20 weeks out of NYC Ironman brings me to San Juan for a Half. I arrive and its HOT, and all the talk is its gonna be Hot and Windy on Race Day. I start thinking lets not get too crazy and just be happy staying under 6 hours. Water temperature deems Wetsuits illegal. I love this, as I dislike that wetsuits are allowed at temperatures that they actually do allow, but at least everybody is forced to go O'Natural this day. Some still wear the "speed suits". Not me, the pleasure from Racing in just trunks supercedes a minute I "could" save in the Swim time. The Swim was Beautiful, Completely enjoyable. DURING the swim I sight saw the buildings and Landscape and even some Starfish! I think I enjoyed it too much as I posted a time of 36:50, (a ranking of 319 out of 1600) but ran out unfazed. I definitely did too much sightseeing during the swim, no Joke! It was too pretty not to enjoy. A 2 minute barefoot run brings us to the Transiition area and quickly throw on a shirt and Helmet and start the Bike, since I didn't expend any energy on the swim I had plenty for the Bike. I started easy and after about 10 miles found a Pace group really moving at a good clip that I decided to join. I killed it on the 56 miles for an unexpected 2Hours 33 Minutes, averaging 21.8 MPH (Pulling me up to an overall current Race place of 185 out of the 1600, of-course this includes about 50 Pros, so that was a great surprise of a time). Into the jogging shoes and out of transition and here we go, 13.1 miles in this crazy sweltering heat. Usually the 1st mile comes quick in these races. Not this time. Damn I think its hot as hell, and I haven't even gotten the pleasure of the 1st mile just appearing. I suffer through the first 3 miles or so, barely seeing through my sunscreen drenched (from transition) sunglasses. Finally after throwing enough water over me at aid stations, I can see and start to feel a small rythm. The Run was carried out with Stifling Heat, although a beautiful course of uphill cobblestone streets, through Ole San Juan and along the water. With lots of energetic locals cheering us on.. With about 7 miles left, I notice on my watch I can attain a PR, this causes excitement AND depression (LOL) cause now I know I have to go for it. It is SO HOT, and running fast isn't by best skill. But after all this, I feel I deserve a PR. I start to focus only my pace required for only 1 mile at a time. Long story short, I break the finish line for a 5 Hours 26 Minute Half Ironman and Yes a PR ! Pretty Stoked. Overall place 244, and I'll take it. Great thing about any race is you can always win by beating your previous time. This was a surprise with it still being the early winter season, and the location of the sweltering heat, but I think the experience was so enjoyable that it gave me a boost to achiev a PR. As usual, the moments after the finish line, I never think I can do faster, but a day or two later I'm planning how to shave off another few minutes...... :)
Later that night I hook up with the 24 year old Russian kid who finished 13th (with a flat tire no less,.. watch out for him in the future), and 2nd place Leon Griffin, an Aussie. We all drink and share stories of the race, the two of them, enjoying my 244 as much as I enjoyed their 2nd & 13th. The 3 of us decide to walk the mile back to our hotel. I'm not sure if this was a testament of their conditioning or how Triathlon Pros aren't ready yet to just blow Taxi fare on a Mile.... :) Once back at the Hotel Neil and I have a few more beers till Midnight and try to come up with a handicap how I can compete with his 3 Hour 53 minute time! HA!
An American Tim O'Donnel won the Race (beat Leon by about 2 Minutes), but certainly the Aussie, Leon, threw down a great day as well. Leon is an ex world champion in duathlon and I think when he embraces a dialed in nutrition benefit more, everybody else will be in trouble. Another American - Michael Lovato finished 4th. I mention him because he and his wife are great ambassadors for the sport and both usually fare very well amongst the Pros, often winning.
Well enough talk about the professionals. I'll take my 5:26, and my 244th place :) and look forward to the next 20 weeks to prepare for NYC Ironman. With at least 1 more Half scheduled before that. The Races really do jazz yah back up and get ready to enjoy the training.
The Race in San Juan was Beautiful, Great Swim, wonderful course, and as long as you dont mind the sweltering heat, it is a Race you won't regret.