Looking at this past weekends Timberman 70.3, if you know me, you know that I am happy with it, but certainly not satisfied. I had gone into the weekend knowing who was on the start list, and exactly how fast the race would be, but I none the less went there with the intention of winning the race. Clearly, since I got third, that didn’t happen, but the title of the post refers more to having a plan, and going there and executing it.
When I sat down with Neal Henderson, my coach, before I left we mapped out what we thought would be a solid strategy that would give me a chance to win the race. We looked back and previous years, especially the last couple since Andy had won one, and been at both of those. It had taken a 3:53 to win the race, and so we sat down and figured out my best shot and going 3:53 on that course was going to be swimming 23, riding a 2:06, and running a 1:20. Add in the transitions and you are right around 3:53.
swim – 23:52
bike – 2:06.06
run – 1:21.33
total – 3:53.39
Now considering all the things that go into a 4 hour race, and the transitions I think we were pretty much spot on. Unfortunately, some times the best of plans are not good enough, and in this case, I was beaten by two of the best in the business. I can live with that, but I don’t have to like it!
Race morning was perfect. The weather was nice and cool, bit overcast, and the forecast was for relative cool at least until we were going to be done about 11am. I got in some good warm ups, and at the swim start was feeling confident about the day ahead. I had a solid start and by about 400m in I was at the lead of the group, with only Dylan out in front of us by 15m or so. I put in a surge to try and close that gap, but when I didn’t bring him back at all I settled into a good rhythm, laid off my legs, and went to work getting around the buoys with as little effort as required. As I exited I was happy to see I hadn’t lost that much to Dylan and I actually had made a gap on the boys that I presumed would be creating the race, in Potts, T.O. and company. As I short course guy I pride myself on my transitions so I flew through the run, grabbed the bike and headed out.
By about 500m into the bike I caught Dylan, and was able to settle into my groove. I had driven the course the day before and knew that the first 25% and the last 25% were going to be the hilly/harder parts and the places where time could be gained, so I went to work doing my thing and riding hard. Coach and I had planned out my ride well, and I was confident that I could put in some hard efforts in the front half of the race and still be able to ride strong throughout. There was no time splits on the course so I never really knew where I was to the boys, but I knew I was riding well, and when I got back to T2 in 2:06, right on time, I hoped I had the 4-5 mins that I should have based on previous years rides of the 2:11 or 2:12 variety.
I had another good transition, and headed out feeling good for having ridden hard. Then I turned the first corner and my lovely wife greeted me with, “About 2:45 babe, you gotta go!” Not exactly what I was hoping for. There was that moment of, wait a second maybe its not Potts and T.O. Maybe Mark had a great ride, or Trevor pulled off a good one. But then I realized it doesn’t matter, I still have to sort out how to get through the next 13.1mi in good form.
Whoever was chasing me, it is always better to stay away as long as possible so as not to give them any confidence that they are brining you back. So I went out a bit hot, and held pace for a 1:18 or so over the first 6 miles, but at the far turn around knew my lead was only 1:45 or so. That said I also knew that I still had a 4 min margin over 4th so even if those two grey hounds caught me I could stay on the podium if I could keep things together. To that point I had done a great job of hydrating and getting in my calories and was feeling solid, just slipping pace a little bit. I made sure to hit all the aid stations and just remained steady, not trying to be a hero just get home in 3rd. That is why it was mission accomplished.
I went into the race hoping to learn more about how I handle the distance. Learn a bit more about my nutrition plan, which you can check out at First Endurance, and see how I stack up against the big boys of the sport at that distance. It was only the second 70.3 of the year for me, and although the 5th of my career, really only the 2nd that I was even mildly prepared for. Learned a lot, had a bit more fun than the last time, and am now actually looking forward to the next one, which at this point I think will be Silverman 70.3 in October.
Before that I have the Des Moines Triathlon in a couple weeks, which will be a nice return to short course and a chance to catch up with some of my college buddies.
Overall Timberman 70.3 reinforced what I already knew. That to succeed you need to make a plan, and execute a plan. Simple enough really…