Just a quick report on the Mini Indy I completed May 7. This is a 1/2M with 35,000 people. That is one heck of a starting corral! This was my second year to do the race. One big draw is you get to run around the Indy 500 race track from mile 5.5 to mile 8. That is pretty neat. The weather was great for the race. Mid 50's at the start. My dream goal was a sub 1:58 to PR the race. If I finsihed in the low 2:XX I would be happy. As it turns out I finished in 2:00:08. I run with a Garmin 305 and use the training partner to set my pace. I just love using the watch in this mode. Trouble was, at the 0.25 mile marker my watch informed me I was done with 13.1 miles at 1:58. That was a reallllly long 0.25 miles to run!
This year I have swithed to LSD training. So far I think it has worked. I ran a 1/2M in March with my PR at 1:59. This was 7 minutes faster than the same race last year. Unfortunately I really picked up the mileage after that race and went into "over trained" mode for the month of April. I think all of the base I built up for the first race carried me over for the Mini Indy. It sure takes a long time to get rested and start building back up.
Here it is! My race report from my VERY FIRST TRIATHLON! HOORAY!!!
Event: Sullivan Civic Center Triathlon 4/22/12, Sullivan , IL. Race day conditions- cool mid 50's , mostly overcast, very windy around 22 mph gusts up to 31mph.
Before I really get into the meat, I want to say first off that I did have a great time and overall am pleased with how I did. :)
I made sure that I arrived early so that I could get a parking spot close to where the bike racks were located. Went and racked my bike and had everything in my tote laid out first for bike and then run. Helmet, bandana and sunglasses on the bike bars. Then went to check in and got my chip and number. I didn't change immediately to start warming up in the pool, felt it was too early. I read over the instructions and stuff again. Finally decided to go get in the pool, so I changed and went to go do a swim warm up, because I need a fairly long warm up to get comfortable, get my Heart Rate going and find my pace so I don't tire too quickly. There was only one or two other people warming up. Couldn't believe that there weren't more. Bonus- the pool temp was NICE! Just the way I like it about 85 degrees. At the YMCA I always feel cold when I first get in that pool, it's not kept nearly as warm. Swam for awhile and then stopped and just hung out in the water it felt so good. Around 11:45 to 12 noon people finally started to show up to get their warmups in. I did a bit more, then got out. First swimmer was started at 12:30. When I volunteered 2 years ago for this race, they(race director and volunteers) got everyone lined up according to their bib number (which was based on your given swim time) before starting. This year, people kind of milled around and didn't seem to care where they were, and no one was enforcing the line up. As a result, there were people behind me, even though I was pretty far back in the line, that should have been much farther ahead of me. Also, once in the water, there obviously were people who didn't give accurate swim times. The swim portion from my point of view was an absolute disaster! I got bottle necked behind people and had to stop and WALK behind them several times, plus I had people passing me on the right and left sometimes, then at the wall there would be people in the way too. UGH! I think partly because of all this going on I was never able to get into a comfortable pace, and I know I was going too fast at times because I started to get out of breath, when I normally would not. The whole thing was really disconcerting, the lanes were going across the pool opposite normal, so there were no lane lines on the bottom of the pool to gauge where you were in the lane, several times I ended up too close to the buoys and struck them, and then at the one end of the pool, the bottom and sides are slanted different than what I'm used to, and it was kind of hard to tell how close you were to the wall before running into it. Needless to say, I was glad when the swim was done and I was out of there!
Next in T1, I ran out and , and... couldn't find my bike! I ran back and forth looking, finally realized that I had not gone far enough, or rather, that there were more rows of racks than I thought and had not gone 'deep' enough. The racks are not numbered in any way. But then it was OK, and I got my gear on for the ride. Obviously coming out of the pool wet into 50 something degrees was a bit nippy, but at that point it didn't seem so bad, so I opted to not put my bike shirt on over the trisuit, or wear the arm warmers. I did however put on the tights I brought. I also put socks on before putting my shoes on. From now on if I'm doing a race where there is no changing tent, I am going to skip the socks. They are just too hard to get on right in a timely manner. So then I was off on the bike!!!
The bike portion, despite the wind, I think went very well. All my rides outside this year have been in windy weather, so it was good practice before the race. Plus I'm sure the hill workouts I do on a stationary bike helped too. I passed a number of people, on both loops. Which I felt good about, as I figured I was making up for time that I thought I had lost on the swim. I made sure I unclipped at least a block away from the bike in to prevent a fall over accident when I had to stop. T2 went twice as fast, all I had to do was ditch the helmet, change the shoes, and put on my race belt with my bib number. I can work on that some too though, I have found I'm not very good at balancing on one foot anymore while trying to put shoes on :) I blame it on my arches. Then it was off for the run!
I liked this portion of the race. It winds around in a park and is like running gravel and grass trails. The gravel where it was rougher wasn't so great, but where it was a pretty fine crushed and packed gravel was nice. The last mile or so is done on pavement, some on the road next to the park, but also paved roads in the park. When I started out on the run of course, I had to get my running legs going after biking. I kept my cadence fast and my strides short. It took awhile to get into my normal stride, which isn't a whole lot longer anyway. I did feel that I was probably pushing harder than I should have, I felt somewhat out of breath until at least half the run was over, then I felt I was breathing easier and my Heart rate wasn't excessive. Oh, that's the other thing, I had my Garmin on, and it took me longer than I wanted to switch from swim to bike, so when I came back from the bike, I didn't even bother with it for the run portion. I just stopped the timer and didn't mess with it. I have to figure out how to quickly change over from one discipline to another without going through a bunch of different screens. I did pass some people on the run, and I did run the entire thing, I did not stop to walk or take water. Once I crossed the finish line I went and changed, collected my bike and other gear and put everything in my car. Then I went back for food, and the awards ceremony. I had no idea what time I finished with, my goal was to be under 2 hours for sure, which should have been easily do-able. Only those placing in the top 5 of their age group, and the overalls, plus Athenas and Clydesdales , get medals. There are no finisher medals. I didn't know that and thought that kind of sucks. But, low and behold, when they announced the 55-59 women age group, I had taken 5th place, so I did get to bring home a piece of bling!!!
