Fresh off a three-month block of training in Tucson, I have completed my first race of the 2014 season with a podium 3rd place in Monterrey, Mexico. This was the inaugural Ironman 70.3 race in the historic city, and I thought I would throw my hat in the ring after my training in Tucson finally became more fluid at the end of February. The course was certainly intriguing, with a swim in the lazy riveresque Santa Lucia Canal, a 3-loop bike on some old cobble sections and open highway, and a run that weaved along the swim course and through Parque Fundidora.
Upon arrival in Monterrey, I was greeted with rush hour traffic, but my taxi driver weaved his way safely through and delivered me to the hotel downtown. Pleasantly surprised to see some very impressive and sharply rising mountains that contain the city, as well as river running through the heart. Since I didn’t have time to do much else, I built the bike and laid low. Saturday was standard pre-race run around, with some light training and packet pick-up, pro meeting, and plentiful rest. Because the city is over a million people, I opted to use the hotel gym for my run, but still took a moment to explore while tracking down some last minute essentials at the mercado. A truly bustling metropolis and good energy for race day.
With bikes racked on the plaza near the Mexican history museum, we did the final adjustments, and backtracked along the water’s edge to swim start, a 15 minute hike. It wasn’t terribly unpleasant, and we still had some short moments to warm up before introductions. With the sound of the cannon, 2014 was underway, and I got out clean in the smaller pro group. The pace was hard from the start, and really never let up, but I clawed my way onto the main group of 8 and hung on. I eventually lost about 10 seconds near the finish after yo-yoing a little off the back throughout, but made up for it with a quick transition, and jumped on the Shiv to get down to business.
This was what I was looking forward to all week. After some good, hard rides in Tucson, I knew the cycling fitness was there, so I throttled up immediately to jump across a small gap to Tim Don and Francisco Serrano. To my surprise, nobody came with, and I bridged solo after 5 miles. Shortly after, Serrano went off the front, and a Brazilian made it across to us, sitting much to close as Tim and I set the pace. After one complete loop, we passed through an aid station around mile 24, and I heard the dreaded bang and hiss of a flat tire… which turned out to be my rear. This was the moment: negative thoughts or positive? I came a long way to race, and the body felt mint. I jumped off and went to work changing the tube. I don’t know exactly how long the change took, but estimate it was maybe just over 2 1/2 minutes to get it fixed. I saw a few other pros go by, but went right back to work alone, pushing hard to make back some lost time. The rest of the ride I would only see Rana with about 10 miles left, and dreaded being well out of contention.
Still, I pushed the opening miles of the run to catch the Brazilian, Carvahllo, and asked him where we were. He said he thought 4th or 5th, and I was immediately fired up again… the podium was still a possibility! Of course I had one of the best half-distance runners behind in Rana, so I stayed on the gas, and eventually caught up to Guerra around mile 11. I easily passed the convicted-doper-cyclist-turned-triathlete, and cruised home in 3rd. The podium celebration was worth the extra effort to get back in the race, with champagne showers and flowers, but it was also mixed emotions since I felt so good coming in that it left some questions that will never be answered. However, after reviewing the severe slash in my sidewall after returning home from racing, I can see that I was first unlucky with the flat, but secondly very luck to not have another, as the new tube was bubbling out significantly…. I’ll take 3rd, and move on to the next one!
A tremendous thank you to all my supporting sponsors: Zoot for the speedy Prophet wetsuit and Kiawe’s. Specialized for the rocketship Shiv Tri, and stealthy Evade helmet to keep me hidden from the wind. Clif Bar for fuel to keep me going in training and racing. Zipp and SRAM for the fast and reliable components. Fuelbelt for what I need when I need it. SportPump for keeping the legs fresh and ready for racing. Vector 450 for boosting the immune system, especially on longer and international travel. Oakley for killer shades. And finally, Tender Belly and Infinite Monkey Theorem wines for the post-race celebrations and pre-race nutrition!Read More