Wow, I have to say I was not expecting this. I had surgery in February to repair a hernia, and although I got back to racing in May, my results have ranged from “strong but unexceptional” all the way down to “bad”. Because I like racing, and demanded that Paulo let me do some races, and because you (or, anyway, I … maybe you can) cannot just train right through a competitive half ironman race, I arrived in Lake Placid with all of three weeks of solid ironman training and a two week taper underneath me. I did not want to race, because I did not think I was especially fit, but I knew it was time to suck it up and race, because that’s part of the process of getting fitter.
So. I went to the lake fifteen minutes ahead of the start time and warmed up. At some races, you cannot tell when they give the start signal. Someone yells “go”, or presses the “siren” button on their toy-store megaphone, and all the athletes in the water kind of look at each other. This is not an issue in Lake Placid, where they detonate an army surplus bomb to signal the race start. I started hard, and then ramped that up to quite hard for the first 500 meters. I was with Hilary Biscay’s group, which I figured was awesome since she is a way faster swimer than I am. Then she (or someone) surged at the first turn buoy and me and two others were gapped. We held the gap at about ten seconds, but we could not catch them. Anyway, I couldn’t catch them. After the fastest 1900 meter swim of my life, I ran around the dock for another lap. It was nice to have my buddy in the green cap just ahead of me on the second lap, since we went through some huge groups of swimmers from the AG wave I had a much easier time spotting him while trying to weave my way through without getting dropped. (SIDE NOTE to the dude who was swimming breaststroke in the middle of a tight pack and kicked me squarely in the hip, I will pay $25 toward a private swim lesson for you, provided it focuses on your learning to swim freestyle).
Out of the water in 52:15, a 1 minute PR, not sure of my official time. T1 took less than an hour.
The bike was cold and rainy at first, especially downhill in to Keene the first time. After that, though, I got onto my race watts and figured it would warm me up. It did. A pile of people passed me on lap 1, and I went up the hill back to LP looking for the fabled “three bears”. I counted at least 19 bears, but I kept my watts steady and eventually made it to the top of the hill. At the beginning of lap 2, two more guys passed me, but then they slowed way down, so I passed them back. That was the last time that anyone passed me all day. On lap two, I rode downhill into Keene at around 900 MPH and then back onto the race watts. I rode 2:30 and some seconds the first lap, and I think six guys went by me. On the second lap, I rode 2:30 and some seconds and passed them all back. My average power was 223 watts.
Arrived in T2 in ninth place, T2 took less than an hour.
I ran for a little while, and then near mile 1 a crazy man was shouting at me. He knew my name, and he was telling me all sorts of crazy shit like “Those guys are just ahead of you! You need to catch them NOW!!! Come on Ronco!!” etc. I ran past him four times, and every time it was the same stuff. Kurt, it was nice to meet you after the race and I appreciate your putting the fear of god in me. FYI, I did catch one of the two guys who were just ahead at mile 1, but I did not catch Petr Vabrousek. Sorry.
The run was really, really hard. No, I take that back. The run was actually kind of mellow for the first eighteen miles. I just ran at a “normal” running pace, which (thank you, sea level!!) was around 6:45 per mile. I started drinking coke around mile eight and I guess I slowed down gradually until mile eighteen. At mile eighteen, I had to start drinking quite a lot of coke but I stayed on 3 hour pace. At mile 22, there started to be – who knew? – these huge hills. I ran up the hills by the ski jumps pretty hard, then back past The Crazy Guy Who Turned Out To Be Truckweaz, then back in to town I passed Paulo and Jodi at the bottom of The Really, Really Steep Hill. Paulo was shitting a brick. I think he must have then tied it to my back, because although I ran up that hill as hard as I possibly could, it took about a week.
I kept running on that ragged edge of “oh-crap-I-am-going-to-black-out” until I saw that I had a good half mile on the guy behind me. This gave me time to think to myself “holy crap! i am going to finish fifth!” as I entered the oval. It was raining and I was laughing, I slapped a bunch of peoples hands, screamed, jumped up and down. I crossed the line and turned around to scream again, fell over. When I got up, I think I tried to hug Mike Reilly. He asked me some questions, but I do not know what they were. I saw Paulo and Jodi, and went over and hugged them. I am pretty sure I made a giant fool of myself in the finish chute, but it was worth it.
This morning, my picture was on the front of the local paper. I bought eleven copies.
In summary, WHOA, big breakthrough race! If you did not catch it in all of my verbage, I was FIFTH! And I am GOING TO KONA!