On the way home, I got to do a good deed too. As I was driving on Hwy 32, I saw this big piece of black cloth that was of course being whipped up all over the place, yet was not going anywhere like it was weighted down or stuck. As I got close I saw that it was an Amish woman! knelt over having a very hard time, she couldn't fight the wind. I stopped on the shoulder and backed up closer to her and asked if she would like a ride. So I gave this frail old Amish woman a ride home. She said I don't have any money to pay you, and I told her that I wouldn't take any money even if she did. I was happy to help her out. When I dropped her off she again said I don't have any money and I again told her that I didn't want any and said goodbye and waved as I drove off. Got home, unloaded all my stuff, washed my trisuit out to get the chlorine out of it and have been typing this up ever since. Now I think it might be time to have some dinner :)
All in all, a happy day and a good race. But I really need to work on my swim, though the time actually turned out to about where I thought I should be. Makes me wonder how much better my time might have been without all the backups.
SWIM- 13:47.00 T1- 4:37.35 BIKE- 43:16.15 T2- 2:24.40 RUN- 32:01.70 TOTAL TIME- 1:36:06.60
5th in age group 167 overall
Christy, that sounds great! And congratulations on rounding out the top 5, I know that was exciting. When's your next race?
Haven't decided yet. I am looking at the calendar of local events in Illinois and have to see where some will fit in with the training. There are several in the next 2-3 months that I am interested in. My main goal at present is to get my mileage/fitness up to complete a half sometime in June or July.
OK, this is long, but so was the 2012 St. George Ironman!
I arrived at Sand Hollow Reservoir on Tuesday around noon on our way into St. George. Ever since the swim at the inaugural Ironman St. George in 2010, one of my biggest concerns each year is the water temperature. That year, temperatures as low as 52-54 degrees led to fifty people not making the swim cut off. This year the temperature was already 63 degrees. The water felt nice when I tried out my new wetsuit, the Tyr Freak of Nature. My wife had a memorable reaction when she saw the credit card bill and said, “that much for a wetsuit, what is it made out of, gold?”. Four days later I told her that the wetsuit might have saved my life.
The days preceding the 2012 Ironman St. George were unusual insofar as I felt an unusual calm. Usually, prior to my races, I feel nervous. Not this time. This carried through to the morning of the race, when I awoke before my alarm at 3:15am. I took in almost 500 calories right away, which was also unusual for me. Usually my stomach is nervous, but not today. I gathered my special needs bags and my bicycle pump and made my way to the buses. As I got on the bus, I remained relaxed, sipping on my pre-race vanilla soy latte. Arriving at Sand Hollow Reservoir, it was 65 degrees an calm, just like the weather report had predicted. I pumped up my tired, got body marked, put on my sunscreen, body glide and my wetsuit and handed over my bicycle pump to my friend Rudy. Rudy and his wife Wendy had come to St. George to lend their support and friendship for my third consecutive Ironman St. George.
I made my way to the swim start and down to the waters edge. Mike Riley, told us to enter the water just before the pros were to start. I got a little concerned that I was going to be in the water for a full fifteen minutes before the start, but the water temperature was now about 63 degrees and I figured it would be ok. Besides, I was determined to start right at the front this year. I got into the water to my knees and the gun went off for the pros. I then slowly made my way into the cold water, dabbed water on my face and slowly swam towards the front of the line. I did put myself about 20 yards from the farthest buoy, figuring that I could angle my way in. The past two years, I had swum 1:11, but both years I had swum relatively easy. My swim training had gone well this year, and I planned to go off as fast as I could, taking advantage of the potential ironman draft. Last year, as the time to the start got closer, the front of the line moved forward, and I didn’t, ultimately impeding my attempt to start quickly at the front. This year, as the front of the line move ahead little my little, so did I. The waters were still calm when the gun went off. I started as fast as I could, and was surprised to find no jostling, no one swimming over me and the feet in front of me. I was flying. I got into a solid rhythm and I felt comfortable. Occasionally, I would lose the feet of the person in front of me, but then there would be someone else. As I swam fast towards the first turn buoy, I realized that the front of the pack wasn’t stringing out far ahead of me, which is what typically happens to me in the swim portion of a triathlon. Later on, another athlete with a lot of open water swim experience would tell me that he realized from how fast we were swimming that there was a pretty strong current building behind us.
As I turned left at the farthest buoy, staying about 10-15 feet wide in order to avoid the typically turn buoy jam, I turned into waves coming at my left side. At this point in time, I really wasn’t thinking about the changing weather and the possibility that this could get worse. I was just thinking about getting to the next turn buoy. I realized that the people to my right were getting pushed further out and then I tried to make sure that I was moving in a direction that wouldn’t push me further away from the next turn buoy. I was glad to be breathing to my right side, since that was away from the waves. Finally, I saw the next red buoy and realized that I’d been pushed about 20 yards away from it, so I directed myself towards it and made my way around the buoy. When I made the turn, I began to see and feel the full force of the oncoming waves. I had recently read an article about open water swimming, so I shortened my stroke and started making my way forward. Remarkably, the next two buoys came about quickly, which I didn’t realize was probably because the wind had pushed them together. Around this time the waves began to come faster and with more fury, finally catching me unaware and causing me to swallow/breath in some water. This is always disconcerting, but under these circumstances was a little bit frightening. I gathered myself and continued forward. The other athletes were scattered all over the place. Drafting wasn’t something to be considered. The waves seemed to only get bigger. I wondered why I wasn’t seasick, but decided that I would just be thankful that I wasn’t. I was moving forward. I wondered momentarily if my all neoprene wetsuit was a help or a hindrance, as it kept me high in the water with the waves coming at me.
