A super-sized congrats to my friend Michael Lovato on his victory in Tempe...what a performance!!
I'm back in Boulder and my legs are feeling good...so IMAZ proved to be another challenging "day at the office". The weather was decent with mild winds and warm temperatures reaching into the upper 80s and a high of 90. I awoke race morning and went about my pre-race breakfast routine feeling confident and prepared. My parents were volunteering as bodymarkers and they did the honors for me at the transition area which was kind of cool. After getting things settled, checking the bike, chatting with some friends, etc. I took some time to get my mind set and listen to my MP3 player.
We had a 15 minute gap from the age group mass start which still provided plenty of athletes to secure a draft with a very large professional field of around 70 athletes. After the cannon I found myself swimming a bit too far right near the wall and was soon able to find the feet of one of my training partners. I felt comfortable throughout the swim and exited the water within my goal time. I stayed calm and relaxed in T1 and made my way to my Trek TT which a bike handler had waiting for me. It took me about 30 miles before my legs started to come around and I really settled into a good rhythm for the final two loops. I found myself riding through some of the field and away from a few guys which gave a good mental boost. Within the final few miles of the bike my left quad and hamstring began to cramp and I knew the run was going to be tough, but was happy to be off the bike in under 5 hours. It appeared I was on track to break 9 hours for the day which was one of my goals. Into T2 I used some postive self-talk as I began to feel the familiar cramping I had experienced in previous races. Throughout the run I never found my true running form and my pacing strategy was revised to more of a survival mode in an effort to manage the cramping. Through a lot of prayers, the helpful volunteers at the aid stations and the folks on the course cheering I was able to keep things fairly steady and run my first sub 3 hour marathon getting me across the line in 8:56 - a new PR!!
I am very humbled to have the gift of good health to train and race at this level. I would also like to thank my family & friends for their support and prayers - it's greatly appreciated! To Zane, my coach, you rock (even though I often curse your name in training!) My efforts are the result of an incredible team and I am very grateful for the support of my partners: Elite Performance Foods, Hammer Nutrition and Rudy Project.
This race has given me motivation to continue my pursuit of excellence and I look forward to getting in the mix at Wildflower on May 5th!
Keep it smooth...