A little over two weeks ago, I made a last minute decision to race Pocono 70.3 in upstate PA. It was last minute only because I was trying to apply a lesson learned from IMTX. Following Texas, I put in a couple races early in the summer, but neither panned out to much. I just simply didn't recover very quickly from Texas. I'm not exactly sure why, but it seemed to be a consistent feeling among a few other finishers I spoke with. The heat, concrete run, etc just added up to a little longer recovery time. ANYWAY, I opted not to commit to any race following Louisville unless my training gave me positive feedback. I decided that the training was 'good enough' post-Lou to give the race a try and I flew off to Philadelphia.
Unfortunately the race had to cancel the swim two days out from the event. Apparently the river was too high following their constant rainfall and was deemed unsafe to swim in. I'm not sure what the river usually looks like, but the current was MOVING and it would definitely make for an interesting swim since the course is not entirely down current.
As a result, we had to do a bike/run TT start with 30 seconds staggered between each professional. Aside from the flooded river, we also had cold temperatures and wet roads. I was wearing a skinsuit, bike jersey, arm warmers, tall socks, toe covers, and full-fingered gloves. And at no point was I too warm.
I was one of the last athletes to go off so I was going to have to chase from the get go. The bike course was very hilly, technical and challenging and I felt this would play to my favor. As the race got going, I settled into a nice rhythm and I thought things were going pretty well as I moved through the first 20 miles of the course. However, I really didn't have the gearing for some of the steep hills and I was getting pretty worked as I climbed these short, steep grades over and over again. At any rate, I had caught up with two athletes and the three of us were moving along the course trying to catch as many other athletes as possible.
Unfortunately at the 60K point I could tell my front tire was going flat and I had to pull off and make a change. I got the tired off, replaced and inflated in about five minutes and got back out onto the course. Stopping for that long had really stiffened me up with the cold weather and I lost some mental mojo now that I was riding along solo again (and lost a lot of time). I also blew through a turn at one point and lost a little more time. I was starting to race fairly sloppy, but as I approached T2 I got a second wind because, if nothing else, I wanted to try and run a fast split off the bike.
The run start with a pretty convoluted first mile, but then we went out onto the meat of the course. Once again we were treated with some nice hills, but the rise and falls were moderate grades for extended periods of time. I found these hills to be challenging, but also very 'runable.' I managed to start to run some people down and I thought maybe I could actually get back into the money.
I only managed to get back into 6th place and finished one minute out of 5th (the last money spot). I had the second fastest run of the day, but only by a ~60 second margin over several other athletes. I felt like my effort on the run was good, but I still was hoping for 60-90 seconds quicker in the end. I didn't hit my half marathon goal of the season (sub 76) and that will just have to wait until next year.
My final race will be Ironman Florida in a little less than three weeks. Even though its only been a couple weeks, the training after Pocono has been encouraging and I believe I still have one day of fight left in me for 2011.