The 2007 season is officially underway! Amanda and I traveled out to Oceanside, CA last week for the sixth running of the half ironman in the San Diego area. Having done the Ironman back in 2001, and having raced all but the 2002 version of the half, I have become very familiar with this race course. I really like the event, and appreciate the course for all it has to offer. In past years we have had sunshine, wind, rain, clouds, heat, and cold. Somtimes we have had combinations of the above weather phenomenons in the same year!
This year the forecast was for sunny skies and warm temps. Well, let's just say that it takes a while for it to warm up out in Southern California! It may have hit the predicted 70degrees that day, but not until well after the race was over.
The day began with a pretty uneventful swim. I got a quick start, which gave me ample opportunity to draft the faster feet. With the exception of when Mr. Bryan Rhodes took us all a bit off course, the swim ended with few snags or issues. I was very pleased to find that my brand new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit was extremely comfortable, and very flexible.
I finished the swim thinking I had not worked very hard to maintain contact. However, as soon as my feet hit the boat ramp, I realized I was a bit worked over! I seem to be getting worse and worse at my transitions, and I believe I lost six or seven places before I ever found my bike! Once on the bike course, I realized just how cold it was that morning. It sure would have been a good idea to bundle up with some arm warmers and gloves. I guess that sunshine gave us a false sense of security! Like many of my fellow racers, I'm sure, my legs and hands and toes and feet were freezing for the better part of the ride.
My ride went about as it has the past few years: it was very unexceptional. I thought going into the race that I was going to have a good deal of power, but what resulted was a very average performance. I started conservatively and planned to build a late charge. I pretty much stayed at that pace for the bulk of the ride. Toward the end, closing back in on T2, I found my rhythm, and pressed the final eight to ten miles with good intensity.
Were this not the pre-Ironman tune-up event, I might have lamented the days when I felt I owned the Cali bike course! This day it seemed to have owned me. :0
With the transition to the run, I felt a great relief that my flatness or staleness or whatever was behind me. The mile one marker came past me at 5:23, and the pace felt effortless. I figured I'd go with that effortlessness as long as I could. There were plenty of folks to catch, so the motivation was there to continue my pace. By mile three I had slowed a bit, as the split was 16:26. I liked that it still felt very easy, so I kept it up.
A funny thing happened at mile five. I came by in about 27:42, which meant I had gradually slowed, but this coincided with the easy feeling leaving me. It was suddenly going to be a bit harder to maintain 5:30s and 5:35s. I kept the effort the same, and allowed the pace to drop a bit. I figured I'd have time to bring the pace back down there after a bit of slower running. By the time I realized it was time to "gut check", in order to get into that final money spot, I had only five kilometers to go.
I knew it was not going to be the best thing for recovery sake to "gut check" my way up to eighth, but I couldn't justify letting it slip away. Just as I was turning back up the pressure, I noticed I was overtaking a fading Luke Bell. Lucky for me he had blown a bit after lap one (courtesy of IM New Zealand), and I was then in eighth with no need to kill myself.
Content with my effort, I stayed on top of the pace just enough to notch the fastest run on the day. Andy Potts may have put nine minutes on me overall, but he didn't outrun me! (It's the little victories we savor the most.)
With my eyes firmly on the prize of IM Arizona, I am very happy with my early-season showing. I have learned from '05 and '06 that an average race in California bodes well for a strong race in Tempe! I'm now on the couch and counting down the days! Once again, thanks for tuning in.