2010 Miami 70.3 Race Report

Posted on November 2, 2010


This past weekend I went down to Miami to race the inaugural Rhoto Miami 70.3, my first time ever racing the half-ironman distance. I wasn’t sure what to expect: I had raced twice in Mexico in previous weeks with disastrous results. I had major struggles in the hot and humid conditions, and I wasn’t looking forward to more of the same in Miami. Upon returning from Mexico I struggled with jetlag and being sick for two weeks, so I wasn’t able to train much at all.

My alarm went off at 3:30 AM race morning, and I felt like I had been all week: awful. I felt nauseous and was barely able to get down any of my pre-race breakfast. I went to the starting line on more-or-less an empty stomach. After a short swim warm-up I felt a tiny bit better, but my expectations for the race remained low. At 6:52 AM we jumped into the water and lined up around the start buoy. It was still dark outside, but the organizers wanted to get things underway on time. They gave us a countdown and sent us on our way. It was so dark out that the only way to distinguish the turn buoys was to make out the tiny lights attached to them. Luckily we had a lead kayak; otherwise I’m positive we all would’ve gone off course. I settled in at about 5th position feeling very comfortable. Recently my swimming has been feeling great, so I planned on moving up throughout the field. By about halfway through the swim I had broken away with Philip Graves, Ironman UK winner and the Frenchman Sylvain Sudrie, ITU Long Distance World Champion. Feeling comfortable I decided lo lift the pace and take the lead. Sudrie stayed on my feet but we began to get a little gap on Graves. I led for about the last 800-1000 meters of the swim until Sudrie sprinted around me with just 50-100 meters to go. I exited the water just 1 second behind him and hustled into t1. I was surprised to learn that the swim was way long. While Sudrie and I should be coming out of the water in 21-22 minutes, it had taken us 28 minutes to complete the swim!

Less than a minute after getting out onto my Parlee TT bike one of my water bottles popped out from its cage. Just great! I rode the first hour of the bike very conservatively averaging around 265 watts, just trying to get my stomach to settle enough to get in some calories. I lost a decent chunk of time in the first hour and found myself in 8th place at about 25 miles in. About halfway through the ride my stomach began to feel okay and I was finally able to start focusing on my competition. I had finished my limited fluid supply and was anxiously awaiting the aid station at mile 30. I knew I was already in a fuel deficit by not eating a whole lot for breakfast (and losing the bottle earlier certainly didn’t help). The aid station at mile 30 never came. At the pro meeting they advertised aid stations at miles 15, 30, and 45, but apparently it hadn’t been setup by the time the pros got out onto the course. It was incredibly frustrating. I began to ride much more aggressively in the 2nd half. I lifted the pace significantly and began going after guys. I was able to re-pass Santiago Ascenco from Brazil, and due to Max Kriat’s mechanical trouble I moved back up into 6th place. The last 15 or so minutes of the ride I was holding around 300 watts, and I eventually finished the bike in 2:15 (24.8mph). I knew I was in a major calorie deficit and I hadn’t drunk nearly as much as I needed to due to lack of support on the course, but there was nothing I could do and just had to keep pressing on.

I got out onto the run course feeling surprisingly good. The run course was very tough. We basically ran over this enormous hill, the Port of Miami Bridge, 8 times (run course was 2 laps). I was conscious of Santiago Ascenco right behind me – he’s a very strong Ironman runner. I settled into a comfortable rhythm of 5:40 miles for the first seven miles. I couldn’t believe how good I felt and how well everything was going. I easily pulled away from Santiago and I had passed Philip Graves early on into the run to move into 5th place. I was beginning to set my sights on Victor Zyemtsev. At this point I was on pace to run sub-1:15. That’s when things went downhill. My nausea feeling returned with a vengeance, and as I passed mile seven I began vomiting. I hit the wall hard. I spent the next half mile dry heaving and puking up every last bit of everything I had consumed. With six miles to go in the heat and humidity this didn’t bode well. I went from effortless 5:40 miles to struggling to maintain 6:40 miles. I was fading hard! At this point I just went into survival mode and began praying I could hold onto 5th place. I fought hard through the next three miles. With three more to go, I was forced to stop at every aid station, pour water and ice over myself, and try to stomach a little bit of PowerAde. Luckily for me, the guys behind me were experiencing similar meltdowns. Even with running my 12th mile in 7:11 I was able to hold onto 5th place and stumble across the finish line in 4:08. I ended up running 1:21, ~6:10 pace.

Despite experiencing multiple disasters, I’m pretty satisfied with my performance overall. It was as good as I could’ve hoped for given my awful buildup to the race and then the myriad of nutritional problems I suffered on race day. I’m certainly not done with this distance as I think I could’ve been a threat to the podium had things gone smoothly. Additionally, after two awful races in Mexico it feels good to end the season with a top-5 finish in a solid field.

As always, I want to recognize the wonderful support I receive from my sponsors – Team Psycho, Parlee Cycles, PowerBar, TYR, FuelBelt, and Fitwerx – I couldn’t do what I do without their help!

Posted in: Race Reports