Sunday May 24, 2009
Race #4 – Half-Iron Distance
1.2 mile swim – 55.5 mile bike –13.1 mile run
Saturday nights sleep was anything but. It was 11:30PM when I think I actually fell asleep. After that it was a very restless sleep. Before bed we had been listening to some music from Aimee’s iPod. The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground would not leave my brain. “The Humpty dance is your chance doin’ the hump”. Or “the sounds laid down by the Underground.”
My brain just wouldn’t shut down. When the alarm went off at 5AM I wasn’t ready to move. That is when “it” entered my brain. My tri-buddy Eric B. had sent me a text on Friday; “Push the Mind and the Body will follow.” This would be my mantra for the final day of racing. Hell, it helped me get my tired ass out of bed.
Trying to get ready, my stomach felt unsettled from lack of sleep and weird eating habits for the weekend. I took in my pre-race calories and managed a bowel movement. That helped ease the butterflies or whatever was in my stomach.
We both prepped for the long morning ahead of us. Aimee was going to run the course loop with Linda while Mark and I were on the bike. We both needed fluids and fuel for the day.
We slowly made our way over to transition with everyone else. People were moving a little slower this morning but I wasn’t letting it keep me down. I was excited to see Big Country again. He always had some great last minute advice for each race. For this one he recommended chapstick on the rims of my wheels. Give them a nice shiny look. Don’t worry about them stopping, better to look good.
While we were on the beach waiting for the start of the race the Michigan State Triathlon Team was getting psyched up. They had 14 athletes down for the weekend either doing the race as two person teams or solo. They did their chant and was quickly reminded they were in Ohio by some Buckeye fans. O-H someone yelled, I-O was the response.
We started lining up for our final triathlon of the weekend. We hit the water and started the 1.2 mile swim. I immediately got going pretty good from the start. I focused on long, gliding strokes and good form. Half way through the out portion of the first loop I knew I needed to sight soon for the next marker. Just as I was about to look up my hand entered the water and ran right into the buoy marker.
I recovered from that little mishap and continued on my way. I was moving through the previous swimmers nicely and keeping a great pace. A couple of times I was able to draft behind or next to another swimmer. Not sure what benefit it provided but I was able to keep a good line around the loop. During the second loop I picked up the pace and changed to my race pace breathing; three breaths right then alternate to the left side for three breaths.
I came out of the water leading a group of swimmers and headed to transition.
Swim time 31:34.
How much can you say about your fourth swim-bike transition of the weekend? If you don’t have it down by now you’re doing something wrong. I ran out of transition and jumped on my bike for a nice double loop ride through the Shawnee State Forest.
The bike course for the half-iron race is the most beautiful course I have ever been on. The fire roads were smooth. The tree cover plentiful and green. Switchback climbs that reminds one of the Tour de France. Of course the climbs were countered by wonderful sweeping downhill runs. There were a couple of curves that were pretty sharp and had to be taken slowly.
I saw several teams and working hard. I was riding with several others when we were caught by a large group of them. As I sat on the back end of the group I looked at the group in matching jerseys. I felt like we were Team USA out for a training ride. It was actually a very cool site to see.
I was riding a majority of the second loop with Clemens. He was with the group from Michigan State. But his Austrian accent was fun to listen to while we climbed the hills. He would pass me on the uphill and I would pass him on the downhill. I finally told him that if he put some meat on his bones he could descend faster. It was fun chatting with him at times during the ride.
The team aspect of this race became very evident during this final day. I saw teams suffering with one person doing better than the other or both slowing down on the bike. On the second loop I caught a team I saw earlier and the second person was struggling. His partner was further up the hill and looking strong. As I passed the weaker partner he saw me out of the corner of his eye and said, “shit”.
I was feeling great during both loops of the bike. I had one bottle of Perpetuem and one bottle of Gatorade for each loop. I also had a fruit smoothie Powerbar to munch on during the ride. My stomach was feeling a little jammed up during the second loop so I favored the Gatorade more than Perpetuem. By the time I made it back to transition the stomach was feeling better and I was ready to run.
