My first Triathlon
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Ford Ironman 70.3 California - Triathlon1/2 Ironman
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Ironman North America
70F / 21C
= 6h 25m 26s
Age Group Rank
Forgive me, but this is my first HIM, and I wanted to remember everything about it that I could, every detail, so this might be a little long and windy. OK, very long. OK, wicked long. Apologies. :
Anyone that has spent any amount of time at my blogs knows what a nutcase I was coming into this race. Taper madness coupled with no running for 10 days due to a calf strain, then catching my wife's sickness
(and cadging her antibiotics
), then IT pain, then a saddle sore even though I hadn't ridden but 50 miles in a couple weeks.... my body was doing everything it could to keep me off the starting block, but I was determined to get there. Just let me start, if the shit hits the fan during the race, so be it, but give me a fighting chance.
Mike, Sharon and I left L.A. about 10 a.m. on Friday to drive down to Oceanside. I had packed and unpacked my bags 3 or 4 times, making sure I had everything. I was bringing a number of changes of clothes just in case, even though the weather forecast was for perfect 70's temp racing weather.
Hit the expo a little after noon, and checked in. I was a little surprised that the expo was so small, but I made sure to got to the Gatorade booth to get my green gatorade water bottle. They gave out one to each racer. It would have been wrong to go back on the way out when someone else was manning it wouldn't it? yeah, that would have been wrong :
) Later on, I found out they ran out of bottles and my froiend Thomas didn't get one, so I gave him the extra. Also got a free pair of wigwam socks
(thanks to a tip here from a BTer that had been to the expo
Signed my life away, got weighed in
(those marine scales run heavy, I tell ya, they clocked me at 250
), then I went to the "shower cap" line -- that's a swim cap, soldier! -- then my timing chip, along with a free strap.
I made the mistake of forgetting to put suncreen on and got a little burnt. Paid for it later feeling very warm that night and wondering if my wife's infection had truly jumped to me. Mike being sick didn't help my psyche either. he was pumped on Dayquil and even had a couple to take on the bike during the race.
We checked into the Guesthouse Inn, adequate but can be loud at night, and had lunch at the Flying Bridge, overlooking the race site. After lunch we decided to ride the run course, and go down to transition. When we got to transition there was a large crane pulling what appeared to be a boat out of the water, but the boat was sitting vertically in the water, with about 6 feet of the bow showing. Suddenly a tre appeared, then the side of a luxury Lexus SUV. Seems the chap driving it deposited all of it into the harbor, car, trailer and boat, and had to escape through the sunroof as it sank. Good times.
We left to ride one loop of the course, and it felt realy long. But it was good to see where the turns, hills and turnarounds were. Back to the motel, short rest, then Carrow's for a two hour sufferfest waiting for food
(which garnered us a free dessert, at least
Home to a fitful sleep. Awake until 11, toss until 1, sleep until 4:30, time to get up, shower, can of ensure, bagel and PB, and 2 bathroom stops. Amazingly, I didn't have to use the Port a Potty for the morning rituals, that was quite the nice surprise. Learned that Mike wasn't racing, he was too sick. I was truly disappointed. Mike has been my training partner for the last several months, he's dragged my ass up more hills than I can count, and somehow figured out how to get me out of bed before dawn to go for a bike ride. He has believed in me when I didn't. To hear he was out, felt like part of my race plan was ot the window Even though he'd kick my ass all over the course, at least he'd be out there. It gave me a weird sense of alone-ness to know he wouldn't be passing me 20 minutes into the bike and ont eh run loops giving me words of encouragement. Reminded me that tri is a lonely solitary sport.
Got down to transition about 5:45, tried to remember how to set everything up, made my clothing decisions
(tri top, arm warmers
) and stashed everything I didn't need. Unfortunately, I set Trans up just like I do ever other race, and put my race belt on top of my running shoes......
Really wasn't much else to do, but my wave was at 6:53 so there wasn't too much hang out time once everything was set up. Drank a bottle of gatorade and had a banana. Thought about getting my tires topped off since i forgot to do it, but the huge line convinced me otherwise.
