Silverman 70.3 this past weekend was my latest attempt at a long course race. So far this year I had gotten good results winning Challenge Knoxville, as well as podium at the very competitive Timber 70.3. Going into the weekend I was confident that I had more or less sorted out the nutrition required for the distance as well as confident in my recent training. The Silverman course is a tough one with over 4,200 ft of climbing on the bike and a very hard run that includes another 500 ft of elevation. All those things together, along with my first opportunity to race two time World Champion Michael Raelert, made me really excited for the race.
Leading into the weekend the weather in Vegas had been very hot but as we woke up Sunday morning the weather had cooled off dramatically and the wind had picked up. Those are two things that have lead to success for me many times in races before, and as we headed down to the swim start I was feeling good about the day.
Right before the swim start the wind picked up considerably, which on a giant lake puts the washing machine effect into play, with lots of up and down and a very slow swim. I would have much preferred a glassy fast swim, but as it was when the canon went off I tried to go straight to the front and set a good pace. The issue with the chop is that it makes surging and getting away very energy consuming, so after getting to the lead right before the first turn I decided I would simply hold the pace and make it around with as little energy expended as possible. Unfortunately with a slow, hard swim such as this my effort was enough to string the group out but not break it up much so a large group of us came out together.
As per usual I jumped on the bike and hit the gas. Coach and I had sorted out a specific strategy for the ride and right out of T1 I went to implement that. As I slowly rode away from the other good swimmers I felt good and well in control. The wind was definitely an issue, both from an effort and a handling perspective, and knowing what kind of climbing lay ahead I figured it would eventually have an effect. As I got to the 10 mile mark I was joined at the front by Michi, which knowing the class of athlete he is wasn’t surprising, but did make me focus on maintaining the watts I had set out in my plan. As we found out post race, when Michi was disqualified for an unprecedented 3 drafting penalties, his plan I guess had been to bridge up to me, and then sit in. As we made our way through the course I was feeling solid but fatigue was becoming an issue as I was having to really fight the wind at times, and the elevation gain had begun to take its toll. Over the last 10 miles of the ride there was a long section with a tail wind and I tried to use that reprieve to shake out my legs and get ready for the final climb, but even with the break I really struggled up the last climb. At the point that I had hoped to be taking time out of my opponents I was seemingly giving some of it back. As I neared T2 I felt tired and was cramping up some in my quads, but knew that the challenging run was coming I tried to focus my mental energy on finishing my First Endurance EFS Pro, and making sure that I was as hydrated as possible to start the run.
At the beginning of the run, I was struggling to find a rhythm, so I just focused on my form and the first time up the late hill was very cautious. Knowing what lay ahead I knew I was better off being smart early to avoid the massive blow up at the end. As I came down the hill the first time I could see that Reid and Beals were both taking large chunks of time out of my lead. I tried to focus on my race plan and stay committed to being smart instead of panicking and picking up the pace dramatically. As I reached the mid point of the run I actually came into a good patch and started to feel lighter on my feet, but by the end of the second lap, that awesome feeling had faded and I was back to focusing on the basics to get through the end. Reid passed we near the beginning of the final lap and then Beals as we started up the hill the third time. Getting passed is never easy, especially when you had a large lead to start, but when I wasn’t able to respond at all to their passes I decided I needed to be smart and make sure I held on to 3rd place. As I came down the hill the last time I was cooked, and this was definitely the biggest challenge at he 70.3 distance to date for me.
Looking back on the race I think there were some things I did well and some things I could have done better, but overall I nailed my nutrition again and gained some more experience heading into my final race of the season at Miami 70.3 on October 26th.
Here is a link to an interview about the race I did for Trimes.org if you wanna know more.