Bike time: 3:06:31
T2 was completed in 51 seconds. I already had on my race belt with 4 PowerGels so all I needed was my running shoes and hat.
T2 - 51 seconds
The half marathon would be a double loop of the same course we ran on Saturday. The race description say, “by now you with either love it or hate it”. I was in love with the run course since Saturday morning. The trail running was challenging but much more enjoyable than running on a road.
Heading out of transition I started chatting with Luther. He is the stronger of the two team members I mentioned from the bike. He was looking behind for his partner, you know….the one who said “shit” on the bike. Luther was really cool though. As a Clydesdale he was all muscle. I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley that’s for sure. I forged on as he continued to wait.
I made sure my pace was conservative and fairly easy. I was happy with the splits and I felt great. I was drinking only water at each aid station to help absorb the PowerGels and keep things moving in the gut. The aid stations had ice to cool us off. I was dumping the cubes down my jersey and pouring cold water down my back.
At the far turn around of loop one I grabbed a zip-lock bag filled with ice. The bag would sit inside my jersey and cool off my chest. The ice cubes were little tubes. I clenched a round cube between my teeth and with each breath a cool rush of air filled my mouth, along with some melting water. It may have looked weird but it felt pretty good.
On my way back I started seeing friends and offered words of encouragement. Big Country was the first friend I saw and he was about one mile behind me. I wasn’t sure if he would catch me so we could finish together like in race #2.
Once I hit the top of the large climb returning from the farthest point of the course, I increased the pace. From mile 4 to the transition area it is primarily downhill with some small rollers.
I settled into my downhill stride pattern of short quick steps. This really saved the quads and helped with a quick pace. I cruised back to the finish area where I refueled and reloaded my zip-lock bag with ice. I grabbed a banana HammerGel for some variety. I would sip on the gel until I reached the first aid station.
I headed back out feeling great and thrilled to see Aimee and Linda cheering for us. On the way out for loop two I kept the pace steady and cheered for more friends, both old and new. A simple slap of the hand can offer so much encouragement for each other. I don’t mind sharing the energy with friends.
The uphill sections this time had me walking a couple of times. I used my race mantra, “push the mind and the body will follow”, to get me going again after these short breaks. Essentially I was telling myself to get up that hill so I could run the downhill side. I also focused on the 5 feet in front of me so that I wouldn’t get discouraged by the distance I still had to cover to reach the crest.
Each time I saw the Hammering Half-Pints, Kaylyn and Morena, I tried to throw a funny comment at them but they really didn’t need the laughs because each time I saw them there were smiles already on their faces.
After going through the turn around I made my way up the final long climb. I just needed to make it to the top. Just past the top was mile marker 4. It was at this point I thought of another tri-buddy Mark D. He had written a race report where he pushed the final 5k of a sprint tri by reminding himself that “I can do anything for 20 minutes.”
I calculated that at an 8 minute pace I would cover the final 2.5 miles in 20 minutes. So at mile marker 4 I put down the hammer and decided to leave it all on the course. I just covered 138 miles of swim, bike and run. I can push out a hard 2.5 miles to the finish line.
So I pushed my mind and sure enough my body followed. I was passing people and pushing the rollers. At the last aid station I yelled for water and two people ahead of me jumped out of my way. I didn’t mean to startle anyone but it sure did clear the way for me to grab a final water without slowing down.
At about the half mile mark the trail turns to asphalt and you know the end is near. I tried to stay loose and keep the pace high, if not faster. I knew my pace was pretty quick since my calves were starting to scream at me and wanted to cramp up. Didn’t matter, they would have to suffer until I crossed the finish line.
Run – 1:50:23
Race #4 finish time – 5:30:59
Overall accumulated time – 11:12:54
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Sunday May 24, 2009