With this being my 3rd 70.3half Ironman (all at Oceanside, CA) and having done 2 full Ironman races (both in Arizona) I find it interesting to see that my whole mindset has shifted. The first time I attempted each of these distances I was very emotional and happy to have finished, finishing being the biggest goal of the day. Leading up to those races everything related to it was a big deal. The goal, the training, the excitement surrounding the race, the sharing of the goal with others. And then achieving that goal was also very significant and a big deal. That is how it should be because you're going some place you've never been and you're putting everything you've got into it. All the unknowns, the challenges, the new levels of commitment and dedication.
It's not the same for me now. These events are still BIG, exciting, typcially well-run, top notch races that I put everything into preparing for. The volunteers, crowds, and participants are all pulling in the same direction, aiming to achieve things that are not easy to achieve. That's the way it should be. The difference is that after you've done one or two, your focus often changes to things that are more specific within the race. That could be a personal best finishing time, an age group placing, a trip to Kona or the 70.3 World Championships, or something else. The fact that you crossed the finish line is still significant and is always the goal.
But the thing is you've been there before. If you're not careful you can lose your perspective. Tough goals are great to have but don't forget to appreciate what you've done, even if you fall short of what you expected or hoped to do. Don't shortchange yourself. It starts to get easier and easier to take what you do for granted. Racing a 70.3 or full Ironman is an amazing experience. Be grateful that you made it to the starting line. Be happy that you finished. Appreciate the support you've received, not just at the race, but throughout your training, from family and friends and whoever else was there for you.
I am grateful for the love and support of my wife, even as she went through some really bad days this past half year. Being healthy enough to walk a few miles over the coarse of the race day, including walking more than a mile back to the cars with me, listening to my recounting of the race, is such a blessing. (Not sure how much she'd call listening to me a blessing, but you know what I'm saying!) She is very proud of her "half of an Ironman"! She's also very funny! And she is inspired for her next 6 weeks of training to do her one (and likely only) triathlon, the Iron Girl Atlanta sprint triathlon.
So when I say I'm a little disappointed with my performance, it's not about anything except falling a little short of goals. Being grateful for everything and everyone, and for getting across that finish line, still made it a great day.
What a day it was. 10 days out there were predictions of rain. Instead the weather was perfect with a low of about 60 and a high of about 70, and it was mostly overcast. Water temp felt warmer than the 59-61 it was the past 2 years but that may be because I'm more acclimated to it after doing a couple of open water swims the past 3 weeks. There was some wind out on the bike and run.
Arrived at 5am and parked about 1 mile away. Opened the van and found my aerobottle had fallen over and spilled out completely. Fortunately I had a gallon bottle of water and extra Nuun electrolyte tablets and solved the problem in a minute. Did NOT have backup for my nutrition bottle so fortunately that wasn't what spilled. For this race you bring your bike the morning of the race, riding it to transition. The transition area is very long and narrow but they have the entry and exit set up so everyone goes the same distance. Set up transition with the other geezers (55 and over). Had enough time to use the portapotty (twice!) and use my tubing with handles to warm up for the swim. There's no warmup allowed for the swim and I find that my lats start to hurt early into the swim and bug me all the way if I don't get a warm up. A few 1 minute rounds of pulling on the tubes, or doing a few pushups, really helps prevent that.
As we stood in the long shoot waiting for our wave to start, we got to see first Andy Potts and then the rest of the men including Matt Reed, Jordan Rapp, and Rasmus Henning, exit the water and run through transition to the bike. Then the women came through, including Mirinda Carfrae, Heather Wurtell, and Kate Major. Soon we waded down the boat ramp and out to the water start. Just before we started, a big sea lion (that can bite you) swam across the course. The gun, or horn, went off and 10 strokes into the start I locked arms with someone and had to pause to untangle. I swam a great line, siting frequently and weaving my way through slower people from earlier waves. Did my best to avoid contact - always feel bad for the slower swimmers having to deal with fast people coming up from behind.
