World Championships 70.3: Race Report

Four ways to know you are in Clearwater, Fl.

1. The temperature is 80 degrees in November.
2. There is enough carbon fiber to build an aircraft.
3. There are age-group athletes that can do a half-ironman in less than 4 hours.
4. You can PR on your swim by over 4 minutes and still be 80 out of 92 in your age group.

Getting body marked before the race. Using ink!!

I went to bed on Friday night knowing that Saturday morning was going to be an adventure. Some of the best athletes in the world will be there and of course little old me. After getting up at zero o’clock once again, we got ready and headed down to Clearwater to get the day started.

Transition Area

After dropping off my bike and gear bags yesterday, there really wasn’t to much to do before the race and since my wave started 75 minutes after the pros I had a long time to wait. Most of the time was spent hanging out with Greg, Natalie and Lyara and watching many of the age-groupers waves going off in 5 minute intervals.

In transition before the race.

Greg and I before the race.

After a quick warm-up swim, I was in the athlete corral and it was time to go. Trying to take the whole atmosphere in, I talked with a few of my fellow athletes to see how they felt. Here is my brief conversation with a guy from Rhode Island:

Steve: How’s it going, you feeling ready.
Fast Guy: Yep, you?
Steve: Yeah, should be a fun day.
Steve: Where did you qualify?
Fast Guy: Rhode Island.
Steve: That’s cool.
Fast Guy: How about you?
Steve: Lake Stevens, I took a role down slot.
Fast Guy: Doesn’t matter, you are here.
Steve: That’s true.
Steve: How fast you planning on doing this?
Fast Guy: 4 hours!!!
Steve (to self): Holy Shit!! What am I doing here?
Steve: Well you have a good chance at being near the top.
Fast Guy: That’s the plan.
Steve: Good luck.
Fast Guy: You too.
Steve (to self): I need more than luck:)

Back at home I had this brilliant idea of sprinting down the beach and trying to enter the water first. Well that plan was quickly forgotten as soon as I was standing there looking at some of the greatest athletes in the world and knowing that getting swam over really doesn’t sound like fun.

So I am standing at the starting line, getting ready to race the biggest race of my life. I am not sure why but I wasn’t really nervous. My energy was up and all I wanted to do was give this race my best effort and not come in last place for my age-group.

The cannon goes off and my race begins. We all start wading into the water and we were off. The first few hundred yards were a bit rough with getting punched a few times in the eye but I was able to get into a good grove and just did my best to keep the feet in front of me in sight. I was hoping to hang on as best I could and try to not be the last one out of the water.

Exiting the water, heading to T1

As I was approaching the beach I just focused on staying calm and keeping my effort steady. I swam until my hand reached the sand and stood up. Starting running through the water while taking my wetsuit off. After I was halfway up the beach I looked at my watch and saw 32:50’s and new that I had a great swim. My goal was sub 35:00 and if I was sub 32:00 that would have been freaking awesome.

I went down the beach, through the showers, pass the wetsuit pullers and into the transition area. At this point I had no idea where I stood but once I say T1 almost empty I knew that I was near the back of the pack.

Heading out of T1

I quickly grabbed my bike and headed out of transition ready for my longest ride since July 6th. I heard Natalie and Lyara cheering which was great motivation to get going.

One of the negatives about starting in the last wave of the world championships is that there is absolutely no one behind you and since EVERYONE else is so fast there really isn’t too many people in front of you either. I spent the first hour trying to chase some people down so I didn’t feel like I was out there all by myself.

I started to see the famous packs of rides that are so common for the world championships and I really wondered what was going through some of their minds and why they were so content at sitting on the wheel in front of them. I know that it is very difficult to get out of the packs but there is a reason it is against the rules and the athletes need to respect the rules and do their best to not cheat.

After one of the first turn-around’s I began to catch some of the waves ahead of me and was beginning to join some of the packs of riders. I rode up on the first group and decided I would do my best to pass a few and try my best to not draft. After passing one group of riders I noticed rider number 1249, Robert, was pulling a group of three girls for the last few miles.

I asked him how he was doing since he was pulling them along and he laugh. It was at that moment that I passed and my good buddy Robert jumped on my wheel. This was the beginning of a long day for Robert looking at my ass. Literally he was on my wheel for well over the next 15-20 miles. At one point I looked back and there was a pack of at least 20 if not more than 30 people in a straight line right be ME. I felt like Roger on our famous Greenbluff loops. They were all there content sitting on my wheel and letting me pull them throughout the race.

I know the smartest thing to do would have been to pull for a bit and then let someone else take the lead and give me a break. But I didn’t come here for a training ride. I if had a chance to win this or even be competitive then maybe I would have done something different. For me personally it was about racing my race. I hind sight this might have caused me to push a little to hard and struggle a bit during the run but I was ok with that.

I really felt strong throughout most of the bike. I knew I was pushing a bit harder than normal because of the people on my wheel but at no point did I feel that I was overexerting myself. I was glad to see that Robert and a few other riders actually received some time penalties for their drafting, which helped justify why I rode like I did.

As we made our way back into town, at about mile 45, I started to wish the bike was over. I had a feeling this would probably happen since this was as far as I had rode in any training rides since my last half Ironman race. My legs were beginning to tire and my speed dropped dramatically. Unless you were following the Ironman website when I was averaging 201,600 mph.

I finally made my way back over the causeway and into Clearwater Beach to make my transition to the run. As I dismounted my bike my legs felt pretty good and I was through T2 pretty quick.

