Friday, November 03, 2006

Fun Times in Tempe

I wrapped up the 2006 race season last weekend at the Soma Half IM in Tempe, AZ. As expected it was a super fun weekend with friends and racing. The race director, Jeff Suffolk, and his crew did a great job in making it an exciting and competitive race. He also hooked me up with a stellar homestay...Glen Newbold, his wife Jana and two year-old Tyson were so generous in welcoming into their home for the weekend. A hearty congrats to Glen who completed his first half IM!

My flight leaving Denver on Thursday before the Sunday race was delayed 2 hours because of a snow storm which dumped up to 12 inches of wet, heavy snow along the Colorado front range. It was a little after 9:00 pm when I finally walked through the front doors of the Newbold home. The next day was my standard pre-race rest day, so I spent the morning building up my bike then headed into downtown Tempe for some lunch and check things out a bit. A couple of my friends, Kristin & Erin, were arriving later in the afternoon and we were able to meet up for dinner that night.

Saturday morning I completed my final workout, registered and checked in my bike. I was assigned bib number 1, which gave me and my friends a pretty good chuckle. Kristin, Erin and I had lunch, drove the bike course and spent the rest of the day relaxing at the house where they were staying. We had some competitive games of billiards and plenty of laughs before making our pasta dinner.

I woke race morning rested and ready to roll. I was super excited to get after it and simply enjoy the day. The course was spectator friendly with 3 loops on the bike and 2 for the run. I lined myself up in the water next to my roommmate, Pete, hoping I could secure a draft from him...ha. It lasted all of about 10 seconds and I soon found myself gapped from the leaders and once again swimming alone for 1.2 miles. I exited the water in 28:27, well off my goal time.

Onto the bike and just made an effort to hit my nutrition and ride aggressively. The loop course offerred plenty of chances to see how I was doing against the competition. The eventual winner, Lewis Elliot, was hammering things and opened up a big lead with a bike split of 2:09. This particular course really made one ride aware and alert with the u-turns, construction and having to navigate through other athletes. I found myself riding with Timex's Andriy Yasterbov who had DNFd at Kona the week prior. We played a nice little game of cat & mouse through most of the second and third loops. Coming into T2 I was pleased with my effort on the bike riding a 2:16.

Exiting the bike-to-run transition I calculated I was about 10 minutes down from the leader and running in 9th place. I was quite familiar with the run course as it covered the same route as IMAZ. Reminding myself of my run mantra, swift & smile, I took in what I needed at the aid stations thanking the volunteers. Through the first loop I managed to run down some of the guys and was in 5th place. It appeared Lewis was well on his way to the victory, but I continued to run hard in an effort to make the podium. Running a somewhat disappointing 1:17 (second fastest on the day behind Andriy's 1:16), I finished in 4th place with a 4:03:58. Andriy ran into 2nd and Jonathon Carron of Candada was just ahead of me in 3rd. As I crossed the finish line I was pleased not only with the day, but to have completed a successful season.

I congratulate Lewis, Andriy and Jonathon for their results and a big kudos to Pete, Erin and Kristin for their effort on race day!

2006 proved to be a solid year for me with several PR's set throughout the season. I am so grateful for the gift of good health, my sponsors and their support...Hammer Nutrition, Rudy Project and Elite Performance Foods. My coach, Zane Castro, has been such a big influence on my development as an athlete and person.

Thanks for checking in!

Keep it smooth...

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