Ran the long path to transition, got my stuff on, including shoes (I don't leave them in the pedals) and ran out for a running cyclocross-syle bike mount. I didn't put on arm warmers - didn't need them. I did have toe covers on my shoes and a little disposable toe heater packet under each because of the cold water. My T1 was faster by 2 minutes. The first 25 miles are relatively flat, and with a tail wind or at worst a cross wind, it was also fast for me at 21.7mph. The next 15 miles with hills and headwind averaged 16.8 mph and the final 16 miles with a few hills and more flat was 19.6mph. I've ridden the course for 3 years now and each time it's taken me 2 hours 50 min., a very frustrating fact. Aside from the headwind on the hills, not much was different. Besides getting some coaching the only other thing I can think of to do to improve is to change the cassette for this course. I've got a 12/25 and the steeper parts of this course require me to stand up and pedal at a cadence that must be as low as 40 or 50 (not exactly sure).
The volunteers, especially riding through Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base, were great this year: very helpful and enthusiastic. I never used an aid station but I did my usual shoutout request for Coors Light or Bud Light, which always got a laugh from the Marines. It would spike my HR a little but it's worth it. My nutrition worked well, although with the wind, clouds, and comfortable weather, I didn't think about drinking enough, taking in about 13 oz / hour. Just wasn't thirsty. So maybe it was just right since I didn't feel dehydrated on the bike or the run.
Because my T2 run from the dismount line to my rack was about 15 yards I didn't bother taking my shoes off while riding and leaving them in the pedals. Just like last year I had a good 2+ min. transition, which was slowed a few seconds when I realized that I'd forgotten my Fuel Belt (never used it for a tri before) after running 20-30 ft and ran back to get it. The calf muscle I'd torn 3 weeks ago held up perfectly with no problems or feelings of strain - a big relief. Just as I've done for every half and full Ironman I've done, I managed to go too hard for the first few miles. I just find it so hard to dial it back and ease into it. At least it was better in that my effort and HR were not crazy high. At mile 5 the quads started hurting. They only got worse as the miles past. I stopped at every aid station or every mile for a 20-45 second walk as I drank, took in fuel, and/or electrolytes. The exception was that I didn't stop for the first 2 or last 2 miles, pushing hard for a strong finish.
My wife was my only spectator this year, not counting anyone checking in on the ironman live website. It was great to have her there, back to exercising and getting past her breast cancer treatments. Shortly after I ran past her at the start of the run someone say my pink and white hat with the pink ribbon and yelled "breast cancer". I almost lost it, beginning to cry. But I reined it in quickly, knowing I had 12.9 miles to go.
Besides being "chicked" by many women out there I'm happy to report that I was also AKA-ed (passed by an Above the Knee Amputee.) There was also a guy running dressed as Nacho Libro, a Mexican pro wrestler, with a mask/hood and a red cape but he never caught me.
Overall 5:22:46 - 13th of 65 men 55-59, 542 of ~2400 overall (2009-5:33:53, 2010-DNF injured)
Swim 29:21 (1:32/100m. pace) - 3rd in age group, 150th overall (2009-28:42 , 2010-29:51)
T1 4:35 (2009 8:26, 2010-6:56)
Bike 2:50:49 - 17th in age group, ? overall (2009 2:50:09, 2010-2:50:10)
T2 2:21 (2009-2:20, 2010-2:09)
Run - 1:55:40 (8:50/mi pace)- 18th in age group, ? overall (2009-2:04:16, 2010-no time-injured)
mile 1and2 - 17:22 (8:41 mile pace), Heart Rate 146max/138average
mile 3 - 8:48, HR144/136
mile 4- 8:31, HR143/138
mile 5 - 8:38, HR141/137
mile 6 -8:32, HR142/139
mile 7 - 8:39, HR143/140
mile 8 - 9:10, HR143/136
mile 9 - 9:15, HR140/136
mile 10 - 9:10, HR142/136
mile 11and12 - 18:04 (9:02), HR143/137
mile 13 - ~8:40 (doesn't include the extra .1 mile), HR155/147