Jim Lamastra 3rd Place at Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Jim and Rob at Clearwater

Jim and Rob at Clearwater

Jim Lamastra and Rob Reddy represented Spin/Second Sole at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds last weekend in Clearwater, Florida. Both had incredible times: Rob finished in 4:50, and Jim came in at 4:07, which was good for 46th place overall– in the world– and 3rd in his age group.  He has a long but completely worthwhile race report at the bottom of this post.

It takes nothing away from Rob’s race that 4 hours, 50 minutes is good enough for a mid-pack finish. This race is probably the most stacked triathlon in the world.

Click through for some photos and Jim’s inspiring race report. Congratulations to both of you!

Here are a few of Rob’s photos from the weekend– make sure you head over to the sssmst flickr page to see more.

 

Finally, here’s Jim’s race report from the weekend.

Rob and I arrived on the Thursday before the race and immediately got caught up in the energy surrounding the race. Similar to my experience in Kona, bike boxes were scattered throughout the Tampa airport. We took the shuttle to the rental car place and proceeded to get a minivan that would serve as our transportation to/from Clearwater Beach. The cabin pressure on the plane left my already clogged sinuses that much more painful. As a result of the cold I’d been fighting for the past week plus, I really didn’t expect anything great from myself in terms of race results. That would turn out to be a blessing in disguise as the pressure I usually put on myself before races was off.

As we arrived on the beach, we stopped for a quick bite at a Subway across from the race headquarters and downed a footlong each. AJ Baucco, a super fast up and comer from the East Side of Cleveland ate with us and we plotted a plan for the next two days. Rob and I then checked into the race and wandered around the expo. We immediately proceeded to our hotel about .5 miles away and put our bikes together before heading out for a one hour spin around the course. Other than the 12 percent grade on a bridge just outside of town, the course was apparently flat and unaffected by headwinds.

After the spin, we grabbed our wetsuits and hit the waves. The water was very murky and made me unable to concentrate on anything but the potential for a shark attack. Rob put a challenge to me to swim to the first buoy (about 200 yards) and back but I was simply unable to overcome my fear of sharks. After about 5 minutes, my swim training was done and I was back on shore. We stopped during that time to talk to an Aussie pro by the name of Peter O’neil who was wearing about the coolest wetsuit we’d ever seen. The company was a Swiss manufacturer by the name of EROX and is currently in the process of talking to me about getting some suits in the US. By all accounts, there were 4 of them used in this race.

The next day, Rob and I did roughly the same sort of thing. We rode early for about 45 minutes then got in the water to attempt a swim. This time, I made it past the first buoy but not much further. My head felt like it was going to explode but it was still great being in the warm Florida sun. We tried to lay low the rest of the day but between getting our bikes ready and turning them into transition, most of the daylight was gone and it was time to head off to dinner. We went to one of the tastiest Italian restaurants I’ve ever been to (sentiments shared by Rob, AJ and my Italian father Salvatore) and had a fantastic carb-filled meal. On the way out, we ran into Kevin McKinnon (iromanlive editor) who gave us a good luck greeting and off we went. On the way back to the hotel, we managed to catch a period of the Buffalo Sabres hockey game, had a glass of wine and met a marketing person from Labatt USA. Good contact I might add. Lights out around 9:30 PM. We set the alarm for 4:30 AM and to sleep we went.
Normally, the night before a race is a restless one but downing a half serving of Nyquil (along with the wine) allowed me to sleep until Reddy was calling my name at 4:40. I got up, went to the fridge and started into my first can of Red Bull. I had quit all caffeine 3 weeks before the race as is my usual tradition. Red Bull came into play before IM Wisconsin 2006 which was my Hawaii qualifier race and I’ve done this ever since for my big races. My father drove us the half mile to the transition area and the waiting around began. Rob and I got body marked and entered into the TA and pumped up our tires etc. While at my rack, I ran into an old friend (Ted Mitchell) who I used to coach in the late ‘90’s. He was getting ready to do his second Clearwater race in 3 years. He had good memories from the last time and hoped to better his finish this time around. I was excited to learn that he was in my age group and would be a good swimming pacer in my wave.

