Amy and I headed to Las Colinas for the PlayTri 1/2 Ironman Distance race this past weekend. I've known Ahmed Zaher for about 9 years now...and he will tell you that I just might be one of the reasons that he started doing triathlons.
He and his crew put on a race in Las Colinas, which has a storied triathlon history. Back in the late 1980s they had the President's Triathlon there where Mark Allen, Kenny Glah, Lance Armstrong (yes the same one) all raced. Then in 2000 they had the 1st Olympic Trials Triathlon there. Now they have a weekend of racing with a sprint race, modified Olympic Distance race, and a Half Ironman distance race.
They put on a great race, and I really hope that it 'makes it.' I say that because it seems as if some of the smaller independent races are having a tough time. But, they had a really nice expo, it was very well organized, amenities were nice (race AND finishers shirt), and they had some really nice prizes. For the elites they had a nice prize purse. I know that races will fill without elites, but in Ahmed's view he was providing a little bit of support for local pros to race in the state and take home some $$ to help them possibly get to other races. We also had a pro QA session that was fairly well attended by people.
Anyway, I'll cut to the chase...which it was. I led the swim for the first part, but I was sighting on a building that I initially thought was the turn. Turns out, the turn was much sooner. James Cotter assumed the lead and I was content to sit in until the turnaround. I tried at the buoy to turn the jets on and get a gap, but we exited together. The bike course was twisting, turning, rolling, and it never really seemed like we had a tailwind. Nor did I ever know where exactly I was on the course. The wind just got worse as the ride went on.
I stayed in the front for all but about 2 of the miles of the course, when JPC took the lead. Not content to follow, I assumed the lead again as JPC mumbled something about being tired or not having anything left. We still had about 10 miles to go, and we both hit the transition area within a few seconds. Zoot Shoes were on, and I was off. James was off. It was reminiscent of Kona in 1989 when Mark Allen shadowed Dave Scott all day. We ran the first loop in about 38:30. I noticed that I was generally quicker through the aid stations as I was just going with my trusty Gu and water. James was getting a mix of water, accelerade, and coke. With about 3.5 miles to go I applied a bit more pressure going into the aid station and got a little gap. I hoped that if I punched for the 2 miles with a tailwind that I'd be able to get a gap and hold it. My gamble worked, and I took the win by about a minute. 4:00:56 with splits of 22:13, 2:18:19, 1:17:31.
Thanks to Ahmed and the crew. Thanks to Jim Hoyt at Richardson Bike Mart, because it sounds like he had a huge hand in the event. Thanks to Zoot for sponsoring the race and us. Thanks to JPC for keeping me on my toes and pushing me to the limits. I was glad that the run was not 13.5 miles.