Coming into transition I was very relieved to know I was getting off the bike (2:28:19 new PR). Over the last 10 miles I had lost about 5-10 watts on my average, but that was the past and next up was the run. I sat down on the pavement to change my socks and put on my flats, and also to piss on myself again (cant believe how many times I had to pee!). I was pretty high up overall in the amateur race, and so the fans were cheering for me pretty loud, and they all congregated around as I was changing my shoes. I was wincing pretty hard when I was changing and one spectator asked if I had a cramp…I just smiled as I got up and ran for the run start. Nothing needed to be said because the puddle on the ground when I got up told it all haha.
Now the moment I had been looking forward to all season, to prove I can lay down a solid run split. I had put in some serious miles, hard miles, easy miles, pace miles, the run had been my passion all season. I loved running and being able to run injury free for the first time in 3 seasons was absolutely the most fun thing for me. Now was my time to reap the benefit from my hard work.
I got out of transition (2nd in my age group) and you would never guess who I was running 10 yards behind…effin Chris McCormack and Jeff Symonds running shoulder to shoulder. The run course was a 3 lap course, and these guys were heading out on lap 2 as I was starting. To run behind these legends and watch them ever so slowly pull away from me…you can’t put words it. It is a moment I will never forget.
(The Legend, Macca!)
Aside from the legends, I was running shoulder to shoulder with a couple of the women pros, and had 2 more 100 yards ahead of me that I was quickly reeling in. DAMN! I was moving my way up through the women’s pro field, and feeling great! I figured that these gals were going to run between 1:24-1:28 so for me to stay with them, let alone drop them was huge for my confidence. And to do it feeling so light on my feet…o baby bring it on!
(Eerily Similar Form as Macca)
Slightly before hitting the turnaround about 2 miles into the race I saw Bill Vann again, and he was running really strong and we “low 5ed” each other as we crossed paths. I had pegged him to swim just about what he did into me (30-40 seconds), and to bike about 4 minutes into me, giving him nearly a 5 min advantage going into the run. After I hit the turn around and hit about the same spot where I saw Bill, I estimated he had somewhere in the range of 8-10 min lead…at that point I was like WHOA!!
(Bill representing MSU)
Bill had really worked his bike into a weapon the past 2 years and his splits all summer had absolutely shown that. He had rode within a minute of some serious pro riders at multiple big scale Olympics that summer and was really on form. He rode a monstrous 2:21 and change and was the first amateur off the bike.
Coming around for the end of my first lap I was still running strong with one of the pro women I came out of transition with, and we had run a first lap in 6:24/mile pace. I saw iris and she gave me splits to a former sparty great Aaron Scheidies, as well as to bill. She said I was 3 mins down to aaron and 7 mins to bill. I knew that If I could maintain this pace throughout I would have laid down by far the most impressive run in my triathlon career across any distance. Regardless of where I finishes against my friends, I knew I was having the race of my life and needed to keep focused and stick to the plan.
I was still feeling very strong and looking forward to another lap. Nothing too eventful happened, one pro woman with what seemed like Heely’s on slingshot past me and the other woman I was running with like we were standing still…unbelievable, that lady can run! Still I stuck to the plan and kept the strong pace. I hit the turnaround for lap 2 and now was halfway through the run. I was starting to feel the fatigue now, and knew I needed to start hitting the coke. Coke is one of those magical things when you are completely zonked and need a quick pick-me-up, the caffeine brings you to life quickly. The only drawback is once you start drinking it you can’t stop.
As I was coming to the turnaround by the finish line to start my third and final lap I saw Bill again, and he was not looking as good as he did when I saw him on the first lap. I also noticed that I had cut some serious time into him. I started the final lap (by this time I had dropped the pro woman I was running with. The second lap I had averaged 6:37/mile), and saw iris one last time. She told me that I was down 4 minutes to bill and only 1 minute to Aaron. “Man I must be really running well” I thought to myself. She also told me that I was still in 2nd in my age group…which really ignited a flame inside me. I had fought far too hard to settle for second place. Unfortunately not knowing what the dude looked like I wasn’t able to spot him and keep tabs on him. I just had to take a chance and give it everything I had for the final 4.5 miles if I was going to have any shot.
Hitting the turn around and knowing I only had 2 and a quarter miles to go was a huge relief, but I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. I needed a miracle if I wanted that trophy! I shuffled through the aid station with 2 miles to go and downed 3 cokes and a water. At that point I hoped that would be enough coke to get me to the finish line and I needed to dig deeper than I ever had before. Regardless of any outcome I was still running against the clock for a great overall time and an even better run split for myself.
Every person I passed I checked their calves to see if they were 18-24, and each one I saw I knew they weren’t the one because they were moving far too slow and didn’t look worn out enough. Then I spotted him! At 1 mile to go there he was, he had a glow around him that made me immediately know he was the one. He had just crested the top of a slight hill and I was at the base about to climb. I must have been 20 seconds down and only a mile to go. I knew that the only way I was going to pull this off was to take a chance and to sprint with all my might up this hill. I figured with the way he looked at the top that I could cut that lead in half with a surge up the hill, so I did. And cut the lead in half I absolutely did. I smelt blood, and the best part was he didn’t even see it coming! I was in so much pain, but so jacked up on adrenaline that all I could see in my mind was the finishing chute and finish line! There was an aid station with ¾ mile to go, and at this point I was flailing every body part I had to get all momentum moving forward as fast as I could. I snatched a coke from the aid station hoping that it would help me hold this pace till the end.
I caught the glowing man shortly after the coke, but I wasn’t satisfied. Unlike Andreas Raelert in Kona in 2010 when he caught Macca and eased his pace to just run alongside him, my goal was to completely shred him, break all his spirits and give him zero chance to hang on. There were 3 turns left on the course and just under a half mile to go one 90 degree left turn, one 90 degree right turn, and then a big swooping 180 loop turn into the finish line. I didn’t want to look back, I didn’t want to show any fear or weakness I just kept driving forward, by far the ugliest form you can picture, with the sole purpose to cross that line first!
After taking the left turn to head home I spotted Bill, and couldn’t believe it. Bill looked like he had given it everything he had and as I passed him just before the final big swooping turn to the finish line, cheered him on to finish strong. I sprinted to the finish giving it every last bit of strength I had to polish off my greatest run leg in my triathlon career (1:26:06 6:34/mile avg). Bill held on strong to hold off the guy I had passed in my age group, finishing 2nd in the collegiate division. Mad props to bill for putting together one of the gutsiest races by a half ironman rookie I have ever seen. You really have a future in this distance buddy, and I look forward to facing off again in the near future! VERY IMPRESSIVE RACE MAN
(They Still had the pro race time on the clock...i was 4:25:37)
Hitting the finish line was a relief above all reliefs. I was so drained mentally and physically. I had left it all out on the course and had a smashing new PR to show for it. Not to mention my first ever First Place finish in an Ironman event!
I can’t wait to recover, take some time off, and then build on this performance looking forward to next year. In store for next year I have a few 70.3s, ultimately building the volume for another Full Ironman in the near future…Below are some other random pics iris shot throughout the day!
(Andy Potts Overall Winner)
(Iris Lost the car so i was waiting for her)