Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Chris Lieto Checks In........

It felt great to back racing an Ironman 70.3 event again. Vineman is one of my favorite races because of the people and the terrain. The course is a good course for me. Challenging and technical. After having some set backs earlier in the year it feels great to be healthy and moving in the right direction for the Ironman World Championship.

Vineman was a good testing ground of where my fitness is and where I need to go from here. Worlds is almost 3 months away so I don't want to be to fit yet. With that said, of course I go into every race with the focus to win. This was a race I believed I could win.

I felt confident and relaxed heading into the days before and the morning of the race. I woke up early ready to go and got to transition early to set everything up and get in a good warm up. The water temp was a warm 76 degrees, and i chose to wear a sleeveless wetsuit so that I wouldn't get to hot during the swim. The swim was great. It was not as fast as other swims I believe due to the warm water and other athletes not wanting to overheat. It was still a good pace and I felt very comfortable swimming in the front end of the lead swim pack.

Out of the water and through transition I went, and as I rode up the short hill out of transition I found that I was right towards the front and in good position for the day. Everything was going according to plan. After about 6 miles of the ride I decided to make my move as we entered the wooded hilly technical part of the course. I slowly pulled away and soon I found myself about a minute up the road leading the race. I felt really good on the bike. My Trek TTX has truly been the best bike I have ridden and it shows in my performances in the last couple of years. I feel really comfortable and I don't feel like I am fighting the bike. With my new aero position and equipment it makes it easier for me to focus on my riding and less on my position and comfort on the bike. I rode my pace and felt like I was slicing through the air on the flatter sections of the ride. The last couple miles of the ride I realized I may a critical mistake and was hoping it would affect my run. I ran out of fluid and there were no more aid stations to refuel. The last 10-15 minutes of the ride with no fluids is a major mistake. right before I came in to transition I felt a little light headed and tingly. I was unsure what this was at the moment because it was something I never felt before. I backed off and was hoping it would clear by the time I got off the bike.

I ran through transition desperately yelling for water. Where was the nearest water because I knew I needed it bad. No luck until after I got my running shoes on and headed out on the run. I felt ok the first couple miles and was still confident. I rode a record breaking 2:04 bike time and was in the lead by almost 4 minutes on TJ Tollekson and almost 9 minutes up on the group of riders which included previous champion Luke Bell and current World Champion Craig Alexander. I knew these 2 could run very well, but I had almost 9 minutes and knew that they would never catch me. With the way I have been running I thought it was a sure thing. I paced my self the first couple miles and was told that they were all coming fast. I started to run a faster pace which still felt could, but after a couple miles the lack of fluid on the bike and the dehydration was setting in. My legs started to cramp and get very heavy and sore. I knew I was in trouble when I could hardly run a pace I would run on my easy days of training.

At mile 10 I was hurting bad and feeling like I was at the end of a 26 mile run. Craig passed my and right behind him was Luke. I tried to run with them, but my legs could not move. TJ came by a little later and I kept him very close until the last 1000 meters. I couldn't catch him and decided to shut it down heading into the finish.

A lot of records where broken that day. My bike and the run that Craig had to take the win. The over finishing time was also a record that day. My finish time was my best time of 3:53. Almost a record itself.

It was a frustrating day of racing for me with some great positive sides to it. I swam great and had an incredible bike that set me far above the rest of the field. I wanted to win and believed that I could. I was poised to take the victory and some small but very critical things I neglected and it cost me the race. I am happy I pushed through to finish the best I could at the moment and know that with Hawaii Ironman a couple months away I am in the perfect place to build even more.

The next couple months I will be focusing on my training for Hawaii and will spend some time in Hawaii preparing for the race. I will do a couple shorter races to test and push myself to another level to where No one will catch me.

Photo credit to: photographer: Bob Badalucco

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