Today was finally the big day. I woke up at 4am and started getting ready. I ate some bananas and drank some protein shake and gatorade. Shari, Mom, Dad and I all showered and packed the car to head over to Clinton Park.
When we got there, I got everything set up at T2 and then made my way to T1. It was a split transition today, which was new to me. It was very different to have my gear in 2 separate spots but it worked out pretty well.
At about 6:30, the professional men started and and I was just finishing some of my preparation. As we progressed closer to 7:14, I lined up in the chute to get ready to start. They let us in the water around 7:10 and we had to swim a short distance to the start, where we had to tread water before the started. When they blew the horn and I started swimming, I realized it was probably going to be one of the choppiest swims ever. I was able to use this to my advantage though. At the top of the waves, I was able to look straight ahead and see the buoys. I also counted the buoys before I got in the water so I was able to have a pretty good idea of where I was and how much longer I had. This was probably one of my best open water swims yet. I am glad I spent 15-20 minutes practicing my sighting at Longview Lake last weekend. My official swim time was 45:06.
I got out of the water and headed for my bike in transition 1. I put on my race belt and realized that it weighed more than ever due to the amount of gu's that were in it. I had to stop and tighten the belt before I could leave transition, otherwise the belt would have been waited down so much that it would have been around my ankles.
The start of the bike ride was some gradual hills to climb out of the park. It took about 5 miles before I got out and was on public roads. The wind was blowing between 15-25 mph from the SSE. The start of the course went SSW so I had a pretty tought head wind or crosswind. I really like the aid stations on the bike. I was able to slow down to 10-15 mph to grab a water bottle and dump it in my Aquacell water holder. Then I grabbed some Ironman Perform Sports drink. It was so awesome to have this access at all times. The miles from 35-40 were the hardest part of the entire race. There were a lot of rolling hills as well as the head wind. When I made that turn, it felt great and I was able to cruise near 30 mph. The hills were great today. I never really felt slow up a hill and passed a lot of people that werent well trained for hills like that. My total time was 2:58:37.
Transition 2 didnt go as well as hoped. I accidentally missed my row to drop off my bike, so I had to backtrack a little bit. I dropped my bike off, changed my socks, put on my shoes and running hat and took off. On the way out of transition I stopped and had some of the volunteers put suncreen on my neck and shoulders. It was awesome that they had this available for us.
Then I took off for the run. I had pretty good idea that my run was going to be slow and get hotter as the day progressed. I started off mile 1 and 2 pretty strong. I ran then both under 9 minute miles. At the mile 1 aid station though, one of the girls was giving out coca cola a dI didn't hear what she said it was, so I grabbed soem and gulped it down. I didn't make that mistake again the rest of the run. The start of mile 3 was basically he start of the only real hill on the course. I definitely slowed down a little and that ended up being my new pace for a while. Meanwhile, I was hitting every aid station for water, gu, perform and ice in my hat. I walked through some aid stations to get everything I needed and fill my hat up with ice to keep me cool. It worked really well and even though it was hot, I never really felt overheated. At the end of the first 6.5 mile loop, I was still feeling good but slowing getting slower. My last 6.5 miles were all just over 10 minute miles and I continued the same strategy, as I fueled the entire way at every station. My offical time was 2:06:33.
My goals for today were a 45 minute swim, sub 3 hour bike ride, sub 2 hour run and sub 6 hour half iron man. I accomplished all of this except the sub 2 hour run. My total time for the day was 5:56:36. I placed 45/95 in my age division and 316/808 in the men's category. To be in the top 50% of both is pretty awesome. I also beat today's course average by nearly 30 minutes! The average time was 6:23:46.
Some of the best parts of the day were the support I got from everyone that came out to watch. My dad, mom, Shari, Colleen, Karen and Kevin all came out for the start of the swim. I saw pretty much all of them at the end of the swim and as I was leaving the transition area to head out for 3 hours of riding. When I got back, they were all there again and I THINK I heard Reed as well although I never actually saw him. I know he was there though, Kevin vouched for him :). As I started the run, it became very apparent that they were going to be able to see me almost everywhere on the course. My dad ran along side in the grass for at least 8 miles of the race just asking me how things were going and such. It was pretty fun to have someone doing some coaching as you are running. Then I would hear Kevin and Shari yelling at the top of their lungs as I started to approach one of their spectating spots. As I approached I would always see my mom and Karen with them as well, taking pictures and cheering me on. Kevin probably had one of the best comments of the day when he said that I was the only person he saw running instead of walking up the big hill. I told myself a long time ago, I was never going to walk during any of my runs and no matter how much I wanted to today, I refused to walk and finished strong up the hill.
When I was all done, everyone was there to greet me, including Joe from work and his wife. Joe, for some crazy reason, agreed to receive a big sweaty hug, while everyone else tried to stay as far away as possible. I laid down, stretched my legs, ate some food and got a massage before leaving. It was a pretty long day and I was probably more exhausted than I had ever been before. It was definitely one of the absolute hardest things I have ever done and I have no plans to do another or consider going to a full. At this point, I think Olympic Distance triathlons are the best for me.