Hokay, so. This doubled as a start to the season, and as a vacation for me and Kristen. Brief itinerary so as to not bore you with details.
Sunday, May 13 – Fly PHL to BHM on Delta. Kestrel was packed up by Richie at Breakaway Bikes earlier in the week and shipped directly to the hotel in Orlando.
Monday, May 14 – Drive from Tuscaloosa to Orlando, having packed up the last remaining items of Kristen’s apartment into her car. New levels of comfort are reached during this ten hour drive.
Tuesday, May 15 – Put bike together, go grocery shopping, take bike to Laz at Advanced Cycles for quick checkover. 15mile bike ride back from the shop, getting caught in a severe storm. Hail hurts.
Wednesday & Thursday, May 16 & 17 – Disney World! Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios on Wed, Magic Kingdom on Thurs. It drizzled a bit those two days, so we never waited more than 25 minutes for a ride, and pretty much did every single ride we wanted to.
Friday, May 18 – Drive down to Haines City to get checked in, drive the bike course, run the run course, and go to the athlete meeting. I thought I was going to have a heart attack on the run course (I did one loop of the 3 loop course), and there was zero shade and it was about 25 degrees warmer than I had been used to in Philly. A call to mentor/friend/supporter Erik calmed me down a little bit. Number of Lance sightings = zero.
Saturday, May 19 – Lots of laying around, being a sloth. Getting things packed up for the race, fine tuning my hydration system (Speedfil A2), etc.
Up at 4:15, out the door at 4:30. Into Haines City by 5:15. Unload the bike, get in line to get into transition. Discover zoo of athletes crowding immediately upon entering transition because they wanted to snap photos of one of their competitors. Good grief, get out of my way! My rack happened to be filled with some amateurs who didn’t know how to alternate bikes, but luckily a volunteer came and fixed it. Got my bike set up, applied Body Glide, got changed into my pink battle suit (2 piece suit rather than 1), and did my best to be the last one in transition upon it closing at 6a. Down to the lake front beach, and then sit around for 40′ until my wave went off. Pro men went off at 6:30, and the first guys out of the water were out in ~24′. Kissed Kristen goodbye and made my way down to the starting platform. Lance sightings = 1.
Swim: The water was not wetsuit legal, which wasn’t too awesome for me, but with all the work I’ve been doing with Tori Mayer at Drexel, I felt a lot more relaxed. DPS – distance per stroke. Thats all I kept in my mind. I started about halfway in the pack, on the outside. The horn sounded and we all waded through the soft lake bed mud until we could dive in. I focused on getting very relaxed and doing my own thing, and not having a heart attack. After a couple minutes of bashing around, and having to stop to dump water out of my google, I got into a more comfortable groove. Slowly but surely I could feel myself working past swimmers, and eventually all I saw around me was royal blue and white caps – the colors of the wave in front of me. These guys (I believe 40-44) were in struggle city, and I wanted to avoid being clawed down by any of them. The course was basically a big “M,” so by the third line, it had calmed down a bit more, but I was still seeing more blue/white than I was baby blue (our colors). But I just kept on keepin on, and stayed relaxed and in my groove. Near the end I noticed my left hand going numb, which may be from my speedsuit, so that needs to be further investigated. Lance sightings = 1 (total of 2).
Out of the swim in 35:16, good for a 1:49/100m time (slower than I wanted, but again, no heart attack = main goal), 25/106 in my AG, 293/~2000 OA.
Bike: OO WEEEE here we go. The course was a bunch of turns in the first 5 miles, and then opened up into really flat roads for the next ~30 miles or so, and then the last 20 were rolling hills into a headwind. I quickly got into my bars and pounded away, focusing on getting my HR down after a long T1 run. I quickly found a couple of fast riders that I would see for a good portion of the ride: “K-Swiss” (later named Elliot, in my AG), “IM 70.3 WC Shorts,” (also in my AG) “Sick Fuji D-6,” (again, my AG) and “a bunch of 40-44AG guys riding in a pack.” The Pack and SFD6 dropped me early on, but I let them go and figured that I’d reel them back in later. Somewhere around halfway I managed to lose my zip lock bag that had salt tablets, cliff bar, and extra GU in it (uh oh), so that sucked. Once I got into the rollers, I found all of the players previously introduced. WC Shorts was out in front, and a couple hundred yards behind him was the Pack. K Swiss, myself, and SFD6 all took turns trying to break through the group, but as there were now two packs of 40-44 “teams,” it was fairly hard. Any time one of the three of us would try and sprint ahead out on our own, the pack would eventually reel us back in as we were going into a headwind and breaking it by ourselves was obviously more challenging that riding it together. Somewhere in the last 10 miles we seemed to have lost them, and we all spaced out a bit. At about that time a marshall came around, and I know at least one pack got a yellow-card and had to stop in the penalty tent. Lance sightings = zero.
Bike: @ 38.5mile marker = 24.00mph, @ 56 mile marker = 21.47mph, total time: 2:25:08 at 23.15mph. 14/106 AG, 97/~2k OA.
Run: Immediately out of transition K-Swiss came flying past me, and I never saw him again (he ended up 5th in the AG), The loop was a footpath for a 1/2 mile, and then two big (relative for FL) hill climbs, and then running through developments on somewhat flat land for the last 3 miles… and then do it two more times. As I ran along the footpath, I saw Kristen and told her I needed salt tabs on the next time I came around. Thank God for her and for this looped course. I felt decent for the first 3/4 of the first lap, and then I started feeling a bit sluggish. My HR wouldn’t come up any higher (mid 170s, normally I can run around 180bpm). I did manage to see WC Shorts, who seemed to be struggling pretty bad with cramps. I passed him, and after one more spirited attempt by him to catch up to me, his cramps got the worst of him and he dropped back. I promised myself not to make any deals on the first lap, and I had a decent enough first lap that even as I slowed down on the second lap, I was still sitting right on my “worst case scenario target pace” (8:00/mi). The last lap, however, was struggle city – with the combination of the heat rising and more and more people coming onto the course, I could tell that I had nothing left in the tank. I was still going to beat the main goal I set for myself — sub 5 hours — and the limited brain capacity that I had left told me that I may be able to make it into the 4:40s. As I came around the last turn, I at least made myself look not so disheveled (I ran most of the run with my top pulled up to my HRM strap and unzipped), and crossed the finish line, with no one either in front or behind me. Lance sightings = zero.
Run time: 1:45:52 (8:04/mi). 4.4miles = 33:24 (7:35’/mi), 8.8miles = 34:48 (8:00’/mi), 13.1miles = 37:40 (8:39’/mi). 13/106 AG, 128/2000 OA.
TT: 4:50:57, 13/106 AG, 128/2000 OA.
Post Race: Well, my time in this race was the same as Poconos 70.3, except there was no swim in Poconos. So, thats good. I was relaxed on my swim, fast on the bike, but slightly off where I wanted to be for the run. I’d say overall it was a good first start to the season. Gives me a real foundation and point of reference to build from. For my first race in a new sport, I think it would be unrealistic to say that I wanted to do better. That being said, I always want to do better. In the swim, I can improve my sighting, my ability to draft, and having conquered the general fear of OWS, I can now try and actually push myself a bit. On the bike, I can just get more efficient, and I can still get faster and more comfortable on the bars. And on the run… I can work on better pacing, improving efficiency at any given HR output, better form, getting lighter… the possibilities are endless. I’m excited to see try and reach them.
Post race-post race: Went out for dinner in Downtown Disney at a Cuban restaurant, got really drunk, and then went and day drank at Epcot while doing an “around the world” tour. Baller!
Race Photos can be found here. Search bib “1145”