So this was another attempt of mine in back to back weekend racing big races. Having the fatigue of IMFL in my legs, I knew that the Clearwater 70.3 was going to be a challenge. But the first challenge was the 7 hour drive from Panama City beach to Dunedin the home of my most gracious homestay Marita and Brian Mowry. I took this drive on Tuesday and it was tough! I took about 4 stops along the way, and made it through listening to pandora though my iphone. Now I have a whole new respect for truck drivers!
In between races the key was recovery so sunday, and monday I was able to get in some easy rides tuesday was completely off. Wednesday I was able to swim and pick up my race packet as well as get a deep tissue massage and some kinesio taping for my left foot which I re-injured during the ironman marathon. Basically it is a neuritis - the precursor to a neuroma that I first injured last season during the marathon of the ChesepeakeMan iron distance tri. Thursday am I did my first run post IMFL and it felt fine - not great but it was good to run again!
But the highlight of thursday was being a guest Speaker at the school of Jakob and Annabella the twins of my homestay. I had an audience of 66 Fourth Graders and spoke about triathlon. I think most of them enjoyed it and hopefully I was able to inspire a few of them to get into the sport!
generating some interest...hopefully!
Future Time Trial Champion?
surrounded by 66 smiles!
some video from the talk
Friday was the normal pre race bike and run and ending with a swim. The tough part about these big races is that you have to leave all your stuff in transition the day before. my latest thing this year has been using the camelback on the bike as I found that I tend to drink more and that camelback keeps the fluid cooler and I can drink exactly what I want so I can control the calories and electrolyte concentration. For both IMFL and Clearwater I used an EFS grape and Carbo Pro concoction. EFS has the highest electrolyte concentration of any sports drink out there. I actually didn't have to stop at any aid stations and I just took in one gel packet during the ride. Anyway I point to all this was that I didn't want to leave my camel back in my transition 1 bag overnight so i just left it on my bike race morning. The other thing I have been doing is using red bull on the run. For IMFL I carried it using a 2 bottle fuel belt - but I am thinking I may just run with one small bottle in my pocket since i have been chafing with the fuel belt.
Ok so race day all systems are go I am feeling pretty good. The water was back in the ocean this year after being switched to the bay in 2009. But as expected I was dropped by the lead pack of swimmers much like I was in 2009. Last year one of the male pros James Vavra was the last male who exited behind me and we were able to ride together but this year. This year was different in that the males started ahead of the females. I was passed easily by the lead group of women but then found myself working with one of the italian female pros who I was able to swim with til the exit. I got out onto the bike and then was caught by 2 canadian female pros. But then something weird happened where one of the motorcycles led the girls off course but at the very last second a volunteer directed me to go straight. So I rode the middle segment of the bike solo. Then on the way back I was caught back by Angela Nyaeth one of the females who took the wrong turn. We switched leads back and forth for a while but I could not get around her - this girl was strong! Something like how Desiree Ficker was back in the day when we were racing pro duathlon and I she was out riding my in the early season races. Anyway I later found out Angela was the top ranked 70.3 female and that her strength is the bike. no wonder! I also saw her ride out of saddle while still in the aerobars! Though probably not safe, it was cool to see. So while trading leads with her, I was passed and proceeded to drop back as the rules say, but a motorcycle came up behind me and gave me a drafting penalty! Meanwhile packs of 100's of age groupers were coming down in the opposite direction. But since I was isolated I was arrested while the hundreds found safety in numbers. Makes no sense. We need to bring back Charlie Crawford! So by the time I got back to t2 the fastest age group cyclist had caught me. I went to the sin bin and paid my 4 min penalty while having a friendly chat with head referee Jimmy Riccitello. In an ironman 4 min penalty isn't much but in a half IM it seems like an eternity! I was arguing that the penalty should have been 2 minutes in a half IM. Anyway I served my sentence and was on my way!
the sin bin
A few years ago there was an argument that the 4 min penalty actually helped people run faster in Ironman racing. Both Natasha Badman and Tim Deboom won Hawaii after standing though the 4 min penalty. But in a half, it's pretty much game over. So I started my run, already feeling somewhat dejected about the random penalty, I still figured I should get a workout out of it. I was still under 7 min pace until I hit the bridge and just tried to hold the pace and stay focused. The only problem now was that my neuritis was acting up again and every step felt like I was stepping on broken glass. I tried zoning out the pain and changing my foot strike but that only made things feel worse. What was cool was that when Michael Raelert was coming in to the finish I was able to run behind him for a couple of hundred meters. No one was behind him! and it was funny cause some of the spectators thought I was in 2nd place overall! Anyway I made my turn around and joined the 100s of age groupers who were on their first lap of the 2 lap course. I was really hurting at this point and took some time right before the bridge to take down an gel packet and walked for maybe 20 seconds to alleviate the pain in my foot - this resulted I think an almost 8 min mile! But the one saving grace to all of this was that an Age grouper, Chris Rostelli from Pittsbugh PA caught up to me and started running with me. This guy was like the energizer bunny! talking non stop telling me about how he had just raced the NYC marathon the week before - I told him about IMFL - it was fun! but after a while I was out of breath so I let him do all the talking esp since he was on his first lap. So basically from mile 7.5 to 12 we ran together and I was able to get back on pace. I had my own personal run domestique! I finally made it to the finish and did my signature handstand. Final race time was 4:27 with the penalty so it would have basically been similar to my 4:22 last year without the penalty but I did feel much better on this year's run and considering the ironman in my legs from last week, it wasn't too bad. But I definitely have some hard work in front of me if i want to keep up with the big boys.
So in closing once again I have to say it is all the friendships I have made along the way with so many cool people from all over the world that really makes this sport so special. That afternoon speaking to the kids was so rewarding for me as I know my life was heavily influenced my many teachers, mentors and coaches. And I must again thank all my friends and sponsors: the Mowry's for hosting me all week, Ramon and Sol Serrano for making mojotos and for all the great race photographs, Twinkle my one woman support group, Avalon Chemists and Calvin my title sponsor, Tri Bike Transport for taking care of the biggest headache in racing out of state - transporting the bike! Also to Elite Bicycles for pimping my ride for all of 2010, thanks also First Endurance, Newton Running, Rotor bicycle components, and Computrainer. Finally since it is the last race of the season I must thank my other support group: all the members of the Fil Am Tri club both the old crew and all the the members who I am continuing to meet through FB and eventually in person. It is up to us to bring represent Pinoys through endurance sport just like Manny thru boxing. Mabuhay Ang Fil Am Tri!!!