I quickly decided there was no chance of me getting back to sleep until I was able to rid myself of my fire-breathing ways, so I made a trip to the gas station down the road where I purchased some Zantac (official sponsor of triathlete Greg Grosicki?). Thankfully it provided me with swift relief and I fell back to sleep on what was now a very deflated air mattress. Nothing like a good night's sleep two nights before the race to ensure success!
I woke up the next morning feeling far better than I had expected and after Ryan fixed Will and I up a delicious pancake and egg breakfast Will and I made our way over to the house that Bri and I will be moving in August to meet with the landlord and get some room measurements. We then proceeded to packet pick-up and the race briefing before heading out to the course to do a little pre-race shake-out. Will went on a reconnaissance ride, scouting out the run and bike course, while I went for a swim both with and without my wet-suit followed by a short bike-run. At the water I met another athlete from NC, who had competed in Raleigh 70.3 in June who informed me that the race officials will probably try their best to make sure the swim is wetsuit legal for safety purposes. Fortunately I had been given a wetsuit by a very kind and generous donor at Belew's Lake in April. Unfortunately, I had never worn it. It ended fitting pretty snuggly and kind of restricting my shoulder movement. I decided that if it was legal, I would wear it anyway for buoyancy purposes. Will and I chatted race-strategy on the way back to Ryan's and he was able to give some useful insights as to the conditions of the rolling run-course. For dinner we decided to avoid the local beef and instead stopped at Marsh (for those of you who don't know this is the name of my Master's advisor so now the joke can be thrown that I will never truly escape him), the local grocery store for some pasta and bread.
After playing with Ryan's black lab puppy, Maddie, we began fixing up some dinner. To make room Will began losing last night's dinner (never again will we opt for the local beef and IF you do I recommend getting it well done.....). Incredibly, I was able to fall asleep pretty easily, maybe because of the lack of sleep the previous night, but Ill take it!
Race morning came early as we set the alarm for 4am so that i could eat breakfast and we could be sure to make it to the transition area without worrying about being late. As soon as we pulled in the race directors announced the race would be wetsuit legal, as I had expected. After preparing my transition area I put on my wetsuit and got in a little warm-up. My wave would leave 15 minutes after the pro's at 7:15. As we waded out into the water I found a kid with a tall swimmer build and decided I would try to stay on his feet for as long as I could. As the horn went off I realized that would not be very long as he pulled away to have a 26 minute swim. As always, the beginning of the swim was chaotic. By the first buoy I had lost contact with the lead pack and found myself towards the front of a second group of swimmers. I decided I would stay with this group and focus on keeping good trunk rotation and not over-kicking to save my legs for later in the day. All-in-all the swim was pretty uneventful. Having to weave through so many of the 50-59 age groupers was rather frustrating though. Arising from the water I looked down to see my watch, just a hair over 30 minutes. Not as fast as I would have liked, but not terrible, and there was still alot of racing ahead of me.
Swim time: 30:33/1:34/100m
T1 (2:29) consisted of a long run to the transition area. It went pretty well, although getting the wetsuit over my feet was more of a challenge than I would have liked. I had been practicing a fast T1 by using a flying mount/putting my shoes on while riding the bike. I am still unsure as to its benefits as it really only takes seconds to put the shoes on in transition. My flying mount went well, although I had a good deal of problems getting my feet into my bike shoes, and I believe I lost probably 30 seconds of time trying to do so..... The majority of the course was flat and fast. I passed all of the 50-59 Age groupers, a couple of the female pro's and all but 1 of the 18-29'ers that I started with. A big thanks to Charlie of Ken's Bike Shop for allowing me to borrow his disc wheel with ANT+ which allowed me to carefully monitor my intensity. My goal was to hold between 225-235 watts (75% FTP). Here is my powerfile from the race. As you can see I spent a good 40 seconds messing around with getting my feet into my shoes...My power was right where I wanted it at 230 watts, although my cadence was low (80rpm) so hopefully by doing some drills to get this higher (90pm) I can save my legs a little more for the run.
Bike time: 2:19.05/24.16mph
In past races I have always been frustrated with my transitions. Finally however I think I am making headway. Coming off the bike with a flawless dismount I headed into T2 (1:27) where I racked my bike, slipped on my shoes, and grabbed some nutrition before heading out on the run. I also snagged a water bottle to drink/poor on myself during the first mile or two of the run. Unfortunately, I neglected to get my first mile split. By the first mile though I could see the only other age grouper up the road from me and I was reeling him in quickly. I told myself to relax and settle into a pace, the race was mine to lose now. My second mile split was a brisk 5:51. I felt good but I was uncertain about the sustainability of such a pace. I began snacking and catching women's pros, my splits right around 6 flat.
At mile 5 I saw the first male pro, Andrew Starykowicz, go by me as he headed into the finish with no competitors in sight. At mile 6, I was sustaining my pace but felt the unfortunate and dreaded side-stitch coming on in my right side. I jogged for another 800 meters trying to rid myself of the stitch to no avail. I opted to walk for 15 or 20 seconds before resuming a jog and made sure to drink more at the aid-station instead of trying to slog through the remainder of the race at 8-minute pace with this debilitating stitch. I knew I had a good lead on my competitors, but this stitch could certainly un-rail my chances at victory. At mile 7 (6:55) I stopped and chugged 2 waters and sipped on a coke). To my delight I felt the stitch going away! Knowing I had a big lead, I decided I would be sure to get down more water at every remaining add station by briefly stopping and chugging water and sipping coke in an effort to fend off the cramp. With a mile to go, and no one in sight, I breathed a sigh of relief as I kicked it in for the finish as best I could. Going out I averaged a 6:04 pace, back 6:39 for an average of 6:22/minutes per mile and a run split of 1:23.28. Not as fast as I would have liked, but I certainly know what I need to do to improve. First I need to start off my first couple of miles SLOWER. Next I need to find a way to get more water in during the run. Although I grabbed water cups at the first 5 aid stations, a very small amount of it actually made it down my throat, most of it ended on my face or worse, choking me.
I was the first age-grouper to cross the finish line in a time of 4:17.02. The second amateur (I was beaten by 30 seconds by someone in the 30-34 age group), and the 13th overall finisher. All-in-all, I am very pleased with my first HIM performance. All of my training and dedication for the past couple of months paid off as I earned a spot at the 70.3 World Championship in Vegas on September 8th! Time to rest up, recover, and begin preparing for a move to Muncie in the beginning of August with my lovely fiancee Briana! This will be my last week working at Mellow Mushroom and next week I will be back in the 703, catching up with my family, getting beat by my 7-year old sister at backstroke and running some loops around good ol' Burke Lake! A huge thanks to Will and Ryan for being my race crew, Enfinity fitness, Ken's Bike Shop, Blue Competition Cycles, my loving family, and all of my other fantastic supporters!