Sorry ... just couldn't resist using that line in the title somewhere. It was a poster tacked up to a pole on the run portion and it made me smile.
On the whole, this race was one of my best ever half's, though it fell well short of what I expected to be able to accomplish. I have to consider it a victory, because I cut almost 40 minutes off my time from last year, but once again all of the training did not seem to translate well to race day, or at least to the level I can train at. I am not sure why this is, but I have a year now (361 days to be exact) to figure this out before IM Chattanooga.
The plan was to drive up Wednesday night but that got derailed by Jennifer's work schedule, so we decided to get sleep and leave in the morning Thursday (which then became later than planned because Jennifer forgot her wet suit and we had to go back ... luckily before we got too far). I am a creature of habit, and I like this planned and executed, so little things like this tend to throw me, but luckily we still had a day before check in started so I was not freaking out. Yeah yeah I know ... but it's me so love it or leave it! LOL
We got to the Partridge Inn about 5:00, and I have to say that I was not very happy with it. The ac in our room was boken so they had a wall unit installed, which was not powerful enough for the room. It wasn't sweltering, mostly becasue the weather was so nice, but it wasn't as comfortable as it should be either. The room was nice, for an older Inn, but I saw a few roaches (don't tell others because they never saw them ... Thank God) but on Saturday night we saw a number of people in the lobby complaining about AC and lack of hot water. TNT needs to do a better job of vetting these lodges in the future.
We got up Friday and kind of lazed about until check in was open. As I said, I like getting things settled and out of the way as soon as I can, so we were there when it opened and got right though. The process was flawless, and the expo was, as always, full of product but over priced. Jennifer did end up buying a new wetsuit which went a long way to her swim result. It was a required purchase.
After signing in and doing some shopping we headed down to the swim exit, got out wet suits on, and checked out the water. It was COLD and the current was strong. Because we were at the end we swam against the current and swam back a few tmes (not the entire course) to get a feel of the temperature, etc. I felt much better afterwards mentally, but I think it actually hurt Jennifer. She did well in the race though.
Saturday we got up and headed to bike check in, once again to get it over with. We had breakfast that morning with Stacey and Tom McColley from the TNT group in Tampa. Another issue was that there was NO leadership representation from Tampa at this race. No coach. No LLS staff. Not good guys. We spoke with them a lot ... gave them the course overview ... tried to reassure them that they would be fine, though challenged. We promised them to find them on the course and help them if needed (which Jennifer did with Stacey and Tom, and I managed to do with Tom during the run when he was struggling). This is part of being a team ... your personal time an pace takes the back seat to helping others when they need it. I don't mind actually. I like helping, even though leaders would prefer I didn't. You know who you are.
We then had the privilege of meeting up with a NSNG buddy Kristina Hardesty for lunch and the Cotton Patch. It's always fun to meet people in person that we have only known online. We had a great chat for a couple of hours and found that people like Kristina represent well online as well as in person. She was a great person to hang with and we both look forward to hanging with her again as soon as possible, maybe an NSNG "conference" next year??
We had dinner with one of Jennifer's cancer patients and her family that night who had driven up just to watch her race. Truth be told I think that was the only reason Jennifer went ahead and raced this year. Her work has taken a big bite out of her training and she was not near where she could be (although she beat me again dammit). I can't imagine how much better she would have been.
So on to the race ...
We did the same thing as last year, got up early and drove to T1, found a parking spot nearby, and dozed until 5:30. We then grabbed our stuff and headed in, checked our bike one last time, set our stuff up, left my glasses and waited for Jennifer to be my eyes, then got on the bus and headed to swim start.
Note to self ... it would be rally nice to get Lasik before next year. Wonder what it's like to be able to see at the start of the race??
Once we got to the start I went ahead and got my wet suit on. It was a bit chilly and that helped to keep the coolness at bay. I was oddly calm at this point, which as some know is very strange for me before the swim start. They announced that the current was very strong so they would be starting from the platform instead of in the water. Not good because it gives you even less chance to acclimate, but nothing I could do about it at this point.
The skydivers flying the American Flag at the start of the anthem was outstanding. I put on my goggles just so I could watch it. Nice touch Augusta.