Rob and I finished up in transition and walked to the beach for final preparations. I started into can number 2 of my Red Bull but finished less than half of it before I felt ready to go. Rob was in a wave that started 30 minutes after mine so we said our goodbyes and exchanged good lucks. I was fortunate enough to be in the 3rd amateur wave of the day so the congestion in front of me did not look like it was going to be a huge factor. While lining up for the swim start, I ran into another old friend (Jordan McAmmond) who was doing her first Clearwater race and exuded nervous energy (but in a good way).

My age group was split into 2 waves, the first of which was sent off 5 minutes before mine. Most of that wave looked pretty good in their first few hundred meters so I again was hopeful that congestion in the swim wouldn’t be terrible. Wrong. Our gun went off at 7:15 and started with a few dolphin dives before we hit the deep water. I moved very cautiously in the early stages hoping not to lose a lot of energy there. Somehow, I was able to transition into smooth water fairly quickly and began pacing off of Ted and one other guy in front of him. As we made our way to the quarter point in the swim, Ted started to slip off the leader’s feet so I made a surge to catch back up. I got to the swim turn second in the wave but felt the pace was slowing a bit so I went around the wave leader.
The water was very smooth and easy to sight over the first half but was the complete opposite after the turn. We basically turned straight into the sun and the buoy line was nearly impossible to see. Not to mention, almost immediately, the water became very choppy as we caught up to much of the first couple waves. It became a game of frogger winding through the last part of the swim. I took a line far to the left of the swim course to get some clear water and cruised back to the beach. Right near the end, maybe 100 or so meters, the early swim leader drew even with me and I could see he wanted to get out first and I let him go. He was churning major white water with a crazy hard quick and I wanted no part of that. So, off he went, about 3 seconds faster than me. I’d say my heart rate was in the 120’s when I made the beach and I ran right past him through the freshwater shower. Swim time: 24.05.

Transition 1 was upon me and as with most of these IMNA/WTC events, it was fairly congested. This was not too much different than normal but the flow of traffic was well maintained. I got my glasses and ran to my bike. When I got there, my helmet was about 20 feet from my rack and my salt tablets which were inside my helmet when I last saw them were gone!!! Son of a gun! I looked all over for them but after what felt like an eternity I gave up and moved on with my race. My whole nutrition plan was scrapped before I could do anything about it. I must add that I was unable to get hold of any Carbo Pro in the days leading up to the race so I was now relying on Vanilla Glucerna (a diabetes shake) and Jelly Belly Sport Beans. Oh well. At this point I kind of laughed to myself, “I have a sinus infection, no nutrition and no salt, this should be a great day!”

I got on my bike and weaved around a bunch of 50 something year olds and made it over the first 5 miles relatively unscathed before settling into a comfortable pace. Early on, a rider went by me like I was standing still…I looked at my computer and it said 28 mph! Holy crap these guys are going to be flying. That was the last guy that would pass me on this day however. I must add that ‘Mr. Kamikaze’ would fall in behind me around 15 miles later. I never saw him after that.
Near that 20 mile mark, I came upon an individual who was moving pretty quickly who when I passed him decided he wanted to suck on my wheel. When I figured it out, I decided to not aid in his cheating effort and simply stopped pedaling. I briefly slowed to about 15 mph and he came next to me yelling and pointing to his shoulder. “I hurt my shoulder back there”. I looked and saw a nasty case of road rash but had no idea what that had to do with me. I think he was pleading to me to let him sit on my wheel. So, he fell back on my wheel, I looked back, snickered to myself and let it go…22, 25, 27, 31, 35 mph. I was all out racing at this stage. I turned again and saw no one within sight of me. Job complete! Throughout the next 30 miles, I passed everyone I came upon pretty easily. I never really saw much drafting or at least no blatent packs of drafting during the ride. There were certainly groups of 2-3 out there but it was hard to tell if they were working together or just passing each other more slowly than I was. Either way, I made it to mile 50 without any really energy issues. I finished my Glucerna (600 calories) in the first 90 minutes and had been enjoying Gatorade Endurance and Jelly Beans the rest of the time. I’d say I hit roughly 900 calories in total which felt to be more than enough. However, I still worried about cramping since I usually rely on a ton of salt during my longer races.
The last 6 or so miles of the bike I started doing some stretching of the legs by standing up and took a good inventory of how I felt. Turns out I felt pretty good. I had grabbed a power gel somewhere on the course and downed it with some water during the last mile before T2. During this final stretch I figured I’d be swallowed by the packs of riders that I heard form on this bike course but it never happened. I think I was lucky enough to get on the course before they were able to get together and then stay ahead with timely surges of my own. I never saw at the time what I rode or averaged but I was out of T2 with a total time of 2:42. That was significantly faster than I expected so knowing how felt, I was pretty confident I was going to beat my PR of 4:51.
T2 was much quieter than T1. There were maybe 2-3 guys in the changing tent and I was able to hand my bike off and switch shoes pretty easily and get onto the run course. Two weeks before this race I ran a ½ marathon in Niagara Falls and never looked at my watch one time. That proved to be my fastest half of my life. Today, I decided to do the same thing on the run. I didn’t want to get bogged down with chasing any type of goal but instead run a pace that was fairly comfortable. The temperature was heating up big time by this point but when I thought about it, it was still better than what Rob and AJ would be running in considering they started 30 and 45 minutes after my wave. That gave me some peace of mind and ability to focus on the fact that I certainly had better conditions.

