I am feeling well rested and excited about racing tomorrow. I had a great recovery week and travel between Honu 70.3 and now and my body feels ready for another great effort.
I was really happy with how my race played out last weekend. I was feeling strong going in but having the 3xIronman World Champion Craig Alexander and multiple Ironman winner Luke Bell meant I was going to have to stay sharp. I had a few different race strategies planned out, but they all started with having a fast swim start and keeping the pace on throughout the whole swim. I exited the water first with Luke Bell right on my heels and Craig Alexander 30-40sec back. I had my usual quick run to transition and fast change into helmet and got going up the steep climb out of transtion (they were giving people pushes up it).
I put my head down knowing I had gapped Luke through transition and committed to pushing hard to the first turnaround and then I would assess where I was and how to attack the long climb up to Hawi. As I headed out of the turn I had a significant gap (more than expected) and I had about a minute or so, but it was to Craig not Luke. I would later learn that Luke had a flat in T1, changed it, then flatted again halfway through the course.
I decided to stick to my guns and committed to going solo up to the far turnaround at Hawi and again reassess the plan. I have been climbing really well in workouts so I was looking forward to the undulating strength climbs. I rode solid and controlled and by the turn at Hawi I had increased the gap to almost three minutes. I was happy to see this, however, I knew that Craig had much experience on this course and didn't want to underestimate his strength on the second half of the bike course. I pressed on and kept focused on riding smooth and keeping pressure on the pedals on the long descents into the headwinds.
I arrived back to T2 feeling strong and ready for a good run and to again see where I was. I had a smooth transition and got a great cadence going right out of transition. As I rounded the transition and headed out I kept an eye on the time and was off into the undulating hills of the golf course before I good see or hear Craig come into T2. I would have to wait until halfway through the run after the third out and back leg to finally get a split where I learned that I was close to 7min ahead.
The second half of the course turned out to be one of the toughest I have done with almost 60% of it on golf green, some on fairway and some in the rough. With the comfortable lead I was able to back off the short steep hills and focus on rhythm in the spongy fairway grass. Though I backed the pace off the run just got tougher and tougher with the blaring sun and steam rising from the golf course adding insult to injury. I kept my rhythm and ran excitedly to the finish having executed a great race start to finish with the fastest swim, bike and run of the day.
It wasn't until later in the day that I learned that Craig Alexander had been DQ'd after wearing a race suit that was not allowed in non wetsuit swims. I felt terrible as it wouldn't have affected the race at all and he had put in a long, hard and hot day just like I did, but to be null and void at the end would be so disappointing. As the classy and professional guy that he is, he took it on the chin and didn't stress about it.
All my sponsors played a very important role in this win on a hot and challenging course. I had great swim in my new cool (both looks and feel) race suit from Fusion Sports which was covered by my Aquasphere speed suit and my favourite Kayene goggles. Onto the bike the right wheels for this windy Kona course were for me the 808 Firecrest Clincher front and rear propelled by SRAM Red 22 groupo and my trusty polarized Oakley radar locks to block out the glaring sun. In the heat and humidity hydration and nutrition can often be your toughest opponent but I have my PowerBar Perform drink with added Base Salts and Powergels dialled in for a successful day. My coach Lance Watson of 17 years has always played a pivotal roll by giving me the skills and fitness to achieve performances like this.
Thanks to my girlfriend Carolyn, all my family, friends, and sponsors that have supported me through this great season thus far and all the seasons prior!
Boise here we go!