When my wave got to the water I sat on the edge and put my feet in the water and found ... hmm ... not as cold as I expected it to be. The water temp was announced at 69 but the air temp was 61 so the water felt warmer. When the gun went off I jumped in and, small panic again, but the difference was I was still swimming. Normally when panic hits I tread water gasping. This time was more like HITS in March. I was having a hard time breathing but I was still swimming. I reached back and unattached my wet suit neck which felt like it was strangling me, and within 327 yards (yes I looked at watch) I was moving. I caught people two waves ahead of me and even stopped at one point to help a person in the prior wave through a small panic, telling him to stay on my waist. Like I said, my time is important, but helping others get through is good too.
I completed the swim in just over 35:00, which was 15:00 faster than last year. I was expecting between 30-35 so was right on my plan at this point. Success #1.
I took my time in T1 which cost me, but I thought it was better to take my time and get my head together before heading out. Over 10:00, which is not good, but I was relaxed and HR was low when I headed out, so not going to quibble.
This was where my trouble started last year so was very worried about it. Last year my bike decided to give me problems and added a lot of time to an otherwise decent race, so I was hoping beyond hope that this race would be different. I had also been having back issues the previous month whenever I biked a long distance, so had a plan in my head to STOP if I felt it tightening up and take Vitamin I (ibuprofen) or something to stave it off. I did end up stopping a couple of times because of it but the stops were under 5 minutes so not a big hindrance.
I was overall pleased with the bike, even though I expected better. The hills I remembered were still there, but I got up them MUCH easier this time (thanks to KC and her insistence this year that were get to San Antonio Florida and ride those damn hills). I don't remember passing a single person, but that's ok right now. My goal was to beat my own time and I did by 40 minutes. Another Success (#2). I was not under 4 hours, but was better than 4:37:00.
Once again I took my time in T2 to make sure I was settled, my HR recovered, and I had everything I need. I tend to neglect nutrition (more on that in a few) and water but made sure this time I had plenty of both on me. I knew my run was not going to be good (I have been struggling all year since injuring my Achilles before Ocala) but my plan was to take what the course gave me.
I walked a lot of the run, especially at the end. The Hoka running shoes did their job, even though I still had feet soreness at mile 7 (usually it starts at mile 3), and I stuck to my plan of water only until halfway, when I started taking some cola. It seemed to work as far as fueling went, so I will be tweaking this along the next year.
My pace was about 30 seconds slower this year, but as I said it was expected
The end result was a race time just over 9 hours. I was hoping for 8:30-8:45, which considering my transitions I would have had, but another learning point right?
There now has to be discussion on nutrition because of the FB groups I am in and the eating style I have adopted. People Wanna Know!!!
I have a hard time eating anything in the morning, which as hurt me on more than one training ride or run through the past years. This morning was no different. I had a bottle made up of water and one scoop of Ucan. I managed three swallows before hitting the swim. I didn't feel hungry or weak through the swim and well into the bike. On the bike all I brought was water, salt sticks, and two sleeves of peanuts which I had heard about from KC. I have found since starting on No Sugar No Grains water is all I really need for these rides under normal conditions, and it seemed to serve me well again. I took one salt stick before the swim, and then another at every hour I was on the course. I opened one sleeve of peanuts at mile 38 of the bike and another at mile 8 of the run. I did resort to on the second loop of the run (about 4 miles left) just to give me an extra kick. I didn't even feel tempted by the fruit or the GU's being handed out on the course. This is a victory as well. I drank A LOT of water so b=never felt dehydrated (once again thanks to KC's pointers on timing this method).
I want to edn with this ... have you ever noticed that weird crap starts going through your head during long races? I am not talking about the normal "wheels of the bus go 'round and 'round" chant, but like ... thoughts. When I was on my bike and started thinking about pushing to try to keep up with others I told myself to "race within my limits", which of course, because I have a strange mind, brought up the song "Take it to the Limit" by the Eagles, and different lyrics started going through my head. And it didn't stop for 50 freaking miles ... so hear it is ... for your pleasure ... Race Within Your Limits (to the tune on Take it to the Limit):
Early morning, the last Sunday, of September
When the bright light is just starting to show
We were herded like cattle to the river
And Damn it was Cold .....
You know I've always been a Big Guy
(too much time munching on)
Anything I could find
(couldn't seem to slow it down)
And the more I tried to stop it ... it just kept coming on
and coming on
So squeeze me in a tri suit
And show me the line
So I can Race Within
One more time ......... (wee oo oo oo)