Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ford 70.3 World Championships

November 11, 2006
Clearwater, FL

Usually Treasure Island Triathlon is my last one and by the time it rolls around, I'm ready for the season to be over with. This year, however, my season was extended one more week for the 70.3 Championships, an inaugural half ironman series. I'm glad that there is this series, because it's long overdue. This is such a great distance and by the look of the numbers of athletes I'd say I'm not alone in that.
Jay and I caught a red-eye flight out of SFO on wednesday. I think we slept a grand total of about 3 hours before eventually landing in Tampa. We made it to our hotel and then to my pro luncheon just in time; the reason for us taking the meeting and the fact that Jay had taken so much time off work. After getting our packets and quickly perusing the expo, we went back to our hotel and put our bikes together. We then went for a short ride to make sure that the bikes were in order and then I went for a short 15 minute run to loosen up from the plane ride. There was an opening ceremonies dinner provided by the race management at 6pm at the Sand Key Park, so we decided to check it dinner??? Hey, we're there! This event is put on by the same organizers that do IM Hawaii, so the format was pretty much the same; entertaining and a good show.
By the time the dinner was finished, Jay and I were exhausted. We headed back to the hotel and went to bed.
The Swim Course

Friday morning rolled around and we found a cute diner to have breakfast at. After, we went for another short ride and I went for a run. Since we didn't have time the day before to check out the swim start, we did it today. The water was comfortable enough to probably swim without wetsuits, but because it would be a wetsuit swim tomorrow, we decided to put ours on. It was a short swim, but enough to test the water and loosen up.
After another short ride and run I was ready to relax, have dinner and then prepare my gear for tomorrow's early awakening.

We were up at a little after 4am. Our bikes were already at the transition area (we had to drop them off yesterday) so it made it quite easy to grab our bags and go...after breakfast that is!
It was still dark out when we arrived at the shuttle bus stop at Sand Key Park. We got on a bus and they took us to the transition area, about 2-3 miles away. I made sure that I had my gels for the bike as well as my electrolyte pills and that my extra tubular was on securely. I did a short warm up run with a few pickups before dropping off my shoes in my run bag. The way the transition area worked here was very similar to all of the IM races; what I mean is that there are specific bike and run bags and your gear must fit into these bags. Upon finishing the swim you run towards the bag pickup and enter change tent. Every person must go through the change tent and then on to where your bike is racked.
The pro men started about 5 minutes before we did. It was a beach start with a one loop rectangular course. The gun went off and we all ran into the water and jockyed for position for quite some time. I found myself in the middle of a pack and wanted to get out into some open water. I finally made it to the inside (closest to the buoy's) and proceeded to work my way up.
The further I swam, the better I felt. I kept telling myself to relax as I thought I was too tense and spinning my arms instead of gliding through the water. I eventually got behind a group of girls and I followed them into the swim finish. I was exciting to figure out that I had exited quite well, top 7 in a time of 27:32. I had a quick T1 and was out of the changing tent and running to my bike while putting on my helmet and race belt. I left T1 and was out on the ride. Within only a few miles I had caught two women. I was now in 5th place. I felt quite strong for the first 10-15 miles and then I had a few women pass me and then a pack of 3 women pass and I got irritated that they were drafting when this was a non-drafting race. I kept on pressing doing my own thing. The course was relatively flat with a few small rises...usually these were across bridges. With about 15 miles to go I got swept up in a huge age group pack of men and women. I want to make it perfectly clear that this was a pack of at least 65 people and there was no place for me to go except with them until it was clear enough for me to move around them or they continued their pace and left me. I was quite frustrated with it all because not only were these age group athletes drafting, but there were pro women mixed in as well which is not fair for anyone involved. I must point out here that if it's a drafting race (which is normally for pros only) then I'm all about drafting as it's part of the game. BUT...when it is a non-drafting race, it is NON-DRAFTING and I will abide by the rules. This is a bit off topic of the race, but I have read many arguments on drafting versus non-drafting and I often read about age group athletes who are against drafting, but when it comes down to it who do I see drafting in a non-drafting races??? Age groupers! So, I don't think it's fair for age group athletes to bash drafting when they themselves are out there breaking the rules. This is just my thought on the matter.

Now, back to the race!

I entered T2 (bike split of 2:29:58) ready to run and after grabbing my bag and heading into the change tent, I was off to catch some women! The run was mostly flat, like the bike, with 2x up and over the hill bridge. I felt good and was able to hold a steady pace and catch approximately 6 women on the run. With a mile left to go though I caught a glimpse of a women just ahead of me...could I catch her?? I was going to try. I picked up the pace and with a determined look on my face I kept her in sight and kept pushing every step a bit closer to her. I was in the finish shut now (and let me tell you, it was one long finish shut!) and I was just behind her; I decided to go for it knowing that there was approximately 100m left to go. As soon as I was just in front of her and she was able to see my number, she picked up the pace and I was unable to hang with her...she out sprinted me by only a few seconds!(Run split of 1:28:03) I finished in 4:29:28 (My predicted time was 4:30..right on!).

I was glad with my performance knowing that this year was a bit of a stuggle to remain motivated and it only showed how well I will do next year with a specific plan!

I didn't want to miss Jay coming across the finish line, so I waited for just over an hour! I was thirsty and hungry, but I didn't want to miss him! And I didn't...he had a great big smile on as he ran by me and into the finish line!

We enjoyed the post race awards ceremony and dinner and instead of going out that night to celebrate...we went to bed early knowing that getting up at 3:30am the next morning and flying home would be an ordeal in itself and we needed to be as rested as we could be.


Bri said...

Hi! My name is Brianna Wright. I'm a runner at MPC, and Coach Jackson told me you're going to coach ths January. I'm really excited for track. I'm a freshman so this will be my frist time doing the heptathlon, and I will also be pole vaulting. (I might do the steeple chase, but I'm unsure of that because I'm more of a sprinter/hurdler.) Anyway, can't wait to meet you! Happy Holidays!

Bri said...

So your dad just came into Fleet Feet today and we were talking and apparently I HAVE met you but never put two and two together. I think we met in the MPC weight room...not sure. Forgive me for my super bad memory. :)