Race morning was a little cool and overcast. I made all my last minute adjustments to my gear, bike and took all my swimming gear with me before leaving transition for the final time. We were all corralled on this high concrete bridge that jetted out into the boat marina were the swim was going to start before heading out to the intercoastal waterway. The race starter gave all the last minute instructions before leading us down a ramp to the boat slips were we entered the water. The water was comfortable but resembled root beer so I couldn't see more than a couple of inches in front of my face. I lined up next to a guy I raced against at the Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island. He had beaten me out of the water there by about 1 1/2 minutes there, so my goal was to pace with him and if possible draft a little bit for the swim. The gun goes off for our wave, the first wave of the race, all males 34 and under are off on the course. I made a good line to the buoys and got myself out front with my "new buddy" from RI. We stayed stroke for stroke drafting off one another and guiding each other with our body lines. I felt real strong and never felt tired. With about 400 m left in the swim I started to pick up my pace and started to pull away. I came up to the exit ramp and was second out of the water for the wave and first in my age group. I made my way to the empty transition area while taking off my wetsuit, cap and goggles and exchanged them for my bike, shoes, sunglasses and helmet.
I decided to climb a small hill before slipping into my bike shoes as to not lose time struggling to put them on going uphill. The bike course was in the shape of a "T" so I would be able to see were my competition was five times on the course. The course was relatively flat with a strong head wind which made it a little challenging. The weather stayed overcast with the sun popping out every once in a while but overall stayed pretty nice. Went out onto the course and new the other athletes couldn't be to far behind so I started to grind away at the course. There wasn't anything monumental about the course other than we rode on the highways that were shut down so the ride was nice and smooth. I was passed by about seven people on the bike before I made my way back into transition. Luckily I was right with about five of those athletes when leaving T2. So I was in 5th in my age group and heading out onto the run course.
The run course was three loops and completely flat. I wanted the run to be close everybody within sight of each other and thats the way it was shaping up. I started the course only about a 2:00 minutes back of the age group leader and was stride for stride with the 4th place guy. About a quarter way through the first lap I decided to slow down my pace and conserve a little energy and wait till later on in the race to make my move. I faded back maybe 50 m behind fourth and got into a comfortable groove. Upon completing the first loop my brother and mother and father-in-law informed me that I was making time on the leader and I noticed that the 3rd place athlete was starting to come back to me. I was being patient and at the halfway point of the run he slowed to take salt tablets and a drink so I burst past him shortly after the fourth place guy did. It was at this point of the race the top five in the age group were seperated by about 30-45 seconds. This is exactly what I wanted, who's got the most left. I quickly hopped on the heels of the runner in front of me were we eventually passed the original leader of the age group. He was struggling big time and faded fast. We had a good pace going and at about mile 10 I decided to try and give a burst to lose him. I never really pulled away from him maybe only got about 20 steps on him for about a mile before he started charging, I hung with him as long as I could trying to utilize the turns in the course to my advantage, but I just couldn't keep pace anymore. I left everything out and crossed the finish line 3rd in my age group and 9th overall. I qualified for Age Group World Championships for Long Course in Spain.
NOTES: I felt good throughout the race. It was my first race at this distance that I felt comfortable with my pacing for the most part. I am still feeling a little fatigued towards the end of the bike but do feel uneffected for the run.