It seems like the whole of Central Florida came out for what could have been called LANCE FEST 2012. Man do some people love them some Lance Armstrong. I will leave this part for a post later in the week.
|What I do when I am bored in a hotel room to pass time.|
In previous years this race was held at Disney World. This year WTC decided to move the race to Haines City. Haines City is about one hour south of Orlando and about thirty minutes from Disney World. It is a small, quite city with not much going on. It is a city the use to have a theme park called “Circus World” that closed down in 1986. Then it was replaced by “Boardwalk and Baseball” which I thought was pretty cool when I was a young boy. That park lasted only 4 years and now that land is a shopping center. This race was a big deal to the economy and town.
|Me playing on the playground toys.|
The city folk came out in great numbers to support the race. There were about 6 – 8 people who turned on their water hose and sprinklers to cool down the hot participates. They sat out in lawn chairs and cheered. The local kids came out and clogged and put on entertainment. It was nice to see a small town get so behind something. It was also nice to see a small town get some of my money and not Disney.
|Huge Race Props|
Friday and Saturday were packet pickup and shopping days. All three days the town provided entertainment. There was a stage in front of registration that provided a pretty constant flow of entertainers. They had live local bands, clogging kids, the professional triathlete panel, etc.
|Bonnie and I pre-race|
Bike racking was optional on Saturday so I decided to skip it. This area of Florida usually rains around late afternoon and I did not want to have the bike sitting out in the rain.
|The motley crew|
Sunday morning I was awaken at 3:00 AM by my alarm. I had a vivid, realistic dream I did not wake up in time for the race. I normally set two alarms (good race tip) but I had my family with me and I did not want to wake them up so early. Bonnie and T were volunteering at one of the bike water stops and they did not need to leave till around 6:30. I must have been real quite because T woke up later on and was worried it did not wake up and was late. I arrived at the race around 4:45 AM and the normal process went very smooth and efficient.
|Sickly skinny me!|
The swim at the race was laid out very strange. The lake is not big enough for a normal swim so they had to shape the route like a big “M”. That meant we had 6 turns during the swim. This course shaped caused a lot of congestion in the turn areas. There was a lot more of the normal bumping, grabbing, poking, etc. It was not a swim for the weak at heart. But maybe I just got a really bad position.
The swim start and end was really muddy. Once you were out into the lake it was not so muddy but it was very dark. The darkness just added to the bumping, grabbing, etc issue. It was really hard to see the person in front of you. Florida lakes are usually very tannic (dark) so this is not unusual.
One of the bad aspects of the lake was that it had some really deep holes that came out of nowhere. You would be walking in ankle deep water one minute and the sink to about your head in the next step. I was warned about this so I was somewhat prepared but many were not. This caused the race to be a in-water start.
My swim went fine and I felt great. The only highlights of the swim was seeing and yelling at a friend who was volunteering on a kayak. He was clueless where I was at but he heard me. I also had my goggles nearly ripped off my head. They filled up with water and my eyes stung from the sandy water for about ten minutes. I also got kicked under the arm pit by accident. This is something we learned in self-defense. Being hit under the arm pit not only hurts to high heavens but also stuns that side of your body. It took a good 30 seconds to regain control of my right arm. It was kind of a weird sensation (kind of like when your arm falls asleep). Likely it was only a bump and not a hard kick.
|After race shot.|
This area of Florida is surprisingly hilly. The city of Clermont is nearby and is known for its Horrible 100 Century ride. The Horrible 100 is VERY hilly with some pretty steep hills. Even Lance Armstrong said he was surprise how hilly the race course was. He was not expecting FL to be hilly and so hot and humid.
Compared to last year the cycling portion was much more difficult. There were no major hills but it was a course of constant rollers that never seemed to end. The course was pretty much windless so we did not have to fight that.
The bike ride was pretty much on all country roads. There was not much car traffic so you felt safe the whole time. Cops were at almost every intersection directing traffic.
The roads were well kept and the country trees and scenery was very pretty. Several of the locals were sitting out in their lawns cheering the participants on.
It was well supported with three rest stops about every 15 miles apart.
|Pre-race dinner with the team|
The run was very difficult. It was a three loop course with two major hills in the beginning of the race. This meant you had to fight those hills three times. The weather was really hot and humid so if you are not from Florida it would have been really hard. If you are from Florida you were just happy it was not as hot as some of the summer days we get (one of the FL races I did last year was a feels like 100-110F). The heat off the black top was pretty darn hot.
The town also showed up in masses to support the run. There were water hoses and sprinklers on at many houses. People were cheering and ringing the cowbell.
|Lance failed to catch up to me on the run!|
The move from Disney was a great choice. This was a much more enjoyable race than last year. It was one of my favorite 70.3s. It was not an easy race but then again it was not super hard. The swim could be in a better lake but you cannot get everything perfect. I would highly recommend this race and I will be doing it again next year.