Another wave hit me in the mouth, and again I swallowed/breathed in some more water. This took my breath away and I stopped to tread water. Unfortunately, this only exposed to waves crashing over me as I struggled to maintain where I was, kicking my feet in more of a bicycle kick. This only made me feel more short of breath. I looked around and didn’t see any kayaks, or for that matter, any other athletes. Then, my right calf suddenly cramped up. For a brief moment, I got scared. Several years ago I struggled with panic attacks in the open water and the feeling of panic began to invade my consciousness. I thought, what if I can’t do this, how do I get help? Raising my arm would only cause me to sink, besides, I couldn’t see anyone. I might die, I thought. And then, I remembered what my coach had told me about ironman, “stay in the moment”. And so I did. I decided to just start swimming forward and focus on each stroke, not to think about what had already happened, or worry about what might happen. There was one thought that did stay in my consciousness for the rest of the swim, and that was my hope that no one was going to drown today. I had stopped worrying about myself, but I knew that there were athletes that normally struggled to finish the swim. What was happening to them? Were they going to cancel the swim? How would they do that? Stay in the moment, I kept reminding myself. I relaxed, tried to time the waves so that they wouldn’t push me back and began sighting the large rock that I knew I had to swim around. I was moving once again and before I knew it, I was to the right of the rock. Only then did I realize that there were a lot of smaller rocks sticking out of the water and the 5 foot swells might push me into them. I aimed to my right, looking forward to getting around the rocks and turning left towards the swim finish. I hoped that once I turned it would get easier. That didn’t happen. The waves kept coming, and now they were coming to my breathing side. I occasionally breathed to my left, which I had practiced and was comfortable with, but that didn’t allow me to see the waves coming at me. The waves pushed me to the left of the swim exit and I realized that I had to negotiate getting around a large platform out in the water. I swam towards the exit, almost not giving myself enough room, as another wave almost pushed me into the platform. Soon, I could see the bottom and I’ve never felt better about touching the ramp at the swim exit. As I came out of the water, I looked up, the time on the clock showed that I had completed the swim in 1 hour and 19 minutes. I had originally hoped for a 1 hour and 5 minute swim, but I knew that my time was good under the impossible conditions. I did not know at this point that close to 600 people wouldn’t make it past the swim. Close to 1800 people had signed up for the 2012 Ironman St. George. Close to 1200 would be contesting the rest of the race. Sixty percent of the women who started did not make the swim cut off! Approximately 100 men in my age group started the swim, and only 59 made it onto the bike. The older men fared much worse. This was a swim course for younger and stronger men. The hypothermic 2010 swim that led to an approximate 15% DNF (Did Not Finish) rate, was a distant memory. We had just set a new standard for one the toughest ironman swims ever. Later, I would hear some stories that would add exclamation marks to my frightened journey. Two kayaks overturned. In fact, one athlete found an empty kayak with a life jacket floating next to it. Another athlete saved a person from drowning and got them on a boat. One of the boats was completely filled with athletes and began taking on water. The driver’s 9 year old daughter was screaming in fear. Athletes in the water, unable to move forward, were calling for help and they were told they had to wait for the boat to come back for them. It was becoming ironic that Titanic: The Musical was playing at the Tuacahn Ampitheater. The idea of Ironman St. George: The Musical was beginning to form in my mind as I tried to make sense of this day. I laid down for the wet suit strippers, grabbed my bag and made my way to the changing tent. I sat down and the guy next to me told me that he had been pulled from the water and had already called it a day. I didn’t get to full import of this until later. I followed my well rehearsed transition, putting on my helmet and my shoes, putting on sun screen and quickly made my way out of the tent. I stopped for more sunscreen and got my bike. Transition time right around 5 minutes, almost the same as last year. Pretty good under the circumstances. After I passed the timing mats, I saw my friend Rudy. I took the time to walk over and say “I hope that now one drowned today”. I mounted my bike and began pedaling. Later I would find that I had the 314th fastest swim time overall, and was actually 14th in my age group out of the water. My first two years at St. George I was around 30th in my age group.
In previous years, I remembered that the bike ride from Transition to the main road went by pretty quickly. As I began my ride, I began wondering why it seemed to be taking so much longer. It wasn’t like my legs were a problem, or that people were passing me. I didn’t realize that I was already feeling the force of 20-30 mph headwinds. One of the reasons I probably didn’t notice was that I was already having pretty severe stomach cramps. Last year, I had suffered with stomach cramps throughout the day. This felt worse. I cautiously took sips of water. I made my way up the longest sustained climb on the course. My legs felt fine, but I needed to get calories. I tried to take some gel, but it was tough. Every so often, I would belch and the contents in my stomach would come up. That wasn’t good. I tried my best to stay tucked in my aero position, but that was uncomfortable due to the cramping. I had survived the swim, I had to survive the bike. I made my decision to stop at the first water station and try to use a port-a-potty. I did, and it didn’t help. Back on the bike, I continued to persevere. Being a physician, I palpated my own abdomen, only to find it was quite tender. I began to realize that I made have an ileus. That would mean that my intestines had shut down. Swallowing too much of the Sand Hollow Reservoir could have set this off. My GI tract was not working properly. I continued to try to sip water and take in some gel, and the cramping got worse. When I arrive at the next water station I tried the port-a-potty again and then went to the medical tent, where I sat in a chair and pondered my day. Should I just give up? Suffering with this level of cramps would make for a horrible day. As I sat there, I felt a little better. I also thought, hell, I just made it through the most difficult ironman swim ever, I was a three time registrant for Ironman St. George, and damn if I’m not going to be a three time finisher. If I’m going to sit down, I might as well sit on the bike, I thought. So, that’s what I did. I got back on my bike and just began pedaling easily into the jaws of the 25 mile climb towards “The Wall”. Ironman is about the ability to adjust your plans and compensate, to adapt to the conditions. I decided to stop eating and drinking. While I knew that I could not sustain no nutrition all day, I figured I need to give my GI tract a chance to rest. For the next hour and a half I took in no nutrients and just worked on pedaling as comfortably as possible. I stayed in the moment and tried to ignore the fact that the mile markers were coming along at an interminable pace. When I reached the climb before “The Wall”, and saw people walking their bikes up it, I realized the full force of the winds. I guessed that the average wind speed was 30 mph, with gusts to 40-50 mph. Later, I read that Ben Hoffman, the eventual winner of the race, was almost knocked off his bike by a wind gust. Another athlete later told me that he was producing 250 watts of power on a gradual downhill against the wind and was going all of 10 mph! Two years ago, on the friday before the inaugural St. George Ironman, winds of 40-50 mph reared their ugly head. I’ll never forget thinking, I don’t know how I could handle this course with winds like this? I was now finding out the answer.
