Sunday, September 12, 2010

Patriot's Half IronMan - long version

What follows could get very long and full of details. My thoughts are rolling through my head and I want to get them down in hopes of piecing together what if anything I may have been able to do differently. You have been warned.

The Friday before I took the day off from work to finish packing and prep the house and cats for a weekend alone. We picked the girl up from school after lunch and headed up to Williamsburg. It's a 4 hour drive and traffic as not bad. Checked into the Great Wolf Lodge and headed to the race site for package pickup. Picked up the package with no issues and even bought two pairs of sock guy socks for $5. Then we headed to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner. I had a chicken Parm and a sangria. Everything seemed to be going great. I felt a slight twinge in my lower back from the drive and probably should have stretched it out a bit before bed. Back at the lodge, the girls went to the arcade and I spent some time getting everything ready for the morning. Mixing drinks, putting stickers on, getting out clothes and so on. Hit the bed at 9PM right on time with a wake up scheduled for 4AM.

Race Morning woke up at 4, ate my normal breakfast of grapenuts with dried cranberries 16 oz of water and added half a banana. Packed up the car and headed out right on time at 5. Once at the race site and in transition I had everything setup and ready with 30 minutes to spare. I put on the wetsuit, chugged 8 oz of hornet juice and ate a gel. Headed down to the swim start and got in a nice easy warmup in the bay. The water temp was announced as 74 degrees. I heard a bunch of people saying 74 was generous and how did they come up with that? As if they had some internal thermometer. The air temp was still in the 50's so of course the water felt warm. But no one was complaining about getting to wear their wetsuit. I saw one girl close to shore squatting in the shallows with a strange smile on her face, obviously taking a pee break. Can you make it a little less obvious? I mean walk out 10 more feet and you don't even have to squat. anyway onto the race...

times below are the official times from the race results, I race in the master's Clydesdale division and there were 18 total in that division.

Swim: 39:11 - 6/18
the swim was actually quite nice. They have a nice wide open area to warmup in and to start so the pack was spread out wide and I had no issues of getting kicked at all. The first turn buoy was a long way out which meant the pack was lined up and once again no issues making the first turn. We swam with the current after the first turn, but the sun had just started coming up and it was bright so finding that second buoy was tough. Once I found it, it was smooth sailing to it but then after the second turn we were heading to shore but now we were swimming directly into the sun. I couldn't find the exit for about half the swim until I stopped in the water and shaded the sun with my hand and located. Luckily the exit was right at a perfect spot to sight and I cruised in. Now getting out of the water was tough. It was so shallow we had to walk about 50 yards through the water to get to shore, took me about a minute and my quads were not happy.

T1: 3:19 3/18
T1 was hike from the swim exit so most people's times were in the 3 minute plus time. I didn't mess around, ran to transition, stripped off the wetsuit and got the bike ready to go. no muss no fuss.

Bike: 2:54:34 7/18
As I was heading out of transition, I hit some strange combination of keys on my bike computer and just like that it stopped working. I played around with it for the first mile trying to get it to work, but was unsuccessful so I just had to let it go. I told myself just go by feel and off I went. The only indication of how fast I was going would be at the 5 mile markers where I could do some math and try to figure out my speed over the last 5 miles. The first 5 miles went by and I was at 15 minutes. oops that means 20 mph, a bit too fast, but my legs were feeling good, so I wasn't too concerned. I consciencely slowed and let some people go. Yelled at few people who were insisting on drafting, and some were very obvious about it. Next up was mile 10 and I was under 30 minutes, so my attempt to slow did not work, but I would find out later it was due to the wind being at my back on the out part and of course that meant it would be in my face on the way back, but I wouldn't find that out for another 30 miles or so. I pulled out my power bar and started eating. It wasn't easy and as I was chewing, @andresduquepc12 from twitter went by me. I tried to yell at him, but my mouth was full and I don't think he heard me. He started 9 minutes ahead of me, but swimming is not his strong suit. ok, some more slowing and drinking and eating and the next thing I know I'm at mile 20 in 1:01 and still feeling good. Now the rolling part starts. I still haven't shifted out of the big ring, but I did stand a couple times so I could give my legs a break. It was rolling from 20 - 40 with some rough spots on the roads, but overall a nice ride. I picked up a water bottle at mile 36 and refilled my aero bottle. So far I've had 20 oz of ultima, 24 oz of gatorade and 16 oz of water. Over the next 17 miles I still have another 24 oz of gatorade to go. so all told I had 98 oz of fluid over the 3 hours. Also during 20-40 I had my fig newtons. I had slowed a bit now and I think at mile 40 I was at 2:03, so still a very good time and ahead of my planned pace, but the last 17 miles would be into the wind and slow me down a bit. There was a problem with traffic in this section and I had to slow to avoid cars several times, but the roads where once again really nice. I was now starting to catch some of the people that went flying by me in the beginning. With 5 miles togo I decided to go with the gel instead of the last powerbar as I wasn't really hungry, but I did want some more calories. So a Gu Roctane went in. the last few miles were torture on my butt. I really just wanted it to end but I still hadn't shifted out of the big ring, so I guess the claim that you wouldn't need to shift out was true. I was hoping to get a 2:50, but since the course was really 57 I didn't feel too bad about the 2:54 and I was very happy to get off the bike. As I was pulling into transition I heard the announcer call out that @andresduquepc12 was headed out for his run, so I guess he finished the bike about 2 minutes ahead of me.

