This was my first experience of IM70.3 Florida and it turned out to be a nice surprise. I expected a fairly bland, flat course experience, but it was neither bland nor flat.
The warm up swim, pre-race, was in an open air swim pool, right beside the course. Surprisingly few competitors took advantage of it, so it turned out to be a better than expected warm-up option. The swim start was self-seeded and rolling, with controlled gaps between swimmers which limited crowding in the water and provided a reasonably clear swim. It was wetsuit legal by a tiny margin, which made for a lot of happy faces. The bike was flat and rolling, which meant no coasting and working the cranks the whole way. The roads are in great condition, with only one section towards the end where the surface is rough, but still no potholes which is always a bonus to anyone coming from the U.S. North East. There was a slight head wind for chunks of the ride, but thankfully nothing like the 15-20 mph winds of the day before, and with temperatures surprisingly moderate (in the sixties) overheating wasn’t an issue. The run is a three looper, which was great for spectators, winding around the lake with plenty of twists, turns and changes of elevation (the advertised 540 gain, turned out to be a much tougher 1700 feet of climbing, because, stupidly, I hadn’t taken into account that it referred to each of 3 loops!).
As for my own race, I had a swim time pretty much as expected and for me quite good, coming out of the water 10th in my AG. T1 was a short distance from the lake, but I still managed to mess up my change over, losing a minute or so unnecessarily. My bike was good, riding about 3.5% above my plan, but feeling ok with it and moving up 4 places to 6th in my AG. In T2 as I grabbed my run gear I realized that an army of ants were all over my set up, so I had to contend with ants in my pants and nutrition for the rest of the race. That was a first! The run itself was solid, albeit a slower pace than I planned (see above comment on delta between expected and actual elevation gain!), but those hills were challenging. Having three loops was great for breaking up the distance, and getting lots of crowd support. I finished up 4th in my AG, so a minor podium spot and, to my delight, I got a roll down slot for the IM70.3 World Championships in South Africa this year.
Shout outs to my locals from the Greenwich, CT area: Jeff Schleppy, who rose from a sick bed on Thursday to show a strong performance; and Liz Tremain who was 2nd in her AG after having led the race on the run for much of the distance.
Also to Rafael Sousa, who won overall in 4:11:56, and Frank Green who won my AG (60-64) in 4:51:12 (crushing me by 32 minutes).