Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bring The Pain

I completed the Patriots Half for my second half Iron distance triathlon and it was a classic. The Patriots Half? On September 11th? The setting was ideal, and ripe for a nice PR. Unfortunately, I was running the Patriots half. Results:

1. Don't die
2. Break 3 hours on the bike split
3. Break 6 hours total time

1. Sucess! basic survival was achieved.
2. Fail. 3:08:45
3. Epic Fail. 6:55:54

Swim 1.2 miles: 54:06 321/360 men, 71/81 AG
T1: 6:50 354/360, 76/81
Bike 56.5 miles: 3:08:45 303/360, 66/81
T2: 4:09 322/360, 68/81
Run 13.1 miles: 2:42:05 330/360, 75/81
Overall 70.3 miles: 6:55:54 328/360, 72/81 including 2 DNF's

Williamsburg is known for having a great outlet mall. I found a gem at the Converse outlet store:

The red socks came with the race packet. We got into town Friday night and it is a really cool place. The College of William and Mary is there. It's a very old college with regal buildings and a cool campus.

The town of Williamsburg is very historic. We'd love to come back for a family vacation sometime. It would be really cool to come with someone who was a history major.

Does anybody know what this is?

We've been calling it Brain Fruit because it looks like a brain. Or maybe a moldy orange. Anyway it's hard and I'd love to know what the heck it is. We picked up a couple at the packet pickup to take back for the girls to play with. They loved 'em! Just being weird and bumpy is enough to keep them entertained.

The race packet had a great tech shirt, the red socks above for the Virginia Triathlon Series from SetupEvents, a race belt and plenty of other good swag. We headed back to the hotel to power down for the big race. The race director was saying how fast the second half of the bike course was, how we were going to be swimming with the current..... I was really feeling good ready to get a nice PR and meet my goal times. The weather looked good with a high of 81 and sunny skies.

Race Day:

We got up at 5:00, rolled for breakfast and got out the door. Turns out that wasn't quite early enough. I got my chip and got bodymarked before ever making my way into the transition area. Thank goodness I did. Right after I found my rack the guy on the microphone said that TA was closing in FOUR minutes??? Whoah, I only had 4 minutes to get all of my stuff setup and make my way to the swim start. I threw together what I could, hit up some suntan lotion and that was all.

I actually left TA without my chip, then had to run back in, strap on the timing chip, and head out while carrying the wetsuit, cap & goggles. We had to walk to the swim start, and I thought that walk was a bit short. It only took about 10 minutes to get there. And while that doesn't sound like a short walk, I knew where the swim finish was and that was too close.

The Swim: 1.2 miles: 54:06 321/360 men, 71/81 AG

The swim was brutal. Absolutely the most difficult swim I've ever had in a race or not. Even more difficult than the Festival of Flowers oly swim where I threw up a few times. I've covered 2 miles in the pool in 1:17, so 54 minutes for only 1.2 miles is pathetic.

I still looked happy here. We did all the normal prerace stuff, prayer, national anthem, but there was also a moment of silence for the 9/11 remembrance. I noticed plenty of military people among the athletes too. Very cool.

Dang, that dude looks mean. He's ready to kick some ass.

The weather was perfect. The crowd was all amped up, the river seemed calm. The sun was shining and temps were still in the high 60's. It did turn out to be a wetsuit legal race, so I was suited up. As of Friday it was still not wetsuit legal.

The cool thing in this picture? The chick on the right looking my way. Guess what I'm doing? If you said pissing in the wetsuit, you'd be right! I really had to pee before it was time to get in the water but had no time to hit the port-a-let. Normally you just let loose when you get in the water, but it was so shallow. We weren't even waist deep for the starting line. So I got out to about knee deep and got comfy.

Here you can see the start of my wave - the green caps. We walked the first couple of minutes just aquajogging until it got deep enough to start swimming. That was kind of strange.

Here's where it started to go really wrong. Other people were swimming too. Actually in the far top right of this picture you can kind of see a yellow triangle bouy. It was about a half mile out and we had to swim diagonally against the current into the current.


And it sucked too. It was the first time I found myself in the washing machine. I got kicked in the head. I have never accidentally grabbed that many men's asses before. One dude actually pushed me aside for swimming too close to him. I swam over a couple of chicks too, which means the waves that started after me caught up and passed me before hitting the first turn. I got way off course, did a lot of breast stroke, even puked once. First time I've done that this year. freaking rough.

It took me about 35 minutes just to get out there. Once I made that left hand turn it took about 5 minutes to make it the 0.2 miles to the next triangle bouy then it was half a mile cross-ways against the current again! At least this time it wasn't too active of a fight. Maybe 15 minutes to get back to the shore.

Holy crap! That wife of mine does have an eye for candy.

Once we got out of the water there was a really long run from the sandy beach on the river across grass to get up to the TA. There was this one really strange hill to climb up, so these pics are supposed to show how steep the hill was and how many people were coming out of the water before me.