T2: 2:54 12/18
This was my lowest ranking and due to the fact that I had to stop to use the port a john. Considering that 2:54 was not bad. At my last half my T2 was over 5 minutes so this was a big improvement. I just noticed that my T2 was 2:54 and my bike was 2:54, of course the bike was 2 hours and 54 minutes but still...

Run: 2:17:19 8/18
started off the run feeling good, the first part we had to run next to the path that the bikes were going out and coming in on so we were on the grass. after about a half mile we hit the real running trail and my ankles were much happier. Got to mile 1 and I looked down thinking I was going to be around 9:30 and my watch said 8:50, ok, slow down and just go easy. Mile two comes up just as we turn onto an offroad section. the path is nice packed dirt and completely shaded. My watch said 17:50, I was a little concerned because I didn't want to be going that fast, but my legs felt good, so I didn't think too much about it. I was cruising along thinking I should start drinking my gatorade when boom! my right hamstring cramps up out of nowhere. Normally when my legs cramp, I can feel it coming on slowly until it happens, not this time. I had to stop and stretch it out. After about a minute I straightnd up and started to walk. I walked through the rest area and got some water and orange slices, and then started to run again. I'm not sure what caused the cramp, but it did not come back again, so I'm going to chalk that one up as a freak occurance. The thing that was really starting to worry me was that my stomach was not being receptive to food or drink. I hit mile three and was still at 29 minutes, considering the long stop and walk I was quite happy. when I got to mile 4 the plan was to run to the mile marker and then walk until I hit the 10 min pace. So I got to mile 4 at 38:30 so I walked 1:30, forced in a couple sips of gatorade and then started to run again. Mile 5 came on in 48 minutes so I was really running well, but the no food thing was really wearing on me, so after a 2 minute walk and some more forced gatorade it was time to run again. There were plenty of rest stops and I was able to get some orange slices down, but after the rest stop at mile 6, no more solid food would go down. I couldn't even think about a gel. At mile 7 I was still doing well, I think I was at 68 minutes when I got to the marker and rest area, so I tried taking a long 3 minute walk in hopes that my stomach might come around after a long break, but nothing doing, all I could manage was some more gatorade. I had managed over the first half to get down 12 oz of gatorade and I just hoped it would get me through. After that long walk I decided to run the next two miles straight through and started repeating my mantra of "Kick ass - don't cry" that I got from my buddy dr. dre ( AndreaDuke15 on twitter ), this worked great but on the trail part, around the spot I got my cramp, I passed a guy who was just hurling like mad, this did not do my stomach well at all but I got to mile 9 at 87 minutes. That's when it all came apart. I walked a minute and took some gatorade, but now my stomach was not liking that either, so no more gatorade for the last 4 miles either. I started back running and after about 3 minutes my legs just said no more, we are done. I had to walk for about 5 minutes before I was able to jog again. Gone now was the run to the mile marker plan and all I could do was jog as long as I could, then walk till I recovered. I was lightheaded and a bit nausous, but I didn't feel dehydrated or over heated which is normally my problem so I just kept moving forward. When I got to mile 11 I had 26 minutes to get back and still break 6 hours. This gave me some hope and was able to put together a long run stretch of about 6 minutes before it was back to jog/walk again. Finally got to the half mile to go and still had 8 minutes to go so I ran through the water stop and dumped a bunch of water on my head and then walked until I thought I could run to the finish and that's what I did. They was a photographer at the finish line and asked if I wanted to take a picture with my medal. I was like not right now, and he looked at me like I was crazy. I just wanted to get some water and head down to the river to soak.

Total Time: 5:57:15 7/18
At the time I was very disappointed because I thought I could have broken 5:50, but in retrospect I'm very pleased. My initial goal was 6 hours and I beat that by 2:45. I've been putting a lot of thought into what I did wrong to not be able to eat or drink like I should on the run and all I can come up with is I drank too much and went too hard on the bike. With the lower temps and humidity I suspect I was not sweating nearly as much as I usually do, in fact I remember seeing other people with salt all over their shorts and looking at mine and not seeing it. I had about 33 oz per hour and I think 20 is about my norm in training so I should have been a bit more careful. I'm just not used to being in that position, especially after this summer from heel. Also I've been average just about 17 mph for my long rides, so the 19+ was probably more that I was ready for. If I could have taken 6 extra minutes over the last 5 miles I probably could have finished my run in 2:05. My legs were functioning well and besides the one cramp issue, I had no muscle issues, just energy and dizzyness. This definetly gives me some things to work on in training over the next two months leading up to the ironman. I hope to have at least 2 more long bricks to test out some theories and get some nutrition practise in.

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