Ironman 70.3 Silverman - 4:08:11 (5th)
Ironman 70.3 Silverman is probably one of the toughest half ironman courses around. With hot weather and hilly terrain, it is almost guaranteed to be a sufferfest. To add to the misery, this year was further plagued by strong cross winds. Overall, I had a solid day and finished 5th against a great group of athletes.
It has been a decent time since I last saw a start line. My last race was mid-July at Vineman 70.3, but I wasn’t able to exit T2 because of a nasty injury to my soleus from Buffalo Springs 70.3 two weeks earlier. The injury set me back a few weeks and prevented me from doing any running. My original plan was to compete at 70.3 World Championships in Austria, but not having my run 100% would lead to a sub-optimal performance. I decided to forego Worlds this year and instead focus on a few late season races.
In the almost two plus month hiatus from racing, I took the rare opportunity to have some fun with training and eliminate the structured mentality that my coach Jesse and I put in place. I did a lot of group workouts and some really hard riding. I capped this off with some bike racing. Eventually, September hit and as summer came to a close, so did my loose training plan. It was back to the TT bike and prepping for October races.
To get the engines turning again, I hopped into a local Olympic distance tri down in Santa Cruz the week before Silverman. I expected this to be a pretty relaxed day until I saw ITU stud Tommy Zaferes on the start line. Tommy obliterated me on the swim so I had a little work cut out for me on the next two legs to try and at least have a respectable result. I clawed back a lot of time on the bike and came into transition a bit over a minute back. Realizing I would have to dig much deeper than I’d want or potentially could to catch Tommy, I relaxed a bit on the run and maintained the gap.
Going into the Silverman, I was a bit uncertain of myself. My unstructured training had gone really well, but as soon as I took a down week and went back to structured workouts, everything seemed to fall apart. I had several weeks of breathing issues that left me faint and almost blackout on every run and I had unexpected work travel to Vancouver and NYC sneak up. The Santa Cruz triathlon helped kick things back into gear and I was calmly confident in my abilities to get things done on race day.
The swim at Silverman was by far the worst swim of my career. The gun went off without warning and we all tried our best to battle violent, choppy waters. I was punched in the face, my goggles filled with water, I probably swallowed half of Lake Mead, I contemplated if my body would be found when I drowned and all this occurred before I could even see the 200m buoy. A strong crosswind was blowing all day that caused large chop to hit perpendicular to the swim course. This made for a slow swim where a lot of water was swallowed and weak swimmers were left in the dust. As the leader of the weak swimmer clan, I made my way as best I could through the chop to the shore. Once on my bike, I finally felt I was racing instead of surviving.
The bike started off with a ripping tailwind that allowed me to rocket through the first 10 miles, at times reaching speeds in excess of 50mph. After 10 miles, the tailwind party was over and a strong cross wind would define the next 46 miles of racing. I stayed calm and collected and very much within myself. The dry conditions and tough run course to come would prevent anyone from riding away with the race. My legs felt decent, but some of the high-end power was gone; likely some lingering fatigue from a hard ride in the race the previous weekend. I focused heavily on nutrition knowing well that execution would be critical given the challenges ahead. Overall, I put together another strong bike performance that kept me well within contention of the race.
The run course at Silverman is one of the most brutal around and features three loops with 2 miles of straight uphill followed by 2 miles of down. I got off to a decent clip on the run but immediately felt my light-headed faintness issues start to pop up. I told myself to keep going until I either cross the finish line or my body stopped functioning; fortunately the faintness subsided and I got to experience the former.
Execution on the bike certainly paid off for the run. While I definitely suffered out there, I put together on of the “fastest” runs splits of the day and was able to motor through a good portion of the field and finish 5th. The last two miles were picked up as I reeled in Drew Scott and tried to close the gap to Jason Pedersen. I had more in the tank than I probably should have, but considering I had some minor cramping at mile 10/11, I'm not sure what more I could've done earlier. My streak of 4th place finishes has ended, but I was just 13 seconds shy of keeping it alive.
Next race for me will be Ironman 70.3 Cabo in just three weeks. This will be my final race of the 2015 season and will be a perfect environment to kick off the off season right after.