Running my first lap.

In my last two half’s my first mile pace was in the low seven’s. I know this is too fast and did what I could to slow down. My first mile was just over 8 minutes and I felt like I was going slow. I tried to keep that pace and my next two miles were in the same ballpark. It was now that I wanted to pick the pace up and see if I could reach my goal of 5:10 for the entire race.

This is also when the wheels began to fall off. I am not sure exactly what happened, but I am sure it was a combination of the length of the workout, a bit of dehydration and the heat. Each mile began to get worse and worse. I wish it would have been my knee because I knew I could have ran through the pain, but instead it was my stomach. It wasn’t the pain I experienced in Boise with the side stitch but and overall stomach ache.

Each time I tried to increase my effort the stomach got worse. I SLOWLY watched each mile get slower and slower, until it was a struggle to stay under 12 minute miles. My body was not ready for this kind of torture and it showed as I began to fade and I looked forward to each aid station so I could walk. My quads and right calf muscles began to cramp and walking was the only thing that felt good. I believe I stopped only 2-3 times between aid stations to walk for just a few second, but it felt like an eternity.

I finally reached the causeway for the final time and told myself that I would not walk no matter what. I am pretty sure I was shuffling slower than a snail but I did not walk. The last few miles were pretty brutal but I did cross the finish line and received my world championship medal. This was definitely not how I wanted my race to go but with how my training has been, I really and not shocked by the results.

Icing the quads after the race.

Since my training had been nothing short of sub-par, everything that happened in this race made complete sense. I could have gone out there and just slowly went through the race but I wanted to come here and give it all I had. Even though this year it wasn’t enough to finish strong, I learned that if I ever want to make it back to an event like this there was to be a dedication and desire that goes beyond just being a triathlete. I really don’t know how this race will affect me in the future but it was definitely a great learning experience.

Now it’s time to go play in the sun:)


Trish said...

Hey buddy, great race report! Way to go on your swim and bike! You totally rocked those! Bummer about your run, but it sounds like you still did your best, and that is what counts. Like you said...the race should be a learning experience. I am so happy for you that you got to compete with world class athletes! You deserved this race, and I am pretty sure you will be there again some day :)

Tiffany said...

Great race report, Keith! First of all, I LOVED your conversation with "Fast Guy" from Rhode Island! Hysterical! Nice work on that swim! Wow! All that hard work at Whitworth has really paid off!

Awesome job on the bike too! I wish I could ride 201,600 mph! No wonder people wanted to draft you! ;) Nice job not getting caught up in the drafting yourself, and I'm glad to hear the others got time penalties. Must have been fun to feel like Roger - I hope you treasured that moment!

I'm sorry to hear your run didn't quite go as planned, but I'm stoked that you are not beating yourself up over it. You really went into this race with a great attitude and "raced your race." Nice job! It sounds like it was an awesome experience and you will take a lot away from it.

Congrats on your World Championship finish, B! You are hard core A+ and you made us proud!!!

M-Dot said...

Congratulations! You desreved this race and the r&r you've had an awesome year.
Glad it was not your knee that hurt your run, was worried for you.
You totally kicked butt and did a great job of sportsmanship and representing us down tere (tri-fusion and Spokane)
Do we get autographs when you come back?
Hope you rested well and that you have a great tan!


jessithompson said...

Way to go, B! Loved reading your race report. Emma LOVED seeing a pic of you in your visor :)

I agree with Lil' B that the conversation with Fast Guy was HILARIOUS... especially the conversation you were having with yourself. I was laughing out loud.

I'm so impressed with your swim time, buddy. Really, really awesome! I'm also glad that you didn't fall into the 'Cheatwater' bike tactics and rode your race. That's admirable when it's happening all around you... literally.

I'm glad it was a good experience and I'm interested to hear how it affects the future for you.

Glad you've been having so much fun playing too - well deserved, B! We're all so proud of you!

Tim Swanson said...

Well dude, even though you had a tough run, you competed at and finished the World Championships, and that is something that not very many people can say.

Hmmmm....so your training was "sub par"? Uh, that's like saying "I am healthy, but I'm just too lazy to train". You were freaking injured!!! How could you have trained??? The fact that you rallied to get to the start line is a feat in itself. I remember what your knee was like 6 weeks ago, and I had doubts that you would make it to the start. But you manned up, healed up, and did it.

We all know you can run way faster when you are healthy, and you will get back there soon. But maybe for my sake you can delay that day by a few races? :)

Glad to hear you are using this one as a learning experience, and that you still have the fire to get better. Just make sure the next big race you do isn't notorious for blatant cheating. The fact that you didn't let that get to ya is also big...you are more mentally strong than I am. I probably would have started doing some brake checks :)

Can't wait to get back at it with ya, and launch you on to IMCDA.

P.S. Can I motor-pace off ya next time you are clicking along at 201,000 mph? :) ha ha ha

LORIE said...

Steve. . . . this is a really good race report. I enjoyed it very much along with the pictures. Fast guy was right you know. . . . you were there. Congrats and you learned something. CONGRATS! We are proud of you.


Phaedra Cote said...

Steve! First of all, awesome job making it YOUR race. Thanks so much for taking the time to call and share all the details. Aren't you glad you went? What an awesome experience and holy cow! Your swim has come a long way in such a short period of time....and like you said, that's what you've been able to put your time and effort into.

Let's get training for IM CDA!!! woohoooo. Tell me when you're ready to run :) I'm going to have to start training early in the morning and I'm gonna drag you with me.