Patrick and I took the ten hour overnight flight to Buenos Aires on Wednesday night. My goal for the flight there was to get as much sleep as possible so I could stay on a somewhat normal schedule. While sleeping sitting up is highly uncomfortable I was able to get at least six hours of sleep I suspect. Upon arriving in Buenos Aires I found another athlete, Greg, from my flight also anxiously awaiting the arrival of their bike on the luggage carousel. We got to chatting and discovered (thanks to the fact that I was wearing my Macalester Water Polo t-shirt) that his wife (Nicole) was also a Macalester graduate, she was coming later in the week to watch the race. We ended up sharing rides to our hotel because the bikes wouldn’t fit in one of the cars, and we even had rooms across from each other. Such a small world! Two things I love, connecting with Macalester grads and connecting with people that love the triathlon lifestyle.
After settling into the hotel I got to work, literally work. Per usual I was working remotely Thursday and Friday which I find to be a good distraction pre-race. I took quick lunch breaks for some laps in the hotel pool. One end I flipped at a waterfall, the other end I flipped on the hot tub. It was maybe 20 yards but it worked for what I needed in the final days leading into the race. I met another athlete, Chip, and his wife, by the pool, from Atlanta (they were on our flight home, again small world). It was fun to chat about all the different Ironman races he had competed in, where we’d like to go next and plans for the year.
Saturday was all about race prep and relaxing. I got all my gear ready to go and laid around in the room trying to stay relaxed as much as possible. It was nice to have Patrick around to help me keep a clear head going into the race. We always talk through any worries I have pre-race to make sure I’m in a positive mental place. As usual I got to bed as soon as I could so I’d be ready for an early morning.
My alarms went off at 4am and I went right into my normal race morning routine. After a great race in Panama I had high expectations for my race in Buenos Aires, unfortunately things didn’t go exactly as planned. Race morning I rode my bike the 4K from the hotel to the race site. I’m used to be an early riser at races but I was literally the first athlete in transition and it had been open for 15 minutes. I took my time getting things ready, checking and double checking I had everything ready to go before heading to the swim start.
The swim was wetsuit legal with a deep water start 8 minutes after the pro men. The water was supposedly 70 degrees which is usually fairly comfortable, but I think it was a little warmer.
- At the start line it wasn’t clear where we should be lining up. Athletes kept creeping forward and the officials in the boat would continually move them back. Eventually without warning the gun went off while Laurel Wassner and I were asking the officials to back everyone up. I quickly started my watch and took off, it was too late.
- After about 50 meters I took the lead and made a gap immediately. I concentrated on taking the best line to the furthest buoy while holding a steady pace.
- At the turn I could see athletes not too far back so I made an effort to kick it up a gear to hopefully create more space.
- I exited the water 1:22 ahead of the pack behind me, thanks Blueseventy Helix!
- Heading out of the neighborhood we had to cross a few bridges and speedbumps, but then we were out on the open road.
- The roads were a mix of smooth, bumpy, open to traffic and closed. There were a few large unmarked speedbumps that almost took me down but I was lucky to hang on. After that I made sure to keep my head up and eyes on the road.
- My legs felt OK but I wasn’t putting out the power I thought I should be based on my perceived effort. I wanted to be putting more time on the group and I just wasn’t.
Towards the last third of the first loop Kim Morrison came blazing by me. I tried to match her effort but got dropped fairly quickly through some side streets. I then missed a turn off of a roundabout. Through most of the roundabouts we were directed to go straight but there was one with a right turn. Approaching this particular roundabout there was a car in the right lane where I should have been biking and the officer that was directing traffic was talking to the person in the car. They were blocking the arrows, so I kept going straight. After seeing only bikes coming at me I knew I was headed the wrong way. I circled back around and got back on course. At this point Kim was nowhere in sight.
- At the turn around to the second loop I could see that DeDe Griesbauer was catching up to me. I worked hard to stay in front but she finally caught me about a third of the way into the second loop. I used DeDe as a carrot to chase for the rest of the bike.
- The second loop was overly crowded as most of the course was only one lane wide. I had to slow and often slam on the brakes for athletes riding in the left or cutting over without checking to see that someone was coming. It was frustrating, but we all had to deal with it.
- Heading back to transition I started hearing a very familiar noise. My rear brake was rubbing. The day before the race I couldn’t get my brakes to adjust. I chatted with the Gear West folks and they told me to move the spacers. After taking my bike for a spin I thought it was going to be fine. Obviously I was wrong, I just hope it wasn’t rubbing from the very beginning.
- I arrived into T2 just after DeDe and made up a little time getting my run gear on quickly. I chased her out of T2.
- Beginning the run I felt solid. I ran the first mile or so with or just ahead of DeDe but shortly after that she made a move and continued to lengthen her gap.
- After the first turn around on the first loop I was able to gauge where I was at in the race, I had over four minutes on the rest of the field but I knew there were some very strong runners behind me.
- I felt I was holding a decent pace as I ran back to transition to turn around for the second loop. Patrick was there cheering me on and giving me time updates from the bike.
- My plan at this point was to try and have a faster 10K and 5K than the first loop. I felt strong to start but faded hard. All I could think about was getting to the next water stop.
- At the final turn around I could see Ariane Monticelli and Sofie Goos were both within minutes of me. I tried to pick it up but my legs felt heavier than ever.
- Around the 18K mark Ariane ran by me and was almost instantly out of site (she had the fastest run of the day by over 5 minutes).
- Reaching 20K I kept looking back for Sofia but I couldn’t see her. Reaching the finish line the crowds were insane. The people lined the finishing chute, screaming and cheering, I’ve never been to a race with so many spectators. Running down the chute I checked for Sofie and couldn’t see her so I reached out to high five all the fans as I ran the last few hundred meters. What a fun finish.
I ended up fourth, which is not what I had hoped for. I didn’t think my run was that bad but it ended up being my slowest half run split (for a flat course). I later realized that the straw to my water bottle on my bike had been pulled out, so when I “finished” my water I had really only drank about a third of it. In the end I drank about half the amount of water I’d normally drink on the bike, so that’s probably why my legs weren’t feeling great. I should have realized there was an issue when I was wondering pre-race why there was so much extra slack in my straw.
I definitely feel I could have done better on the bike as well, my power output was a bit lower than normal but I felt like I was working harder. That said I had an almost perfect training build into Panama so it’s hard to compare. Leading into this race I was sick for an entire week in the middle of my build making my training sub-par during an important phase of training. It’s hard to remember and accept all the factors that go into your race day performance. In the end this was a big points race and I still got 435 points. It’s REALLY early in the year, and a lot of the big names haven’t raced yet, but for now I’m ranked 10th so I’ll enjoy that while it lasts 🙂
Thanks to my friends, family and fans for all the support. Thanks to Gear West Bike & Tri, Blueseventy, Zipp and Lazer for helping me get the best gear out there so all I have to worry about is racing.
Eat your protein!