Before I get into the race recap here, there are a few funny side notes to point out in our trip. The hotel shower is the bomb! The jet power coming from the shower head is second to none. Every time we get one of these in our towel, it’s like a 20 minute shower granted. No joke. Serious goodness. The front desk also had this big display of lollipops which were complimentary and everytime we passed by I took 2 of them. Also, the pool towels are a must collection (that is of course with the Paul Mitchell shampoo/lotion in room too). We got like 4 of them so far. Jump in pool, refresh, take towel. They come in handy too for events like this (and when you read you will see why for sure this time) as a dry off easy towel. Finally, the rental car had Sirius satellite radio. Can you say Hair Station, Octane, Liquify for metal music! Hell yeah!!

Ok, so Saturday was the final pre-race stuff which meant for an in eventful day. We did a nice walk in the morning, weather still 75-85 by 10am and the place was buzzing with athletes. We try to avoid all of it and avoid mostly the conversations that come with athletes here. The boring ones that is. It started to drizzle so we checked in the bike, then my run gear and made it back to kick up feet, relax and have a snack. We planned to go to Mass at St. Thomas here at 4:30, and that helps calm everything down, focus on what matters, and get a sense of the community worship here. It stopped raining and looked to be possible for a repeat weather wise like in Lubbock, which I was seriously hoping for. We had a delicious “leftover” dinner of sandwiches and sides which we had bought from Whole Foods on Thursday. We finished early and were in bed by 8:30pm. That is after a whoopie pie – the healthy kind from WF. No sangria tonight. We had a 3:30am wake up call. I fell asleep easily, relaxed, knowing that I will probably be up an hour earlier staring at the ceiling getting the whole system raring to go. And sure it was…. But……..

Rise and shine! Well, more like wet! Gina checks out the window and says its raining. Sure enough, slight to good drizzle but enough to wet the roads and enough to raise the yellow card. Gina was adamant in making sure of the “just come back safe” card. Which is true. It calmed me. Heck, it’s raining, ok, it’s raining, as long as it stays WARM I will be fine. So we do the 40 minute prep. All checklists handled. I Aquaphored up and down, got my AAA Carolina’s gear on and strapped in my Polar RC3GPS. We were out the door by 4:15.
It’s only 10 minutes to the swim start but had windshield wipers on the whole time as I played a few pre-race tunes for us, including the Wilson’s new favorite the Wobble Song yo!! There was ample parking and we walked along through one of the big resort hotels that led us to the transition area. Less wet, but plenty of puddles. The area was really buzzing. There was a sliver of hope that it might stop by 8am and since my wave went off at 7:30, I kept my bike helmet visor on, with option to pull off it was still raining when I got out of the water. No such dice. It got a little heavier. We stayed dry under a pathway above the lake and had a good hour to relax. We people watched and mostly laughed at the idiosyncrasies of the worldly flair of the best in the sport. It didn’t stop raining and by 6:15 I started to go over the game plan with the Ironsherpa. Her one rule stood: be careful, get out of the water safe, ride with caution, and THEN on solid ground, do your thing. She was serious and it was the right call. At 6:30 the pros started each men/women waves with a huge cannon shot that really was cool. It was overcast so the sun wouldn’t be an issue with vision. Looking at the weather it was actually FALLING a few degrees to now 68! Crap! They said the water was 80 degrees so I am hoping that’s true. Once last porto-john business handles, I zipped-strapped in my skinsuit (no wetsuits allowed) by 6:45 I gave Ironsherpa a huge hug, kiss, and with the promise to “come back safe”.

I took an old pullover with me and for good measure as my wave waited in line for a good 35 minutes. We even saw the pros exit the water and transition to their bikes. Hey, a big big shout out to all the volunteers. Not only did they also brave the elements, but all were cool in their assistance and answered every question posed to them. Huge, and always say a Thank You when eye contact is met. Being the next wave finally, and starting to shiver, I head down the dock for the warmup swim to the first start buoy. With a few strokes and with both the 30-34/40-44 age group in this wave, it was massive. We had a few minutes so with no wetsuit aid, pouring rain, and aiming wide left, I hung on a rock and opted to stay in back. I was not going to get blasted right out of the gate. I take 3 deep breaths and ready. Game on.

