On Thursday, Nannette and I met my cousin, Larry Anspach who lives in Las Vegas and went for a bike ride through Red Rocks Canyon. That night, we saw “O,” Cirque du Soleil’s show on water at the Bellagio. It was an inspiring artistic performance of athletes - perfect pre-race entertainment. Friday was registration day and the pre-race banquet…pasta loading two days out. We had dinner with Scott (training buddy) and Joann Boylan and Fox (Ironman mentor) and Kelly Ferrel.
|Mike, Scott and Fox Carbo-loading|
Saturday was a quiet day. Scott and I went out for a 12 mile bike ride and swam 30 minute on the swim course. We met the Fox for a big breakfast at Denny's. In the afternoon, we checked-in our bike and equipment and had a quiet pasta dinner with the Boylans and Donna and Larry Anspach at Lake Las Vegas. Later, I was told that Donna asked Larry, “Could you believe how much Mike Wien ate?” The truth is that while I did eat two full plates, I actually held back as I did not want to stuff myself the night before the race! I guess we are a really strange group to an outside observer.
|Lake Las Vegas swim|
The swim was a non-wet suit wave start. The pros started first, followed by women 45 and over. Men 50 and over were in wave three. Other than being a little crowded for the first 10 minutes, the swim was uneventful. I came out of the swim in 8th place.
|Lake Mead National Park|
I am always happy to finish the bike and start the run and this time was no exception. In the last two Ironman races, I might have burned myself out early on and did not take enough liquid or nutrition as I struggled over the last 10 miles. In this race, I finally found the right balance and came into the transition feeling strong with an average speed of 19 miles per hour. In the process however, I dropped from 8th to 10th place.
As in previous races, Nannette (with Larry Anspach this time) were on the sidelines relaying me updates from Dick Jones in Atlanta who was tracking everyone in my age group on the computer. The last thing I heard was that I was in 8th place and if I kept my pace, I would be on the podium (top 5 in the world.) I held a 7:17 minute per mile pace and finished the run leg in 1:35:29, good enough for 4th and a climb to the podium. It has been five long years and four failed attempts to be back on the podium on the world stage. (France, 2007; Italy, 2008; Clearwater, 2009 and Kona, 2010). I was thrilled to be back.
|Mike with Steve Smith (Red Shirt) on Podium|
Normally I conclude with some comments about why this is so special to me…and those of you who know me, know the answer. Because I have such great support. But the Ironman 70.3 World Championship was not the final chapter for 2011. I still have one more race ahead of me so I will save those comments for later. The Ironman World Championship (140.6 miles) in Kona, Hawaii in three weeks. Steve Smith, last year’s US Champion in my age group will be there. Steve beat me in June in Buffalo Springs by 6 minutes, 36 seconds. On Sunday, Steve took third and beat me by 1 minute, 16 seconds. We both look forward to competing with some outstanding European athletes that will also be in Kona.