For the entire week leading up to the April 13th race the wind blew through Miami’s South Beach with just enough force to create white caps and choppy surf. I also felt really flat the whole week. Yet at some point during the eight hours I was sleeping Saturday night, all that changed. The water was glassy along the shore. The wind had gone, and so had the weight in my legs. I felt fresh, and excited (I was excited all week; you don’t have to feel great to race great, but it helps). Standing next to three of my personal heroes along the beach – Dara Torres, Chris Lieto, and Macca – I waited for the canon to start my 2008 season.
Bang! A quick sprint to the water and I found myself gliding ahead of the pack right next to Chris McCormack. I pulled ahead just slightly and at the first buoy I was able to gap the rest of the field. By the end of the 1/2 mile swim I was leading the race by 22 seconds.
I pushed hard on the bike right from the start, and maintaining my initial enthusiastic pace proved to be no small feat. On the second of four Causeway crossings in the 18 mile bike I saw a long shadow gliding over the pavement beside me. It was attached to Chris Lieto. I picked up the pace to stay with him as long as I could, but over the final ten miles I watched five bike lengths grow to ten, and then Chris’s silhouette continued to shrink. I came into T2 just over a minute behind the four-time Ironman Champion, and another two minutes ahead of Macca.
Off on the four mile run I wanted to be conservative. It was my first run race of the season, plus, having spent most of my training hours in Seattle, I wasn’t sure how the heat and humidity would play into my performance At the first mile marker I looked at my watch to see I had run a 5:10, that felt like a 5:30. I held that same pace for the next three miles (though each one felt much worse than the previous), and finished the race just 45 seconds behind Chris Lieto, and two minutes ahead of Macca. Later I found out that my run was the fastest of the day! (Thanks in no small part, I’m sure, to the K-Swiss Ultra Natural Run shoes I wore).
It was a pretty awesome experience to race against two of the sports most seasoned competitors. I was confident in my swim and cycling abilities, but I’m most proud of the run. It’s no sub-30-minute 10k, but I’m getting to where I may soon call myself a runner without my nose growing ten inches.
For now, my focus is on the Mazatlan ITU Pan-American Championships on Saturday.