2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Las Vegas

This has been a great racing season for me.  I’ve worked hard under Coach Jeff and stayed healthy all year.  I raced Oceanside 70.3, REV3 Knoxville Half, Kansas 70.3, Vineman 70.3 and REV3 Maine Olympic before last weekend’s IM 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas.  I qualified at Vineman 70.3 and pr’d my Half/70.3 dist in 4:57 and grabbed a roll-down slot at the awards to gain entry into the World Championship.  My only real goal was to soak up the energy and enjoy my time racing with the best of the best.

My wife and two oldest girls joined me in Vegas and I was excited to share this experience with them.  We arrived on Friday, although at different times.  I was also able to meet with my fellow REV3 Teammate Maggie who finished strong on Sunday!  The athlete dinner and briefing was great and I even got to catch up a bit with Chris Lieto, who was in town to announce the race.

View from my room at Westin Lake Las Vegas!

Hey, I know that guy in the official race program!

On Saturday morning, I met with my speedster buddy Vince to check out the swim practice.  It was a private lake, so there was only a two hour window to swim in the lake.  The water was a balmy 84′ and very murky to the point you couldn’t see your hands while swimming.  I guess that can be expected for a lake in the middle of the DESERT!

The morning before the race…water temp 84′

Swim practice is underway there in Lake Las Vegas

For this race T1 was separate from T2 and you had to drop off bags and bikes on Saturday.  I took my oldest daughter and headed to the Henderson Pavilion to drop off bags and check out the expo.  It was fun to talk with the Blue Seventy and Powerbar peeps.  The fact that it was 107′ on Saturday was a bit concerning and I kept chugging the coconut water!  Once back near the Westin, I dropped off my bike and headed to dinner with wifey and my girls to carbo load.

Racked and ready to fly…

The pro men started the day on Lake Las Vegas with a stunning golden sunrise! via @lavamagazine

The excitement is building!

I was in the 10th wave and was able to see the pro’s start and finish.  I think everyone was surprised that Andy Potts came out second and was part of a large leading group.  My girly’s were there on the bridge waving down at me as I waited for the cannon and that was a treat.  In most races I go off fast and then settle in, but this was the World Championship with the best of the best.  Given that, I sat back a bit and quickly found clear water.  I hit the end turnaround buoy in about 16min and I was excited that I was on track.  I felt strongest on the way back and had a great rhythm.  I was somewhat disappointed in 35:10(119 in AG/882 Overall), 3min slower than Vineman 70.3.  I brushed that off to nerves and heading out on my Kestrel rocket into the desert!

Felt great out in Lake Las Vegas!

Time to head into the barren desert!

Felt great at this point of race, but I was riding too conservative!

I knew I had to drink more water than ever before here in the desert and ended up drinking four bottles of Powerbar Perform and two waters.  It was here that I followed the two biggest pieces of advice shared with me about this race.  First was to not carry too much to drink, as it will get warm quickly and to instead refresh at the rest stops.  It helped that they had Perform at the rest stops!  The other advice was to drink more than you think you need and to keep checking to make sure your sweating.  I followed that advice all day and kept out of the med tent and actually finished while many around me literally collapsed.

Arriba! Arriba! Andale! Andale!

I hit the turnaround in the middle of the desert somewhere at 23.3 mi and had only avg 17.3.  I was obviously riding way too conservatively and decided to hammer the next 20mi avg just under 22mph.  I have to say that I saw very little drafting going on and there were officials everywhere.  The last 12 or so miles was tough, as its all uphill and that is where I realized that it was close to 100′ out and I still had to run a half marathon!

Bike course elevation via garmin/strava

I ended up finishing the bike in just over three hours while avg 18.1mph(157 in AG/1179 overall).  It was the second most beautiful ride in the world for me behind riding around Lake Tahoe at #1.

Hammering back from the middle of the desert!

T2 was quick, as they took my bike and headed into changing tent for Pearl Izumi shoes, visor,Garmin and Powerbar gels.  The run course is  pretty boring three lap route with two climbs and two descents.  My plan was to aim for 8’s and see how I felt after the first lap.  Do keep in mind that it was now 104′ out!

Still cruising alone at this point…

I was somehow able to hold it together until mi 10, when my lower quad just above the knee started to spasm.  From previous experience, I knew this was due to extreme exertion and not cramping.  My only goal with just three miles to go was to finish the race.  In order to do that I needed to start walking and let my quad rest a bit and lower my HR.  Those two miles where I walked had almost 200ft of elevation gain.  I also knew the last 1.1mi was all downhill and at that moment, I knew that I would be able to go sub 6 as long as my quads didn’t completely give out…

I have to say here that WTC needs to address the lack of ice and soda on the course.  On a day like that in the Championship event, you CAN’T run out of ice and soda.

Run elevation chart with my HR data via garmin/strava

I was ecstatic to finish in 5:57:51 on such a challenging day at the World Championship race(146th in AG/1131 overall).  Its worth noting that 1,672 peeps finished and 121(7%) did not finish.  and This was by far the hardest athletic challenge I’ve ever faced and I’m thrilled to have finished and to earn that awesome finishers medal!

Pure exhaustion!

Thrilled to have finished strong!

It felt great representing Team REV3 and all of my great sponsors including Pearl Izumi, Blue Seventy, Powerbar, NormaTec & CycleOps!

Well earned finisher medals!

Ahhhh, time to relax with my girls!

I now take a few days off and then go into bike only mode leading up to next months Diablo Challenge ride (11.2mi straight up and 3,249 ft of climbing…)

Cheers,

Michael

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