Challenge Aruba 2017
Aruba was a destination race that I was originally interested in, but I ended up planning to go back out to China and race in the 70.3's in September and October. But IRONMAN threw us a massive curve ball and canceled the September race about 5 days before I was due to depart. Then 7 days later they canceled the October race. This left me with little options on such short notice. So I took a look at the race schedule again and the plan was to run the Oxford Half Marathon and then 2 weeks later do Challenge Aruba.
This put me in Oxford on a 7 week training block with a half marathon thrown in there. Things were going really well, other than picking up a virus coming back from China in August, and then coming down with a cold just before the half marathon. I ended up having a solid race at the half marathon, a big confidence boost for me, running 1:13:59. I talk a bit more about that race on FB, as it has been quite the journey running my first half marathon in 1:36 back in 2008 and progressing to "1:13" over the years. You can read more about that HERE.
Aruba was obviously quite appealing as a destination race, with amazing beaches and the laid back island life. I ended up staying at an all inclusive resort which is in the "low rise hotel" area of the island. It is about a 10min and $9-$12 cab ride to the race expo area and the "high rise hotel" area, which is where all of the action is located. Being down in the low rise area was really nice, laid back and away from the night life craziness that the downtown area provided. Plus, the food and drinks were quite expensive down in the other area, so having the all inclusive stay was nice and a good way to save some $$$.
I came into this race really hoping to find my way back onto the podium and into the Top 3. The field was quite small with 8 guys on the start list, but only 6 guys toeing the start line. With only 6 guys on the start list, it was still a pretty solid field with Andy Potts, Cody Beals, Davide Giardini, AJ Baucco and Doug McLean. Andy was just coming off of Kona so wasn't quite sure how he was going to go, and I know Cody and Davide are strong all around guys. AJ was a bit of an unknown, as he had mainly focused on Major League Triathlon, which consist of a race time of about 20mins.
Onto the race………
I had been swimming really well in the pool and was feeling strong. This course didn't suit me well and the small field made things tough as well. So with a non wetsuit swim, small choppy water, and hard to see buoys it wasn't an ideal situation. I was out the back within 200 meters, with AJ, Andy, and Davide off the front with Cody just behind them. I came out of the water 5:24 back and a lot of ground to make up.
Bike- 2:09:52 (2.5 miles short)
There was a section early on in the bike that I was able to get a split on everyone, and I knew I had a lot of work to do. The course wasn't the greatest, rough roads, quite a few speed bumps, multi loop with age groupers on the course for 2nd/3rd loop, and a random car on the course here and there. Other than that, the views were great and the crowds in the race area downtown were great. I passed AJ on the start of the 2nd loop and was pulling back a bit of time on Andy and Davide throughout the ride, but losing time to Cody, who eventually caught those guys on the last lap. I came into T2 ~4mins down.
Run- 1:27:53 (0.7 miles short)
The run course was very technical, a lot of time on "sidewalks" and a small section in deep sand. I found it hard to get into a rhythm on those sections of the course, but then there were some longer stretches on the road and I felt good through there. The course had my feet throbbing by 15k and that was really uncomfortable. As the run went on, the heat continued to rise and each aid station became about getting as much ice and water on my body as possible. I kept the body cool and was able to keep clicking the Ks off.
Cody, Andy and Davide all held strong on the run, and lost time to Cody and Andy, and ran a similar time to Davide. I ended up crossing the line in 4th, and a little disappointed. However, I felt like I executed a solid race, other than the swim, but that is nothing new.
Swim- 30:18 / Swim
Bike- 2:09:52 / Bike
Run- 1:27:53 / Strava
The plan now is to put in a 4 week training block with the focus on Bahrain 70.3, if I make the start line is going to be another story. We are expecting #BabyW2 on 18 November, so pending her arrival into the world will depend on if I race or not. So now it is just a waiting game back in Oxford for her to make her appearance, and until then I will just keep training, and if Bahrain happens then great, if not then I will take a bit of down time with the family before we refocus and dive into some off season training.