Just to get this out of the way, I am completely, and utterly, insane. Continue to read this rant at the risk of losing your own sanity, or catching whatever H1N70.3 bug I caught 9 months ago.
Well, technically, I didn't catch the 70.3 bug 9 months ago, I only wanted to get into shape and try to be a better person by helping people whith blood cancer, but that is when my symptoms began to escalate. This is not the stream of conciousness I wanted to go down, so you will just have to ask if you want to know stuff from the beginning. This is supposed to be about my first 70.3 at the Inaugural (sp?) Ironman Augusta 70.3 race in Augusta GA.
Have I mentioned that I have never seen so many in-shape, bad-assed people in one place EVER? I am sure it doesn't hold a candle to the Full Ironman race in Kona, or even the full Ironman Florida race, but I have never attended one of those, now have I. Anyway, I packed during the morning last Friday, and Coach came to pick me up around 10am. Bike on the bike rack, bags in the back, and we were off. 6 hour ride, 1 stop for a bacon-cheeseburger at Cracker-Barrell, couple of bathroom breaks, and we were there. We put our bikes in the room (we were 3 of 5 people sharing 2 rooms at the host hotel. A side note I learned from the coach, if you can afford it, always stay at the host hotel. The Expo is downstairs, the shuttle buses pick you up at the door, the finish line is near, and they are not shocked when 3 people wheel 3 bikes into the elevator) and headed to the area where we could go to a briefing and pick up our race packets. We just barely made it into the last briefing of the day, and then picked up our race packet. This was good because then it was out of the way, but it was bad because the Bennetts were speaking during this time, and we missed it. SPOILER ALERT: this was made worse by the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Bennett both took first place in men and women's pro divisions.
So, we got checked into the race, and went throught the Expo once. I guess they did not really know how many people would be there, because the Expo part of it was jammed into a tiny space, and they could have used twice the area to make it merely crowded instead of forcing us to walk all over each other. I weighed in when I picked up my packet for Clydesdales, and came it at a comfortable 246. I think this was because of the Bacon-Cheese Burger and possibly because I had my cell phone in my pocket. Or it could be because I am still quite a big guy. We will work on that later. I did not get any comments from the guy like my friend who weighed in for Athena. I guess when she weighed in she muttered, "Gosh, that a little more than I thought it would be." and the guy said, "Maybe you should stop eating at McDonalds." Some people have no respect for others.
Then we met up with the our friends from Advanced Cycles and headed off to eat at a seafood restaurant up the road. Hotel, bed, sleep. Woke up, eat breakfast at hotel, then went to expo for a bit. Then we went to test out the swim. The current was awesome! Water was cool when you jumped in, but you got used to it. It was pretty cool, if you let go of the dock, you started to float down the river! We spent a couple minutes seeing what the water felt like, and mentally preparing for the race, and then we got out and went to the hotel. After that, Coach and a couple of us drove the bike course. This was a great thing to do, since we found that the course was pretty much all country roads, and we had an idea for the quality of the roads and the hills we would be in for. If you watch the video of the course you get a different feel for it than if you are actually out there. We knew from the ride that there was really no place on the course where the road was flat. It was all either up, or down. We got back to the hotel, rode our bikes to transition, then went to dinner. Carraba's was packed. We waited over an hour to be seated, and we ended up not being seated but taking 5 seats together at the pasta bar, then waited another hour to be served our food. 3 hours after arriving at Carraba's we picked up a couple things at the grocery store and headed back to the hotel. Asleep at 11, awake at 5, woke up the guys at 5:30, then off to the race.
We caught the shuttle to transition, set up, grabbed our wetsuits and grabbed the next shuttle to the Swim start. As I am getting off the shuttle, I hear the announcer start the professional women's wave. HOLY SMOKES! I have to check in my bag and get into my wetsuit because my wave is in less than 15 minutes! Bag check was relatively short - thank goodness - and i am getting better at putting on my wetsuit. I walked forward to where I am supposed to stand to get started, but I do not see any green swim caps. Wha?? Then i see some in the distance, RIGHT BEFORE THE GATE TO GO DOWN THE DOCKS! I push my way forward through the crowds of anxious swimmers to my group of swim caps, and don my cap and get my goggles ready. Then the wave before us starts and we are heading down the dock to get started. I made it! I look around at the group of people who are surrounding me and notice that they all look like very strong, accomplished athletes. Uh oh, this is going to be a long day... I finally get to the dock when the announcer says "30 seconds" and I jump in the water, brush off the chill, and the announcer says 3, 2, 1 and the horn sounds. I start the swim amidst flailing hands, splashing feet, and bobbing green caps. Within about 300 yards it starts to spread out and I am able to start taking longer strokes. at about 5-600 yards I am in my groove and swimming well. As I pass under a walking bridge I curb my desire to roll onto my back and wave at the people above me. At what I estimate to be 3/4 of the way through the swim, I look to my left and notice a few pink caps swimming alongside me. I am passing people who started in the wave 4 minutes in front of me, WHOOO!! I can see green caps in front, pink caps in front, green caps to the sides, and a silver cap or two from the waves behind me. Those guys must be bad asses. One day.... Swim finish! run up out of the water on the boat ramp, stub my toe on a bizzare block of concrete poking up about 4 inches WHA?? and run out of the water and up the grassy slope to the bike transition. CRAMP!!!!! Left moo-moo is not feeling great, but the bike is next, so I dont mind. It will stretch out, right? Then there was this big line of people helping rip wetsuits off of my competitors. I took a step to the right, and then used my feet to get out of mine myself. I could have probably saved 2 seconds by sitting down and having someone rip off my suit, but I am not working on setting a speed record here, just relaxing and enjoying the experience!
