I arrived in town on Thursday morning, poked around the expo, registered and then went out to drive the bike course. I'm glad I took the time to scope out the course, otherwise I would have been really disheartened to arrive at the hills for the first time on race day and discover that they were all bigger than I had anticipated. We do have some steep rollers in the San Angelo area, but everything in CdA is twice as long and just as steep.
Once that was done I "checked in" to where we were staying. Through weird and happy circumstance, my friend Sam (who now lives in San Francisco) had mentioned that his boss, Tom, lives in Coeur d'Alene. Tom and his wife Pam were incredibly generous and let Hannah and me stay at their place for the race. Sam also flew up to spectate and volunteer.
After delays, both Hannah and my folks made it into town.
Race morning was uneventful, except for misplacing Hannah and my wetsuit before the start (they were together, but not with me... d'oh!). Everything worked out and I got down to the swim in time.
It wasn't until about 15 seconds before the cannon went off that I realized I was starting way wide. Ultimately, I missed the draft of the faster guys that I could have hung with and instead rolled through with an easy/steady effort. I checked my watch at the first turn buoy and saw that it was blank (I had taken it to a shop the day before to get the battery replaced but the waterproof seal didn't hold up). I had no idea how the swim had gone or where I was -- I only learned later that I popped out just under an hour and in 76th place.
I saw Hannah as I was exiting transition and swapped watches with her so I'd have a sense of my time on the course.
The bike went like it usually does with everyone passing me in the first loop. This time however, because I was riding smarter (thank you power meter), I was actually able to come back through a bunch of those people on the second loop. I rolled in around 6:26, changed and was off for the run.
For the last three IM attempts, I've wanted to go sub-12. That didn't happen at either of my Lake Placid races, but I had done the work and had paced the first parts of my race well enough that I was in a position to make it happen.
Short summary: the run was tough, but doable. I faded a bit in the middle, mostly because I was worried I was running at a pace I couldn't sustain (that's where the heart rate info would have helped). I came through mile 20 a few minutes past 11 hours and knew that the only way I was going to make my goal was through a strong push.
I had been practicing using key words for the six months leading into my race -- I'll write something up on those in a later post. As I had practiced, at 10k to go, I clicked in and ramped up the effort. Granted, my speed change was relative (I wasn't setting any records here), but it was enough to get the job done: 4:22 marathon and an 11:58:58 overall.
Overall it was a great day. Like usual, things went wrong. But this was the first long course race where I've been able to stay calm throughout the day and lift effort at the end. For that, I credit Hannah's patience in letting me get out the door to train, as well as Gordo's and the Endurance Corner crew's coaching.
I'll wrap this up with a quick photo. I was fortunate enough to meet up with some of the other Endurance Corner athletes in the days before the race. And man, there are some fast dudes (and ladies) on this team.