Finally, I could see “The Wall”. It’s a half mile section of the course that reaches gradients of 14%. As I got closer to it, I suddenly realized that we would make a right turn, maybe the wind would be different. That turned out to be the case. I won’t say that I flew up “The Wall”, but it was relatively easy compared to everything I had already done. A 30 mph tailwind will really help a steep climb! Unfortunately, the top of “The Wall” led to a left turn back into the brutal headwinds. Fortunately, there was another water station ahead. I stopped yet again for the port-a-potty’s. Still, not much help, but I was doing somewhat better. I got back on my bike and started to pedal and my chain stuck. Shit! I got off and called for help. My chain was stuck between my small chain ring and the frame. It wasn’t loosening up. Three mechanics finally made their way over and started working on my bike. This wasn’t looking good. As I stood there, all I could think was, “I’ve made it this far, I can’t be stopped by a mechanical”. I also thought about the Tour de France and how professional cyclist’s make use of the time when they have mechanical failures. I asked for a banana and a bottle of Gatorade Perform and sat down and took in some nutrition. It felt ok. Finally, with the use of something akin to a small crowbar, they got my chain loosened. It has probably taken 10-15 minutes, but I was feeling somewhat better. I got back on my bike and tested the shifting. Everything worked and I was on my way.
Soon, I made the right turn at Veyo. Normally, you hit a headwind at this point, but not today. Finally, after over 50 miles of cycling, I had a consistent tailwind. I was flying. I began passing people and the only cyclist that passed me was a pro triathlete on his second loop of the bike. As I made my way down the highway, I realized that my speed was probably right around 50mph. I kept reminding myself to stay relaxed, I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity. I got to the end of the first loop and began my second loop. Things were looking up. I began passing the same people that I’d already passed twice before (remember, I had stopped three times). I never wondered what my bike split would have been like without the stomach cramps and the stops. It didn’t matter, I was “in the moment”. I started taking in nutrition. I had stopped for my special needs bag and picked up a cooked red potato with some olive oil and salt. It was like manna from heaven, and actually helped to settle my stomach. I would nurture that treat onto the run. It may have saved my day. The mile markers felt like they were coming faster this time around. When I hit Mile 80, I recalled how two years earlier I had bonked. I checked myself and realized that I was doing ok. Mile 90 came, “The Wall” came again, albeit a little harder than the first time. However, I realized that I didn’t even remember going up the climb before “The Wall” the second time around. I was going to make it through the bike. I had spent somewhere between 30-40 minutes of my bike ride off of my bike. I didn’t push for the last 12 miles, mostly downhill and flying. I wanted my legs to be ready for the run. I had no idea how my GI tract would react this year, but I wanted to give it my best shot. Coming to the dismount line, I have to admit that I was relieved. My bike split was 7:51, almost an hour longer than 2010 and almost an hour and a half longer than 2011. My age group ranking ended up being 47th (out of 55 who finished) and I had dropped from being 14th after the swim to being 40th in my age group. I was now 684th overall. But I was on my feet!
I grabbed my bag and took the time to stop and pee (a good sign from a hydration perspective), then quickly put on my socks, my shoes, my fuel belt and my hat and made it out of tent. I stopped again to have sunscreen slathered everywhere on me and made my way out of transition. Another solid 5 minute ironman transition. Not too bad. I had seen the clock and knew that I was already 9 hours and 23 minutes into my day. I would not finish this race in under 13 hours, but I could make it in under 14. But enough of that, stay in the moment! I began running, and it felt good! Shortly thereafter, I ran up to Toby, and found that he was on his second lap. We began running together and it felt good. We were going downhill and I asked him what our pace was. He said about 8:20/mile. Woah! That’s a little to fast I said and he agreed, so we found a moderate pace that we both felt comfortable with. In fact, he told me that I was helping to pace him. I told him that he was helping to pace me. We ran together for the entire loop, shared stories and just helped each other. After we finished my first lap, he pushed ahead and I decided not to push too hard. I was following my race plan. It turned out that I maintained a very solid and steady 9:20 pace for the first 12 miles of the run. I was still gentle with my nutrition, alternating Gatorade Perform with occasional sips of coke and water to keep the stomach contents form being too strong. It seemed to be working. As the miles went by, I had expected to see my friend Rudy. I had no idea what was unfolding for my family. The ironman.com tracking was not functional and they had no idea whether I had even completed the bike. Rudy had based my expected time into transition on my very slow first loop, and I had made it onto the run course about 15 minutes sooner than he had expected. My wife was freaking out, worried that something had happened to me. What they didn’t know was that I was beginning to worry if something had happened to Rudy. He was supposed to see me at Miles 2, 4, 6, 9, and 11. Finally, Rudy found out that I had dropped my bike off and taken my run bag. He did the math and found me at Mile 11. He told me that my pace was solid.
