Last week at the Dells I had my best race so far in 2012. I was sixth. If you think back to the coverage of the Olympics and how many Silver medalists looked absolutely dejected to be #2, you might think to yourself ‘6th isn’t so great, buddy’. Irregardless, I am happy. It was not my biggest payday in a pro race nor my highest place but it was by far my most balanced race to date.
The swim venue in Lake Delton was pretty unique. We started in the Tommy Bartlett aqua-amphitheatre where they do the water skiing shows. The swim itself went great. I sat on the feet of the leader of the chase pack. We went just over 26 minutes and three quicker swimmers got off the front and were just over 24 minutes.
Coming out of T1 I quickly got to work riding with Richie and Matt Pellow. I had been instructed to pace in order to ride the final third strong and run so that I could push the last 5k. I had driven the course and knew there were vigorous climbs to come so I was in no rush early on. Everyone was eager to move up on the leaders so we all did some work and brought back Marsh and Hadley within the first 20 miles. Kyle Leto took longer to bring back and I took the final pull bridging us up to him at the base of our final climb after 30 miles. After that the course leveled out a bit and we were cruising back to T2.
The worst hazard of riding in a staggered group is if someone takes a tinkle while in the middle of things. I won’t say who (hint: he is a thin, freckled, red-headed Australian whose last name is a combination of a word for clever and a type of pork) but another rider relieved himself without warning in front of me. I saw it and managed to move aside without getting hit. This is the second time I’ve nearly been peed on by these micturating Australians! Paul Ambrose almost got me at Lake Stevens 70.3 in 2010. If it happens again I’m calling the INS on these hooligans.
After that I figured it was time to move to the front. I was happy to find a good rhythm and lead the final 5-10 miles. T2 was fine and we were off and running. I got to see my law man Harvey Skees and then a block later my lady friend who was quite encouraging. After several really awful runs this season I was a extremely pleased to feel good starting out. I cruised along keeping focused and relaxed and was happy to cross paths with a friend who was wrapping up the Olympic distance race. I kept sipping at my latte powergel slurry and taking coke and water at aid stations. We got remarkable weather: cool and overcast. I’d never run a half in such favorable conditions.
The first half was over quick enough and I took a split to the 7th guy behind me and he was over 5 minutes behind. Excellent. 6th was the final paying position. The guy ahead of me, Pellow, appeared to be suffering so I was really motivated. I picked it up progressively and was again pleased to be able to run hard after struggling through many of my previous half-iron runs. Pellow would seem close one instant and then be out of sight after the next corner. With 2 miles to go I crossed paths with Ruth Brennan Morrey and told her quite specifically NOT to outrun me. Checking later I found she had rudely disregarded my request and run 1 minute quicker. Into the final bit I had whittled the gap down to 20ish seconds but wasn’t going to make that up in the final .2 miles. It was fun to be running hard late in the race and actually chasing someone down. Putting together a good swim, good ride, and my best run was really satisfying and a signal that the training is starting to make a difference. In past years I may have been able to match that level of swim and bike performance but would not have been strong enough to run well to close it out.
The Rev3 crew did a fine job of picking a fun venue and a rigorous course. I’m racing with them again in Maine, South Carolina and Florida. I managed to get in their race video and made the Slowtwitch Gallery.
A number of my competitors are racing Ironman Wisconsin in a few weeks. Silly. I will be watching and hollering at my own athletes and eating a few brats. If you happen to be racing Wisconsin and need positive or negative yelling you’ll have to tell me which you prefer.