Friday, March 22, 2013

Hot Hot Hot at San Juan 70.3!

I’ve had finals this week so this is the first free moment I’ve had to sit down and right my race report. I raced my second half ironman on Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Conditions were all over the place— windy, rainy, pot holes, puddles, iguanas, stray dogs, HEAT, and probably the most enthusiastic aid station volunteers EVER.

Out of water 19th, 2:29 back.
The field was enormous, 50 pros, the same size they boast at the World Championships. Clearly everyone was trying to get an early jump on the season. I knew I had my work cut out for me and I was told by teammates that it was a great race.

Swim: 1.2 miles. In-water start in the protected Condado Lagoon. Out-and-back, finishing under the Dos Hermanos Bridge.

With a field this big, the start was chaotic. I was getting the crap beat out of me, but I’d like to think I was reciprocating appropriately. The chaos dragged out longer than usual which was good because it meant I was hanging in the thick of it. Halfway through the swim, it spread out a bit and I was able to bridge up to a pack of 6 that was putting out a pretty good clip. I exited 19th, 2:29 behind the leader. Again, the offseason swim-work paid off!

I also have to attribute my best 70.3 swim of my career to my Xterra Speedsuit. If you have the means and necessity for one, pick one up ASAP!

Bike: 56 miles. On Interstates 25, 1, 2, 24, and 165. Out-and-back with a mini out-and-back in between.

Into T2 24th, 2:12:44 bike split.
Despite all the Interstates the course was pretty straightforward but where that confusion lacked, the conditions made up for it. In the first 40km we rode through a pretty good down-pour that created puddles on the course, hiding potholes and uneven parts of the road. Around 10km in, I looked back to see that 2 of 3 of my bottles had already popped off. Nonetheless, I had a great bike! I found myself leap-frogging in a group of 4 or 5 riders. We were holding true to the 10m drafting rule because for the first 60km we had a motorcycle official riding with us. The guys who weren’t trying to gain a competitive advantage by breaking rules kept the train going while one or two bad apples got pulled off for penalties.

At 60km, bike-haus Patrick Evoe went by with one or two riders and blew up our pack. Being an out-and-back, by that time age-groupers were all over the road so it was impossible to stay in contact with the group, at least for me. I rode solo the last 30km back into San Juan continuously marking a rider who remained about 20 seconds up the road. I came into T2 24th, with a 2:12:44 bike split.
DT Swiss Dicut-66 Front and Dicut-T Disc.

This was the first race I got to ride on my new wheels from new sponsor, DT-Swiss. My Dicut-66 front and Dicut-T Disc were responsive, lightweight and incredibly durable amidst about as tough conditions as any will come across. Not only that, I felt confident on these wheels to the point I could hang with riders that previously would out-ride me in a 40km bike by minutes! Granted, I’ve been working on my bike during the off-season as well but I feel psychological factors, like riding a brand new set of industry-leading DT Swiss race wheels, raise your game. And they don’t look too bad either..! I look forward to flying on these babies in 2013!
Run: ½ Marathon, 13.1 miles. Out-and-back twice through Old San Juan. Hilly.

Not my day on the run. Thanks bike..
Being a runner by trade, this is where I normally do damage in a triathlon. Not this time. I most likely paid for my effort on the bike with the slowest run of my career! It was about 10am by the time we started the run so the sun was getting high, and despite the wind having picked up, IT WAS HOT. Hot like it bogged you down hot. Hot like you wanted to find a shaded alley and go to sleep hot. Hot like, well, just damn HOT. Historically, I’ve been averse to over-indulging in the aid stations but that thinking went out the window fast. I couldn’t consume/pour-on my body enough. Happily, like I mentioned earlier, the young volunteers knew it and were incredibly empathetic to our needs.

I slaved through the run, unable to respond to anyone going by and crossed the tape, 27th in 4:13:48. Despite the fact I could have crawled faster than I ran, I didn’t stop, I didn’t walk. I kept throwing one foot in front of the other to find that finish line. The crowd appreciated the effort knowing full well how tough it was and some even dubbed me ‘Captain America’ for my efforts, but mainly for my awesome Champion System race kit!

What I do know is that my swim and bike were very competitive and had I tied-on a run-split more expecting of my ability, I would have easily finished inside the top-15 in a world class field.

Positives: season is very early, not even April yet; I’d rather use these early races to iron out the kinks than in the bulk of the season; happy where my swim and bike are; 2013 is a long, long season! Thinking about racing Life Time South Beach in April but other than that, I have nothing on the schedule until the end of May. A great opportunity to fine-tune and get ready for June-July-August, which will be jam-packed!

Team HH!
Thanks again to all the volunteers. Thank you to my family who chose to hijack my race weekend and make it a vacation of their own! Thank you to my wife for giving me splits during the race and greeting me with a sweaty hug and kiss whether I finished 30th or 3rd. And last but not least, thanks to all my amazing sponsors! The best in the biz! Xterra Wetsuits, DT Swiss, Skechers, Champion System, Rudy Project, Royal Hawaiian, Evolution Physical Therapy.

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