I probably slowed just a little towards the end of my second lap, but was still in the nine minute/mile range (maybe now a little closer to the upper end). As I started the third lap, I had hoped to start pushing, but when I hit Mile 19 and tried to increase my effort, my stomach began acting up and my legs also tightened a bit. I decided to modulate. Pushing too hard now could have a huge impact. This is the point where trying to go 30 second per mile faster could ultimately add a half an hour to my run. So, I ran the downhills and did a walk/run on the uphills. Ultimately, my pace for the last 9 miles would slow to about 12:00 pace. Still, not that many people were passing me. As I ran up the last uphill section, hitting mile 24, I suddenly felt very nauseated and weak. I slowed to a walk and collected myself. I walked to the final turnaround and began to jog the last downhill section. I wouldn’t fly down this hill, but I would run it. I stopped a couple of times to walk for 20-30 feet, just to make sure that I would be ok. I was going to finish in under 14 hours. As I came down the finishing chute, I had my right hand up with three fingers showing, as Mike Riley said, “Michael Wasserman, a three-time St. George finisher, you are an ironman!”
My finishing time of 13:52:21, put me in 479th place overall (passing 205 people during the run). My marathon time of 4:30:39 was the 18th fastest in my age group and moved me from 40th off the bike to 24th in my age group at the finish. While this was my slowest St. George finish, it was my best placement. Approximately 100 men in my age group started the race, and only 55 finished. 1800 people were signed up to race, we may never know exactly how many actually were at the swim start, but only 1024 finished. This was arguably the highest DNF percentage of all time for an ironman.
Because of Ironman St. George’s reputation as one of the toughest ironman courses in the world from it’s first two years of existence, it had already been decided that this would be it’s final year as an ironman course. It is remarkable that 2012 made the first two years seem easy! The toughness of the course, combined with the brutal weather conditions, made this a fitting end to what will go down in history as a legendary ironman. I started the day as only one of eighty people to have the opportunity to finish all three years. I don’t know the statistics yet, but I’m sure there were fewer than eighty who ultimately made the finish line in 2012. I’m proud that I was one of them.
In the end, there is only one word for this day, and that is epic.
WOW Michael, awesome finish under truly tough conditions! Loved your report, and think you are incredible for fighting through all the weather conditions as well as the cramping and nausea issues.
Gateway Triathlon Report
Woke up in plenty of time to go get my race packet and set up my gear. Felt fine, and didn’t really feel all that nervous. Got my wetsuit on and went down to the water to warm up. That’s when I started to get nervous. I was completely unnerved by being in the open water, not being able to see. I practiced swimming a little, but not long, as they called the athletes up onto the beach. Then we got the pre-race instructions for the race, places to watch out for on the bike, what not to do, etc. Then we lined up for the start. It had been at least 20 minutes since my very brief warm up. When I swim, even in a pool, it takes me awhile to ‘get warmed up’. Meaning I get short of breath until I have done a couple hundred yards or meters. Even when I intentionally try to go slower. In a race situation its worse, because I am generally excited/nervous, and unsure of myself. When it was the women’s turn to go for the Olympic distance, I tried to keep my strokes slow and not go out too fast. I didn’t get very far before I started to feel a bit panicky, with people bumping into me, and then I’d stop, try to sight and get going again. But I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and was getting very disoriented with my face in the water not being able to see anything but a green haze. My goggles were leaking on the right side too, which when the goggles leak that always throws me off too. I turned over on my back and started to kick/swim that way, hoping I could get my breathing under control. Then a surfboarder came over and told me I was off track of the course. I would try again to reorient myself and head in the correct direction. But it would keep happening. I was not going in the directions I needed to be. There is a current in the lake, and it would keep pulling me over, and sometimes I would almost be going in a semicircle, before getting in the right direction. I was still swimming on my back, I was getting more frustrated and panicky, and just could not get enough breath. I hung onto the board and told the guy that I thought I should quit. He said,” no,no, don’t quit! Just do the sprint distance instead” I said, “would they allow that?” He said yes, so I stayed in and continued to struggle with the swim. I had to hang onto his board again, this time because I knew I was going to throw up some. Finally got around the first buoy that marked the sprint turn, and headed for the second one. Still kept getting off course. The first board guy had to go because they were going to start the sprint distance swimmers , so he got another person, a girl, to take over watching me. She kept me on track after I finally made it around the second buoy. But by then there were oly distance swimmers coming, as well as the faster sprinters, and I got rattled by that again. I had to throw up twice more trying to finish the sprint distance. Almost all of it done while on my back. I have never been so glad to be out of the water, any water, in my life. I thought it was never going to end, and I really, really, wanted to quit. I had no idea how long I had been in the water, it felt like hours. Once I was out of the water it was hard to walk without stumbling , but some of that was because it was sand, and then we had to go uphill to the transition area, which is not exactly close. Took me longer than I wanted to get out of the wetsuit, even though I tried to make sure I used plenty of Body Glide. It’s very hard for me to get that thing around my ankles and off my feet. Once in transition, I got all my bike gear on and by this time had settled my breathing some. Got going alright and it felt good to be doing something, anything!, but swimming. Roads until we are on the highway are fairly bumpy, so I didn’t get in aero position until the highway. Felt fine on the bike, and the turnaround came quicker than I thought. The problem that seems to have developed over the last 2 weeks with numbness in my arms and hands though was making itself apparent. Fortunately because this was going to be a short distance, I knew it wouldn’t be a big issue, as far as this race. As soon as I turned, the wind was directly at me however, so I rode on a lower gear and did not ride aero. It’s too hard for me to control the bike in aero with a lot of wind. That is with this bike. I rode the Cervelo, which is all carbon and therefore lighter than my Trek. I hope with more practice on this bike it will not be an issue later on, but who knows. I got back to transition and changed shoes, pulled off the bike shorts, got my race belt/bib number on and was off for the run. Run was ok, but it was hot. The run is across the dam, and is in direct sun basically the whole way. The only part that is not, is when you get across the dam and the road goes up a hill! You get over 2 hills and then there is the turnaround (for the sprint) and you head back, over the hills again, and back across the dam. I did walk some up the hills, but otherwise ran the rest. I made sure I told the person at the finish line that I was changed to the sprint distance from the Olympic. After throwing up several times in the water, I took about half cup of water going into the bike transition, but ended up not taking anything while on the bike course itself until 2/3 of the way back. Then I sipped my Infinit nutrition twice, but that was it. On the run I took water twice, about half a cup each time.
