The most amusing part of the Pumpkinman experience happened about a week before race day. Balance Multisport athlete Mark Dugas was telling a friend about the race, the distances, order of activities etc. "It's a Half-Ironman" he explained, the friend's reply; "why are you only doing half?"
While the Half-Iron distance may be downplayed in it's name, 70.3 miles is a distance to be respected, and respect was earned on Sunday! Mark came through the finish line of his first ever 70.3 in under 6 hours! He had a solid swim, a very strong bike and a great run which was remarkable after battling shin splints throughout his training. Kudos Mark - what's next? Oh yeah - Reach the Beach in 4 days - better rest those legs!
We were lucky with the weather on Sunday, after Saturday's downpour we were blessed with dry skies. There was a little cloud cover for the bike and then some steamy sunshine during the run. My race went pretty much according to plan for the first two thirds, then the plan was somewhat altered. I had a good swim, it took about 100 meters to get my rhythm and then I was able to follow some bubbles and make my way through the mass of pink caps, a 2 loop swim is interesting but it does give you a chance to re-set and my second loop was considerably faster than my first.
Pumpkinman has the painful feature of a steep hill climb from the pond to transition (they time this separately and make it a competition!) so by the time you get to your bike your heart is racing. Quick transition; shoes, helmet, sunnies - off!
The bike course is beautiful and has lots of great open flats where you can fly. Because my wave was the first to go after the elites I was surrounded by speed demons, they must have motivated me because I had a great bike and was able to hold onto a 20mph average speed. I followed my nutrition plan, ate my Gu's and drank my Accelerade regularly.
I finished the bike feeling great, could have kept on riding! Sadly it was time to run. Sometimes you just have those days, from about 500 meters into the run I realized that this was one of them. Heavy legs, slooshy belly, it was a slog. I tried to find my run rhythm but it was alluding me so I focused on fighting the mental battle and putting one foot in front of the other. It worked, I made it and the finish line felt sweet.
All up, a fantastic race. A strong finish for me and for Mark and it was amazing to know that I had been a part of helping him cross that finish line.