FL 70.3 – Race Re-cap - Mickey Witte Ⓥ: Triathlete. Neuroscientist. Vegan.
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FL 70.3 – Race Re-cap

30 Jun Blog | Comments

At the end of the 2011 tri season, I knew that I wanted to race another half Ironman early into the 2012 season. For me, that meant racing Ironman 70.3 FL on May 20th. My friend and fellow training mate Ricky is training for Ironman Zurich, so this made for a perfect tune-up for him for the full Ironman.

The first thing we discovered upon arriving in central Florida on Friday night before the Sunday race was that there was a real lack of…well, people. Coming from the metropolis that is Miami, it was somewhat of a culture shock to find mainly farmland for miles and miles. We stopped off at a place called Romeo’s Italian Restaurant in Lake Wales, FL. From the sight of the crowded parking lot, it looked like this place was quite the happening hot spot. We entered the establishment to find that we were probably the youngest people to ever enter the place. Nonetheless, food is fuel and we needed to be sure to get a solid meal in our bodies 36 hrs out from the race. After dinner, we headed out to each of our respective hotels – turns out we’d incidentally booked stays at different hotels – the Holiday Inn and the Holiday Inn Express were both mentioned on the race’s website – go figure! 🙂

Saturday morning had us up bright and early for pre-race workout. We enjoyed riding a good portion of the bike course to familiarize ourselves with the terrain a bit. Later, we drove the entire 56-mile bike course and I’m so glad we did! There were some monster hills tucked away in there, as well as some tricky turns, so we were glad we made the time to do this if only for the mental preparation it gave us.

Come race morning, we knew we were in for a hot day. It hadn’t rained, as was predicted, so on top of that it was suffocatingly humid.  Also, there was a surprise celebrity former pro cyclist-turned-back-to-triathlete racing that day too.  That’s right, folks. The one and only Mr. Lance Armstrong was racing the same race we were! Because of the staggered start of the waves, Ricky and I got to see him exit the swim course, which was pretty neat. Speaking of the swim, it was in a lake that is not normally open for public swimming. This made for a very murky swim with minimal to non-existent visibility. In turn, my swim time suffered a little due to all the additional sighting that was needed. It’s also not ideal being in a wave stuck between so many different age groups – both men and women of every size bucking through the water. I can’t count how many times my butt was grabbed and someone attempted to swim on top of me throughout that swim! Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get out and onto my bike!

When I exited the swim, I saw my time on my watch and was annoyed that I’d lost so much time on the swim, but I was determined to blast the bike course and make it up. Ricky and I talked strategy a little bit the day before and we were both set on torching the bike course. And boy, that’s just what I did My Garmin data indicates that my average speed was 21 mph – even with the hills and heat! It was just one of those days where my bike and I were perfectly in sync. I felt great and was happy that I was able to get the hydration and nutrition right this time.

Off the bike and onto the run course! – the run was a suffocatingly hot 3-lap course around a pretty recreational area in Haines City, FL. One of the biggest challenges was the monster climbing that the early part of the run course involved. For a good 1.5-2 miles of each of the three laps, we were climbing – vertically, straight up – long, rolling ascents. People were walking. It was that kind of day.

I’m happy to say that I ran the whole thing despite seeing so many athletes giving into the heat and walking up those hills. I didn’t want to look at my watch to see my pace while climbing, I just wanted to keep pushing forward. By the end of the 3rd lap, as I approached the finish, my pace quickened and I was hoping I could cinch a solid finish time. By no means was this a personal best run for me, but I surprised myself when I found out that my overall time was actually a personal record by about 40 seconds or so. Go figure!

I really love this half Ironman distance. It’s just long enough to be an endurance test, but just short enough to still be a race. I’m looking forward to knocking some more hefty chunks of time off my personal best at this distance in the future – pending I can find a flat course with more agreeable weather. Let the planning begin!

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