The run course is a pretty challenging one and something that I think gets little recognition. We traverse the bridge from the beach to the mainland 4 separate times. The ascent (according to the race literature) has an average gradient of 12% which feels every bit that. Each lap felt significantly slower than the last. Retrospective observation of splits confirmed that to be sure. Anyway, I saw my father at mile 5.5 and again at mile 7.5. It was then that he told me I led my entire age group off the bike. I yelled that he was way off on that but then I thought he might be right.

To this point in the race, no one from my wave was ahead of me and no one had yet to pass me on the run. Maybe today was one of those rare days all of us who race dream about. So, I surged right then and there. It wasn’t much more than 5 miles to the finish and if he was right, maybe I could podium the age group. I made the turn near the 10 mile mark and continued to hold my form. Two guys immediately passed me but their high numbers confirmed they were not my age. I tried to go with them but could not hang on. I hit the 11 mile mark on the bridge and gave another surge. Nothing in the tank this time but I was catching someone who looked like he was my age. I got on his heels and saw that he was in fact in my age group. I sat there until mile 12 and decided to make a push. Maybe he was in the wave in front of me but maybe not. No need to leave anything to chance here. I got within site of transition (about 400 yards from the finish) and looked back to see where he was. He was with me stride for stride. Again, I dug down for a little more and found what I wanted. I hammered what felt like a 60 second quarter mile (certainly it wasn’t) and separated myself from him. I was elated like never before. I actually worked my ass off at the end and finished stronger than in any sprint race I’ve done. After crossing the line, I was met with a hard pat on the back by my fellow competitor who asked my name. “Never heard of you”, he said to me. I then asked his name and he said “Philipe Kozub”. I heard of him. He won 2007’s Best of the US race and is currently one of the best males in the amateur world. I couldn’t believe I out sprinted him. As it turned out, his run split was still faster than mine but he was in the wave ahead of me. I guess he had passed me earlier in the run but I never did see him.

As soon as I saw my father he told me I finished 3rd in my age group. There were a couple of super runners in wave one who took it to me running 1:15 and 1:20 respectively. I ran 1:25 but that included a sub 6 minute last mile. My fastest ½ marathon run in a triathlon was 1:31 so it was by far a best. Total time 4 hours, 7 minutes and 34 seconds. Wow. I was more than elated by the result. I hope to back on this course in a year. Right now, I was heading to the massage tent and calling my wife. I needed to check on Luca. Apparently, he was in his running shoes getting an early start on next years training!

Congratulations to Rob Reddy, AJ Baucco and George Vale. They all raced their butts off down there. We had a great time and cannot wait to go again.

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6 Responses

  1. hey jim – why no race report about the after race and pro party :] that is where all the fun was had and jucie tidbits occured.

    But honestly – everyone should know that Mr Lamastra REALLY represented us all well – huge props!!!

  2. That’s your job, Rob!

  3. believe me Andy I got a couple stories ;}

  4. Nice job Jim. Perfect timing for nailing a Half Ironman PR. Good luck in 2009.

  5. come to me for the after party report! I’ll tell all..

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