I woke up to the sound of my phone alarm and got out of bed, thanking the ear plugs for helping me get a good nights rest. I got ready and went down to eat oatmeal, a banana and a piece of toast with peanut butter. The plan was to meet my cousin Rob Johnston at 5:15 at the park, so I was already running late as it was 5 a.m. I got all my kit in the truck, spilled oatmeal on my foot running out the door trying to balance a water bottle, my phone, my wallet, keys, a banana, and the bowl of oatmeal. I missed a step and oatmeal went all over. I got in the car and I was off, too bad there wasn’t any good music on that early in the morning, even NPR was a rebroadcast. I ended up listening to a Spanish station that was sort of rocking out. I got to the park and was pleased to see Aaron directing traffic in the parking lot – that guy does it all!
I rode my bike to transition to save myself a good spot, then went back to get my kit.
The bathroom situation was already looking rough, the lines were gathering and I had to go. My stomach gave me problems that whole day. My only suggestion for improvement on the whole race is that they have more port-o-potties at the transition area – since a lot of the athletes are going to use them before the race starts.
I set up my transition stuff and chatted with all the great folks around me. My cousin Rob and I were set up together and spent the morning getting things ready, and psyching ourselves up for the swim. It was fun talking to all the other athletes and seeing and sharing in their excitement and anxiousness. The fellow next to me had his wetsuit on inside out, and we all knew how he felt – pre-race brain crash. It’s a good thing he got it sorted out, otherwise he would have never gotten his zipper undone if he swam with it like that. Aaron called for everyone and started giving his instructions after a while the crowd got restless, but I knew that his speech was coming so I stayed with it. Then Aaron gave his prep rally speech which was just awesome. He threw the clipboard down and we were pumped.
After the speech I got in the water and warmed up. I’m always surprised at how many people don’t get in the water, that was lesson one – get your heart rate up by swimming around before the race. I really enjoyed being in a sleeveless suit, made life much nicer for me. I watched the two waves go ahead of me and then swam to the starting line. My heart was racing, but I was really focused on keeping my head calm and not freaking out.
SWIM – 44:50
The horn sounded and off I went, I focused on long arm strides and getting away from other swimmers. The goal was to keep myself in rhythm and not get clobbered. I got around the first lap and was really happy with my swim, the second lap had a few moments where I thought – my arms feel tired. I told myself they were fine, with all the swimming training I’d done I knew I could do the distance. Rounding the turn after the second lap, I wanted the exit ramp to be right there, but nope. We had to swim back to the start. Everyone around me kept popping up looking for the exit, but with the sun in your face there wasn’t much to see except for arms reaching up and splashing down in the water in the direction we had to go. I was just hoping that I didn’t make a wrong turn. After a long time I looked up and there was the ramp two feet away. I carefully stood up and used the helpers to get out of the water and up the ramp. I was really pleased with my swim, I didn’t freak-out – that’s a first.
T1 – 2:28
I ran to T1 and I had beat my cousin and that was awesome. I got the suit off, got the shoes and socks on, helmet glasses, packed Gu, and was off. On to the bike.
BIKE – 2:50:41
I was really focused on keeping my heart rate low and keeping as much energy for the run as I could. I kept my pace at 19-20mph, though I could have pushed it, I played safe. My cousin Rob passed me around mile 10. I could have rode with him, but I was riding my race. I had a gu every 7 miles and drank just enough to finish a bottle at turnaround. As I came to West Mountain I was pretty much on pace with the fellow next to me. “27” was on his leg. We rotated back and forth and after turn around we started chatting. Ryan was from Las Vegas, it was his first Half just like me. The whole rest of the ride we kept each other going. I would take point then he would take point, it was a lot of fun and we were really on the same pace so a lot of side by side riding but keeping enough distance to be legal. Oh did I have to pee though – two water bottles had been consumed.
T2 – 1:58
We got to transition and I ran to my spot, got the shoes off, got the other shoes on, took a bite of a protein bar and was out of transition. The protein bar was a bad, bad idea. Dry chocolate protein all over my mouth and I needed to wash it down.
RUN – 2:33:45
I ran to the first aid area got a few drinks and repented of eating a protein bar (never again). The run started out just as I suspected, slow and arduous. I was working my way on the first out and back when I saw Rory Duckworth and knew that he was on lap 2 of the run – awesome! I still had to pee but there wasn’t a good duck and hide spot, so on I went. When I got to the “long hot road”, I finally peed and boy that was great. Another fellow pulled off and we saluted each other in our time of relief. I really enjoyed the run, sure it was HOT, felt long, and I was so slow. The energy and camaraderie of the other athletes, the high fives, and encouragement was just fun to be a part of. The aid stations were great! I got the first lap done and saw my family and was really happy to see them, had a split second of over emotion but caught myself. I ran past them – if you can call it that – and prepared myself for the heat of lap 2. Oh lap 2, curse you! I got slower and slower. I felt for the folks working on their first lap. My cousin Rob wasn’t too far ahead of me and Ryan (from the bike) was just behind me. I started having a lot of stomach problems, and I’d have to walk until the intestinal cramps passed, then I’d run again. Every aid station was great (said that twice now). The last 2 miles were pretty hard. My pace was way off and the stomach was going to explode. I knew I was close so I just kept going. At mile 13, I was ready for the grand finish but I knew I wasn’t really that close, I was still in the trees by the river. At 13.6 the finish finally came. I hit the grass and ran. I had done it. I knew my run time would kill me, but I had finished. I ran through the tunnel and raised my hands high. Aaron gave me a shout out and I gave my cousin a hug.
My final time was 6:13. I’m still pleased with my effort and my race overall. I had a great time and that afternoon I was contemplating a full Ironman. Oh there’s a lot to improve on, especially in my run, but for my first Half I’m very happy. My thighs were sore most of the second lap and my body didn’t want to move for quite a while after the race. I probably had 20 cups of Winder recovery milk. (the bathroom was my first stop and I felt for the guy in the stall next to me throwing up – a lot!). That afternoon I was just glowing with pride and the IBUprofen was doing a lot of talking. Overall I’m very pleased, love the metal, and thought the whole event was awesome.