I'm generally happy and sore today after finishing my first iron distance race (2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike, 26.2 mi run). I finished in 3rd place in 8:36:40. Here's the breakdown of the race: 53:53 swim, 4:35:57 bike, 3:04:07 run. Going into the race I didn't know exactly what to expect except that would be tired and sore whether it went well or not. I figured the swim and bike would go well, but big question was the run. Based on my experience with halfs, I wanted to run 2:40 something. That would be a good day. An average day would be 2:50 something. Over 3 hours would be okay but disappointing. I'm going to skip commentary on the swim and bike because running the marathon is what decide this race. The only highlight on the bike was I ate a McDonald's McDouble and felt good at mile 90.
The run started off well. I spent the first 6 miles working out some sore muscles from the bike. Around mile 9, I started to feel good and decided to open up the throttle I little bit. I had been running around 6:20-6:25 min/mi. However, my knee that was slightly sore starting the run got suddenly worse in one or two strides at mile 11. I was on pace to go through 13.1 miles in just over 1:20, but slowed to 1:22. I thought I would have to drop out at 13.1 miles because I've had chondromalacia in my knee before, which is season ending. This pain felt similar. I decided to keep going to see how Bjorn was doing and to made sure I wouldn't regret a DNF. He was 18 minutes ahead of me starting the run. Halfway through I had made up 9 minutes on him. By mile 14, I had to start walking. However, Daniel Bretscher and Eric Limkemann, who were heading opposite way towards the turn-around, yelled to me that Bjorn was walking. I did the math in my head and if I just finished the race I would get some series money. If I just walked faster than Bjorn I might win the series.
After I started walking James Cunnama and Jason Shortis passed me moving me to 4th place. After 5 minutes of walking I tried running again and was relieved to feel that the pain had dissipated. I passed Bjorn who was still walking and moved back in to 3rd around mile 15. The tendinitis wasn't completely gone. I had to keep run/walking as the race went on. Around mile 21, it became clear that Keegan Williams from team TTB was going to pass me to. However, during our brief conversation as he went by I learned that my next biggest treat the series title had dropped out. Victor Zyemtsev had quit after the bike. Now, the series title was almost a certainty, which made walking tolerable. I wasn't that disappointed when Zach Ruble caught me, putting me in 5th. I was happy to cheer him on and inform him that Keegan was only about two blocks ahead. After walking through the next aid station, I started to run and got on Zach shoulder. I thought to myself that if I can just put up with the pain for 3 miles I can out kick Zach for 4th. At following aid station (mile 23), Zach went for extra drink, so I just decided to push the pace on my own. I am familiar with running a 5k, and after having to walk so much I actually felt fresh. At mile 24, an age-grouper heading the other direction yelled,"If you hold that pace you'll catch him." Sure enough, I could see Keegan on the slight rise in front of me, but it was still going to be hard work to close about 60 seconds in two miles. The catch was made with 1200m to go. I'm guessing my pace for the last 3 miles was 5:40. Keegan was probably slowing down too. I didn't run 2:45 but it was a great way to finish the race.