Monday, April 19, 2010

The wait is almost over

Well today starts my 2 week taper for IMSG. It actually has sparked new life into me to know that the worst of the training is done. I had a great final weekend and came through feeling fit. I am glad it was a good weekend because I am feeling a little nervous about my fitness questioning whether I am ready or not. Most IM veterans that I talk to say this is normal that even if I had another 6 weeks to train I would feel undertrained. At this point I have to trust in my training plan and rest my body so that on race day everything falls into place.

Training for an Ironman has been a little of everything. Frustration, fear, joy, sacrifice, etc.. Not just for me either. Support is key to any successful endeavor like this. There is absolutely no way that I could do this without my family sacrificing everything and going through the same emotions. On race day it is not just me out there trying to beat another triathlete to the finish. It is vindication that all the pain, sweat and time invested by all was not wasted. By crossing that finish line, regardless of the time, my family will feel the joy and the accomplishment because they have been right there keeping the family going even though I have been in another world for the last 18 weeks.

As I rode this weekend I kept repeating to myself that this is just a journey not a race. The goal is to see the end and cross the finish. Don't worry about the other racers and trying to beat them. If you do this at an Ironman, especially your first, it could be a disaster. So I decided that I am going to keep myself in check by calling it a journey, and it truely is because this race, I mean journey, is not just about Saturday May 1. It is about the last 18 weeks, the ups, the downs, the cold, the rain, the heat, and even the permanent scars from the severe sunburn on my back. It's 150 days all rolled into one performance and I am starting to see now why people will do anything short of dying to reach that finish line.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tall Texan Race Report

The most memorable thing about the weekend. Wind!

This weekend was the first race of the season for me. In fact this weekend kicks off the triathlon season for North America too because the First big race of the year for the pros was happening in Oceanside, CA as well. Since I was not there I decided to compete in a much less contested, but in my eyes no easier race in Boerne called the Tall Texan. To say this race is small is an understatement. There were 80 people total. In the end though it was a sanctioned Half Iron distance race and truth be told it hurt worse than any Half Ironman I have ever done. The goal of this race was to test my fitness for St. George in May. Results were mixed but at least confidence was taken up a notch.

The Swim:
Cold!! The water was a warm 58 degrees. Now I say that it was cold and it was quite a shock plunging in but really it turned out to be not as horrible as it sounds. With a full wetsuit on and a thermal cap (best money I ever spent) the water was chilly for 10 minutes or so and then I did not even notice it.

My swim went well. The winds started to pick up as we rounded the first turn so the back 800-1000 meters was directly into the wind (this will be the theme all day). It was choppy but not unreasonable. The fact that there were so few people racing I found myself getting lost a couple of times. The water was choppy so finding the bouys was hard and when this happens I usually have other people around me to gauge where I am on the course. In this case though there was not the crowd so a couple of times I would look up and find I had drifted off to the side and would have to cut back in to find some feet to draft. Despite this I ended up exiting the water in 4th place overall.

I exited tranisition in 5th place. I took a little extra time here to somewhat dry off so I was not so cold on the bike. Remember that the air temperature was in the 50s still and the wind had started to really pick up. In T1 I also put on a long sleeve jersey because I knew I would be cold for at least the first 45 minutes on the bike (best decision of the day).

The Bike:
Here is where the race almost got away from me. The effects of the wind were immediate. For the first 20 miles I struggled to maintain 15MPH average. I think that part of this was that I was letting negative thoughts take over the race. At one point I had to give myself a pep talk and flush all the negative from my mind. I knew that if it went on much longer I would be walking the bike the rest of the way, utterly defeated. The wind was brutal. It was either coming straight at me or it was a cross wind that would literaly pick up the bike and toss it two feet to the right or left. I was afraid to eat or drink anything because if I let go of the bars I might lose control. To top it off the roads were some of the worst I have ever seen. I think this was a contributing factor to my speed as well because I could not get comfortable. every 10 seconds I was dodging a pothole or vibrating so hard my teeth rattled. Honestly I have no idea how some of the other athletes were able to get any speed. If there is a secret I wish they would tell me.

After the first half of the race I started to gain some momentum and caught myself smiling a bit but I knew that the run was going to be killer becuase I spent all my energy just keeping the bike going forward. When I pulled into transition it was exciting to have that behind me. I lost 4 places on the bike. 2 were in the first 5 miles and the other two were between miles 40 and 50. That put me in 8th place overall.

A cool benefit of the day was that this race was small. Being small has its pluses and minuses but the big plus was that my family was there to cheer me on. They acutually were standing next to the bike finish and were able to stand outside the transition fence to cheer. The athletes were so spread out that I was the only one in transition at the time so I had my own personal motivation section.

My bike time was dissapointing. It is the worst 56 miles I have ever had, 3 hours. Not what I expected but you work with what you are given. The run was all about damage control.

The Run:
Like I said. Damage Control! The idea here was just to keep running and not walk.

The exit out of T2 was up an embankment then a run along the top of the lake dam for half a mile or so. As I exited T2 I was all alone and did not see any other athletes. At the top of the hill there was a road turned along the dam and another that went down the hill on the other side. The only person at the top was a photographer. I got to the top of the hill and did not know which way to go so I started yelling back down to a volunteer. Finally the Photographer directed me the right way, but I am sure that I lost 20 seconds (turns out this time loss would not matter in the end).

I caught the first guy in front of me within the first mile. Then at about mile 5 I caught the second guy. This put me in 6th. At about mile 7 a runner caught me and we ran together for a mile or so before I faded. From this point I would stay right were I was in line.

The run was mostly flat with a few rollers. The only tough section was between miles 3-5 where you run directly into the wind.

Overall my run was not horrible especially considering the whipping I was given on the bike. The highlight of the run was that I experimented with my race nutrition and found a treat that will become my new drug. Sport Beans!. I have tried them before but not during a race and they have been reformulated to be more natural. I could not get enough of them and they made me want to run faster so I could get more at the next aid station.

I know it is a long report and I could say a lot more but who read this anyway? 7th overall and third in my Age Group is not shabby for the start of the season.