Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lone Star Half Iron Race Report

Brought the family down with me to Galveston for the Lone Star Half Iron-distance race so that we could enjoy Moody Gardens and also for Brady to run the Kids 1K on Sat. He was excited for his first big race. We spent Sat. at the aquarium, which the boys loved. Then Brady ran his race in the afternoon. He did a 6:20 for the 1K (10:11 min/mi pace). I was pretty impressed and he didn't walk not even once. First thing he said after the race was "Can we race again?" He carried around his medal all day and was quite proud. So were Melanie and I. Post race we went to the aviation museum, but the boys were so tired I'm not sure they got as much out of it as they normally would if not so tired. Okay, onto more race specific stuff...

This race was a comedy of errors in the truest sense! I won't elaborate all the things that happened in the 2 weeks leading up to the race, but I wasn't feeling too well and wasn't feeling it on race day. But that's way too long a story to get into, so I'll save it. Onto the race. I wasn't able to get in a warm-up on the swim, but I at least wanted to get used to the salt water and the coldness...I have a really hard time catching my breath when the water is so cold. They said water was 62 degrees. Yikes! Wave starts were delayed so they could reset the turn buoys after the last wave of the quarter iron went off. Took much longer than anticipated, but finally the first wave went after around a 20 min delay or so. I was in the second wave and as we entered the water, I was getting everything set and trying to get to the start line when the announcer started counting down from 10. Oh crap!! That snuck up on me. I franticallly try and get toward the start line but only made it to the very back of the wave when the gun went off. Starting back there was a little annoying, but I [unfortunately] can't blame my crappy swim time on it. It probably only cost me 20-30 seconds max. No big deal in the grand scheme of things. Finally got out of the water...I felt really fresh and my time showed why. My swim split was 39+ minutes, which was just awful. I don't have it broken down by gender, so including both males and females, I was the #235 swim split out of 638. Yuck! Oh well, couldn't do anything about it at that point.

Not even a mile into the bike I hear the horrible sound of one's own water bottle skidding across the pavement behind him. I look back and sure enough, one of my bottles of Infinit had already ejected. I checked my 2nd bottle and to my shock, it was gone too but nowhere to be seen. Great, lost all my bike calories not even a mile into the ride. There is a long line of halfers behind me, so I pull over and stop to wait for a gap to cross back across the road. The quarter iron racers are coming into T2 from the opposite side, so I had to wait for a gap in them too before I could turn around. I headed back up for a block and got off my bike to get my bottle that had skidded into the grass. Sure, going back and getting it cost me a lot of time, but it would have cost me a lot more if I didn't have at least some partial resemblence of my nutrition plan in place. It was well worth the time penalty. And speaking of time penalty, I am fully aware that I deserve a 2:00 for not being able to find the first bottle that became dislodged. But time was ticking so I gave up looking for it. Anyway, back onto the bike. I developed an alternative nutrition strategy on the fly. I was going to space out my 1 bottle twice as long as planned and fill in those gaps using Gatorade Endurance handed out on the course. The problem is that Gat. E has fewer calories and less salt than my Infinit and it doesn't sit well in my stomach at all. It wasn't optimal, but would have to do. Then I realized another problem. If my bigger bottle ejected, the skinnier Gat. bottle surely wouldn't last. So what I did was hold the gatorade bottle in my hand with it resting on the aero bars. Over bumpy parts I had to reach my left hand back to secure my behind the saddle Infinit bottle and hold the gatorate with my right hand and steer my aero bar with my right forearm. It was dicey to the say the least, but I only had to do this in 5-7 spots max. It was doable and totally worth getting the calories. Bike pace is going okay at this point, but not stellar, then at the halfway point of the bike I go to downshift and my rear derailleur cable snaps. I drop into my 53/11 gear for the rest of the race. At this point, I actually chuckled out loud because my wife and I had been joking in the week leading up to the race about how things kept going wrong and we kept asking what's next. I just thought "she's going to love this story!!" Oh well, couldn't change the fact that the cable snapped and couldn't magically repair it, so no point in whining about it; just had to figure out a way to work around it. I considered different options but what I ultimately came up with was to increase my wattage so that I didn't have to mash at too low of cadence. The advantages were that 1) I'd get done faster and 2) well...can't think of another. I considered downshifing to my small chainring, but was worried I'd be spinning out or worse yet, have that cable snap. So I opted to stay in the 53/11 the rest of the way. I went really hard on the way in, with a slight tailwind. My cadence was still really low because I was in my 53/11 the whole time (around 60-70 rpm), but it was at least higher than if I went slower. I knew I would likely blow up for the run, but seemed like the only option at the time. Oh, and it was really fun doing my bottle balancing act on the rough parts while mashing out at 60 rpm. Get close to T2 and thinking "thank goodness." My legs are complete toast, feel like I'm going to vomit from the gatorade, but hey, I made it in and was happy with my bike split time all things considered. A new personal best bike time for the 56 miles of 2:22 (23.6 mph). That was the #31 bike split out of 638.

Run course was 4 loops which was really nice. I got to see my wife and 2 boys frequently and even at multiple spots on the same loop. And with such a small loop (~3.25 miles), it was packed with spectators. I really liked it. But my legs were cramping from my 28 mile mashfest and my stomach felt just awful from the Gatorade on the first lap, so I took it very easy. I was okay with this. I decided to do the entire first lap like this and re-evaluate strategy starting the second lap. I very quickly sucked down some of my Infinit run formula from my fuel belt and even took some extra salt tabs to get rid of the cramps. The calories and salt helped as I started to feel slightly better after the first lap. I decided that pushing it and bonking wasn't a good option, so I stayed disciplined and went easy for the 2nd lap too. At the halfway point, I was at 55 min into the run and starting to feel better. I felt like at this point, my risk of blowing up and DNFing was low, so just freakin' go for it. I focused really hard and went for it. My Polar shoe sensor fell off during the run (I told you it was a comedy of errors) but pace didn't matter. Just had to go as hard as possible regardless of what that number on my watch said. I ran the 2nd half in 48 min for a negative split, which I was quite pleased with once I got into the groove for the last half. I ended up with a 1:43, which was #63 out of 638.

My finish time was a 4:49, a new personal best (previous best was 5:05). I'm very happy with this since it's so early in the year and I haven't trained a whole lot...really only started up in January after a 5 month layoff. Overall, I placed #46 out of 638, #42 out of 412 among the men, and #11 out of 84 in my Age Group (which is now 35-39 this year).

I was very proud of this race not just because of my time(s), but because I had a good day of being mentally tough overcoming obstacles (pre- and during race) and being able to mentally push myself to suffer on the run (one of my weaknesses). I can't ask for much more than that.

No comments: