In Vegas I had nothing to lose and realistically no other option if I wanted to give myself the chance to win. That is why if I were a betting man myself I wouldn’t have put any money down on no. 21.
The field was too strong and too deep, the conditions too selective to expect to come from behind and win. I also felt that my preparation was slightly lacking and even with the best preparation I felt the best I could manage was a podium finish.
The lack in preparation showed in the swim. It wasn’t as catastrophic as in my first IM 70.3 Champs in Clearwater where I was 3 min behind the first women after the swim, but 3 minutes behind the leaders was surely enough to have left thoughts of a podium finish in the depths of the lake. I thought I could ride the leaders down but that I would be so cooked by the time I got there that I wouldn’t be able to launch a strong enough attack to get away and stay away. But I had the type of day I needed to become a world champion. Despite the heat I got goose bumps after I hammered over the first small hill. The legs felt fantastic! I didn’t start thinking about winning and I knew that feeling could change quickly but after a hundred races you know you don’t get that feeling very often.
After having ridden down a scattering of athletes in the first 30km I caught up with the chase group with Faris being in the drivers seat. Unfortunately, this part of the course was not completely closed to traffic – which in my opinion is not possible for a World Championship – but it allowed us to see the leaders up ahead of us with a caravan of cars trailing behind. Knowing that after the turnaround at 35km there is a good decent, I wanted to try to catch them by then but though I put in a big effort I wasn’t able to. They must have been riding hard. Riding on a course with no vegetation and long hills makes it a good course to chase on because you can always see the prey up ahead and how they come closer.
After closing the gap I wanted to breeze by the group and say hello but this wasn’t so easy as the traffic made it almost too tight to attempt passing too many guys at once. I gathered myself and ate and drank. At this point my plan was to wait till the final long climb into Henderson to attack but I felt like the guys were absolutely crawling and soon thought it was time to take my chance.
When you really punch it and blow by the competition it at first feels fantastic . You are out front and you know all your friends and fans back home can see that fact as the helicopter above is relaying it to the webcast. Then after 10-15 min you realize there is no turning back. You are either the poser who gets caught by the runners or drops out as the boomerang comes back around to take you down on the run. This is when you start debating if this is a suicide mission or an actual serious attempt to win. As I debated these things, I kept the hammer down, probably a tick too hard and hadn’t looked back. When I finally did have the balls to glance behind I saw no one and the debate was over.. go for it!
In the end I did slow down somewhat, but as the gap steadied at around 3 min, thoughts began to enter my head that I could win this thing. I knew I could hold out for a 1:16 run now matter what I did to myself on the bike. Though Crowie, Docherty and TO have run times of 1:11 I knew with a 3 minute lead I could at least make it interesting.
To my own surprise the heat wasn’t much of a factor for me. It was hard to really push and I felt like all systems were on the limit. Often times you feel that your legs are completely fxxx’d but I felt smashed all around and just tried to run and even pace. I wasn’t taking time checks on my chasers but someone yelled out after 7km that they had only made up 19sec on me, though I doubted that was the case as when we crossed on the out and back, they looked a lot faster than I felt I was running. Nonetheless I kept grinding and slowly realized that they were only slowly gaining, and not nearly enough.
A real push for me was when Paul Amey, who had to pull out of the race was frantically cheering me on, and Faris, who was in the middle of a solid performance of his own was screaming at me at each turnaround. Sometimes encouragement like that from such great fellow athletes is worth more than any medal.
Though I am not the type to wave the german flag around during the World Cup I felt pretty proud to be able to carry my flag over the finish line. So many have supported and encouraged me the past years. Too many to list them on this blog but most of you know who you are.. Thanks so much!
I flew to Hawaii on Tuesday and will be be prepping up for Vegas’ big brother here in Kona. There is still a lot of work to be done and improvements that can be made.
There will be no surprizes this time, I am sure the boys are aware of that now.