I have very mixed feelings about this race. On the one hand, I am glad that I managed to at least finish a race, though it wasn’t the distance I signed up for. I know now how VERY different open water swimming is. I know that if I cannot get used to it, and feel reasonably confident in it, I will not be able to compete in any event that has open water, the IM included. I have never been a panic prone individual. In fact, I have never panicked in my life, for any reason, until today. It is not a feeling I ever wish to experience again. The wetsuit both helped and hindered me. Helped me because with it on, I couldn’t possibly drown, because of the buoyancy, but hindered because if I feel even slightly out of breath I feel it restricts my ability to breathe properly and well. I know that it is the correct size, I did 2 practice swims in it in the pool and didn’t have a problem.
Once the race was finished and I had collected all my gear, and showered at the hotel, I went back to see the stats for the races, and the awards ceremony which was in progress. They had a separate sheet up for swim times of all triathlon participants. I looked and it said that I had been in the water 41 minutes. That is not what they counted for my sprint time however. When they changed me over, my swim time is listed as 14:17, so I guess they just took the time from when the sprinters started, and when I got out of the water.
So the stats they have me down for are:
This was for 500m swim, 20k bike, 5k run.
Great job persevering. Several years ago, I went through a season with panic attacks swimming in open water. I tried a few things, but ultimately, really just practice swimming in open water and maintaining a sense of calm. I recommend that you work on this, and you will be fine! Still, despite all that you went through in the water, you finished! That is amazing!
Buster Britton 2012 Race Report
“A desire fulfilled is a tree of life”
Like many of my generation, I grew up watching Iron Man on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I was captivated by it and decided I wanted to do it. In 1985 I bought Scott Tinley’s book and started to train. That lasted about 2 weeks. In 2001 I decided to become a runner. That worked. Over the next 10 years I experienced injury after injury. In February, 2011, I got a stress fracture from running. While recovering I tried to bike and couldn’t. So, I tried swimming and that old desire to do a triathlon returned. Wow, what an amazing world I’ve discovered.
In June, 2011, I watched Buster Britton and committed to train for a year and do it. I hadn’t ridden a bike in about 30 years and hadn’t ever swum much.
As I searched for resources I found Ben Greenfield. His podcast, website, and other resources are the “mother lode”. Then I found the Vulcan Triathletes. They made this newbie feel so welcomed and included. One Saturday morning I was attending a free Vulcan Triathletes clinic and realized: I cannot do this alone. That led me to hire Geoffrey Gartman as my coach. This was the single best decision I made.
My typical work week is to fly out on Sunday and to fly back on Friday. For race week, I managed to fly back in on Thursday. On Friday night I had my favorite gluten free meal: Chick-fil-a’s Chargrilled and Fruit Salad.
Saturday morning I woke up at 5:00 AM. I took 1 Prostelan, 1 CapraColostrum, and 3 Extreme Endurance. Then I got dressed and hopped in the car. On the way, I drank my pre-race meal of 4 scoops of Superberry. Also, I downed my normal supplements: 1 MK-7, 2 Fish Oil, and 6 Enerprime. On the way I listened to Lace Up with Chrissie Wellington and once more visualized the race.
Note: most of the supplements I take can be found at http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/ben-recommends/.
I arrived at the race in plenty of time to get setup. I did a 5 minute warmup on the bike that included two 30 second spinups. For my run warmup, I did my usual DWU from Triathlon Magazine: http://triathlon.competitor.com/2011/12/training/your-best-10-minut.... I did not get in the water and swim liked I had planned. Next time I will do this.
30 minutes prior to the start: 1 Delta-E, 5 MAP, and Magnesium (20 sprays).
Although the swim was only my second open water swim, it went pretty well. I was frustrated that I never could seem to get into a rhythm because of all of the bodies around. Next time around I plan to swim to the outside and stay further away from the buoys. My time for the 400 yard swim was 11:30 and I excited the water not that out of breath.
T1 went pretty much as planned.
The day before the race I got a preview of the course and some good advice: “be the Prius”. The coach said “This is not the Tour de France. You are not a Ferrarri, you need to be a Prius”. Following the plan I was as efficient as possible on the uphills and pedaled through the downhills. Also, I had learned to keep my knees pulled in on the downhills so I wouldn’t wobble. One thing I did not do is use both shifters. I hadn’t done this in practice but will do this next time. One time I hit 35 MPH! I drank Infinit on the Bike. Bike split: 56:32 (13 miles).
T2 went okay as well.
The run starts off with a pretty good climb. This was tough. I started to get a side stitch early on. I didn’t panic and drank my water and Delta-E. By about 1 mile in I was starting to feel good. The rest of the run went well. I average about 11:30 per mile which is not that different than my 5K times.
As I got close to the finish, I started to sprint. I hit one gear and then another! I was flying. When I looked at my Garmin data later, I was shocked to see that I reached a 5:30 per mile pace. Wow. The feeling at the finish line was AMAZING! Exhilaration. Accomplishment. A dream fulfilled.
Total time: 1:49:06. Place: 421 out of 459. When I saw my placement (next to last in my age group), I was a little bummed. But then I heard a the Lord saying “You finished ahead of 100% of the people who didn’t try”.
Next up: Moutain Lakes Tri in Guntersville, AL on August, 11.
This group hasn't had any activity for quite a while. I find the stories interesting and will add my own updated contribution. I started tris in 1982 at the age of 39. I was a 35 minute 10ker and 3:00 hr marathoner. I also had and still race with a 1982 univega Gran premio - analog shifters on the down tube. My first race was in Olympia, WA and was a 70.3 Coors Tri. I finished 3rd in AG 35-39 in 5:12.
