After a solid training camp up in New Hampshire with our fellow QT2 PROs, Kait and I made the quick packing changed and set out on our road trip to Chattanooga. We wrapped up our last week of training before the race in my hometown on Keuka Lake and were once again back on the road headed South. Chattanooga welcomed us with great weather and amazing home stay that sat atop Signal Mountain. This was my first experience with a home stay and I must say that it will be hard to top! Getting into town on Tuesday we were able to grab a burger with Mac from QR, ride the bike course and spend some time at the expo where we even had our own Autograph session. The lead in to the race was smooth and went by very quick. In no time it was race morning.
Literally hanging on by a thread (a rope tied between a party boat and the dock), the race began. A downstream swim yielded very fast times for all. Those top swimmers were still rewarded with a time gap of about 2-3 minutes on the chase pack, but overall setup for a very competitive men’s pro field. Coming out in around 43 minutes I was in the chase pack of about 5 looking to try and make up any time we could on the 20 large leaders train. I made a decision about 20 miles in, to ride my own race and let the others ahead of me inflict their own damage on themselves. It’s a call I made based on my current fitness and what I feel like is smart on the day. This ultimately came down to looking at who was in that pack and how it might impact me personally. In the end it seemed to work out for me as I ended up picking them off both near the end of the bike and the run. It’s a gamble that sometimes pays off and sometimes leaves you left in the dust.
Riding a steady race, mostly solo on the 116 mile course (extended due to permit limitations in Georgia) I rode a 4:46 getting me off the bike in 18th place.
Never feeling like I was overreaching, I came off the bike feeling ready to run. Over the first 7 miles I felt really good picking up a few people here and there. The hills on the north shore of the river were nasty and made for a run course with more elevation changes than I’d ever seen for an Ironman. The first time through things rolled along smoothly. However, over the final 13 miles those hills began to take a bite out of my legs and the pace slowed a bit. The fade was there for sure but unlike my previous 8 Ironman marathon’s, I held it together and did a good job of damage control. I got passed and passed a couple more over the final 10 miles and finally made it to the finish line in a time of 8:42 with a marathon split of 3:07.
Overall, this race was a great stepping stone and ends the season showing improvement. The swim and bike are coming along steadily and I finally began to scratch the surface of my running potential. I now head into a nice off-seaon break feeling content about how my first Professional season wound up. I learned a lot about racing in the Pro wave and improved a great deal in 2014. Now the only thing to do is get faster for next year so I can truly COMPETE against the best in the world.
And now onto Sugar Heaven for a couple weeks :)…literally. (Funny side note it that I went into this place on Thursday while I was walking downtown and I wanted to get some M & M’s. I filled a bag, about 3/4 of a pound with all cool colors thinking that buying in bulk would be a nice way to get some sweet treats. As it turned out this place charged me up the wazoo! It was $18 bucks for a bag the size of my first. I couldn’t leave it at the counter because I had already mixed all the colors together, so I handed over a $20 and fumed for about 15 minutes until I cooled down and ate those damn M & M’s. Lesson learned!)