It’s been a busy week, traveling back from [intlink id="405" type="post"]New Hampshire[/intlink] on Monday, then only having a few days to get myself situated back in Boulder, before having to head out to today’s race in Boise Idaho. Today’s race was one of the toughest I’ve faced in a long time, and it doesn’t help that I’ve only had five days of rest since my fourth-place finish at [intlink id="405" type="post"]Mooseman 70.3[/intlink] in New Hampshire.
Racing on a Saturday is always unusual, because they tend to have afternoon starts, so this race didn’t take off until 2 PM. Several of the guys that raced in New Hampshire, were at this race, as well as some of the biggest names in the sport like Craig Alexander, and Chris Lieto.
The swim was in a reservoir, and they told us at the pre-race briefing that the water temperature was 11°C. Since it was an afternoon start, the weather had already started to heat up before the swim, so it felt good when I first jumped in. But that quickly turned to numbness, and I could not feel my toes. Nevertheless, I went through my normal routine to warm up for the swim, and then all of us pros went through our normal routine, of jockeying for position while the starter is trying to hold us on the line.
There were no major dramas in the early portion of the swim, but then about three quarters of the way through the swim, I dropped the feet of the guy in front of me, so I lost a little bit of time coming out of the water. I came out of the water in 8th place, but I was with seven other guys, which included Tim Reed, and some of the best cyclist in the field, such as Matt Lieto, and Ben Hoffman. Matt’s brother Chris was out of the water about a minute ahead of me (and my roomy Matty White was with him).
As cold as I was in the water, it didn’t take me too long to warm up once I got on the bike. This race has two different transition areas, and the swim is up at the reservoir, and the cycle course is rolling hills which descend down to the town of Boise. The afternoon heat, and winds, were incredible and I quickly forgot about the cold water swim. It was a beautiful, scenic course, which had some tight spots which made it difficult to manoeuvre around the other athletes.
At one stage we passed Matty White who had punctured out on the side of the road. Not long after we passed him, he must of gotten the repair from the spares vehicle, and he flew by us to make up some of the ground he had lost. Both Ben Hoffman, and Matt Lieto had put several minutes into me throughout the bike, so I knew that I was going to have to push hard to regain a decent finish. I came off the bike with a few others, and I got the jump on them out of the transition area, but Tim Reed gave it a big surge, and I was unable to keep up with his pace. The heat and the wind had taken its toll on me, and I was almost ready to pull the pin on the race, but then I decided to see if I could run through the pain, and see if it passed.
Not long after that, I started to come good, so I picked up the pace to see if I could get back up to Tim Reed. I was off the bike in ninth place, but when Tim surged ahead, I was running in 10th place. As I started to close in on Tim, I went by Kevin Everett, who had been reduced to a walk. Also some of the friendly Boise spectators informed me that Chris Lieto was out of the race. My strength really came back and I was able to overtake Tim Reed, and not long after that I passed Bryan Rhodes.
I could see Jamie Whyte ahead of me, and I knew that if I could overtake him I would be in fifth (which is where the prize money starts…). But as I got close to Jamie I realised that he was running along with Matt Lieto, so I was doubly blessed when I overtook those two guys to move into fourth. By then my spirits had totally lifted, and I felt I had a good rhythm in my stride. With less than 2 km left in the run, I could see Matty White in my sites, and he was struggling. I overtook him with about 1 1/2 km to go, and I had run my way into third position.
Aussie pro Tim Berkel got himself onto the podium with a sharp run - first off the bike
Craig Alexander and Ben Hoffman had built up a commanding lead throughout the race, and in very difficult conditions. I think the entire field of professionals had to dig deep, and I’m glad I stuck with it to finish on the podium.
I am looking forward to a few more 70.3 races in North America, before I venture off to Copenhagen to race in the Challenge (Ironman distance event) in August. I’ll keep you posted with my next few races.