Another race under my belt this year, with some ups and downs. Surprisingly, it was cold in Galveston, Texas. It seems to be a trend lately that races in Texas are cold, with last year’s Austin 70.3 being cold as well.

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With my experience from last year’s Austin 70.3 fresh in my mind, I’d decided to bring some warm race clothing with me. I was glad I did; it was very helpful to have the options for the windy 11℃ weather.

We had a wetsuit swim because of the cold, even though the water temperature may have been a little over the wetsuit cut-off. It was worth it, At least we were warm in the water.

I chose to line up on the left side of the start line. It allowed me to get some good open water early on and move up nicely without having to fight a lot of swimmers. I focused on not “settling in” once I caught the lead group, and it really paid off. I was able to move into the middle of the lead group. I moved comfortably around in the group, ensuring I was in a good position to take advantage of any draft. I came out of the water with the lead group, less than a minute down from Ben Kanute. I claimed a couple more spots as I ran to my bike.

 Talbot Cox

Talbot Cox

I was conservative for the first few kilometers on the bike, careful to avoid any crashes and potholes as the field began to spread out. I was determined to stick to my target powers so I didn’t overdo first part of the bike. I shifted into 4th place and led the chase group past the halfway mark, when Matt Hanson took over the chase pack lead. I may have pushed into the red zone as I tried to hold onto the group, even as we rode into a strong headwind on the return to transition.

 Talbot Cox

Talbot Cox

Transition was a jumble, but I held on and got out onto the run in 4th place. [I pushed the pace going through the first 10 km in 34:43, fighting to hold on to the top five.

 Talbot Cox

Talbot Cox

I slipped out of 4th, and then back into 6th over the next few kilometers. I knew there were good guys coming up through the field behind me, so I continued to push and grit my teeth.

 Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins

I didn’t have it; maybe I’d rode too hard during the bike, and need a few weeks of hard training. I slipped back into 7th. Then it was 8th, then 9th, and then 10th. I dug in as deep as I could, trying to find one extra gear. I knew I needed to find the pace again. I wanted to hold on for a top ten finish at the least. But there was nothing there, and despite my best efforts, I lost 10th, and then11th as we approached the finish line. I crossed the line in 12th, exhausted and disappointed. I went out there to give it everything I had. I put it all out there and it just was not my day]

 Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins

This race really felt like two steps forward and one step back. But I will take away everything I can from it and come back even better. Upon reviewing my times, I was pleased to see how my swim and my bike have actually improved. I know that my run will be there soon. While I’ve improved personally, the level of competition is also improving. I will be getting myself ready to meet that challenge.

I’m going back to the drawing board and decide what my next move should be. I was considering the North America Championships, but now I wonder if I should race St. George, or if it would be better to take a little more time and schedule in a long training block before Victoria 70.3. I’m also considering racing a shorter, Olympic non-draft race before Victoria, just to keep the engines firing. Racing is a fair amount of strategy both on and off the course, so it never hurts to take a step back and consider what will be the best way to get the most out of myself.

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