The swim was in a lagoon with relatively calm water till after we went under a bridge where the water turned a little choppy for the last 200-300 yards but nothing major. The layout was in the shape of a thin “U” and was a point to point swim.
The distances I think were 700m to the first turn buoy (TB) then 100m to the 2nd TB, 900m to the bridge and 2-300m to the finish (not sure if they add up right and to tired to add them but you get the gist). My plan was to get away from my wave as quickly as possible and get into a good rhythm and start making work of the waves in front of us. I succeeded and got into calm water about 200 yds out from the start and was by myself for about another 500 yds till I came to a turn buoy that was very congested. I saw an opening so I took an inside line around the buoy and then fanned out a little knowing there was another buoy shortly and would probably be even more congested and took and outside line around that one. My sighting felt near perfect never got off course and made my way through the earlier waves quickly and efficiently. Place out of the water was 3rd, with a time of 28:30 or something like that. Felt really good but would have liked to be faster, wanted to be down around 26-27 minutes. Exited the water and headed on the 600-800m run to T1 on the blacktop, wasn’t that big of a
deal like some people were making it out to be. Had a very smooth transition and headed out on the bike course.
The bike was suppose to be completely flat and was anticipating really heavy winds. Neither where true. The course was mostly flat but did have some rollers and a couple false flats with pretty much no wind. The wind was definitely a non-factor. I packed with me two water bottles one with Gatorade and one with GU Brew, two packs of Clif Shot Blocks, one stinger waffle, and had for Powerbar Gels taped to my bike. As soon as I hopped onto my bike I noticed my computer wasn’t working, the sensor must of shifted just slightly that it wasn’t picking up the signal so I had to go by how I felt. I headed out on the bike course and hit a lot of slower traffic, which bottled up my age group, and the 35-39 age group. We had some major drafting groups. I am not proud to say but I was part of one. It was hard not to get in them because I would take off and about 1/10th of a mile down the course you would have to slow down to go around and we would be back together. There were parts on the course were the course became very narrow and I would came up on groups of three or four riders abreast talking. Are you kidding me me were in the middle of a race. Talk later. The course was pretty nice and I was hammering. My biggest concern for this race was the flatness of the bike course. Last year the two flat courses I did last year I had cramps in my legs for the run but didn’t hinder my performance to much, because the run courses were also flat. On those courses I would just shorten my stride to make it manageable. This run course however was very hilly and I knew if the cramping was going to happen again I would struggle going up the hills and down the hills. Since my bike computer wasn’t working I wasn’t sure how fast I was going but estimated it around 25MPH by using the mile markers and my watch. That concerned me a little but was feeling very strong and surprisingly strong. I did have a couple mishaps - lost a water bottle with my GU Brew (lots of electrolytes) early in the race, then switched to Gatorade and water. The top to my Gatorade bottle fell off somewhere so I everything in that bottle shook out (I had it in my rear cage). I was starting to get sick of all the sweet and switched to mostly water, a mistake that would catch up to me later. Like I said above the bike felt strong and went quickly. I came in to transition in 4th with 3rd about 10yds in front of me. I took my bike in and racked with no issues and headed out onto the run in 3rd.
As soon as I stepped onto the run course my quads started to cramp and I thought, “OH NO, this is going to be a long painful run.” It was. This course was two loops, was extremely difficult, very hilly, very hot, no shade and not enough aid stations.
The course was a beautiful one but didn’t get a chance to really enjoy it, luckily I got to enjoy before the race when scoping the course out. I tried to stay relaxed and shortened up my stride to help with the cramping pains in my quads. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to push it so I locked it into a pace and tried to maintain. I hit the
first couple rollers in pain but then a relatively flat area before the first climb were my legs felt a little bit better, the pain was manageable. I made the right and headed up the first steep hill it went surprisingly good. I started thinking let’s just keep the
pace right here and we’ll be good. By the time the downhill came the 4th place guy caught me and we worked together for the next 2-3miles. The downhill was tough and the bigger of the two hills, which led me to a path with the water on one side, the fortress wall on the other, and the scorching heat above. No aid stations on this approx. 2 mile stretch. I made my way to the turn around and saw Mandy Lovett(friend from home who was also doing race) for the first time on the run course, where we gave each other the, “I’m suffering look” (or at least that was the look I gave her). I shouted out words of encouragement and caught up to her before we headed off the path to head up the hill. I made my way up the hill slowing some but didn’t feel like that much and made my way. After I ascented this hill I was officially in the HURT BOX and came to the realization that I probably wasn’t going to be coming out of it. I made my way down the other side without issue. At every aid station I was taking about 4-5 cups of whatever I could get my hands on. I was dumping it over my head, dumping it down my jersey, drinking it; I was trying everything to try and revive my body. I made it to the turn-around at the finish line were I spotted my Dad and told him “its all about survival.” I was starting to think that my body was just going to give out. I wasn’t sure if it had enough in the tank to complete the race but I had in my mind that I’m not walking and I’m not stopping. About a quarter of the way through the 2nd lap I could tell dehydration was very much a concern. I looked down and I had the goose bumps, not good. The steep climbs this time kicked my ass. I was concerned heading to the final turnaround knowing there was not going to be an aid station for the next two miles. At this point in the race I put my head down and would just concentrate on the next 100 ft in front of me and then worry about the next. At the final turn-around another dehydration moment occurred when I was starting to lose feeling in my hands and sweating was not occurring anymore. I bit down gritted my teeth and made my way back up the long steep hill for the final time and was concerned if I was going to finish or not. I slowly made my way through the rest of the run course with only 3 people passing me 2 from my age group. I wanted to put up a fight but unfortunately I knew I couldn’t. I rounded the final turn headed over the steep bridge and looked out to the finish and that was probably the longest 200 yds of my life but the most exillerating after I finished.
I crossed the line and I was wobbly, seeing spots, seeing white glows around everything, I was messed up. I wanted to see Mandy finish so I used my parents as leaning posts and was able to see her finish with a huge smile on her face. She had a
great race. Soon after she finished she turned into my post race nurse forcing salt tablets in my body, Gatorade and made me sit down. I felt fine for a little bit and then the cramps set in. My legs were cramping big time. I would cramp stretch it out then the others would go. I was to the point where I cramped in the sitting position and couldn’t move (this was probably hilliarious looking from any bystander who might have been witnessing this), so two volunteers came over and carried me over to the massage tent. I got a great ice massage and that really seemed to help, I was at least able to move again. So that was my race.
Notes: Would I have raced the race differently? I don’t think so, I knew what my goals were and new what I needed to do in order to accomplish them. I think my issues were nutrition and heat related. On the run at least for the first half my breathing felt good but my cramping issues were my main problem. I don’t think I should have ever switched over to drinking water but I was so sick of the sweet sticky taste in my mouth. From now on I will use salt tablets so then I can have some water. I now know what I need to do in order to perform at that level. I was 2
minutes off of PRing in a half and for having a miserable run I guess that’s not to bad. I fell short of all my goals but didn’t miss them by much.
The spectator and volunteer support for this race was phenomenal, especially for the run. On the run the streets were lined for a majority of the course. There were random people with hoses spraying athletes down as they made their way through the course.
My only gripe would have to be that there were not enough aid stations on the run