I'm going to start this race report by pasting the following lines from my pre-race post:
"A lot has changed for me since I last did this race nearly two years
ago. I've lost a good bit of weight. I've since lowered my 70.3 distance
PR time from the 7:52:07 on that day to my current PR for the distance
from last November of 6:21:22. I suppose the main thing that has changed
in that time is that while I thought I knew what I was doing on that
day, I now know that I still had so very much to learn to become a
decent triathlete. However, without that day playing out as it did I
likely would not have sought the aid of Coach Michelle, and who knows
just how many of my OutRival Racing friends and teammates would be my
friends today. Although I was unhappy with the way that day unfolded, I
believe it became a positive pivotal event for my future."
I think it is important for me to remember some of the context of where I have come from, how I have improved and why I continue to do these events.I find that I do these things as much for the camaraderie of my friends and enjoyment of our shared experiences as much as I enjoy testing how far I can improve on my past. I hope I will always remember that doing my best and sharing these experiences with friends is more important than any number that designates a finishing time.
I went into this race on a mission to do my best. My goals were to PR, get under 6 hours and, if everything came together perfectly I really (really, really, really) wanted on a personal level to beat that previous time on the course from 2 years ago by 2 hours.
Pre-Race: I did not get a lot of sleep the night before the race, which is not unusual for me though I did get about 9 hours of sleep the night before which is well above my typical 6 - 6.5 hours, so I did feel fairly rested. I got into transition to set up fairly early and then made sure that I knew my way around. I was very far in the back and wanted to make sure that I did not get lost at any time. As luck would have it the four spots adjacent to me were no-shows so I had plenty of set up room. While I had time I also chatted with several friends. As transition closed I walked towards the swim start area and found a place to sit and rest as I was in the 16th of 20 waves to start, which meant that while the first athletes began at 7:00 am, I would not begin until 8:15 am. I rested, chatted and generally tried to pass the time without expending much energy.
Swim: We hopped off the pier into the water as the previous wave clear the start. I got off to a good start and felt like I had a strong but comfortable pace. As I rounded the first turn buoy I got tangled with another swimmer who was outside of me on the turn but cut the turn sharply. Somehow, after a minor tussle with this guy (not malicious or fighting, we just got tangled up real good) I got off line and began swimming away from the course and back toward shore on the inside of the buoys. Yes, I was THAT guy who went way off course. I estimate it took me about 100 yards to figure that out and cost myself 3-4 minutes in the process. After that I was more careful to swim a very good line on the marker buoys and had a solid swim from that point. I finished the swim in 39:49, which is only 29 seconds off my faster half iron swim. Although it was slower than I had hoped I know that was my own fault.
T1: 3:42 I tried to move quickly but also took the time to make sure I took care of what I needed.I figure comfort on the bike would benefit me more than cutting a few seconds in transition.
Bike: There was some wind out, mostly a headwind on the first half of the course and mostly a tailwind on the second half. At first my right hamstring felt tight and I was concerned and tried to stretch it a bit and rode a bit easier for a few minutes until I was more warmed up. After a little while it did not seem to concern me again. Starting out so far in the back of the field in this wave start meant that I was passing a lot of other cyclists along the way, which helped to keep me engaged as I had target after target to pick off as I moved up. I hit the turnaround in 1:30:31, an average speed of 18.56 mph. I was hoping to be under three hours on the bike and was slightly off that pace but I figured the wind would be more helpful on the return trip. I was also riding with regard to my heart rate zones to avoid going too fast this early in the race and ruining my run later. On the way back my pace did pick up and I continued to push my pace. I made the return trip in 1:20:44 (20.81 mph). Overall my bike ride was 2:51:15 (19.62 mph). This was definitely the type of time I hoped for--it was about 10 minutes ahead of my last half iron bike--and I knew I still felt strong coming back into the transition area.
T2: Just like with T1 I tried to be quick but also make sure I was going to be comfortable for the run. I was out of T2 in 2:55.
Run: I started off feeling strong but knew it was going to be a long run. I felt good in my last half iron race at this point and had issues on the run, too. However, today I felt stronger and better (or at least I thought I did). For April 1st it was quite warm, and felt hot as the day went on. I took in a lot of cold water and kept putting ice in my shirt (and even shorts) to help keep my body cooler. I averaged just under a 9 minute per mile pace on the first of the three run loops and I knew I felt better than most of the others out there on the course from the way they looked. It wasn't easy and my legs (mostly the quads) were sore but I kept going. My second loop was about a 10:20 pace, which is around what I originally expected to start at so I was happy with that. After the second loop I was pretty much shot and was running on a slightly upset stomach, but I knew that all I had to do was keep my legs moving. I was far enough ahead of a sub 6 hour pace that I knew I merely need to keep running to make that goal, even if beating the previous course time by 2 hours was now fading into being beyond my grasp. For the final loop I stayed off of nutrition and just took water and ice to ease my stomach. I had padded my nutrition plans a bit and being ahead of schedule may have put too much food in my stomach. Doing this seemed to help the upset stomach feeling although my legs were another issue. Where I only walked through the aid stations in the previous loops I was now walking a full minute at these stops. In last half of the loop I also mixed in a few 1 minute walks with 4/1 run/walk patterns as I pressed on. When I got to where the path was winding back near the finish I pushed on and my only walk after that was at the mile 12 aid station. The last mile had us on the loop around the airfield and that felt like a lonely place, especially that late in the race. Finally, I was heading back after reaching the end of the loop and I could feel my pace pick up with the adrenaline beginning to help lift me up to the finish. As I was coming up to the transition area before the final run down the finishing chute I was picking up the pace and passing people. In the blur of the finish I heard voices calling out my name and I move as fast as I can down to the finish. After crossing the line I knew I had given everything today in this effort and glancing down at my watch I see my finish time of 5:52:05. I made it under 6 hours! I beat that time from 2 years ago by over 2 hours (2 hours and 2 seconds)! I let out yell of pure joy in that moment before I stumbled away from the finish line and go looking for my friends. (Run time was 2:14:24, a half marathon PR for me)
As good a day as this was for me, I don't think that I should forget that without leaving this venue 2 years before feeling as if I had failed, at least partly, in tapping into my ability, then the success of this day may never have happened. I would have had know reason to make changes in my training and might still be on the same slow rate of continuous improvement that I was on before. I have no doubt that this was the strongest I have ever felt doing a triathlon......also, I am already plotting how to improve the next time I do this distance, but I will save those ideas for another day.
Start by doing what is necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. ---St. Francis of Assisi