I decided to race Panama 70.3 last December to break up my winter training and keep me focused. I knew it would be a hard race as it was South American Champs and had a really good prize purse. As the race got closer, more and more athletes seemed to sign up. Luckily, Boulder had a great January and I was able to get outside and do some good quality training for this race.
Racing Panama was a new experience. Thankfully, the race really looked after me. However, our hotel was downtown and it was hard to get around or go out and train. The week before the race, I got my new 2012 Kestrel 4000 all built up. Unfortunately, being the dumbass that I am, I forgot to pick it up on Saturday, so the bike shop was closed Sunday and Monday. After I picked up my bike on Tuesday, I was hoping to get out on the road, but the weather was super crappy and I was unable to ride. I flew into Panama on Thursday and thought I’d have time to get out for a ride on Friday, but I missed the bus that was transferring everyone to the race course, where was the only safe place to ride. I still wasn’t stressing that much as I still had Saturday to go for a test ride. After getting all my race commitments done on Saturday, I finally found time to go for a ride. I only managed to ride about 5k before I had a mechanical problem with my back wheel. Luckily we didn’t have to rack our bikes until the next morning, so I was able to take it back to the hotel and work on it. I managed to fix the problem and get it working smoothly.
Race morning was nice and warm. I was looking forward to racing in the heat after living in the cold for the last 2 months. It was nice to be in the sun. The swim was really interesting as it was one direction downstream in the Panama Canal. I was a little nervous about the swim as I hadn’t been swimming that great in training and there was a lot of good swimmers in the race. I tried to position myself next to the guys who I thought would be leading the swim out. Matty Reed took out the swim really hard and set a fast pace. After about half way, a small group managed to get away. I just missed the back of that group as I was sitting on the wrong feet. The current was so strong downstream though, that it was hard for them to get much of a gap and most of us stuck together.
It was a long run to transition from the swim exit. I could see Bevan and Rasmus just in front, so I ran the transition hard to close the gap. The first 5k of the bike was really fast. It’s times like this, I’m really grateful for having such a great bike. I’d only ridden it for 5 minutes before the race but it felt like I’ve been riding it all season. After about 5k, Lance and Chris Lieto came to the front. My game plan was to ride with those guys for as long as possible. Luckily, the bike course was very undulating at the start, which really suited me – I was able to push on the hills. I knew Chris would split the group, which ended up happening around 20 miles. With Chris jamming on the front, I think it was Lance’s game plan to tag Chris. He seemed to follow every move Chris made. Rasmus was also riding really strong and managed to bridge the gap across to Lance and Chris. However, I could start to feel the effects of the hard work I had done on the bike early on. So, they started to pull away. Luckily, I had Bevan and Romaine to ride with. We still rode hard and chased for the rest of the bike.
Coming into transition, Lance and Chris had managed to put 3-4 minutes into us. Leaving transition, I ran out with Bevan. I was feeling kind of crappy for the first few miles and Bevan started to run away from me. I could see Rasmus just down the road after 2-3 miles though and I started to feel good and managed to pull back on him. The more into the run I got, the better I felt. Around 8 miles, I managed to pull back Galindez and Lieto. The last few miles of the run got extremely hot. I was hoping that it was going to have a bigger effect on Lance. Unfortunately he managed to stay strong and hold me off. I was happy to run into 3rd place and get another podium at a championship race. Congrats to Bevan and Lance for great races.
Thanks to my sponsors and especially Kestrel for setting me up with such a great bike.