I was debating whether to wear a watch, or just go and not worry about my time, on the theoory it would stress me out. I decided to wear it, but broke the plastic strap as we were coralling for the swim. Having nowhere to carry it without scratchiing myself, I tossed it in the trash as I walked by. Not two minutes later, my wife found me. Oh well, time for a new watch anyway. I was stoked that my wife had found me. No matter how big the event, she always does.
None. it's a long day, and no swimming in the harbor, so the warmup is the swim from the boat ramp to the buoy
01m 31s / 100 yards
When my wave was called we slowly walked down the ramp and slipped into the water. I don't recall thinking even once that it was cold, I have certainly swam in much colder, including the week before. I found the temp to be quite comfortable and perfect for swimming.
The swim is my strongest, but I didn't really make an attempt to rush to the front, like I do in beach starts. My plan was to find a decent stroke and just maintain it for 30 minutes or so as as nice warmup.
We had scouted the swim course the day before, and I knew it was one color buoy going out, then another coming in, but couldn't remember if going out was orange? or was that yellow? I swam up until I was about 3 or 4 people back and couldn't really see the first buoy, but before I knew it
(and before the paddler in front of us could get out of the way
) 3 minutes had passed and the horn went off.
Here we go!!!! My first Half Ironman!!!!!
There wasn't too much jostling at the beginning, I was quite surprised. Except for some jockeying for space about 1/4 of the way in - neither of us wanted to give up our line - it was actually one of the cleanest swims I've had. I found some pretty clear water and passed most of the people in the front, except for the really fast people who were long gone.
I was basically folowing the waves ahead of me, hoping they'd lead me to a buoy. I realized I hadn't done enough scouting and note taking, I'd sort of glossed over this whole issue. I was more concerned because I looked to my right and there was a ton of people swimming way outside, out near the boat slips. I could see a buoy now, and knew I was on course, I couldn't figure out what they were doing. Soon enough, began passing the stragglers in wave 1. Passed a lot of blue capped folks, more than I thought I would.
Left turn, out to the harbor entrance, OK, this took forever. I kept thinking I'd see the turn buoy, only to see another one way out ahead. Amazingly, despite my lack of course recon I passed nearly all the buoys within a foot of my left arm. That's a good feeling. Short swim across the bay, thhen turn left again.... right into the rising sun.
OK, I thought i couldn't see before?? Now we were heading directly into the sun. No contrast, nothing. Again, see some splashing, follow it. During this section I got a little off course and swam a little too far right, until I saw the lieguard and straightened course. At one point I ran into another swimmer... oh wait... that's a little yellow buoy with a flag on it. Whoops. At least it's on course.
At this point the first guys from the next wave started to pass me. Just 3 or 4, but it was impressive to watch them zoom by. Considered grabbing a foot for a draft, but they were going too fast.
It was also at this time that I realized I had to pee. I had been hydrating a lot the last couple days, and it had caught up with me. I tried to go. Wouldn't. Slowed down a little... relax the mind. Nope, just a squirt. OK, had to go really slow, relax, just let it out. Theeeere it goes. OK, back to it.
finally made the right back to the ramp and no longer into the sun. At this point, you don't want to be on the buoys, you want to be as close to the breakwater as possible, swim right along the docks. This worked out perfectly, since I sight to the right anyway.
As I turned into the ramp, I saw my wife screaming for me on the dock, like right above my head. How cool is that???
Came up the boat ramp, I was feeling very good. Not gassed at all. I was worried that the transition from the water to the ramp would hurt my calf, from going stretched out to basically fully engaged. Not even an issue. Lots of folks to help guide out of the water.
No idea of my time but seemed like a good swim. Cap off, goggles off, wetsuit zipped, let's deal with getting this HR down....
What would you do differently?:
nothing, really. I'd like to be able to translate my 1:20 /100 pool time to the water, especially with no beach start, but OW is just a different animal. Swim was a little slow. I am usually in the top 10-15 %, this was closer to top 20%. I was glad that I swam a good clip and didn't kill myself for the bike.
T1 is always a dicey proposition. My HR is always skyrocketing after swimming then going upright and running. No difference here, even though there was no beach to run up.
My rack was in the front 1/4 of the transition zone, but the entrance was at the other end. So I had to run the entire length of transition almost twice just to get to my bike. I decided to run easy, no sprinting.
Got to my bike, and just forgot how to transition. COuldn't figure out how to do two things at once. Got the wetsuit off, decided to take the arm warmers off, sit down, socks on, blah blah blah.
I could have sworn
( and still would
) that the race clock said 46:00 when I left T1, which would have meant I left T1 at 33 minutes since we started 13 minutes after the pros. I thought my swim was smoking. It was good, just not that good. Not sure what I was looking at/thinking.....
What would you do differently?:
First tri of the season, transition skills a little rusty.
3h 11m 4s
Ran over the timing mat, off to the side, clip in goes fairly well. Hear someone crash behind me.... whoops. Get about 100 yards out of T1, and realize,.,,, no number. This is the first race where you have to wear your number for the bike. I was just going to wear the race belt and flip it from back to front for the run. Shit!!!
Slow down, call to volunteer:
"I forgot my number"
"394" he says
I stop and unclip. Clearly this isn't going to be a quick encounter
"No, My number, my race belt, how do I get back in transition?"
Aarrrrrghhh, look for someone else, guy comes up and says "You've got your bike marked, don't worry about it"
"OK thanks, What's your name?"
"Dan, Harbor Center"
Cool... clip back in, crisis averted for now. Although I spent the first 10 miles waiting for the marshall to red tag me or red flag me or whatever as they drove by. But they never did, and I saw a few other people without numbers. Even saw two roadies without numbers or bike numbers or anything official....
General plan was to get HR back down to 130s/140s so I could get nutrition in. When I first got to my bike, my HR was 164. Got some work to do to get that down. It was a struggle, especially with the nice little bump out of T1. But let me tell you about passing. I was in wave 2 and I had a solid swim. I am not a fast biker. I got passed by everyone. EV-RY-ONE. Constantly, the whole 56 miles. It wa a lesson in humility and patience. Tall skinny people. Short squat fat people. Big guys. Little guys. Road bikes. Tri bikes. discs, deep dish, tri spokes. Every type of bike you could imagine.
But I raced my race and kept it conservative on the frontside. I kept telling myself "OK, it's a long day ahead of you. easy"
I really wanted to break 3, knew I probably wouldn't, but still my goal. Started nutrition after 5 miles or so, had my Garmin beep every 15 minutes to remind me. They had markers every 5 miles, and they came kind of quick.
The front side is basically flat, but it is a total average incline and there was a bit of headwind. there is a short out and back, a little uphill, still seemed to be a headwind, but coming back down wasn't all that fast either. As I exited the Las Pulgas turnaround I saw Thomas, who started with me.
All of my buddies except Thomas started after me. Goal was to hold them off until the run.
Continued north up the coast, through a series of campgrounds. Again, had to pee. Not gonna pee on my bike, but if I have to pee every 30 mintues, that's gonna suck. We were passing a number of campground toilets, finally decided to pull over. Lost a minute there. But I was much more comfortable.
Hit the first aid station and I grabbed another gatorade green bottle of water :
) and jettisoned my Toyota bottle. Almost hit the target, too! My first bike bottle hand off went very smoothly. Had a gu somewhere in there too at about the hour mark.
I think I could have taken the front side a little faster.
Reached the back path at the north end of the course. It's a no pass zone. We all got into a line. Somehow, about 3 bikes ahead f me, was a woman on a Marine Relay team. No idea when they started, but there she was. As we reached the top of the path, she was going a lot slower than these jocks all around me, they started yelling. "Just because it's no pass doesnt mean you have to go slow!!" Ummm, yeah, genius, it does if the person in front of you is slower..... Guy in front of me said "calm down, these are the rules, no passing."
Hit the top, everyone clamoring, yelling "can we pass? can we pass?" I had no idea, but I said "yes" anyway to shut them up. Suddenly, I hear "CHRIS!! CHRIS!! I'M RUNNING FASTER THAN YOU ARE RIDING!!! GO !!! GO !!!!" My masters coach Rick, had come down to watch me run, but stopped on the course. It was great, right in the middle of the course, and I could hear him yelling and screaming his head off.
This was the north leg of the course. Very short, a few rollers, up and down, then we entered Camp Pendleton for the infamous backside. Passed the aid station and grabbed another water. Shortly, up ahead, saw the first hill. I just smiled. I've been riding a lot of hills, I'm still not very fast at them, my weight makes it that much harder, but there's really no hill that's truly kicked my ass yet, and usually they're not as hard as everyone makes them out to be. [edit to say, ok, Yerba Buena kicked my ass... don't want the cycling gods to punish me for hubris. No hill in a race has kicked my ass, let's say that]
This one was as advertised steepness wise, but it was really short. You could see the top from the bottom, which really helps psychologically. I stood out of the saddle a few times, and it had me in the granny gear slogging it up, but it wasn't that bad. You kow it's only a couple minutes of pain. Halfway up, a guy came by and said "this is why we were out on all those long Saturday and Sunday morning rides. this is the payoff." True.
About 3/4 of the way up, a guy in front of me had his chain snap. I watched as it rolled off the back of his derallieur, and he slowly fell to the ground. When he saw what had happened, you can understand he was pissed. We reached some volunteers and a guy passing me - real fit guy on a nice bike - told them about the chain dude. "That sucks," i said. "yep, it sure does, but you're looking real good, keep it up, hard part's over." That felt good.
Hit the top at my max HR of 179. Relaxed, tried to get some HR back, some fluids. Nice fast downhill. Couple of rollers until th next hill, which didn't really qualify as a hill, didn't get out of the saddle. It looks bad on the chart but it's mostly the lead up to it that's a slight rise that you only notice a little. The backside is the infamous 2d n pass 25 mph speed limit zone. Someboady died here a few years back, so they slow everyone down. Although we were doing 29 for most of it, and the speed racer behind me insisted on riding just to my left.
Some more rollers, then the third hill. This was more legit, but still nowhere near #1. Had my second gel in there somewhere
In the rollers I had to pee again. Damn, it was getting uncomfortable. Not a whole lot of porta potties here. I don't want to disrespect the course and go ont eh side of the road like some people. I had heard people talk about peeing on the bike... naw, I couldn't do that. If I am going for a podium spot, I could understand, but for a 3+ bike split? couldn't do that, could I? Oh, but I really gotta go. I mean, it hurts. All right, just to see if I can do it. No one behind me. Relax, and... oh yeah... mmmhmmmm.,.... ok,, that's good. :
) douse myself with a bunch of water, off we go. Naughty!
A little later the first girl
(that I noticed
) passed me. Because the first few waves were male, it was a disappointing view as the racers flew by. Finally, a woman racing in her bathing suit. That takes the mind off for a moment.
The last 10 miles are known to have gnarly headwinds as you head back to the ocean. We got lucky today, it really wasn't that bad. I felt very good and maintained close to a 20 mph pace. As we got closer to T2, I started esaing off a bit, spinning the legs out.
As I turned into the harbor my wife saw me, she was now with a big group, cowbells, screaming, jumping up ad down. It was sweet!!! I was done with the bike!!! I felt good! Here we go!!!
Nutrition - 3 bottles Infinit, 2 gels, water. Enough????
What would you do differently?:
Lose weight, trust more in my training and push a little more.
I see people with a lot less training miles, or that I ride with and know I am faster, that posted faster splits than me. I don't know if it's fear of going out too hard, or not having enough base, or as simple as too much weight, that makes me slower.
My ave HR was 156. Think I can be higher than that.
Garmin and motionbased shows 4400 feet of climbing. I think that's too high
T2 was average. Off the bike, again, run the length of transition, actually don't remember taking off bike shoes and putting on running shoes.
But I remembered the race belt!!! :
What would you do differently?:
just move quicker
2h 34m 19s
11m 47s min/mile
The run. What can I say. I hadn't run in almost 10 days, and the last run I got hurt on. Hadn't done a run of more than 10 miles in March. Hadn't done one of more than 13 since beginning of February. Not excuses in the least, just maybe explains what happened to me.
My best HM time is 2:04. I figured I could easily run 10:30 pace for a 2:20 or so. Started out at a 10:00/mile pace. I always start a little too fast, the excitment and all. As I was going out, one of the pros was coming in, it was about 4:00 in. Thought maybe I cold get close to 6.
I had a bottle of Infinit and a gel, plus a ton of food at the stations. I hit the first station and someone was holding out a sponge. Cool! Don't really need it, but took it. Now what do I do? Squeeze it on my head. stick it on my neck. Whoops, we're past the aid station. Carry the friggin thing.
Rick caught up to me a mile in. I told him I felt good, I biked a smart leg, feel strong. he ran with me for a while. Then he ran ahead to meet me at the turnaround. My friend Jeff soon passed me, then Thomas. As I was running along the strand, someone came up behind me, "chris?", "yeah", "it's Sal" = smorenog. Thaat was cool to see a "familiar" BT face. I saw Tim
) going the other way. They were both going faaast. The first strand leg went surprisingly fast. Up to the asphalt, it started getting hot away from the beach.
Even when I was feeling good, I got passed by everybody. In case you missed it the first time... EV-RY-ONE. Sometimes I felt as if I was in everyone's way and just had to shuffle over to the side.
Still felt good at the turnaround. By mile 4 I was taking gatorade and water at every station. My splits had been steadily dropping. 10, 10:10, 10:20, 10:30, 10:50.... Soon I was running 11+ minute miles. and feeling worse. I ran all the hills and aid stations the first loop. Up and around for the second loop. It started to hurt.
My wife said she just missed me, but I didn't look good shuffling away. For some reason, I recall mile 8 as the turning point. I have only ever walked once or twice, never in a stand alone HM, but it just seemed like a good idea. There was an area on my back, over my kidneys, that muscularly wasn't holding up. I had to walk up the hills, no choice. Then the crampettes started. Not full on cramps, but just hints. Every time I put my foot down, hamstrings, sometimes the calf, then the groin joined the party.
But here's what killed me. Starting the second loop, there was an older, larger woman in LA tri gear shuffling up the hill. OK, as long as I can keep up and pass her... er..... maybe run the same pace as... damn.... I can't even keep up with her. I know, her first loop, my second, blah blah blah. But still.. Come on! I had to let that one go.
So I made a deal to walk the hills and aid stations. the way the hills were spaced, and aid stations, made the walks come pretty often. Then I made a deal to walk a little in between even at the pier on the last inbound leg. I wasn't demoralized. It just hurt and I was doing what I could to finish. I resigned to close to 6 slipping away. Maybe 6:15? There was never a doubt in my mind that I would finish. In fact, even at mile 9 or 10 I thought to myself "shit, I'm here, 10 miles in the run of a half ironman, and I know I'm gonna finish, it just hurts. How cool is that???" I never lost the will to go on, since I only had to make it to the next aid station, or hill.
Every aid station I would take, in order, sponge, gatorade, water, sometimes a banana, and cola. I'm not sure the cola did anything for me, it certainly didn't make me perk up and run 10 minute miles. But at least it was something else to drink. The aid stations were AWESOME. I don't know where they find these kids, but they were supportive, into it, upbeat, yelling, saying "you guys rule!!!" and always there when you need them. I thanked almost everyone I passed.
But miles 8 to 11 were the dark miles. Never really thought of quitting. But there were moments when I wanted to just stop. But I knew, 5 miles left, I can do it. Somewhere in here saw GolfMark, good to see a familiar face, even if he ws passing me. Looking at my Garmin logs, I can see that my pace dropped and my HR dropped as well. Couldn't get it back up. Hey, looks like I got faster in mile 12 :
Around mile 11 I noticed that my socks were wet, and my toes hurt. Blisters forming. Stop? Take them off? bare feet? Suck it up buttercup. So you run 2 miles in wets socks and get blisters. So it's uncomfortable. So what. Do it.
OK, here's a confession time. Maybe I was delirious. Or loopy. Or severely dehydrated. But there were two times on the course I got verklempt. they were both on the second loop so my judgment is not to be trusted. One I'm not sure I even remember correctly, but I think it was a little girl, or a family, with signs that said something inspiring. The second was coming down the hill towards the finish, someone had a sign that said "You CAN do 70.3"
It immediately hit me both times that I couldn't believe what I was doing. This wasn't me. I can't do these types of things. There's just no way. I know, it's not an IM distance, but I was pushing myself to my limits, and beyond. And it hurt, but it felt really really good and satisfying, just to know that i wasn't going to give in, that I was going to see this damned thing through to the finish. That I COULD see it through to the finish.
I felt it deeply, and had I let myself go, I would have been bawling. Thinking that was a little odd, and that I might attract medical attention, I sniffed a bit and swalloed it and thought about the finish.
Amazingly, I neared the last hill, up and over to the finish. As planned, I was going to walk. But an angel in a black t shirt with a name tage that said "Tom" appeared. I knew madcow was on the course at the first run aid station, so I had introduced myself as I ran by the second time. As I came by the last time, he dropped what he was doing and fell in beside me. We talked a little bit, no idea what was said other than him telling me "you did it man!" Oh, yeah, he also said "looking good." When I doubted it, he said "I've seen a lot of people come through the aid station, trust me." Instead of walking that last hill, I ran it with Tom. It was awesome and a great way to bring the HIM to a close. Tom peeled off and congratulated me.
Around the corner, past the tear jerking sign, down the hill, I ran with Barry. I met him as I passed, his leg was cramping and he couldn't straighten it. He ran like Frankenstein with one good leg, but he was still moving
(and as fast, or faster than me
). I said "come on Barry, let's finish this thing. Look, there's the finish chute" Down the hill my crowd was there, Wendy and a bunch of friends. They screamed, cowbells, making some other people scream, that's the picture below. that's mile 12.5 medicine. Good stuff.
Saw the finish clock, it said 6:38. So it's a little below my time goal, but way over the one in my head last year... 6 months ago, that doubted I could finish this thing.
Got to the finish line, no idea what was said, or whether my name was called. They didn't put out the little rolling finish line for me, I should have stopped to get that, but high fived the finish team,
As I stumbled across the hammies started taking revenge, and people wer asking if I was OK. If I had run both loops. Huh??? Did a body check, yeah some cramps, no biggie, blisters? nothing I can't deal with
(turned out to be not even blisters, just barely starting
), I was fine, elated, exhausted, stoked, amazed, I just looked around. Space blanket. Hat. Cool, new hat.... shirt. XL please.....
Wow. That was the hardest thing I've ever done......
What would you do differently?:
More long runs.
Ave HR again 156, think I can go harder if I get my legs under me.
Went to the food booth, got some pizza, risked sitting down
(that I wouldn't be able to get up
Tim showed up, I met jbjboc, kwfire. they all rocked the course.
After a while, went out, struggled to pck everything up, went outside and met up with my wife who may have had a bigger grin than I did
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Weight, lack of run base.
Also wanted to give a special shoutout to Xan. I unfortunately didn't meet him at the race, but it was one of his inspires that got me to the finish line, and through the race:
Being out there. Testing your mettle. Pushing boundaries and getting acquainted with your demons. Thats what it's all about. It will all be there waiting for you on race day. Whether it hurts or not, the experience you've prepared yourself for will be waiting. Throw yourself into it. Whatever happpens, happens. -- Xan
I say it was, but it wasnt' the hardest thing I've ever done. just the last hour and a half was the hardest thing i've ever done.
I was afraid that after this tri I'd have a huge letdown. it often happens after tris, during the post mortem. I've wondered why people are faster than me, but really, I have such a sense of accomplishment that I've never really felt before, even after my first triathlon. I wasn't the fastest or the slowest, somewhere there in the BOP. But I finished it. I think I just amazed myself. That's all. And I can't wait to go do it again.
Last updated: 2006-08-24 12:00 AM
00:32:00 | 2112 yards | 01m 31s / 100yards
Loop course inside Oceanside Harbor.
60F / 16C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:11:04 | 56 miles | 17.59 mile/hr
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:34:19 | 13.1 miles | 11m 47s min/mile
Mile/Split/Ave HR/MAx HR 1 9:59 158 163 2 10:30 159 164 3 10:44 161 164 4 10:53 162 165 5 10:57 160 165 6 11:19 160 162 7 11:34 161 165 8 11:53 159 162 9 12:37 157 162 10 13:18 155 161 11 13:06 151 159 12 13:11 151 158 13 12:26 154 160 14 3:26 126 161
two loops. ugh
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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