As posted before Ironman Maryland turned out to be the best race I have ever had. Although a lot of external things played against me weeks before the race.
Since I am already living in the U.S getting to Cambridge, MD wasn’t the normal hustle or long trip from home. It was a one hour flight from Savannah to Washington D.C and then about 2 hours in the car. The hotel I was staying at was not in Cambridge because that is a very small town and everything was booked. My hotel was about 30min away in Seaford, DE. A good hotel and a reasonable price, definitely recommended to anyone who wants to go and race there. (Comfort inn Seaford). The race was scheduled for Saturday September 20th. I got there on the night of the wednesday before, just enough to swim bike and run a little on thursday and then rest up on friday.
The only change in m schedule for race morning was that I had to wake up half hour earlier given that I was half hour away from the race, the rest was pretty much the same ritual. Wake up, have my choice of breakfast which is bananas, bread with a lot of Nutella (secret ingredient right there!!) and something to drink. Take a shower, get ready and off to Cambridge. We got there and it was still dark but the town was already awake, lots of people around.
Made it into transition and packed my run and bike bags, if you read my previous lake placid post you know that I don’t pack my bags the day before, I just hand them in with something in them, but all my stuff is put in race morning. That way you ensure everything is organised and more importantly NOT WET from the morning breeze.
Organised my bike with the bottles, air pressure on tires, dryer the saddle and handlebars and it was go time.
The swim (1:09)
By far the hardest swim out of every Ironman course I’ve been in. The first loop was a bigger loop than the second one so it was hard to know how far I was into the swim. Anyway, once I finished the first loop I knew that it was going to be a slow time but I just figured that the conditions were the same for everybody, so if I was a having a slow swim so as my other competitors.
The water condition was good anyway, a legal wetsuit swim and the water wasn’t cold. It is a little salty though. Definitely this was the hardest leg of the day. I never found a group to swim with, I was alone for the most part of the swim but I had fun, I never felt in a hurry or desperate, I just knew that when I got out of the water it was game on for me, and do what I can do best…the bike.
The bike (4:48)
Four hours and Forty eight minutes…need I say more? that is a fast bike split! (for me).
the bike course was the same as the swim…one loop the cut it short for the 2nd time around. The course was set to be fast anyway…flat and very little wind. Flat doesn’t mean easy anyway, for the most part I was riding alone until two or three guys passed me and I was able to ride with them, legally of course, It was cool because we all rode by the rules and kept the distance and took turns at the front. It was like this until they burned down and it was just another guy and me until I burned down and he got away from me. The last part was kind of weird because since I was 20th off the bike (overall) there were very few riders and this part of the course I couldn’t see anyone in front or behind me and the road had cars so I really thought I got lost for a moment there, but turned out I didn’t. I guess this is a part on where the organisation can do better and close that road for traffic! It felt like a training ride. o made my way back into town and spotted my girlfriend just before T2 and she was happy to see me that I was going fast! she told me I was fourth!
The Run (3:43)
This marathon was a three loop run. I really liked it like this, you get to see your opponents a lot and measure how far behind or up ahead you are. Besides that you get to see whoever is following you 6 times! The marathon started and I was 20th overall, which was already pretty impressive and my goal was to run a 3:30, that meant 8:00min/mile pace. What happens in this part of the race is that people go crazy and start running so fast so a lot of people passes me at the end of the first loop, and that kind of plays with you mentally but I knew I had to be patient and pass most of them again at the end if I was able to hold to my pace. In my age group I got passed as well I think at mile 5 or 6, so I was now 5th. The course was again very flat and hot! very few shadow parts.
I was able to hold my 8:00 min/mile pace for a little over the half marathon mark and from there it was slower, but never walked or felt burned it was just the pace I was able to hold on to. At the ends of the 2nd loop I was passed by another person from my age group and I wasn’t able to hold on to his pace, which I din’t like it because I was now 6th and I had to finish 5th for a podium finish. The person behind me was very far from me so I knew that as worse as it could get I was going to finish 6th. In the last lap I had an unfortunate call of nature and was obligated to do a bathroom stop and that made me lost like 4 minutes, but it was a situation where I couldn’t run well anymore. After this “break” I had about 12k (7.5mi) to go and was able to pick up the pace a little bit. Right at the end of the marathon when pain goes away due to the excitement of finishing another ironman I saw a guy in front of me and I wanted to pass him so I had to sprint for about 1/4 mile and was able to catch him just meters, or feet, from the finish line.
Finished with a 9:46:57 time, my sprint helped me to go down to 9:46! and this was my PR by 45 minutes!!! An awesome race, awesome day. (6th overall and 38th overall)
Thoughts on the race and conclusion on my next post (So this one doesn’t become too long!)