I’m back in Tucson after a longer weekend trip to Oceanside for my 2012 North American season opener at Oceanside 70.3. First off, I’ve got to say a big thanks to everyone who made the week a success: Zoot for the autograph session and tour of the offices afterwards, and of course for awesome shoes and wetsuits that carried me through the day and all the training leading in. Specialized (Mal and Joe) for coming through huge with tech support and any other kind of assistance I needed. Volkswagen for making the roadtrip quick and enjoyable… Not saying we were speeding, but we were speeding. Wattie for organizing the interviews, photoshoots, etc. Tim Carlson for some great photos and tireless efforts to get it just right. Oceanside is always a great place for me to connect with my support team, and this year was the best I’ve ever had. Truly humbled by the backing of all these extraordinary people and products.
So a Wednesday afternoon departure put as at the gracious homestay of Charisa Wernick’s parents by around 10pm. I have done the drive before, but never in a brand new Touareg with a radar detector… Let’s just say it was a breeze! Thursday morning was some easy miles on the bike and an ocean swim down at the pier with Jesse and Linsey. Water was cold and punishing in the surf, and the weather was not perfect. After getting Spidermonkey to the once over on my bike we called it a day.
Friday was some more light training and a solid day at the expo with Zoot, Specialized, Triathlete magazine, LAVA, Fuelbelt, and the pro meeting. Definitely a lot more time on my feet than I would have liked, but great to see everyone and catch up a little before the big race. With an early dinner and gear packed up, I got some good rest before waking up with a 3 on the clock…
Race Day: With Specialized in town all weekend, the bike was dialed in, and Joe took care of tire pressure, etc. on race morning while I set up my transition and got ready. With limited time for a swim warm-up, I used stretch cords and got in the 58 degree water with the other pro males around 6:30. I felt under control as the cannon fired, but that was definitely one of the rougher swims I have experienced in a while. Lots of people convinced that they were going to lead the swim, but really only Potts could manage that. I got out clean, sat with a good group until about 1300 when there was some separation and we lost a few seconds coming in. Still, I had a good swim without too much effort, and was able to exit with Cunningham, Ambrose, and Reed all in sight.
Onto the bike, I worked with Reed to pull back our deficit to some of the other riders, and within 10 miles we were together. Looking back, I’m not sure if I was just a little numb because it was cold and wet, but around 30 miles, I thought, okay, now it’s time to pull away. So I hit it a little at the front to see who was game to go, but after about a mile of harder effort, I could tell it wasn’t actually my day on the bike. The move backfired as a group rode away in a counterattack, and I was left doing my best to stay in the game. It’s early in the year, but still disappointing to have the legs not operate like usual.
Onto the run I had a goal of showcasing my efforts over the winter, and I took it out quick ahead of Reed and a few others. Soon I was swallowed up by their pace, but I hung tough and clawed back some of the other racers in front of me. It wasn’t going to be a huge placement result for me, but I still wanted to test the run fitness and practice always staying in it. At the finishline, I was 8th, in a total time of 4:01:29. 6 minutes faster than last year in some tough conditions, with a solid swim and run. Of course I’m not satisfied with 8th place, but I am optimistic about where I am for early April. All systems go for Ironman St. George on May 5th… I have a feeling it’s going to be a good day.