Our trip started flawlessly, upgraded to first class on the outbound flight, managed to put the headset of my bike together on the first go around, smoke from northern Florida fires wasn't noticably effecting our air quality in the Disney area. This year, Lorrie and I stayed our entire time at the Wilderness Lodge. That hotel just feels like home to me. I love it.
Race morning: Woke up at 4 AM versus last year at 3:45. Note to self...3:45 is a bit more relaxing and less hurried. I did the a new race breakfast that I used all spring in training...oatmeal. It was perfect. One shocker was my race weigh in...they had me at 196 lbs! I was 177 in Chicago...so in one day and 2,000 miles...I magically put on 19 lbs. I joked with the race registration volunteer, "Wait! Let me go get a roll or quarters or two. I want to race Clydsdale!" (200 lbs. is the limit) Last year I weighed in at 187 so I was quite proud of my 175-7 in Chicago. When the volunteer said 196 I almost passed out. Most Clydsdales are 6'8" and 201 lbs. I'm 5' 8" if I stand straight. I swam individual medley (200 and 400) and breaststroke (100 and 200) in college so my chest is significantly bigger than a lot of people. Long live 200 breaststroke - the race of real athletes! If you saw any of The Bachelor this season, my chest is a lot like Andy Baldwin's but I have "muffin top" abs versus his 8-pack abs.
I arrived at transition after my walk in the dark aided by a head lamp at approximately 5:15; slightly later than I would like but still ahead of the crowd. I was done preparing by 5:30 - ready to go.
In the FL 70.3, M35-39 are one of the last groups to set out. I like and dislike this at the same time. I have to race thru a lot of people (bad) but I also get to CHASE a lot of people (good, very good). At the swim start, Mike Reilly was announcing and I said "hello" and shook hands. A minute later, the horn goes off! I'm in front and fourth step...I trip (mirror of Clearwater) and hit the sand in about 8" of water. Nice going! I recovered from that and started swimming...well. A few guys took off hard but I caught them in about 300 meters without really pressing too hard. I was smooth and strong. About halfway thru the swim I felt as though this swim was going longer than it should. Later I learned that everyone felt the swim was long...no worries as I was one of the top guys in my wave. I swam all the way into the first women's wave by the end of my swim so I knew I had a good swim.
34:56 38 of 387 AG, 248 of 2048 Overall - not great but solid. (2006 - 31:45)
I passed a lot of people on the carpet from the lake to the bikes. I was moving very quickly (or surrounded by slower people). 2:52 (2006 - 2:57)
The bike course was a bit different this year, now a clockwise course with a bit more hills and this year...wind from 15 - 20 mph. I like the improvements to the bike course as it cut way down on drafting and didn't seem to bunch riders together with the exception of one area of the course where traffic on a two lane road was blocking riders and VERY DANGEROUS at about mile 38 - 40. I rode extremely well and only saw two groups of four guys team time trialing. We still need more officials but it was much better in 2007! For the most part, everyone rode leagally. Jerry Pianto didn't catch me until mile 25 which I took to mean I was doing well. I caught Jen Baer (formerly of Chicago now of Boulder, CO) at mile 40. Jen started quite a bit before me so that was also good. I didn't know she was racing until I saw her race bib. It gave me a lift to see Jen and I yelled out, "Come on Jen! Let's go!" My question was if or when she could catch me on the run; more on that later. I had started at sub 2:30 pace but was slowed by the winds. I was about a minute slower than 2006 but in the winds today I felt I rode well. One brief section of road I was able to sit up and ride about 3 miles in 54 x 11 and felt NO WIND as it was sqaurely at my back. My heart rate shot down to 72% quickly. I was flying and being pushed by the wind - finally!
2:39:10 (21.1 MPH) 121 of 387 AG, 508 of 2048 OA (2006- 2:38:05, 21.3mph)
1:59! (2006- 2:12) In and out and running smoothly.
I take pride in running well, especially as a ~196 lbs 5'8" guy. For a big/short dude...I can move. I also am smart about how I attack the run. My plan for this run was to go "comfortable" on the first lap (78% heart rate), 80-85% second lap, +90% last lap. I hit the first marker at 7:55 and 77% heart rate, brilliant! The temps were cooler than in years past but you could feel the heat and humidity moving up gradually. I could hear Dean Hewson in my head telling me how to pace this. I was passed initially by a few guys but caught them walking on lap two. The second lap started to hurt and the eCranks gel really made a difference a couple of times. I probably should have taken them a bit earlier. The aid stations were two less than last year and it showed in my nutrition planning/experience. Jen caught me at mile 8! The last lap I was grabbing at gel and drinks quickly and once I hit mile 10 I started counting down the miles.
At the finish, I slowed because 25' from the finish there was a guy with his kid and the thought actually entered my mind that I didn't want to 'ruin' their finish photo...I don't know why the hell I did that and to be honest. This is a race and kids have no business in the finishing shute. I'm mad at myself for not passing him. I learned later that he was in my age group. I'm still mad at myself about that. No gifts!
1:55:34 (8:49/mile) 94 of 387 AG, 490 of 2048 OA (2006 - 1:57:25)
Final Time: 5:14:31 77 of 387 AG, 378 of 2048 starters (1997 finished)
In all a solid race. The last Clearwater 70.3 World Championship slot in my age group went to 28th place so I wasn't close. My guess is that now the "fast people" want to go to Kona AND Clearwater. I really want to get back to Clearwater this year but now I have to decide just how badly I want to go because I have to qualify somewhere else.
Lastly...if I did race Clydsdale....I would have been 5th overall. We need to push for a BMI Clydsdale rating because at 5' 7" and 176-196 (13.5% body fat) I'll have a challenge racing guys who are 5' 7" and 135.