The next year I won Hagg Lake Olympic AG 40-44 in Portland Oregon, though I don't have a record of my time, just the medal.
My most ineresting tri was in Portland also. It was called the Tillmook Traverse. We started on the Portland Waterfront and biked 89 miles over the mountains to the coast in Tillamook, Oregon. We had a free 10 min. transition, and then ran 19 miles to a little town on the Ocean at Chehalem bay, where we swam approximatly 3/4 mile in the pacific and about 49-50 degrees. Out of the water we ran an additional 2.9 miles to the beach. My time was 8:12, my place was 1st overall - there were only 25 of us dumb enought to tri this.
Later that year I competed in the Kona Ironman and finished in 13:13, with 1:20 swim, 6:30 bike and 5 something run/walk - I had pulled a major groin muscle 2 weeks before and couldn't run if I wanted to.
After burnout, career, and other hobbies that saw me grow from 170 lbs to 225 lbs, I started a comeback about 1 year ago. I just finished my first sprint at the age of 69, 4th AG in 1:38, and weighing about 180lbs. I plan on losing another 10 lbs and racing at least 1 more sprint before moving up to Olympic. And the good news is that I no longer need to take cholesterol and blood Pressure pills, which is the real reason I started training again. I have also become a celebrity amongst friends in my community. My hat is off to all of you triathletes for your achievements.
My second race of the year was yesterday at Hagg Lake in Forest Grove, Oregon. I competed in theSprint which was .5 miles swim, 20K Bike and 5K run. There were 197 male competitors and 6 im my AG (65-69), I was the oldest at 69. I finsished the race in 1:38:48, which placed me 69th overall men and 1st in my AG -Wahooooo, I got a medal.
It was a tough race, with some strong hills in both the bike and the run. My only excitement came toward the end of the run going up a long hill, when I was passed by a guy my age (they mark your age on your right calve). The adrenalin got going and i tried to stay with him but couldn't, he finished about 45 secs in front of me. it turns out he was in the duathlon, not the tri, whew.
I have one more sprint this year on July 29, which is the NW Tri Sprint Championship Race, then I will strat working on the Olympic distance races. The swim and the bike aren't much of a challenge for me, the run is where I need most of the work.
Next race, triathlon, will be Lake Guntersville Olympic Triathlon next May. I will do a marathon in the winter.
Pre-Ironman Louisville I registered for Cozumel 2011. I completed a 35 of 36 weeks of training for it. The weekend I was to travel to Cozumel, my wife was admitted to a hospital for a complication from a gall bladder removal. She was there for 4 days and still quite ill on leaving. Cozumel was 4 days away. We had missed our flights. My bike was there, TriBike Transport, but I was not. I did not start in Cozumel. A few weeks later I began the training for Louisville.
Training I based my training on this program, http://www.trifuel.com/triathlon/training-programs/36-week-ironman-.... I added 20% to the run and biking times on the weekend as I found that the distances were too short for my liking based on completing it for Cozumel. For example, I never rode 100 miles while training for Cozumel, close but not quite. I don't regret this choice. I missed 4-8 training sessions each month, non-weekend, due to work or just exhaustion. Again, no regrets. I did a marathon, several sprint triathlons, olympic distance races, and a 70.3 along the way.
Bike crash #1: In March, I passed a women walking a dog that subsequently was yelling and clearly dealing with a strange and aggressive dog. I turned to ensure she was OK and lost control of my bike. I went skiing a week later. My left hip was hurting some, but I was still getting in my workouts and skied for 3 days. Then, on the 4th morning I couldn't walk. I was on crutches. Two torn muscles and 6 weeks of physical therapy. I was able to ride and swim like normal and as called for on the plan, but I completed run work outs on an elliptical trainer for these 6 weeks. Finally, I was all healed and did my first triathlon, an olympic distance, in May.
Bike crash #2: Four weeks before the race during a 100 mile ride while on vacation in Orlando, Fl, I crashed again. At about 80 miles, a brief rainstorm passed. While riding on wet roads, my front wheel suddenly seem to veer sharp right without warning. I was going between 18-20 mph. Down I went much like the first crash. I landed on the same hip. Both lanes of the lanes traveling the same direction as I was occupied with cars behind me. I ended my crash laying across one whole lane. All cars stopped. Many were asking me if I was OK. To which I said, "yes, I'm fine." Someone asked if I had noticed my arm which was showing some nice road rash that I was NOT aware of.
I fixed the bike, derailment, and finished the ride. I stripped off my clothes in my room, put a towel over my waist, and put ice on my hip. Then, the maid opened the hotel room door. I think she got flashed, but she, like the car load of people, was instantly worried about me and wanted to make sure I was OK. She made a point to check on me each day there after. Off to my Ironman doctor when I got home, to learn that I should heal up fine for this race if I was very careful. I was very careful!
My wife, non-competitor, and I both loved Louisville. We came up early Friday morning. We left home, Birmingham, AL, at about 3:00 am. The only sleep I got was a few hours in the car on the way as I had to work right up until time to leave the house. The week of prep and excitement around the athlete village, check-in, and such was awesome. The only real downer was the sound quality during the dinner and mandatory meeting. I enjoyed the practice swim and got nervous about prep time so skipped the underpants run, which from a fun perspective I regret. From a stress perspective, it was the right thing for me to do. I had to take my bike to transition twice as I forgot to put the number on it for the first trip. Had everything organized, bike in the rack and bags handed over by 4:30. I and 12 of my friends and family about 1/2 of which were going to the swim start ate at the "Old Spaghetti Factory". Then, it was down for sleep.
4:00 Out of bed and off to breakfast within the Galt House.
