Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Jerseyman 70.3 Race Report

So, now that you know I survived and even finished; I suppose all 2 of you that may read this want to know all about the race! Or not, but here it is anyway. ;-)

The morning started off a bit dreary and foggy as Brian and I set up our transition areas, got marked and eventually made our final preparations. Brian's Sprint race was supposed to start at 7:30 and my Half at 8 though registration issues delayed the sprint start until closer 7:50. I saw Brian off and then cheered him out of the water. He looked good and had a great swim, especially for his first ever race! My race was delayed an additional 30 minutes or so due to apparent thunder that I never heard, though otherwise I doubt I'd have seen Bri finish the swim.

When our race finally was cleared to start we made our way through the shoot and to the water's edge and quickly heard 45 seconds to the start. I managed to find a great spot between two people and had a very strong start, putting myself easily in the top 15 of my 50+ person wave start. I saw a group forming up to my right so I made my way onto the feet of one of the guys in it. I kept my place in the draft for a couple of minutes before losing it and just going on my way. Throughout the swim I drafted where I could and just worked on keeping a nice steady pace throughout. At times I felt like due to a stronger follow through with my right arm I was drifting to the left, though I think it was less pronounced then I believed during the swim. A number of the people I was basing this thought on swam way right of the bouy's and finish area so my thoughts were a bit skewed on that.

I got out of the water feeling good and made my way up the beach while working off the top half of my suit. Running by my parents, sister and Aimee was great as they cheered for me. I even smiled for the first time during a race! T1 was pretty slow as I struggled to get my left leg out of the suit over the timing chip. Once out I got my stuff set for the bike and was gone.

Swim: 38:40 (heard the swim course was a bit long, possibly as much as 1.4 miles...)
47th overall on the swim.

T1: 2:49

The bike started off a bit slowly and we hit some general rollers basically right away so it was good for warming up the legs but it felt like a slow start. Once I got rolling I started to feel better, got my first on bike gel in me and settled in for the long bike. I also focused on taking in liquids, despite the relatively cool and wet conditions compared to Nations' I didn't want to have a repeat of my near total meltdown two weeks prior. The roads were mostly very nice and the scenary was definitely beautiful. The heavily hyped Frenchtown was a bit of a joke, being at the bottom of one of the steepest declines in the race and being an extremely tiny little town. The course also took an immediate left upon entering the town; I along with a number of other riders missed this left as I was more focused on navigating the somewhat heavy traffic that was held up around the turn. Luckily I caught my mistake quickly, turned around and then saw the volunteer standing silently pointing to the turn... Seriously, completely silent... Never said a word as I went past the turn or as I watched others do the same while retracing my steps to find it.

The covered bridge which was also heavily built up in the race description was also highly overrated though the scenary leading up to it was great. The rest of the ride was uneventful and continued on with some light rollers that I struggled somewhat up, though not much worse then anyone else around me. Rode back into the park and before I knew it I was back in the dismount zone, one shoe off the other still on.

I tore into the transition area threw my bike up on the rack happily noting I was one of the first 20 bikes to return pulled on my running shoes and took off. All the while my "fan club" (including Brian who'd finished by then) cheered and screamed me on. One of the head race organizers even called out that I had the best fan base at the race. It really was great to have them there cheering, and especially cheering for me specifically. That's a first for me.

Bike: 2:51:38
24th overall bike

T2: 0:56
Very smooth transition

I went out fairly easy on the run, not sure just how much I could give it without blowing up. I got to run by my "fan club" again as the course looped around and came back by transition and I gave a little skip in direct defiance of the stated "run, walk or crawl" rule for the run portion and then was on my way for the long slog along the wet streets. The rain had come down steadily and sometimes heavily during the bike portion so some areas had standing or even running water across the streets. The run course followed the bike course out for about 6 and a half miles before turning around and coming back. Since none of the roads were closed off to cars it seemed a bit scary at times but as far as I know there were no incidents. There were also no mile markers so I based my milage on water stations being at about every mile. I later found out they were ever 1.5 miles so I was undercounting, which I had absolutely no problem with, especially when it became apparent i had much less distance to go to the finish.

About half way through the run I started walking at the water stations to drink before resuming my running; a practice I adopted from two runners I'd been trailing the entire run. Finally at about mile ten I caught and passed on of them and then held on for the finish. The final quarter mile I felt great; I opened up the stride a bit and strode into the finishing stretch. Holding back tears of general exhaustion and happiness I smiled yet again for the family and crossed the line just under 5 and a half hours later. I got a finishers medal, wrapped up, in a plastic bag...

Run: 1:49:24
55th overall run

Overall Time: 5:23:25
Overall Rank: 31st
Male Rank: 29/158
Age Group: 5/12

8:22 pace was a bit slower then I'd hope for, though I'm far from dissapointed with it, especially being my first time at this distance. In my age group I was somewhat excited to see that all the guys that beat me were later 20's so I've still got time. 2 29 year olds, a 28 year old and a 27 year old. Look out late 20's, here I come! :)

Aimee made me a homemade "1/2 Iron Man" trophy which I was presented with and more pictures were taken. Overall Aimee had 300 + from the day. My soaking stuff was thrown together and then into my bin in the back of my truck, goodbyes were said and Aimee drove us back to the hotel were we stayed the rest of the gloomy and rainy day, reading and watching movies and eating pizza.

All in all an excellent 1st 70.3 experience and while the race may not have been the most well planned (card stock bike numbers don't stay on in the rain; instead they get in the cassete) and organized race out there it was still a solid race in my opinion. I may not choose to return to it specifically again, though there is no doubt I'll be doing another 70.3.

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