Ironman 70.3 California 2014–Race Report

WP_20140329_14_03_27_ProWell I finished!  That’s what is important when the day is done.  They say that the training is the hard part of the journey and the race is the reward.  I guess I didn’t fully understand it till I hit the run.  When I signed up for this race a year ago I was 275lbs give or take and I had just done my first triathlon in 3 years the ITU San Diego at a little over 280lbs.  I didn’t think I could even do a Half Ironman.  It was a goal that I set that at that time seemed impossible but I had to try.  My goal signing up was to aim high and just finish the race.  I didn’t care how long it took me to do it, I just wanted to finish.  I wanted to achieve my goal of completing a Half Ironman before the cut off time.  In fact, I didn’t even know there was a cut off time.  With the help of the Triathlon Club of San Diego (TCSD) and their members I was able to get the training I needed and join in on their many free workouts.  It’s a privilege to live in such a great city and have such great support from the TCSD.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support me and the other triathletes and thank you to all the volunteers who help make this race awesome.  So without further delay here is the report.

Race Report: Lead up
Weather this time of year is crazy and the week before the race was dark and rainy and cold.  So I was a bit worried about having to race in cold and rainy.  Thankfully it died that Friday and it was sunny skies.  Friday my family came down from Thousand Oaks to come watch me race.  This is a huge thing for me having them there for the support.  I’m glad to see that they get to see me out there being active and accomplishing my goals.  Friday evening we kept dinner simple at Luna Grill and I got everything finalized for my race and set to go   The excitement, anxiousness, nervousness, and confidence was all a melting pot for me head.

Race Morning:
I was up early ate my whole grain, almond butter, and banana sandwich at 4 with some water and then proceeded to get everything packed in the car and on the way up to the venue.  I didn’t worry about my nutrition at all which was a huge thing for me coming into a longer endurance race than a sprint or Olympic Distances.  Thankfully my coach Julie Dunkle really got us well prepared with what works for us and how plan for our race.  Had my Swedish Oat Starch Protein shake around 6:00 which was supposed to be 1.5 hours before my race start.  Either way I got down to the venue and marked up my T2 with my chalk and off to T1.  I had my sister along helping me out and I unfortunately had to ditch her to make sure I got my stuff setup in time.

The Swim: 00:31:42
This swim is without a doubt my strongest leg but unfortunately you can’t win in the swim but you can lose.  My wave for some reason was at 7 instead of 7:36 so I was off to the water 30 minutes before I was expecting but it was fine.  I warmed up on my swim out to the start buoy which is about a good 50 yards to the start.  I should have seeded myself closer to the start line but this was a 70.3 I expected to have some faster swimmers up here (BIG MISTAKE).  Finally got relaxed a bit and then the horn goes off and we start swimming.  I must have been behind the slow people because I spent a lot of energy getting through a lot of the other guys.  Finally after the first red buoy I found a good rhythm and then shortly after is when I started swimming up into the waves that went ahead of me.  Had to swim around and over a few other swimmers (I’m sorry).  The water temp felt great even at 60 degrees.  During the 30 minutes I’d love to tell you that I was thinking about something but to be honest I wasn’t thinking of a damn thing I was just swimming enjoying the moment.  As I sighted and saw the boat docks I picked up the pace and got out of the water strong.

T1:
Unlike the Life Time Tri they had carpet through the entire transition run so I didn’t kill my feet.  I jogged through T1 to bring my HR down.  I took my time in T1 since I knew I had a bit more things to do for a 56 mile bike, like put on socks!  It was nice to not have to hurry.

The Bike: 03:02:13
The bike as most know is an easy first half that’s fast and mostly flat with the back half being filled with 3 hills.  I’ve been through the first half several times and I’ll be going through many more times.  The back half though I didn’t get a chance to drive through with a car at any point so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I thought about that as I was going through the first half all the time.  I faced the challenge and I didn’t stop on the first unforgiving hill.  I spun up with like a kid on a bike at times going from side to side.  I kept telling myself I just have to make it up this hill and then that’s one less hill I have to worry about.  The second hill was more of a false flat for me as it was a gradual climb with a nice little peak at the end.  At this time I was getting passed by Coach Julie, which I’ll admit was a little disheartening but she’s a much better athlete than I am with the hills.  I secretly think that she has a love affair with hills.  Anyways after the last of the hills I was just happy to be past the hard part of the ride and looked to let my legs recover and prepare for the run.  As I got closer to the harbor I knew the bike was over and I was excited that I was 2/3rds the way done with my first Half Ironman.  I had no clue what my times were at this point but I thought I had a solid bike.  I did have to stop on the last hill to massage out a hip flexor spasm but it probably cost me all of about 4 minutes.

T2:
The volunteers where there directing me where to go but I had drawn big blue arrows to my transition area so that I could quickly identify them (thank you Steve Tally).  It made it easy and I was able to get out of T2 after a quick potty break and having to turn around to throw the bike gloves down.

The Run: 02:40:35
My weakest part of the triathlon was finally here.  I trained hard for this and wanted a 2 hour finish.  I had a solid plan which was to stay in zone 2 for the majority of the run and then crank out the last 3 miles in Z3/4.  My first mile I was dead on pace and hr zone I was moving at a 9:25 at 149BPM and I was feeling great and my legs were feeling good as well.  I had no issues going up the steep climbs of the pier, my training had paid off!  Then suddenly going down the steep hill down to the strand I felt a sharp pull in my right groin and couldn’t get my stride back going so I decided to walk for a bit and see if I could shrug it out.  Tried to run again and just couldn’t keep that pace without severe pain.  It upset me a bit that I wasn’t going to make my 2 hour run and I had a little talk with myself.  I told myself that I had nothing left to prove, I was going to finish, is it worth further injury?  So I decided that I was going to walk/jog as much as I could and just enjoy everyone that came out to support me and all the other triathletes.  I didn’t even have the question of quitting at any point, it was not an option.  The one thing I had learned about myself and listening to the motivational speeches during training is that whatever I do, make sure no one can ever call me a quitter.  I might not be the fastest and I might just be the slowest, but make sure that no one can call me a quitter.  I didn’t quit and I mustered all the strength to block out the pain and I ran down the finish shoot.  I had finished my first Ironman 70.3

Final Time: 06:24:03

Looking Back:
As fast as it got here, it’s already over.  Looking back I can’t tell you exactly how it was to run down the finish shoot.  It really was a blur of emotions along with disbelief.  I know I immediately said that I don’t think I’d do another one, but that was quickly retracted and yeah I’ll do another one probably not this one though.  It was a journey that I didn’t expect and I found out a lot of things about myself and that’s why reaching for these seemingly monumental tasks are so important.  When I first signed up for it, this race seemed monumental and that it would be a miracle for me to even walk across the finish line by the cut off.  As it approached I found confidence in myself that I can do it and that it’s possible in under 6 hours.   Even though I was 24 minutes shy of 6 hours and almost a full hour past my predicted finish I did it.

My training groups celebration party was last night and while we didn’t train as a group we all had a common bond of setting a goal and achieving it.  We all had to overcome our own struggles and we each had them.  We all crossed that finish line and we were not going to be denied that finishers medal.

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