Yea, how many people were getting out of the water now? DUDE I was at the end of the line. That's ok though. My main focus is getting the sub 3 hour bike split.

T1: 6:50 354/360 men, 76/81 age group

I came, I got out of the wetsuit, threw on the bike shoes and helmet and got the heck out of there. Ok, I did take a bit of time to regroup mentally. I didn't get the time before the start to tape any gels to the top bar of Roberta like I prefer to have, so I counted gels and made sure everything was right before heading out.

Bike 56.5 miles: 3:08:45 303/360 men, 66/81 age group

I kind of kicked ass here. Not as much as I hoped, but still asses were kicked. That is the highest age group and overall placements I achieved. Goal was to break 3 hours. I was freaking determined to break 3 hours. I missed it by 8 minutes.

Get ready.......

Get set......


I was starting from the back of the pack thanks to that torture swim. That meant there was a lot of slow people in front of me. I only got passed by three people. I passed maybe 30 people total.

Know This: If I can see you on the bike, I will pass you. Balls out.

Also Know This: The wildflowers in coastal Virginia are beautiful this time of year. Balls tucked again.

This was supposed to be a fast course. I've really been rolling out the bike miles in preparation for this leg. I'm ready to roll and roll strong. I knew at the start that the first half was not as fast as the second half. It was supposed to be flat/false flat/rolling hills until mile 34, then "you will take off like a rocket" according to the race director.

Now we've all been on courses where sometimes you feel like the wind is at your back and there's a slight downhill, so you can just coast your way to 23 mph. That's the way the first 25 miles of the Tarwheel Century ride was. And the B2B bike was a lot like that too. Fast 21-23 mph going out and a headwind coming back. So this time I was pretty excited to have it be the other way around.

It was not the other way around. I was pushing pretty hard at first to keep up 18 mph. Spent plenty of time at 16 mph (my typical group ride speed). it felt like a false flat slight uphill the whole first 20 miles or so. There was one slight downhill where I got up to about 21 mph, but that was short. too short.

There were hills in miles 25 - 34. Rollers and some steepish climbs. I kept it in the big chainring the whole time, but had to really push to get up some of those hills.

Mile 34 came and here comes the rocket. It lasted about half a mile before it went right back to the false flat uphill into the wind. it was a nice half mile. But it was time for me to start pushing again when I was really hoping I wouldn't have to push that hard.

This is when the mental aspect of triathlon really kicks in. I knew I still had sub 3. I pushed for sub 3. I went through all of the mental mantras: You've got sub 3. You are strong enough. You've got the fuel left, get sub 3. You can push this, get sub 3. Climb that hill, get sub 3. Pass this guy, get sub 3. Get out of that saddle and get sub 3. I thought at 2:45 that I still had it.

Here comes that last hill. The RD said a strong cyclist could take it in the big chainring, so by God I was going to. I came out of the saddle and passed 3 people going up that hill. It was a bridge in mile 52. Once I saw it was a bridge I knew I could take it and it was going straight downhill after the crest. So I could ride that extra speed back to the TA and get my sub 3!! Then I got stuck in 18 mph again just like for the whole rest of the ride and I was having to push again. I pushed it all the way in.

The garmin said 3:04 when I got back on some cart path to head back to TA. To tell the truth, I was pretty dissapointed at the time. I knew I had given my best effort and left it all out there. Sometimes the wind or the course just isn't in your favor. The course was beautiful. There was a ton of farmland and blooming wildflowers. So when the results come in and I missed my primary goal time by eight minutes I can live with that. Not happily, but I can certainly live with it.

T2: 4:09 322/360 men, 68/81 age group

Off with the bike shoes and helmet, grab the visor and running shoes and let's head out for a half marathon. Still got a couple of gels? yep, lets' roll. I also drank all of the water I had left in my transition bag. I knew I was a bit dehydrated from the bike, I just didn't drink enough.

Run 13.1 miles: 2:42:05 330/360 men, 75/81 age group

This guy made it out first for your viewing pleasure. Kelley loves the eye candy. Can't say I blame her!

On the other side of that spectrum, before the first mile marker I got passed by a 64 year old dude who farted less than 10 feet in front of me after passing. It was loud and I laughed.

It was a 2 loop run course. Here I'm coming back in from the first loop. I put so much into the bike that there was absolutely nothing left in the gas tank to run with. You can see that my head is down already and I'm just pushing forward.

Boy I'm glad to see the end of that first loop. 6 miles in and I'm halfway dead. I mean done.

The run course was awesome! It was just a cool course. Two loops, started out through this field, then it was off to a paved greenway as the stem of a lollipop. The pop was all gravel trail through a park. So there were no roads to run on! There was a small bit of open sidewalk but most of the course was shaded, which was good since temps were climbing into the 80's.

Headed back out for loop #2.

The next time I come back here I'm headed straight to the finish line.

