I started my 2009 70.3 Championship journey with the standard flight delay out of JFK airport. Things quickly turned for the better, however, when I landed in Tampa. Timex teammates Bruce and Andrew picked me up in a shiny bright red mini-van, sweet! We then drove to the condo that Bruce had lined up for the weekend. The place was amazing! It even had its own elevator. With the lavish accomodations the pre-race was a very enjoyable experience.
Andrew, Bruce, and I ventured over to the pier Friday morning to do a short swim. We were greeted with rolling surf that made swimming an interesting adventure. It wasn't anything outrageous, but there were some decent size rollers and it was almost impossible to get into any type of rhythm while swimming out into the surf. However, once we turned back towards shore, it was a completely different story as the waves made it feel like I had fins on. We finished up our swim and I was able to catch the Lifesport swim clinic. Lance Watson was going through several race tips to deal with the rough conditions. However, both our swim warm-up and the race tips turned out to be unnecessary as the swim was moved to the bay side of Clearwater. While the decision to move the swim did not make Bruce "the shark" Gennari happy, it made our race morning jog to the start only 400 meters.
The race morning went pretty smooth. Bruce and I headed down to the swim start and found the lines moving very quickly. I jumped right into line; got my Aquasphere Icon wetsuit zipped up, and quickly found myself on the timing dock about to jump into the water. There really wasn't any time for pre-race nerves and I focused on trying to get a decent effort going. The remainder of the swim was pretty uneventful. With the time-trial start, I had no idea where I was in relation to the rest of my age group, so I just went as hard as I could. It was a time trial effort from beginning to end. I exited the water in 27:23, which placed me as the 93rd amateur. I quickly made my way through T1.
Once I got through T1, I was really excited to get on my Trek Equinox TTX. I had just come off of my best bike training heading into the race and I was very eager to see if it would pay off. I quickly dialed into my appropriate heart rate zone using my Timex Race trainer. My perceived effort felt about right and my power output was also coming back with good feedback from my Saris Powertap. The time trial start seemed to spread things out a bit to start the bike, although there were some tight roads for the first 5 miles. I managed to get the cleanest roads I've ever had in Clearwater and I was able to really focus on my own effort. I did hit two packs during the middle section of the ride, but I was fortunate enough to get through them quickly. My nutrition and electrolyte strategies were pretty aggressive as I took down almost 1,000 calories and about 16 Thermolytes. This strategy worked for me as I was able to keep my energy level high and I did not experience any cramping during the entire ride. In fact, this was my first race of the season that I was able to keep my heart rate average up in zone 3. I rolled into T2 with a 2:04:17 split and I had managed to move up to the 4th place amateur position starting the run.
Paul Regensburg, my coach, had asked me to build into my run effort. He wanted me to avoid the adrenaline rush of the first 400 meters out of transition. The plan was to find my cadence and build the effort similar to a progression run. I had done several progression runs in training and that practice was a great source for me during the race. As I was approaching the .5 mile marker, Daniel Fontana (2nd Place Overall), went blasting by me. It was a little shocking and I wondered if my legs were fatigued from the bike. Then I saw the third place bike pull up next to me. I awaited the inevitable pass of the next pro. I was starting to find a decent stride rate and beginning to feel comfortable. I ended up running next to the bike for the next 3 miles. As I approached the aid station around mile 5, Matt Reed came up on my shoulder. I asked him if he wanted to go in front to get his calories in. He said he was just trying to hold his place and he was hoping I could pace him in. I told him that would make my day if I could. I then proceeded to go a little above my comfort level for the next mile and a half. I was thrilled to be able to hold it together for that stretch, but I was a little concerned I might have exerted a bit too much energy. I decided to grab my first cola of the day at the next aid station. The simple sugars kicked in quickly and I was able to keep my form together. I ran the 10th mile in 5:30. However, that fluid stride began to get labored in the 11th mile as my pace dropped to 6:18. I then climbed back over the causeway for the last time. I attempted to carry the momentum from the downhill section of the bridge, but I was starting to fatigue and my 12th mile came in a little over 6 minutes. I saw Paul right after the mile marker and he gave me some nice encouragement to push into the finish. I allowed myself to glance at my overall time for the first time during the run. I saw 3:47 and change. I then realized that I had a chance to have a finish under 3:53. My form went completely out the window at this point. I gave it everything I had. I saw Lance Watson with about .5 mile to go and he yelled to sprint to the finish. I tried, although it certainly was not pretty. I crossed the line with a run PR of 1:16:55 and a total time of 3:52:50. I was completely ecstatic to find out that this placed me as the first M35-39 and 2nd amateur overall. I want to thank Team Timex, Lifesport, and all of our phenomenal sponsors for a tremendous year of support.
10 months ago