Right away I see its was game well played. I caught a few real quick and immediately can see the frailing of arms and beat downs occurring up ahead. Stay clear. It’s 10 buoys out, 10 back. Sighting them was a non issue. I settled into a smooth rhythm. Drank a few sips of the lake as norm, but other than the few annoying hits on my feet and the close call arm swing hitting your head, it was mostly a non contact game and I was grateful for being cautious, even if it meant losing a few minutes. I was able to maintain good real estate once I made the turn back, and sped up a bit, seeing a few other colored caps from waves ahead of ours. I also say from the water that it didn’t let up raining. I was seriously considering keeping on my thin skinsuit. Happy to hit land again, they had volunteers pull you up onto a ramp out of the water. Get both feet down, run ahead. Swim done: 1.2 miles in a pedestrian (but intact) time of 38:00 minutes.
They make you run some 1/4 mile to the bikes. There, a quick change, tear off visor, shoes on, RC3GPS activated, and a nice huge climb up a hill before we are able to get on the bike. I see Gina and give a shout. It’s raining good. Take heed. I board the Black Widow 2 and head out. Transitioning take 5 minutes.

So out in the rain I ride. I get pelted in the face, all over with it coming on downhills, but also from riders back wheels too. Puddles are abundant in the first 5 miles as we snake in and out of the resort area. Brakes squeak, gears take a while to shift. It’s a harrowing half hour before you gain some confidence on what strategy to take. Mine becomes like it should be – caution. Ride safe, not risky. Not here, not the race to do. By mile 10 we are ow heading out to the state park and it becomes nothing but huge climbs and steep descents. I am chilly but it’s tolerable for now. I start to see the first of many, many flat tires on the side of the road and people left to fend for a change in the rain. Don’t be that guy dude. Monitor. Ride. I hoped and hoped for the rain to stop. I take a sip of my drink every 5 miles, my EFS pudding every 20. But by mile 20 I start – yes careful here – the first of 4 “reliefs” while riding. I had more of these than I did gels. Serious. But this is how I also regulate my system. I know I am cold and this is how I adjust, stay warm. I grab a water bottle at each aid station to hose down the bike, and myself. I catch a few and a pack on every hills, lose ground on descents, even at 25mph+. But it ain’t worth it. Worse, it felt like Clearwater again as packs formed and a few would speed by with no care just to stay in the draft. Too slick, wet, etc. as several ambulances wiz by and a few crashes are evident. It becomes a semi triage out there in segments. Play your game bro. By mile 40 I get the break I hoped for – sun. It dries everything up quickly. I pick up the pace. In fact my pace on the splits shows this. It gets warmer, but humid too – advantage me. At mile 50, I start to conjure the run legs by climbing out of the saddle, spinning hard up the remaining hills, and start to see everyone as a PAC-man chomp. My heart rate was way higher than at BSLT so I know it’s a tougher bike course, but I am good. I think I consumed all of 500cals on the bike ride. I swing into T2, hand the bike to a volunteer, and with both feet on solid ground, prepare to rip.
I finish the 56.6mile bike in 2:57.

