Last week I raced in St George, UT competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. My journey to this spot began way back in 2019 when I committed to do Ironman 70.3 Washington in Sept. 2020. After being out of the sport for a few years, I decided that having a race right in my own backyard was too tempting not to get back into racing. So, I set off to preparing for the race not knowing that it would be delayed because of our friend, Covid. That was a bummer, but I believe it was the right thing to do for everyone. I continued training through 2020 and into 2021 feeling pretty good about my improving fitness. I put together a race plan for 2021 which included a combination of either Ironman 70.3 Victoria, Ironman 70.3 Coeur d'Alene and/or Ironman 70.3 Oregon ( and maybe Ironman 70.3 Washington) along with a couple local races interspersed in between.
In the last week of March, during a track workout, I injured my right hamstring. At the time I got injured, I did not think it was going to be a big deal. Unfortunately, it was. I was not able to run at all for about 10 weeks. I did make the mistake by waiting too long to see my Doctor to get a referral for some PT or maybe I would have recovered faster. I also added massage therapy which I should have incorporated into my training routine years ago. The good thing was I was still able to ride and swim. Neither of these activities were bothered much by my injury. The injury was a big set back from my racing plans as I was not able to doing any racing until late July. I started out with doing the Aqua Bike at the Black Diamond Tri, still not wanting to test my hamstring in a race just, yet. I had a decent race and next did a 5K, then a 10K and lastly the Ironhorse ½ Marathon. All went well with no setbacks with my hamstring. I contemplated doing Ironman 70.3 Washington, but opted to be safe and just train up to the World Championships.
I was fortunate to able to head down to St. George in early October and train down on the course for a few weeks before the race. It turned out to be a great plan as the air quality here at home was horrible and would have made it difficult to train at home. My training metrics went up to a level they had never been at since I began seriously training in 2019. I was very encouraged going into race day. The day comes and the temperature is a bit cold (43), but the forecast for the rest of the day was for calm winds with very comfortable temps around 70. My swim began with a comfortable start. The water temp was 62 which was fine being we were all in wetsuits. I got out to the first turn with no issues except my goggles fogging up. I tried to just deal and keep moving. But after a few minutes of not knowing where I was going, I decided to stop and solve the problem. Now that I could see where I was going, I was able to see the next turn buoy and make the push back to the swim finish. I was a little disappointed with my swim time, but was not going to worry too much about it.
Out on the bike now. I had ridden the whole course a couple of times, so I knew what to expect. The ride went as expected and I was very pleased with my time considering my advanced age and the difficulty of this course with about 3400 feet of climbing. Into transition and out on the run with a good T2 time.
This run course also was very difficult with around 1000 feet of climbing. Again, I had run the whole course previously and was prepared to have a great run. The first 3 miles were a steady uphill and I felt good and was running on pace, just where I wanted to be. At this point in the run, the course makes a turn down through an undulating golf course path. I started down through the golf course and boom, my left hamstring (not the one that was injured) cramped up so tight I had to stop. In the back of my mind, I thought I may be done. I did have a secret weapon with me. A vial of Himalayan salt. I took a few licks of the salt, stretched it out, and miraculously the cramp stopped and I was running again, fast! I headed back down into town then around a short loop on the other side of the finish area and began the second loop back up the long steady climb to the golf course. My back decided to let me know it was not happy and tightened up enough to make it very difficult to run at the pace I planned to run. So run, a little walk, run, a little walk was the mantra back into town to the finish line. I was a bit disappointed with my run time, but overall, knowing the difficulty of this course, I am happy with my result. I missed my goal of 5:45 by a little more than a minute and did finish in the top 15 of my age group (6th fastest American) which was pretty cool considering the International field I was racing against with 104 countries represented at the World Championships
I have been fortunate to have qualified, raced and finished at IM World Championship in Kona years ago. The coolest thing about this race was to have all the members of my family there with me. The road to any goal you set for yourself is long and hard. If you are willing to give yourself a chance, you can be successful and reach any goal you set for yourself!
If you made it through this long-winded report, I commend you. Thanks to all the people who supported me and gave me positive vibes throughout this process!
Raise the Bar
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