The Fat Slow Triathlete completed the race that has been dogging him for a year.
Did he do it as well as he had hoped? No … it was slower that he wanted it to be … but there was some good … actually LOTS of good mixed in with the challenges … so overall it was a success …
OK … no more third person … 🙂
The weekend started late on Friday night, checking into the Hilton Bayfront about 10 PM. We snacked on cheese and fruit and decided to sleep early since the next day. I have to say about the Hilton that I was a bit disappointed. There were many good things (the rooms, etc.) but some of the features that should be there (bellman, valet parking) were not. Something you should expect for room almost $200 a night.
Saturday, April 28th
We got up in the morning and headed to Spa Beach to get a practice swim in. The TNT information stated that the beach would be open for practice from 8:00 to 9:15, and we did get there late but figured that it was the beach and we could still get in a swim.
We started wading into the water only to be stopped by a pseudo lifeguard telling us that the beach was closing in 3 minutes. Jennifer asked her if there was somewhere else we could swim and she said “maybe, but you have to talk to the race director”.
So dejected we headed back to the car thinking we could maybe run at least, where we ran into Coach Gene. We told him what happened, and he said “It’s America … they can’t tell you that you can’t swim” and he told us that it was probably a TNT thing and to go swim anyway. We had wet-suits on that covered our TNT gear, so we headed back down and saw others swimming. What the hell.
Long story short, we got a 20 minute swim in. As you can see from the picture, the ocean was VERY calm. In face I cannot remember ever seeing Spa Beach look like this. Either a good sign or a bad. We followed that with a 20 minute run, then headed back to the room to grab lunch and wait until gear check started. Another issue with the Hilton is that is was half a mile from the race site. Long walk before a race, but very long after. We found that out later.
After lunch we grabbed our bikes and headed to the gear check in and Expo. We met up with Kate and Matt outside the hotel and headed down together, losing Jennifer along the way, but meeting back up again in front of the registration tent. Registration went smoothly (except for later when Jennifer discovered they had not given her a swim cap which led to panic attacks), we walked the next 4/10 of a mile to bike check in, said good-bye to our cherished rides, then headed back to the Expo. The sad thing is about having a year of this under the belt is that you don’t really NEED anything, so we cruised around and checked out somethings, but decided to head back to the room (another 5/10 mile) to rest before the inspiration dinner at 6:00.
The dinner was very nice and had a GREAT talk by Dave Scott. I am posting it to YouTube, so do a check for Dave Scott TNT and you’ll see it by tonight, if interested. I learned my lesson from last year and kept it very clean; chicken breast, salad, and grilled squash. After eating and celebrating we headed to the room and fell asleep pretty early. I woke up every hour or so, but when the alarm went off at 4:30am I actually felt pretty good and was out of bed quickly. The nerves from last year were not there, at least not at the level they were last year. I knew I had put in the time and was ready, so it was just a matter of getting to the race site, getting set up, and getting started.
We walked (again another 5/10 mile) and got our transitions done early without the team so that Jennifer could get the swim cap situation taken care of (which was very simple).
The Swim (43:44)
I headed out with my group and waited for the horn to blow. The swim was wet suit legal, which did make me calmer, and it was nice that it was a swim start, because the minute or so spent floating at the first buoy went a long way to acclimating myself to the water, temperature, and calming down and relaxing. By the time the horn blew my face hit the water and I was off.
I found my rhythm very quickly, worked to the outside, found a few swimmers to my right that were close to my pace, and just ket sighting off them. I would do 5 breaths then peak for the buoy, which worked very well. In looking at the GPS track on Garmin my lines were really straight, which I was happy with.
The swim course was built so that you spent the first quarter of it hugging a shoal and in pretty calm water, then you went through a goal post set of buoy’s and turned left into the unprotected bay and the seas responded. Not only did the seas get rougher, since everyone had to go through the goal post, swimmers congregated and massed up. Where I had open areas all around me before, I was now being bumped and jostled. But I didn’t panic, I stopped swimming, looked around, saw there was an opening to the left, and went face down to the open area. It was working find until I felt someone GRAB my foot. I thought maybe there was some sign in swimming that I was missing, like an “on your left” in the bike, so I slowed up to let them go around. They grabbed my foot AGAIN. Ok, three times is my limit, so when they swam up beside me they received an elbow into the ribs. That’s when I noticed it was a female. Oh well. Stop grabbing me!
I hit the end of the swim in really good shape. I wasn’t tired, I had my legs on me, I panicked in no place during the whole thing. I was :10 slower per 100 then my normal pool time, but I was holding back on purpose to stay calm, so I think I can push harder next time.
The Bike (1:33:00)
I felt very tight in my legs right from the start of the leg, especially in my left quad. Something new as I am never tight in my legs, but I just shifted down and spun through it until it loosened up. I was upset that I was being passed ALOT and was really passing no one, but I know I was trying to maintain some thing in the tank for later so just raced my race and tried not to pay attention to speed.
At about mile 13 the outside of my feet started aching. This has happened before on training rides but I managed to work through the discomfort and they loosened up, but this time it got worse and worse, that by the time I hot mile 20 I was considering getting off the bike and working the cramps out. I pushed though it but need to ask KC about why this happened and how to prevent it in Haines City.
When I reached the dismount line my feet were hurting so badly that I was wondering if I could run. So I walked the bike to my spot to see if it would work themselves loose. I had injured my foot prior to Disney Wine and Dine and it felt exactly the same. I took my time in transition, got my running shoes on, got some fluids in me, and walked through the run start. It started feeling better after about a quarter mile so started into my 1:1 splits.
Not so fast, says my legs.
I had NOTHING in them. They would not run.
OK….I have had this happen before. Just walk it out a bit more, don’t push it, your legs will come back to you normally at 1/2 mile.
But they didn’t ….
I ended up walking almost 1.3 miles before they felt ok to run. By that time my overall pace goal was shot, so I relaxed and just ran my splits. The run was HOT but they had water stops every mile, and some actually had ICE in the water cups. They did a great job, but it was the people through the run that reminded me of why I have grown to love this sport.
The fellow runners, especially the fellow TNT people from teams across the country, yelling out encouraging “Go Team”‘s and “You Got This”. It makes you feel a part of something. The people that live along the route make this race so great though. They set up impromptu water stops, played music for us, and stood by with hoses and sprinklers to douse us down as we ran by. They ROCKED!
I have to mention also that as I was running I glanced up at a woman running the other way pointed at me and yelled “Hey! Is your name John??”. I said “Yeah”, and she says “I follow your blog!”.
What the …. ????
I have no idea who this was, but if you’re reading this please know that was a pleasant surprise. I know people locally that read it but I had no idea others read it as well. I hope it’s enjoyable to you, and please let me know who you are! LOL
I ended the race strong, with Jenny meeting me for the chute run (after releasing me into the chute she tripped and face planted, which made me stop of course, and her yelling at me from the ground “Keep Running God Dammit!!!” but I will let her write bout that herself). I finished at 4:02:50, which was MUCH slower than my goal, but after looking at my times from last year it is about a 35:00 improvement so I will take that.
I have made many leaps over the past year, and I know that I will keep improving. I am getting good advice from friends and coaches (both online and in person). I have the support I need to keep going. My swim was the biggest obstacle, and hopefully that is now behind me. I know I can do the swims, so now I can start working on the other areas I need to work on (running off the bike, more time in the saddle, etc.).
This is just the first of the 2012 season, which by the end will see the completion of two Half Ironman races as well. I will turn 50 next year in September, and two months after that the plan is to attempt the full Ironman distance.
After that, who knows …. the journey continues.