I knew the run course from the ITU World LDistance Champs two years ago. You start heading 2 miles downhill, turn, head back 2 miles uphill. Repeat 3x. That was in store and now it was 80 degrees and humid. Just like it has been in Charlotte. I use the first lap to scan and pick. Everyone crowds the aid stations, so I just grab ice. I have a gel in my AAA race shirt, that’s all I use, and that was after the second lap. So I focus in. This will be key, I know my time is bad, but here is where I can redeem the day. This is what I wanted. Rip. I see Ironsherpa at each lap point. All good. Hitting the right pace in my Mizuno Wave Sayonara’s, I begin lap 2 with more pedal. I hammer the arm swing. Just go, chomp chomp, no mercy. Each mile gets faster. Going from 6:40′s, to 6:30, now 6:20. Yummy. Ok, final lap now and I don’t give a blank. Cue metal song here, and another. But I still manage the system inward. I know at any point, going faster could easily cue a cramp and it comes close a few times. Breathe, swing, kick it. Woa, duck this one runner, and another, bob and weave, especially at aid stations. Yeah that mile split was 6:15. By the last turn my Polar got me at 10.5-11mph the remaining 2 miles. I got enough to sprint to the finish. Done!!!! I cross the line. A 3rd World Championship finish!
I run the 13.1 miles in 1:24, bringing my total time to 5:07, good enough for 686 overall out of 2300, finish 100th in my ages group. I pass over 600 athletes in that last run, including 100 in my age group!!

Results here:

Or go to website and select the result for this World Championship 70.3 race. Search my name or bib number: 1410

All I could think about now was where Gina was. They move you along in the chute as yo get our finishers hat, shirt (2XL), and a HUGE medal. No joke man this was like the size of a Flava Flav clock and weights just as much!! Then it’s 2 ice cold bottles of water which I shove in my tights. All along now it’s a swarm of people, most of it inaccessible to spectators. I try to keep moving. I back track along as there is a line for the drinks/food. Screw that, where’s my wife. I finally find here and despite being salted, sweaty, and even smelly, we hug and kiss and enjoy the moment. A volunteer comes over and asks if I need a massage. “I’m getting one right now!”- my answer. Oh the pain doesn’t happen. It’s dissipated as I just hug here and just tell her, “I’m back safe!”

We spend the next hour walking around, trying to regain homeostasis, and she takes the occasion to pour water over my head. No appetite now. Body check. Takes a while but good. Ironsherpa a little tired too. What a woman, sporting her Ironman branded Support Crew Tshirt. I have to gather my bike, gear, ( I wind up losing my goggles and that bike visor as many others bags were so misplaced at the finish that their stuff was missing). More walking. It’s warm and sunny NOW. Another water dose on the head. We make it to the car and I stretch before heading into Whole Foods (in the parking lot across from the finish so it was close). Bling Blinging my medal we head over to the gelato station and cue up a pint each. Yeah son!!! Hydration and recover food all in one!!! Word!

We get back to the hotel by 2, and I take the ritual jump in the pool for a cleaning. And a pool towel. Soooo refreshing. Just brief enough to jolt the system as the water was nice and cool. We spend the next few hours recovering, stretch some more, unpack, eat, drink a bit and each of us take a nice long shower. Gina got the sniffles from the wet, cold, then warm day so we are making sure that doesn’t get worse. But summary is Awesome!!! Then crash a bit on the sofa watching football!!! We are still alert as we bolt the hotel in the evening and dine at PF Chang’s before coming back to finish that bottle of sangria!!!!!! We share stories of the day, savor our victory, and toast the day away. We plan to sleep very well tonight as we are entering our 18th hour. We love the days end together, safely.

Monday we plan to start with a shake out. Yes, you never really FEEL IT till the two days after, if not recovered properly. So before packing up the bike, a quick spin out and cleaning, then a nice walk together. We will hit the Fiesta Casino about 2 miles away for a few slot machines, but catch a movie and dinner there as well, get a feel of the Strip without having to go there. We also will do laundry, get ready to leave Tuesday. Also on tap, some planning time for action when we return. It’s been a fun trip here and we came away with another for the BEEN THER DONE THAT cue of TEAMMC.
Serious and grateful thanks to all my sponsors: AAA Carolinas, Polar, Pocketfuel, and crew, listed on the right of the web page. Pictures will be up soon, but I already tweeted a few. Amen, yo.

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