T1 was nothing spectacular. I took off my wetsuit, I put on my cycling stuff, I put my gels in my pockets, I checked to make sure I had everything, like, 3 times then I left. Again, I am not setting a land-speed record here, I am just starting, and would be worse off if I forgot something than saving a minute or two out of 350 minutes!
The bike course was great. All hilly, no real flat spots. Lots of country roads. I would say that half was new road, and half really needed to be new roads. There were a ton of people who got flat tires or had mechanical issues of one type or another. Of the five people we had in our group, two had issues with mechanical issues on the bike. I really enjoyed my ride, and rode my race. Lots of people passed me. I passed a few people, but I really had a race in mind when I started out, and I know there are people who are better fit than I am. This is my first race of this volume, and my goal was to complete it as best as I could, not to beat anyone or to get first in anything. This is how I was coached, and now that I have experienced it, I have to agree. The first time you do a new endurance distance, you have to plan your race, and race your plan. Do not deviate or there would be dire consequences. If you are new to triathlon and reading this, the last couple of sentences are for you. No matter what! Even if you are great at sprint or olympic distances, the first HIM should be planned, and then you race your plan.
Bike:3:08:49 Average speed 17.8
I had to pee in T2. There was only one person by the porta-cans so I chose this as the time to do it. I like that it was a good choice.
Running has never been my strong suit. I am not going to go into the agony of the run, or how it seemed like it took forever. I started by using the Galloway method of running 4 minutes, walking 1, running 4, walking one. I had done a 12 mile run during training using this method, and it had gotten me through it, but I am still not fit enough to run 13.1 miles without walking, and especially after a 30 minute swim, and a 3 hour pretty hard bike ride. I think Galloway was the only way that I had a chance to finish the race. This is what I was coached to do, and that was the plan, so I raced the plan. The run was agony, and it seemed like it took forever, but I loved the cowbells and the cheering and the, "Hey, that guy is on his second lap! GO 543!". I don't like that I was passed by several hundred people, but that is what happens when I am in one of the first waves, and I am not a strong runner. I averaged 12:40 for the first 6.5 miles, and 13 and change for the second 6.5.
Run: 2:49:47 Avg 12:57.
If you have done a 70.3 or more distance and think that run time is slow, I would be happy for any recommendations. I know this is my weak race leg and plan on putting in the mileage over the next 4 months to make it stronger during the off season. If you haven't raced a HIM and think that my run time is slow, you can suck it. Endurance racing is really really friggin hard, and until you run/walk 13.1 miles in my shoes after a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike at roughly 18mph through the hills of South Carolina, then shhh.
Anyway, finishing was awesome. I don't really know what to do down the chute, so I just ran to the end, crossed the line, and got out of the way. I grabbed a water, got my medal, they took off my timing chip, and i exited the chute on the other side of the loop, where there is about 1 mile to go to the finish. I didn't see any of my friends pass me, so I figured this would be a great place to look for them, so I sat down. Really that thought was an afterthought. I just sat down cause I could not stand or walk any longer. I had the best intentions before I started the race. I was going to go get my checked bag and grab a recorder and record my friends and coach as they passed, but this turned out to be folly. As I looked down at myself I realized I messed up with elecrolytes again, as I was covered in salt. This is something I need to work on more until I can get it right. I figured that since it was not as hot as it normally is when i train, that I did not need to take as much enduralytes, but really, it was as hot as i usually train once i got to the run, and i still needed electrolytes and more fluid.
Total time: 6:37:39
I have to say here that the only reason I crossed the finish line was because of the support of my family, and the instruction I got from my coach. In January when I signed up for Team in Training, I could not run a mile. I could not ride 10 miles on the bike at 15mph without rest, and I could not do the crawl stroke across the 25 yards of the pool without stopping in the middle to float for a minute, or do the breast or side stroke. In 7.5 months, my coach took me from that point, to completing a Half Ironman with a pretty respectable time, without injury. WITHOUT INJURY. That is pretty friggin awesome, and I appreciate CB more than I think she knows. (well, until she reads this, then she will think she knows, but she still wont.)
I also need to mention that i really appreciate my wife and kids who have sacrificed for me to train, and to purchase what I felt I needed to do this race. They have been missing me, and I understand and love them for supporting me and letting me do this.
Now to the crazy part. Last night was my first night home from Augusta. I started getting really stiff yesterday in the car, and even more stiff once I went to bed. When I woke up at 3:30AM this morning, I almost could not make it into the bathroom to pee, and then I hobbled back to the bed. As i lay there in bed after using the bathroom, and trying to go back to sleep, my mind started working. I spent the next 2.5 hours thinking about how I could get better, how I can work on my running, and about the race I had done, and what I can do to make the next 70.3 better. I am INSANE, but I love it.
I will be spending 4 months in the off-season working on improving my running technique, speed, and endurance, and then I will be building back up for the Gulf Coast 70.3 in May. Stay tuned for my new goals, new milestones, and the interesting things that will result from my pursuit of a new PR!
By the way, I am sure I missed some things from the weekend, so as I remember to, I will post them in subsequent days as I remember them.