One of the many great things about the sport of triathlon are the challenges that come with training/racing and the process of adjusting your training/racing to meet these challenges. This year I decided to challenge myself by putting an early season half Ironman on my schedule and thus forcing myself to focus my training a little earlier and increase training volume over last year. I decided to make it a fun race, something epic, so I signed up for San Juan 70.3! This past weekend I made my way to Puerto Rico feeling good about my training and excited to be back racing after five months off. The following is a quick recap of my trip.
Carlos, Robbie and I arrived at the San Antonio Airport on Friday at 4:50 am. After some research we decided flying with our bikes would be the most reasonable way to get them to San Juan. The real challenge was hauling the big boxes around with our other luggage. We looked ridiculous, but after some extended time getting through security we made the flight depart time and arrived in San Juan on schedule. Kudos to Carlos for negotiating some great bike transportation costs!
The first night we settled into our hotel and relaxed, recovering from a day of travel. Saturday was all about race preparation. We scouted the course and worked in a short bike and swim on course. Next was the pro meeting. Ironman.com had the following to say about the Men’s pro field:
The third edition of the Jeep IRONMAN 70.3 San Juan features a stacked professional field of 50 men and 24 women competing on Sunday. In the men’s race, defending champion Tim O’Donnell is also in for a tough race. Former IRONMAN world champion Farris Al-Sultan, Richie Cunningham, Max Kriat, Andrew Starykowicz, Dirk Bockel, Michael Lovato, Bert Jammaer, Paul Mathews and Matty Reed along with a host of others are in San Juan to try to dethrone the two-time champ.
The pro meeting revealed that the majority of the start list showed up and I had my work cut out if I was going to earn any points to qualify for 70.3 Worlds. After the pro meeting it was off to packet pickup and then pre race prep. We found a nice little local restaurant to eat at and then it was off to bed- nervous as all get out!
4:30 came early the next day and I was up and off to transition. There are a few perks to racing pro and being able to avoid mandatory bike turn in is one of them. It’s great to be able to ride your bike to T1. After setting up in T1 and double checking my setup I walked to the swim start to begin my warm-up. Thirty minutes and the boom of a cannon later we were off in a washtub start to swim 1.2 miles. This winter I joined Masters of South Texas (MOST) a local swim team coached by Susan Ingraham. Susan has been great, whipping my form into shape! I doubled my time spent in the pool and was excited to see if it had paid off. The first 400 meters went great, I lined up to the far left just behind Faris Al-Sultan and prepped for a crazy start. I was able to stay in the pack the first 400 meters. I can remember thinking, this is great just stay on their feet. About 2 seconds after that thought I popped my head up to sight and saw I had slipped back 10 meters. I put in a good surge to try and latch back on but it was too late, the pack was gone. The remainder of the swim I was by myself, behind the first two packs but ahead of the 3rd pack. When I exited the water I looked down to see a time of 27:30, my goal time was 28:00 minutes. I was disappointed I fell off the pack that ended up swimming 1-1:30 faster than me but excited to have swum under my goal time.
The run from swim exit to T1 was long, about 500 meters. This makes for an interesting dynamic because it causes your heart rate to be sky high at the beginning of the bike. My goal for the bike leg was sub-2:15. Bike training has been great this year. I’ve been training Tuesday and Thursday morning with a group of friends aka “The Warpathers”. The consistency this has brought to training has been great, not to mention all the fun we have! The bike went as planned, and I hit my goal watts on my power meter. The only downside was I spent almost the entire ride biking by myself. I did pass a few guys but never reached the pack in front of me. All the racers did get the kitchen sink thrown at us with a mix of rain, wind, and hot weather. We even had the occasional two foot iguana on course to dodge around! I finished the bike in 2:12:06 about 3 minutes under goal pace.
My plan for the run was to start conservative and then finish strong. I knew it was going to be a tough run course and thought a lot of people would be blowing up on the second of two loops. By starting conservative I hoped to be chasing those unfortunate souls down. The goal was to run sub 1:20. Well lets just say by mile one I was adjusting that goal from 1:20 to 1:30. Straight away on the run I was having problems with cramping and by mile 3 my entire quad had locked up! Just as I was grabbing my quad and groining in pain the medical truck drives up and asks if I need a lift? My answer was, “Hell No” and I forced myself to get back to running. I had to put aside my pride and desire to run people down and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I did manage to negative split my run although I was about a minute per mile off goal pace finishing with a 1:29:28.
Overall I’m pleased with my race. It was the first race of the season and I PR’d my 70.3 time finishing with a 4:13:29 and finished as the 26th Male Pro. I learned a ton, know what I need to work on, and am hungry for my next race. I’ve set the next challenge and have adjusted my plan to achieve it. Galveston 70.3 coming up on April 7th and I need to get my run put together!
Post race I got to kick back, relax, and enjoy some great Puerto Rican culture. I’ve got to thank my travel companions Robbie Wade and Carlos Miranda for putting up with me for 4 days. They both had outstanding races and are on their way to triathlon glory this year!
Thanks for reading and keep Tri-ing!