4:45 Off to transition with my friends from South Carolina (same crew from dinner). Pumped tires, dropped SNB's, and walked to the swim start. We did lose some time when I borrowed a pump from a nearby athlete, but Jon, in our group, went looking for me as he and I had agreed I would use his pump. We had one of the wives meet us with a car, but the route we thought we were going to drive was blocked, so we walked to swim start. Got marked and was surprised to see how far back I had to go to find the end of the swim start line. It was a long wait. I was well hydrated (lots of visits to the potty). Chatted, watched the sprinklers start up in different spots along the line and send folks to the dry spots. Heard the canon fire for the pros and saw them go by in the water from a break in the trees along the river bank.
7:00 Swim The line started moving and I didn't get in the water until 15 or 20 minutes later (clock said 7:13 before I got on the dock. I panicked a little in the first few hundred yards of the swim. Unfortunately, this not particularly unusual for me and I was prepared for it. I simply get out of the lane of traffic and focus on getting my wits about me and start again. It didn't take long and I was swimming in my rhythm. The water tasted awful, but I didn't think it was as warm as folks seemed to describe it. I thought it was quite comfortable. I was surprised by the amount of contact with other swimmers in the water. Mainly folks slapping and mauling me. I did run into a few. Only 1 person said I'm sorry to me. But, that's OK. I expected it and realize that it is just part of the gig. The swim went better than I expected until I started exiting the water. I broke the index toe of my right foot leaving the water. I didn't know that at the time. I only knew it hurt like hell. I pressed on. Changed my clothes and headed out on the bike.
T1 I was slow but I was being careful to make sure I got everything, applied liberal amounts of Butt'r, and completely changed clothes. The volunteers near me were awesome. They helped me keep my stuff organized and even helped me pack up as I was about to leave. Sunscreen, stop at the potty, and off I went.
The Ride Having trained in Birmingham, AL on hills that were longer and steeper than those on this course, I did not find the rolling hills particularly taxing. I also did not sense that it was particularly hot. So, for me the ride was quite pleasant. I was surprised to see as many riders with flats and other unknown issues that put them on the side of the road waiting. The folks in costumes offering encouragement brought welcome interruptions to the hunker down and ride mentality I had going on. I was very disciplined about consuming my nutrition and maintaining hydration just as a I planned (drink every 15 minutes, consume food every 30 minutes). I alternated between Stingers and GU for food and water and perform for hydration. I rewarded my self with 2 Pay Day candy bars at the 1/2 way point and the finish as planned. I added a Bonk Breaker on the course twice. I expected the last 30 miles to be significantly downhill given my interpretation of an online elevation chart before the race. I did not get the sense this was true during the ride. I derailed once and put my right foot, the one with the broken toe, down to catch my weight. This was about 60 miles. I knew then I was in for a painful run. I felt some discomfort while riding, but nothing too bad.
T2 Again, took my time made sure I sunscreened well and completely changed clothes.
The Run For the first 17 miles I ran/walked using the rest stops and mile markers as gauges. I would start walking at the beginning of an aid station and walk to the next mile marker, then run. It was a lot of walking, but my toe was reminding that I had an issue. At 17 miles, I decided that I really needed to make sure I have enough miles in the bank to ensure that even if the last few miles went horribly, I would be done before 12:00 am. I came off the bike second in the group I was there with. But, they all passed me on the run. I saw them several times. They all looked pretty good. I chatted with folks all along the route and completed a little over a mile with a nice woman named Jill Kimberlin, a fellow IAMTRI'r in this group. She was worried about her husband who was also competing. As we approached mile 21, she decided to see if she could pick it up. I didn't run much after that. I did manage to jog some here and there. After about mile 24 I was pretty much staying with a group that was all moving about the same speed. We started paying attention to the clock and I doubled checked time to make sure that my watch was not mis reporting the time.
The Finish As I rounded the last corners of the race, it was sprung into action by the enthusiasm of the fans and the prodding of a volunteer near the finish line, at least I think he was a volunteer. With passion and conviction, he reminded me that I would want to finish running, strong, and proud. So, I ran. Soon, I heard Geoffrey Gartman, my Ironman 70.3 Team-in-Training coach from 2 years ago yell, "Bob! I have been waiting for you!" I was thrilled to hear his voice. Then, I entered the chute. The people lining that chute were incredible. I don't know that I have ever felt such heartfelt positive regard from strangers. They were slapping may hand, looking me in the eye, and offering words of congratulations. Still makes me cry when I think about it. This finish line was definitely one of the most intense moments of my life. I will never forget it. As I crossed the line, my handler joined me. I said, "I'm fine aerobically, but my feet hurt like hell.". I had grown a 1/2 dollar coin sized blister on the bottom of my left foot. Yes, that meant that I got to enjoy pain on each and every foot strike for about the last 5 miles.
He grabbed my arm and made sure I was stable. He got me some water and made sure I got my medal. Then, I saw my wife. I was very happy that she was on the other side of the finish line. And, in a rare, accepting moment of grossness, she hugged me despite my sweat soaked self. I got the picture thing done, and as I exited the chute both Geoffrey and my wife, Betsy, met me. Geoffrey had to leave town in 3 hours, so he only chatted for a bit. Betsy had picked up my bike and stuff. So, there wasn't much left to do. We strolled to the convention center, got my morning clothes bad, I stuffed myself with chocolate milk and pizza. Then, off to the room. I poured a bath and laid in it for awhile. Then, I went to bed with my legs held straight. Every time I started to bend one, I could tell my hamstrings were going to cramp if I did.
Leaving Louisville I slept until 9:00 ish the next day. We took our time packing and managed to leave town around 11:00. Breakfast at a Cracker Barrel and homeward bound. On Wednesday, I visited my doctor, a fellow Ironman. She confirmed that I had a broken toe and prescribed my treatment. I have been on vacation all week and haven't done much of anything.
Thanks goes to so many people I am sure I will leave someone out. If I do, forgive me.
I am an Ironman!