This past weekend I competed in the Timberman 70.3 (Half-Ironman). It was held at Ellacoya State Park in Gilford, NH. As I stated in my previous blog, I did not feel as though I was in top form going into this race so I had no idea what to expect. I was in the 7:40am wave and I waited around for a bit to get rolling. I saw Angela take off and absolutely blow up her wave right from the start. It was really cool. I was like "Yeah, I know her" hehehehe. Anyway, we got into the water and I decided I would move up to the front and try to get a jump at the start. The gun went off and I got into a good hard rhythm but couldn't hold it and began to feel like I might need to stop and breathe. Too hard too soon - again. My break cost me a minute or so and my goggles were leaking too so I had to figure that out. I kept my cool and was able to pull it back together for a half way decent (35:56) swim split but I know I was a lot slower than I should have been. No worries - get it back on the bike. I had a good wet suit peel and got out of T1 in short order. I was greeted by friends and family and was able to forget about the swim pretty easily as I settled into a good bike cadence. I had decided I would try to back off my '09 bike split of 2:28 in an attempt to set myself up for a sub 1:40 run. I did pretty well and was on track for about 2:34 or so but I felt so darn good out by the speedway I decided to just go with it and see what happened. I was rolling through the field at a heart rate of about 142 and felt like I was keeping it under control. I was trying to run down Angela before she got back to T2 so we could run together but she pounded me so badly on the swim I couldn't totally close the gap. I ended up with a 2:29 bike split which totally shocked me given I dragged ten more pounds around that course than I had last year. Of the bike and into T2, good transition and out on the run. 13.1 to go. I wanted to start with a couple of 8's but I looked at my Garmin and saw that 7:20 - 7:30 was feeling surprisingly managable so I went with it. I saw all my friends on the run and was able to cheer the boys from the Speed Lab on. It was great to see the first timers out there tearing it up and particularly good to see my old chum Mike Matheson out there having a great day. (My friend Pat Kelley was injured on Monday and raced with a bum leg, gutting out his first "half" in impressive fashion.) The first loop went very well and I was back to the venue in about 50 minutes or a little less. I took a little inventory and decided I was still feeling really good so I decided to try to push it hard for the second loop and make a run at getting in close to 1:40. With three to go I still had a shot but my pace was slipping to the 7:50 range and I just couldn't squeeze any more out of myself. As I made the final turn into the park to run the last couple hundred yards to the finish I had a guy slip by me and ask if this was the lane for the finish. I said yes, and he took off. Now, I had no idea whether or not he was in my age group but I wasn't going to wait until after the race to find out that I let somebody trim me up at the line. I turned it up a notch and drew even with the 49 year old Frenchman from Quebec City. I was hoping he would be gassed from the short burst he had already used to get ahead of me. I was wrong. Once he saw me to his left he took off on a full-on sprint and I was matching him stride for stride. The finish chute was lined with spectators and they started going nuts seeing what was going on. This was going to be a brawl to the line and they knew it. With about 50 yards to go I snuck a look to my right to see if he was cracking but he was locked in on the finish. I put my head down and gave it whatever I had left. I knew my friends and family would be at the finish and I wasn't going to let them see me get beat to the line. As we approached the line I thought I might just do a "Pete Rose" to make sure I got in before him but I decided against it. We broke through the line at the same time and I am pretty sure I got him by less than a foot. Then I just let everyting go and I fell forward into a full bodyslide in the wet grass ending up face down at Chrissie Wellington's feet - she was there putting medals on all the finishers. I staggered to my feet and looked to shake hands with the guy but he just walked off and I didn't really have the energy to chase him again. I'm not sure whether he was mad at me or came away with a healthy respect for somebody that refused to let him have it. As it turns out, he was in the next age group up and I had beaten him overall by about twenty minutes. I ended up running 1:42 or so and finished with a 4:51 time almost identical to last year. I can't explain it other than to say that I had a great day, the weather cooperated and I was very pleased with the outcome.
As for my finish line drama....I can only say that that's how I race. Plain and simple. If you pull up next to me near the finish I'm going to lay it all out there. I think people that know me understand that. Someone asked after the race why I bothered sprinting given I had no idea whether the guy was even in my age group. I didn't quite understand that - it's a race amd I'm racing. THAT guy was racing so why wouldn't I? PLUS, there were hundreds of people standing there along the chute (in the rain) that all were there to support a loved one or a friend. I figured if I have enough left in the tank to lay it out there and give them something to cheer for I'm going to do it. My friends drove two plus hours to watch me race, my family has endured many hours of training and travelling to support me. I'll be damned if I'm going to jog across a finish line. And that's all there is to say on that!
I went to the awards presentation and watched my friends Mary and Ange get their awards for being in the op of their age group. VERY cool - this is a HUGE race with lots of talent and they both got on the podium. Impressive.
I stuck around for the Clearwater rolldown and was rewarded with a slot to the 70.3 World Championships in Florida on November 13th. This was not even on my radar screen this year but now it is and I am excited about the race.
My friend Doug is racing Ironman Canada this weekend and I'd like to wish him the best! Leave it all out there Doug!
I am racing The Kennebunk Fire Tri this weekend....stay tuned.