I finally had my last race of the season and it concluded with my 3rd half ironman and my first World Championships. I raced last weekend in Clearwater, Florida for the 70.3 World Championships. This was the only race of the season that I felt I truly rested for and I think that I actually was able to hit my taper. I went into the race feeling great and for the first time during the season truly fresh.
As I mentioned this was my first World Championship and the atmosphere was pretty incredible. There just seemed to be so much anticipation for the race. I was staying a little ways away from the race which had its limitations and also some benefits. It made getting to the race site every day before the race a little more difficult but then again I was able to rest and be away from all the excitement. Thankfully my dad went to the race with me and that made the logistics a lot easier so I didn't really have to think about that. By the time race morning came around I felt calm and confident in my preparation.
My race plan was to be the first person out of the water. Stay at the front of the race but not be the one leading the whole time (failed at this) and then have a strong half marathon because that is what I had been focusing a lot of my training on. I succeeded in being first out of the water but I failed at not leading the bike. Based on the way the race was last year I knew it was important to be at the front but to not actually lead. Because the bike course is so flat there are many opportunities to "legally" draft (and for that matter illegally draft). Because of that, being the first person in the chain of cyclists would take much more energy than being in the middle of it. For some reason I abandoned this race strategy and led the bike through about 40 miles. At this point I sort of realized that I needed to run still and backed off and just hung out in the pack. (this is where it was made obvious to me how much easier it was to actually just hang out in the pack than lead the race...learning experience.)
I got into the run and my legs felt very heavy but I was running at a good pace. Unfortunately this only lasted for a few miles and by 3 or 4 miles in I started to really struggle. I spent the majority of the middle part of the race slowly loosing time off of my pace and started to really loose my mental focus. I had high expectations of having a really good run because I was training so well and it was obvious to me that I wasn't running anywhere near my pace. That was until on the second lap when an age grouper came up by me (he was on his first lap of the run) and he flat out told me to run with him. With someone there to motivate me I quickly got back into a better pace and finished the last 2 or 3 miles much stronger. Overall I was happy with the whole experience and by the end I was happy with my effort. I'll take what I learned and I am excited to race the course in Las Vegas next year.
I am happy to have my season finally over. This was my first full season as a professional and I gained a lot of experience while staying competitive in some tough races. I look forward to a much needed short break and to start working on a true breakout year in 2011.