Ironman 70.3 Racine was a crazy race.
The day before the race was perfectly sunny weather, but by the time race morning had rolled around that had changed. A massive thunderstorm was on it way. I did not change any of my routine that morning just incase the race did go off as plained. I was up at 4am and at the race site by 5am. I went through my normal set up and started off for a 15min run. When I got back Ironman had decided to delay the race till at least 8:00am (the scheduled start was 7:00am) and they remove the swim portion. I was fine with this and started to rap my head around racing a duathlon, when the first storm hit. It was a few minutes of heavy rain. I hid in a tent with Robbie Wade, another pro. When that storm had passed the race organizers announced that another large storm cell was on its way with lightening and they would announce what was happening at 9:30 with a planned race start time of 10:30.
It was only about 7:50 at this time. With a storm on the way and having eaten breakfast almost 4 hours ago, I chose to go to Starbucks with a few other professionals from the GTA area. We got some coffee and a little to eat. It allowed us to stay warm, dry and get a little food before the next attempted race start.
We got back to the race site around 9:20. It looked like the storm had passed and there was some blue sky. We were told due to the late start of the race the bike would be shortened to 31miles and the run would stay at a half marathon 13.1miles.
We then were told that the pros would have a mass start on the bike. Starting at the base of a steep little hill. Most of the pros were not pleased with this. It would have been a dangerous way to start the race and there would be a large amount of drafting going on. We argued to have a rolling TT start, where someone started every 30seconds. This did change the dynamics of the race but it was the fairest way to do it.
Since I was ranked 8th in the race I would be the 8th man off the line and 4 minutes back from Lionel how was ranked 1st. The officials did let us out to have a short 10-15min bike warm up. Finally it was go time!
It was a very different feeling starting on the bike. The crowds were there, all eyes on you. I felt a little shaky standing there on the start line watching the clock tick away the seconds, till I started. I just kept thinking stay calm, just clip in properly and do your job out there. 3…2…1…go. I was into my clip smoothly and out of the saddle climbing up the short hill. It was nice to have people to chase up the road. I chose to build a little into the bike since there was a lot of cross winds and rough roads conditions.
In the first 2miles I saw Tim Don walking back with his bike. It looked like he had gotten a puncture and was out of the race. He stayed around for the whole race cheering on the rest of the field, a true sportsman. I stayed focused on avoiding holes and putting down the hammer. Drew Scott passed me about 10miles in he had started 30seconds behind me. I new if I kept him in my sites I could out run him. After playing with the wind and bumps on the road for 20miles I passed Paul Matthews and Luke Bell. I then started to mentally prepare for the run. I made sure my transition was clean and quick.
I went out onto the run knowing that I was in the race but with the TT start I did not know what position. I had to run smart and fast. I opened up quickly getting my legs turning over. I could see Drew Scott up the road and focused on catching him. Tim Don and Andrew Starykowicz where giving out splits. I new Paul Ambrose and Richie Cunningham were 30 seconds up the road but had no idea where the people behind me stood. I passed Paul Ambrose and Richie Cunningham about 6km into the run as Paul Matthews ran past me.
Since Paul Matthews started 30 second ahead of me I had 30seconds on him even though we where running side by side. I guessed I was close to the top three, either in third or fourth position at that point. For the next 10km I sat on Paul making sure he did not get away from me. At the far turn around about 6km from the finish we noticed that James Hadley had been making up time on us and he very well could be beating us. I put in a last ditch effort to try and bring back the ‘virtual’ James Hadley who was now in third place. I gave it all to see if I could bring him back in the final 5km, but in the end he took 3rd place by 42seconds. I finished in 4th.
Over all it was a good day. I stayed positive through out all the crazy changes and placed reasonably amongst a strong field.
I am back in Caledon for a month now to prepare for the Ironman 70.3 world championship in Australia on Sept. 4. I will also be racing Timberman on Aug 21 to sharpen up for worlds.
Thank you to: