Wow, has it really been since the fall that last posted? Life is just busy with the work, the kids and training for my second 70.3 half ironman. On May 15 Bill Hampton, Daniel Tardy, and I completed the Florida 70.3 in Orlando after a long cold winter of training. Here’s a couple of pics:
- Candid shot before the race by Evan Tardy
- Me, Bill Hampton, and Daniel Tardy waiting on the start. Do we look nervous? We should have been.
I finished this time in 5:33. It wasn’t the time I had hoped for all winter while I was training in the dark, riding in the snow, running on icy roads, and dragging myself to the pool two hours before sunrise…but I’ve learned that in Ironman racing “just finishing” is enough sometimes. You can be at your best on race day and things can still go wrong.
I came out of the water in the top 10% of the race and felt pretty good – swimming has always been my strong suit. The bike was where I wanted to show my improvement. After all, I’d purchased a new tri bike and aerohelmet just for this moment. I had trained really hard on the bike and was ready to show my new speed…and I did, averaging nearly 2mph faster per mile than I did in Austin in the fall. Unfortunately, it was on the bike that I made a huge mental error. I chose the wrong nutrition – opting for all liquid using sports drink and gels. The first signal of upset stomach hit me near the end of the ride, but my adrenaline was pumping from having a strong ride, so I ignored it.
I started the run needing only a very modest effort to set a new 70.3 PR. I had run a 1:39 half marathon two week prior, so a 1:50 off the bike seemed doable. Within a half mile I was walking. My stomach was rebelling from the nutrition strategy I had employed. Stomach cramps and waves of naseau followed. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able finish, but I dragged myself from aid station to aid station hoping I could take in some calories. Everytime I tried I got sick, so I had to settle for water and ice. Eventually my muscles needed more than that and also started rebelling. Stomach pains and leg cramps in tandem. I was having fun now. I had dreamed all winter of a blazing time and I started out the race making that a reality, but now I was in survival mode – doing the zombie shuffle from aid station to aid station.
You learn from moments like those. I wanted to quit – my goal wasn’t going to happen – but instead I had to refocus my thinking. 99% of people don’t do half ironman races – let alone go fast in them. I was doing both. I had trained hard and there was no way I was leaving Orlando without my finishers medal and another 70.3 under my belt. I really struggled in the final 5 miles. My mind wanted to finish strong – run hard for just a few more miles – I’d done it a thousand times. But my body wasn’t allowing it. My stomach was in knots, my calves stiffened up after a quarter mile of running at a time. I reminded myself again that not many people were going to feel sorry for me, because I had only run a 2:13 half marathon. And so I finished. 5:33 – just 3 minutes slower than Austin.
I’ll get another chance to master this 70.3 style of racing on August 7th in Boulder, CO. I’m sure there will be new lessons to learn there – particularly how to deal with altitude racing. Can’t wait.
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