First of all, Sorry for the delay in getting this blog out, i had a busy week last week subbing for 1st graders and was very limited on time and energy as you can imagine...babysitting for 2-3 kids is fun and not too bad, but once you have a class of 20 of them, things get interesting, and you are on the move non-stop!
So I decided to sign up for the HITS Marble Falls Half Ironman in December because it was perfect timing leading up to TTT which is my only major focus race of this season. The other reason I was swayed to sign up for this race is because it was $75!!! A half ironman for $75...you cant beat that.
Let me just start off by saying HITS races are one of a kind! First and foremost, their staff is hand selected and they are some of the nicest most friendly people alive. Starting from at the top with the big dawg, Mr. Mark Wilson. I met him the evening before the race at the athlete meeting, and I was blown away with his kindness and patience. After the meeting all the athletes were huddling around wanting to talk to Mark, whether to tell a story, ask a question or just to introduce themselves...Mark gave each and every one of them his full attention and seemed more than excited to share those few moments with each athlete. What a guy!
Secondly, the HITS races are hand selected in some of the most beautiful, remote locations throughout the US. I had never heard of Marble Falls before, but am sure glad I do now because it is a beautiful little quaint town, but once you get a few miles outside you get very rolly open roads perfect for a triathlon!
So back to the race now, Iris and I got to our hotel Friday night (the eve before the race), added all of my last minute touches to my equipment and was off for a chilly ice bath! The ice bath is one of those "Ancient Rituals" that I always partake in the nights before big races. It calms me down, and always makes my legs feel like magic!
I didn't get much sleep that night, seemed to be up every hour or so tossing and turning, and decided to get up even before my alarm went off. It didn't take me long to get down my breakfast and load up the car, and after dragging iris out of bed we were off to the race site.
This race was going to be my first triathlon since racing Ironman Austin 70.3 last October, so I was chomping at the bit to get things under way! I got out on my bike for a quick little tune up to make sure everything was shifting properly and that I was in the right gear to start the race off. Then I laced up the flats for a quick 5-10 min jog with some pick ups. I usually like to run on a park trail or somewhere with trees, because this is the last time I will empty the bladder before I start the race! After all those things were checked off the pre-race list, I was on my way down to the water with wetsuit in hand!
I got in the water and did another 5-10 minute warm up loosening up the arms, getting my breathing ready, and before I knew it the race was already under way!
I like to take the swim out hard and give myself some clean open water. After about 200 yards, I did a couple breaths to both sides, and realized that I had jumped out to an early lead, and I had one guy in pursuit on my feet, but that was it. I settled into my stroke and pushed on through the rest of the swim.
As we were exiting the water, the guy who was on my heels had pulled up shoulder to shoulder with me and we exited the water together. There was a big steep incline to climb heading up to transition and the swim timing mat was at the top...I crossed that first and posted the fastest swim of the day (25:16), a pleasantly surprising split to start my day!
Over the last 100 yards of the swim I pictured in my head how transition was going to go and executed it to perfection. I was in and out of T1 super quick and had the fastest transition on the day by almost 15 seconds. I was out on the bike in 1st and all alone!
The first 8-10 miles on the bike include some serious climbs and rollers, and so my goal was to get through here with as little wasted energy as I could. I tried to stay within my goal power ranges. Right around mile 10 a car pulled up next to me and sure enough it was IRIS :) She told me that I had close to a 5 minute lead on the 2nd place guy. I couldn't believe it, I had put 5 minutes into the guy in the first 10 miles! I was ecstatic!
Iris continued to drive up the road and give me updates and to keep me company, which was a major morale booster! Close to halfway through the ride, she pulled up and asked how I was doing and to give me another update. She said I had over 10 minutes now and that I was doing awesome! I still felt very strong and that I could keep up the pace I had been setting but I told her I was starting to get bored! We were approaching the 2 hour mark in the race and I had been all alone the entire bike ride...she laughed and drove off. I thought to myself after telling her that "I have gone 25-30 miles and put a 10 minute lead into the rest of the group! I have never been one to run away with the fastest bike split, so for all my hard work on the bike to be paying off really kept me mentally with it. I kept dialing it into my goal power, and pressed on.
Approaching T2 I had continued to add to my big lead. I also was in tune with the fact that I had just posted my new fastest half ironman bike split. I had outbiked my Austin time by over a minute on a much more difficult course! I had swam great and now put together a very solid bike...all that was left to do was PR in the run...or so i thought.
Coming out of T2 I was feeling pretty good, and thought the race was locked up and all I wanted to do was hammer the run to give myself a new 70.3 overall PR. I had gone 4:25 at Austin, and ran a 1:26 to bring it home...if I were to run a 1:30 i would be right in that ball park. My run training had been going very very well though, so I was expecting an even better run that what i put up at Austin!
Through the first 2 miles I had climbed this big hill and made it to the relatively easy rollers that were left before the turn around for home. I was feeling good, and decided to try to stretch the pace a little bit. I started to hit sub 6:30s and my body was responding nicely. I thought for sure I could run a new run PR ultimately leading to a new 70.3 best. That quickly turned south. After passing through the aid station at mile 3 the wheels fell off. I was feeling sick to my stomach, my hammies started to cramp...and i still had 10 miles left!
After suffering big time for the next mile and a half, I ran into iris again and she was trying to cheer me up...but i was in DEEP! I felt horrible. After getting to the next aid station I started on my customary helpings of Cola. Whenever i start to go south on the run in a full or half ironman, coke has been my savior.
It seemed that it would indeed again be my savior. I was starting to settle into a good pace again, and over the next 2 miles I was clicking off sub 7:30s and finally making progress again. Iris told me when i was at mile 7 that i had nearly a 20 minute lead and to just keep taking my time. Within minutes of hearing that it seemed like the lights had been completely turned off for me. The hammy cramps came back with vengeance. I was screaming in pain, unable to move forward, I tried to stretch things out, but that only led to other areas cramping and I was miserable. I had just under 6 miles left, and I was locking up!
With 5 miles to go i started to get the feeling that I was so bloated from taking a bunch of coke and water, which was causing my stomach to be upset again...before I knew it i was hurling on the side of the road. After a few quick evacuations I was back on the course trying to shuffle home.
My hamstrings and calves were in such pain and each stride i could feel them wanting to lock up on me and shut me down for good, but I wasn't going to let that happen. I knew my lead was dwindling, but I focused on what I had in front of me. The final 3 miles.
Nothing changed much over those last 3 miles, I was miserable, wincing in pain, hoping that each stride was followed by another one and not a debilitating cramp!
Making the final turn for home and seeing the finish line was a huge relief for me. I had fought so hard out on that run course to stay upright and keep moving forward, and to get to the end victorious was quite a feat for me. Without Iris's support I may still be out on the course!
Overall I finished in a time of 4:52:37, with a 25:16 Swim, a 2:27:20 Bike, and a 1:57:24 Run. I had a stellar race going up until the run, and it was tough to see how it ended on paper, but I learned a lot about myself and my nutrition plan. I need to make sure I dont make the same mistake in 2 weeks at TTT!
Thanks again to HITS and Mark Wilson for such a wonderful race, to Iris for supporting me and being there through the highs and lows, and to Evotri and all our kick A$$ sponsors and for all you do for us, Q-Roo, Hub Endurance, Zipp, Sram, Cycleops. All my hard work and results are to show my appreciation for what you guys have done for me and will continue to do for me in the future! Thank you so much