Seems like every second race I do these days the big fella upstairs is having a good old chuckle about throwing some horrendous conditions into the mix. Phuket 70.3 we rode through a monsoon, Falls Creek Aussie champs was ice cream headache cold, Ironman New Zealand postponed a day and shortened to a 70.3 (wasn’t complaining about that one) and now the beautiful town of Boise decided to stray from a barmy average temp of 25 degrees to 5 degrees with howling winds and icy rain.
30 minutes prior to race start and it was blared over the loud speakers that the 56 mile ride would be cut to 15 miles with the swim and run remaining at the original distances, 1900m and 21kms. Contrary to how some other pros commented I would feel, I was disappointed from a personal performance perspective. While running is often my strongest leg, I tend to run well when everyone else is tired and not that much faster when I’m fresh and I had felt that in the last few weeks that my cycling form a had returned to a good level. Then again, everyone magically transformed into an uber cyclist and “would have done so much better if the bike leg wasn’t reduced.” In retrospect, I turned into a gnome ice block during the shortened ride and I think it was the right call by the race directors to put safety first.
At the swim start you could be forgiven to think that the 1600 athletes were really into the motivational songs being blasted from the P.A with all the vigorous dancing, jumping up and down and arm windmilling in an effort to keep from freezing.
They called the pros to the start line some 30 minutes before the race start then left us in the water for another 10 minutes in the freshly melted snow lake. The gun went off and we creaked our arms over trying to get our numb hands to put some water behind us. As usual I swam the first 800m well finding Matty Reed’s feet and settling into the big man’s wake. Again as usual, I found my mind drifting and before I knew it a gap had opened up with the main players swimming away and I found myself swimming alongside Barney Matthews who was obviously not enjoying the cold one bit to not be up near the front of the swim.
About a minute down out of the swim I straddled Kestrel Kevin 4000 and descended the long climb from the lake down to the flatter roads. It was so cold my skin was burning red. I couldn’t feel my legs but after several glances downwards I at least knew they were still there and moving. In the distance I could see a very tall dark skinned athlete. I was quite confused. White man can’t jump and black man isn’t suppose to be able to swim! As I gradually caught the dark figure I couldn’t help but smile when I saw that it was no black man but actually Matty Reed riding in his wetsuit. I think turned out to be a very clever move considering Matt and Trevor Wurtele who also rode in his wetsuit both had the two quickest runs of the day.
I hit transition and tried to rip my shoes on. Only my hands were so numb I just couldn’t get them to hold my shoes to put my feet in. I was ambitiously stabbing at the shoes with my feet with no luck at all. Matty Reed managed to take his wetsuit off and be up the road until I had the good sense to sit down, take a few breaths and will my hands to obey my brain. Finally I got them on and trotted out of transition. I say trotted because my feet had become hooves with no feeling below the ankle. Slowly warm blood started returning to parts of the feet. I wasn’t aware that while this happens it feels like you have something in your shoe and stopped to check losing more time. There was nothing there of course and I later learnt that this is the typical feeling of defrosting feet.
I gradually warmed into the run but the guys were running fast and while I made up some time early on I faded between 10 and 15kms before returning to a good pace finishing the day in 4th. Not unhappy considering the quality of the guys I was racing and that my first race of the U.S season is traditionally a stinker. Sometimes tri fans and sponsors aren’t aware that there is a big difference between the depth of competition at 70.3 events. With prize money generally being either a $15000 or $50 000 pool you tend to race pro fields 3 x the number compared to the lower paying races. I think it’s important to do a mix of both so you can see where you really stack up while also logging some great results at the less competitive races to keep my Mum thinking I’m the best. A bit of work to do in getting my brain back to the happy place where it shut ups and I can go to a neutral place when racing but it’ll get there with a few more races.
It was an interesting race up ahead with Matty Reed and the resilient Tim O’Donnell tussling for 2nd place until Matty made some big surges to drop Tim to third and bring the likeable Kiwi, Callum Milward into view. In a dramatic finish they sprinted to the line neck and neck with no one being able to pick a winner despite hours of video and photo review. I’m unaware of a pro race being called a tie before and think it’s pretty cool that I was a part of it while also being jealous it wasn’t me sprinting for the line!
Big thanks to my good friends from Boise, the wonderfully hospitable McDaniels. You guys made racing very easy with all you’re support. However next year no cowbells at the award presentation please. 🙂
Next stop Hawaii to pick up the family, attend a wedding and train in the heat for New Orleans 5150.
Thanks also to the usual suspects Zoot Sports, Aeromaxteam, BPM Management, Vision, SiS, Speedfil, Rudy Project, Budgy smuggler.
“Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn” C.R