wave time of 7:20 (20min after pros) since most 70.3 races put my age group towards the end it seems like.
The swim was wetsuit legal and I actually had some unexpected troubles with my goggles filling up with water. This was a little perplexing since I had used them all week to make sure they were still good. Despite it I managed an ok 29:24.
Out of the water and onto the bike we weaved through Moody Gardens and made our way onto the Seawall, which is a giant concrete wall to hold back the gulf waters during storms. Then it was a simple 26 miles out, 26 miles back. On the way out we were into a slight breeze but it wasn't much of anything and the roads were butter for the majority so I just settled in the bars and stayed low. Around mile 22 or so Lance Armstrong and the leaders came flying by the other way which ended up being my only Lance sighting of the day. I hit the turn around and sure enough a little tailwind was going to push me home. I finished out the bike with a solid 2.27 (~23mph) which was a little slower than I usually bike but I had made my bike focus about hydration and being ready to run since it had been quite a few races since I had given myself a good chance to run well off the bike. I put an extra amount of thought into my acclimation for this race as well and will detail some of that in a later post.
It worked and I got off the bike feeling great and started knocking off the miles and cruising past other runners. I held even splits around 6:15-20 pace and kept trying to stick to my plan to negative split the 3 lap course and finish strong. When the third lap finally came around I quit looking at my watch and let my stride open up a little more. I finished the last few miles at a sub 6 pace and had nothing left in the legs. My run time was 1.21.20 or an overall 6.12 pace. Although it was a little bit of a "safe" race it was what I needed for the first 70.3 of the year. My finish put me at 6th in my age group, 8th amateur overall, and 36th overall including pros out of about 2600 finishers. Awards were 5 deep and so I left empty handed.
I finished my day by getting a tour of Galveston, being introduced to the excellent food at "The Spot", and watching "Real Steel" with my host family.
I want to say a huge thank you to my sponsors. They are once again behind me 100% because although it didn't look like this race was going to work they stepped up and helped make it happen. I am humbled to represent such amazing people.
My next race will be Emporia Spring Migration on April 15th.