There was a lot of walking. Miles of walking. There were 18 aide stations on the 13.1 mile course. So my original strategy was to run between the aide stations, and I thought I would be ok without having to complete a single straight mile. I took in tons of fluids at each station, 2 waters and a heed and sometimes a gel. But running between the aide stations soon turned into running to "that tree", or until the garmin rolled up to the next mile marker (never more than .2 miles) and I was struggling to get there.

This is where pain management kicked in. I had no advil or electrolytes like I normally keep with me on a marathon. And there was lots of pain. My feet and legs were killing me. at 60 miles I wanted to get fat. like biggest loser contestant fat. By mile 65 I was ready to start smoking again. At mile 68 I was contemplating the difference mentally between realizing that you were doing something that could actually kill you and wanting to die.

I'm being facetious of course, but those last miles were tough. Dealing with the pain was not fun. Emotionally and mentally I had to push myself into places that I don't like to go. But on the other side of that was this:

The fist pump crossing the line. That other guy didn't do it.

Hey, where's my coffin?

I got the finishers medal and three bottles of water and found a spot in the shade to sit down. It just happened to be on the hub of a Reddy Ice trailer. Catch my breath, rehydrate. Let that feeling like I just cheated the grim reaper go away and let the recovery process start.

You don't really know yourself until you really push yourself beyond any acceptable limits. I mean really push what you think you can do into accomplishments that are measurable and seem impossible. that is what happiness looks like.

Pretty soon I was smiling again. I felt fat all day in that suit. Notice how low I had the zipper down trying to keep cool while I was running. Boy that medal felt great. I actually had sweat so much that salt crystals formed on my arms! Couldn't get a good picture of that though.

They goofed on the medal! Can you see what's wrong?

it only felt like a 13.1 mile swim.

Check out those tan lines baby! That's a badge of honor. Finishing in 6:55, almost an hour slower than I was mentally expecting was tough. Getting that funny burn is going to be tough for a few more days.

Overall this was a great race and a fantastic weekend. I can't wait to go back to Williamsburg just for fun. As for racing.......


Unknown said...

Great job pushing through. Congrats.

And can you imagine if it actually *had been* a 13.1 mile swim?

Sun Runner said...

Brain fruit = osage orange.

(nerd alert)

Wes said...

Where's my coffin?

HAHAHA! That's too funny :-) This effort reminds me so much of my race in Maryland. I'm a strong swimmer, but when you get out of the water 10+ minutes slower than what you planned... well, it can be disheartening.

The flip side of that is going for sub-3 on the bike is fine, but your run is going to suck. I did 2:54 in Maryland and of course, my run sucketh!

Great job out there, CJ! One would think that Ironman is twice the pain, but its not. You reach that threshold where you just keep going and it doesn't get any worse. Enjoy your down time!! We'll be seeing you around...

Jess said...

Congrats on a great race CJ! I cracked up when I saw the picture of the medal on FB. I was like hmm pretty sure that's not right!

You did a great job and really pushed yourself! Way to go!

Sun Runner said...

Oh yeah, your medal says "half triathlon." Oops.

Heather @ Side of Sneakers said...

Congrats on the great race! Acheiving goal #1 was by far the most important ;) Haa love the medal mishap!

Mike Russell said...

They called it a half triathlon. It is a half iron distance, but in no way a half triathlon.

Wel called those horse apples growing up. They were great to throw into neighbor's pools.

Great work on the race John. I will say this again, you put in a great effort and should be happy to were able to push through the rough spots. Way to be man.

Tony Bowles said...

Great job! You showed mental toughness pushing through the pain like that for so long.

Al's CL Reviews said...

Excellent Report! Great job on pushing through. Mental Toughness!

B. Kramer said...

You look wrecked! Great job though, even if you were a bit off target. Cheers!

Calyx Meredith said...

Well done! Way to dig deep and stick it out! I wish you were doing B2B with us. You'll get that sub 3 on the bike next time!

Oh - and we always called those things either mock oranges or beau d'arc trees (though someone told me it's really bois d'arc which makes more sense in French). They're pretty cool. My grandaddy used the cut up timbers of one to make a raggedy fence and the posts all ended up growing into trees!

RockStarTri said...

Sometimes you learn more about the races that don't meet your expectations. I'm sure you've learned some stuff that will help you next year in your ironquest. I mean besides wifey's phtotgraphic search for the beefcake.

Tyger Lily said...

OMG John, not only are you the SHIT but you are a riot! And your wife, she DOES like the eye candy! LOL And so do your readers ;-) Congrats on your balls out effort and finishing!

Havs said...

Nice job bud! And nice race report, as always.

triblog carol said...

Awesome race report. You did really great. My first half I was pushing really hard for a sub 3 hour bike, and did not get it either. But I was still great and so are you! Keep up the good work. And tell your wife to keep the eye candy coming :-)

Badgergirl said...

Nice job pushing through a tough race! And I think I would die if I had to swim 13.1 miles. Yikes!

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