Sunday, April 5, 2009
New Orleans 70.3 - I won! More to come.
My first 70.3 win, my first major US Pro win. It feels great to have a lot of hard work and focus all come together on the day and to be able to do exactly what I had planned.
This win started a long time ago. It started shortly after Clearwater last year where I potentially lost the podium because of a bad 4min penalty. (which I cleared up with the referee in New Orleans) I realized in Clearwater that I could win one of these races with the right preparation no matter who showed up.
The right preparation started in Maui about 8 weeks ago at the Lifesport Pro training camp lead by my coach of over 12 years Lance Watson. I went to the camp with a hunger and a mission to get stronger on the TT bike and dial in my pace for the run. With a lot of key bike run workouts logged at higher wattages and faster splits I left Maui confident I could win New Orleans if I could just put down the day that I had trained for.
Having driven the whole course and looked over the point to point swim I was mentally prepared for each part of the course. At 4:30 in the morning it was already hot and humid and I was sweating pumping up my tires (must have been the little mini pump I was using). This also meant that nutrition and hydration were going to be pivotel in a top performance.
I went out hard on the swim to avoid the brawl and to position myself with the lead group of Brian Fleischmann, Tim O'Donnell and myself. On the last turn Brian and Tim went off in the wrong direction and I looked up and saw we were at the final turn and the kayaker pointing us in, so I made the turn and I gained a few meters and exited the water in first place. Using my typical ITU transition I headed out onto the bike with a 30second lead and focused on putting down a strong 20minutes to get into a rhythm.
I lead on the bike till about 20km when TJ Tollakson came powering by. I had my pace set and was riding solid so I let him slowly creap away. At about 25km Chris Lieto and Chris McCormack slowly rolled by so I decided to keep them in touch. At 30km Lieto decided to turn the screws and make a go for the lead and broke the race up into four solo riders (Lieto, TJ, McCormak and myself) and a group of 5-6 fololwing a couple of minutes behind. The race stayed like this till the last 20km when I was still in a strong rhythm and not slowing and I saw TJ who was struggling just up the road. I brought him back in with 5km to go and I made the quick change to the run and exited transition in 3rd 3:30min down from Lieto and 1:30min down on McCormack.
Drawing on the 8x1mile intervals off the bike we did in Maui I knew I just needed to run patiently and see what time I could pull back on the leaders. After the first couple of miles I pulled back a 15-20seconds and I felt really relaxed and running easily. I could have rushed the chase and moved into the lead earlier but there were plenty of miles still to go. I continued to suck back my powergels and Base salts to stay strong and I moved into the lead between mile 5 or 6. I saw that both Lieto and McCormack were struggling as I passed them and they gave no chase as I rolled by. It was at this point I knew I had the win if I just ran smart to the end. Tim O'Donnell was giving chase but with about a 4min lead off the bike I was confident I could run relaxed to the finish.
As I made the right hand turn onto the final stretch to Jackson Square in the French Quarter I realized I was running to the finish tape of my first 70.3 win. The crowd was roaring and the band was playing and I liftet the banner over head with excitement.