July 31, 2018 - Excellent conditions on a beautiful course. Good setup for a new HIM PR. As with every race, I learned a lot that I will hopefully implement to improve in future races.
After struggling with the heat during last year's Eagleman 70.3 race, I decided to do a HIM a little later in the summer to be able to better prepare for racing in hot weather. In the months leading up to Ohio 70.3, we had plenty of opportunity to train in temps in the 90's which I did. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best was my mantra. Thankfully, I did not have to put that training to the test with the conditions at Ohio 70.3. Several of my local friends and training buddies (George and Jeff) also decided to do this race as we are all preparing for IM Louisville this fall. George was kind enough to invite me to join them for a pre-race dinner at their Air BNB saturday evening to enjoy his wife's (Cara) homemade lasagna. My family made the trip with me for support. Probably the highlight of the weekend was waking up on Saturday to go watch my kids do the Ironkids Fun Run at Selby Stadium. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, me or them. They had a blast and were pumped with their finishers medals.
The day started with temps in the upper 50's and topped out around 80. I was excited to get to meet a few fellow Team Infinit Performance member Eileen on Saturday at the expo and Chris as I was checking my bike in to T1. As fate would have it, I sat behind Eileen on the bus ride to the race Sunday morning. She was kind enough to let me borrow her phone so I could text my wife the correct address to pick up the shuttle bus.
I was happy to hear that the water temperature was 79 and that wetsuits would not be allowed. With my swimming background, wetsuits don't provide the same benefit as they do for less experienced swimmers and I always seem to find a way to get a cramp while taking off the wetsuit or feel slightly dehydrated. The swim start was a self-seeded rolling start, which was my first. I picked a slot that I thought was appropriate based on my swim strategy. I was super excited to see a friend from the past who is an excellent triathlete and great person. Lori and I chatted a little before the swim. Her upbeat personality helped relax any pre-race anxiety that is normal to have.
There weren't any points that I felt crowded on the swim. I did have to navigate around a few people, but just gave everyone space and did so gradually rather than spiking efforts. I was very happy with my pace shown in my garmin data. Looks like I did quite a bit of zig-zagging along the way. Typically I do my own sighting, but since there were so many swimmers, I chose to rather follow the path of those in front of me with only sighting the bouys every now and then. I felt long and reserved the whole swim and felt great exiting as I made my way to T1.
I was excited to get out onto the bike course and find my rhythm. I've trained with power beginning last year, but I had never monitored or followed it for a race. I decided to try to hold around 80% ftp based on the general recommendation for this distance race. I had 3 bottles of my custom Infinit bike blend on my bike and intended to drink them at the rate of 1 bottle per hour. The bike course was not completely flat, but rather slight but constant grades. I locked into my power target and rode. I wasn't sure where I would end up with respect to time focusing solely on power, but was pleasantly surprised when I finished the bike leg significantly faster than I did my previous 2 attempts at HIM's. I went through the normal ups and downs during the bike and at mile 44 everything turned positive. I was excited to get into T2 and get started with the run.
T2 went smoothly. Being that this course was a point to point race, T1 and T2 were in separate locations. We were required to check in our bags for T2 on Saturday, the day before the race. This left me with a hard decision on what to do for nutrition on the run. I typically like to use my custom Infinit Run Blend. I mixed 2 small flasks with concentrated Infinit on Saturday and checked them in with my run bag. At the first aid station, I decided to abandon that plan because the bottles were hot from being in the sun, so I opted for the provided course nutrition. In hindsight, I should have just filled the flasks with Infinit and added the water at the first aid station and also another mid way through the run. I had considered this beforehand, but thought it would have been bothersome to fumble around trying to fill while running.
The first 6 miles of the run felt great. I was slightly faster than my goal pace, but felt like it was effortless. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7, I started getting the feeling in my calves that they were not happy and wanted to cramp. I was able to keep this at bay between mile 7 and 10 by slightly backing off the pace. At mile 10, I was still in position to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, but was getting very concerned with how my legs were feeling. At the aid station after the 11th mile, I stopped to grab a drink and both calves briefly locked up. I started walking and they settled down to where I was able to start running again as I exited the aid station. I backed off the pace again for the 12th mile for fear of totally locking up my legs. There were a lot of delicate moments during mile 12 and 13 navigating some of the hills making my back into town for the finish, but I was able to keep running. I made it to the last stretch before entering Selby Stadium for the finish, praying the whole time that I could just keep moving forward. My family was waiting just outside the stadium to cheer me on. I passed them and made the right turn to enter into the stadium. There was a short, somewhat steep ramp leading into the stadium. As soon as I saw it, I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen next. As soon as I stepped onto the grade, both calves locked solidly, forcing both of my feet to point straight down. I fell to the ground and could not get my feet straight to be able to pick myself up. One of the volunteers helped me up off the ground and I was able to start walking and running again as I made it onto the track. I was able to finish running on the track and loosened up enough to walk around afterwards.
I bettered my fastet HIM time by 45 minutes, and felt that I left some room for additional improvement in the future. I spoke with an Team Infinit Performance teammate (Myia) after crossing the finish line and think I learned exactly what I need to do to position myself for a stronger finish next time. All things considered, I'm very happy with how the day went and the end result. Happy to be part of such a great team. Both of my friends (George and Jeff) also had great days setting new PR's by significant margins.