Thursday, June 14, 2007

Racing for Recovery Half Iron - Part 3

I was feeling pretty good starting the run. The brick workouts had paid off. My legs felt as normal as can be after riding 56 miles. I knew they would come around after the first mile. I could see Scott ahead of me. Looking at the results he had left transition 33 seconds ahead of me. I wasn’t sure if I would catch up to him or not. The first mile of the two loop course was in the open. After leaving the path that circled the reservoir the run course started to wind through the woods on asphalt. The majority of the run would be on this winding path. I quickly lost sight of Scott and was running very much alone. There was no way to see the aid stations before you reached them which made it difficult to use gels. I would come around a corner and there would be the table with water. I quickly forced down a Hammer Gel and grabbed some water, not the best way to get nutrition.

The second aid station was located at the beginning of an out and back section that was on a dirt path. My trail running paid off as I really liked this section. I could see the people ahead of me, especially when they turned around and headed back to the pavement. Prior to reaching the pavement and aid station I opened up another gel and put down some more energy. I followed that with water to drink and dump on my neck. The course continued to wind through the park. I completely lost sight of Scott and wouldn’t see him again until the finish line. I paid attention to my surroundings and made note of markers on the trail so I would know where I was during the second loop. All of the trails came together at the 5.5 mile mark and that is where Coach Angela, Aimee, Tina and Wesley were cheering us on. Everyone said I was looking strong. I was feeling comfortable with my pace. I was keeping my heart rate around 155 BPM. Angela wanted me around 150, no higher than 153, but I was fine at 155.

I wasn’t taking splits during the run so I don’t know my mile times. I was just moving forward to the finish line. I looped back out onto the course at the transition area and grabbed some more water. Roughly 6.5 miles to go and I would be done. I tried to push the pace and increased my heart rate to 160 BPM. I often find myself maintaining pace with the increased effort, simply making sure I don’t slow down too much. More people were on the run course now and I passed several people starting their first loop. Around mile 8 I head footsteps approaching from behind. I figured it was someone that felt really good on their first loop. In reality, two competitors I had seen during the two out and back sections had increased their pace and were passing me. I checked their calves and they were in the age group below mine, but only by 1 or 2 years. I tried to see if I could latch onto their pace but couldn’t muster the increase in speed. My legs were happy with the pace they were going. I was going to keep it steady until mile 10.

During this second loop I was able to prepare for the aid stations much better and consume the gels well ahead of time. I would alternate between water and Gatorade at the aid stations, often taking two waters so I could pour some on my head and neck to cool off. During the dirt out and back I saw many more competitors on their first lap, including Jen. She was looking strong on the run just like the bike. She was having a good day.

The turn around on the dirt path was near mile marker 10. This is where the race really begins for me. I readied myself for the final 3 miles and the increase in pace. I knew how I wanted to feel. I wanted to hurt during these last miles. I wanted to leave all of my training and preparation out on the course. I increased my pace so my watch was showing 164 BPM. Again, for all I know I was only maintaining pace to fend off slowing down. Angela and Aimee had left the run course and were waiting for me at the finish area.

As I approached the transition area I heard some people cheering. I could begin to feel the emotions of the day starting to rise to the surface. I only need to keep in under control for another 100 yards and my day would be done. Two volunteers were directing people towards their second lap of the run course. I was ready to finish and ran past the volunteers. I saw Aimee along the finishing chute taking pictures as I ran past. As I approached the finish line I finally saw a clock for the first time and it said 4:47. We started about 2 minutes behind the “elites” so I knew my time was around 4:45. I slowed down and I crossed the timing mat, raised my arms high and let out a loud emotional holler that I’m sure a lot of people heard. I had set my PR for the Half Iron distance triathlon by 27 minutes. The executive director of the race handed me my finisher’s medal. Two volunteers gave me a bottle of water and a cold towel to put on my neck. Angela and Scott were at the finishing area to hear me finish with a loud roar. Afterwards Angela said she loves to see me finish because I get so excited.

I gave Angela a big sweaty hug and had to walk around to start cooling down. Aimee made her way to the finish area and I was so glad to see her. I gave her a big hug and was finally able to release the emotions of the day. I wouldn’t let go of her for two minutes as the realization of what I had done started to sink in and forced the emotions out of my body. The time and effort of training really paid off. Seeing the results of the hard work is what gets me excited and emotional. Maybe I’m too serious about the training and that’s why the emotions come out at the end of the “A” race, but damn it feels good.

I talked with Scott about the race. We were pretty far ahead of the other AFT athletes so we could rest up and collect ourselves. Scott finished in 4:33. His effort really took a toll on his body. Angela and Scott left earlier than they wanted because he wasn’t feeling the greatest. Aimee and I stayed to watch more of our friends finish and pick up the age group awards for myself (2nd in AG/13th overall) and Scott (1st in AG/5th overall).

Run time: 1:39:36
Pace: 7:37/mile
Finish time: 4:45:34

That’s how it feels when Game is On.

10 comments:

Curly Su said...

great report, eric. that was an amazing race...

hak said...

Eric,

Fantastic race! Congratulations!

hak

Dante said...

Thanks for the kind works Eric on my blog. It's certainly a tough time for my friends, I am only experiencing a tiny part of what they are going through.

As for the race, a great effort, well done.

JenC said...

Fabulous job! It was great to see you and Scott out there on the bike and run.

Huge PRs for both of us. Hooray for us and our coach!!

Jeremy said...

Wow! 4:45 is crazy fast. Congrats on an amazing day.

Lana said...

Wow! Great job, and great report!!

Bolder said...

great race, great report!

well.done.

you're freaky fast. glad you don't race here in my AG!!!

Phoenix said...

I'm a little late here, but awesome report and incredible race! Bold's right, you are freaky fast. Dang.

Papa Louie said...

Very impressive race and report. Your inspiration was rubbing off to get me excited about my first half coming up this August. Congratulations on your PR too.

DaisyDuc said...

Woohoo, I can just feel your emotion reading the report! SIMPLY AMAZING!!!! Congratulations Eric...all of your hard work really rewarded you!

SO AWESOME!!