May 22, 2019 - My first 70.3, the struggles and how I overcame them
The morning started pretty regular. I woke up at 3:30 am after a pretty decent night of sleeping. I count only waking up once or twice on the night before race day a pretty decent night of sleep. I had a beach front room and I could hear the ocean, the nerves started because it sounded so wavy but I couldn't see the surf through the darkness. I went about my normal routine of breakfast and walked down to set up my transition. I found a friend and decided to head down to the beach to check out the conditions and warm up. To my suspicions the water was as rough as it sounded. It was red flag conditions on the beach that day and the race was not wetsuit legal. I could have worn it and started in the back but I opted not to out of concern of over heating. After warming up a little and feeling the current pulling me around I decided to seed myself about 5-10 min slower than I was orginally predicting. I figured if I was faster then I could at least pass people. This turned out to be the right decision as I finished 5 min slower than I expected. As I took a deep breath and ran towards the ocean I briefly thought "what the heck am I doing" but it quickly became a distant thought as I dove into the first wave. As I headed towards the first bouy I found it hard to keep a straight line, as did everyone else as it seemed like chaos out there. The only way I was able to get into any sort of rhythm was to breathe on my right side every other stroke. I kept telling myself, just get to the first turn and it will be downhill from there. I made it to the first turn in about 20 minutes and thought I was doing pretty well. And then I made that turn and it was definitely downhill but not in the way I expected. I quickly found myself in the middle of a pack of people tightly sqeezed in and thrashing around. I usually try to stay on the outsides of these groups but here I was in the middle getting tossed around by waves and several people trying to swim diagonally accross me in different directions, I felt like a panic attack was coming on so I quickly made my way to the outside and let most of the people pass. I gathered myself and pressed forward to the last turn. As I headed back towards the beach I was sure that I was stuck in a rip current. The waves were pushing me forward but an undertoe was sucking me back out, I often felt like I was getting nowhere and the closer to shore I got the stronger the push and pull felt. I was never so happy to set my feet on dry land! I told many people out on the run course this was my first half and most everyone told me I picked the hardest swim as my first. That's great news as they will all seem easy from here on out! Transition went pretty regular and I headed out on my bike.
As I took off on the bike I settled into a good pace. I knew I was going to have a strong headwind on the way back so I wanted to take advantage of the tailwind on the way out but not push myself so hard that I didn't have the strength to fight the wind. About 5 miles into the bike ride I started feeling a cramp in my left groin. It felt like I was being stabbed every time I pushed down on my pedal. Determine to not let it slow me down I pressed on. Readjusting in my saddle whenever possible as each little adjustment provided me a few moments of relief. Occassionally I would push with my right leg only to give the left side a break. When I got to the turn around point and started the 28 miles back I quickly found my assumption about a tough headwind to be correct but I saved enough energy to keep my pace. Aside from the stabbing pain which I tried not to think about I felt good, and even better as I was passing far more people than were passing me. My goal was to finish the bike in 3 hours, I finished in 3:05..I'll take it
As I headed out for the run I felt amazing (thank you Infinit nutrition!) I had a huge smile on my face as I waved to my fiance and continued on. I knew this part of the race would be the most challenging. 3 months prior to the race I had a shin and achilles issue that flared up in my right leg. My race had been in jeoporday, with 6 weeks to go I started rehab with a new chrio and PT and completely stopped running. With only a few weeks left I was doing rehab work on the alter g treadmill and could not fully support all of my body weight without pain, needless to say I was nervous about the race, but felt well enough that I knew I could get through it, even if that meant mostly walking. My plan entering the run was to do intervals to put as little stress on the leg as possible. I would run for 4min walk for 1 min. As I approached the first aid station I quickly realized how hot it had gotten. The morning was cloudy but by the time I got to the run the clouds had cleared and the sun was out in full force, I could feel the heat rising from the blacktop. Then I discovered ice! Every aid station I stopped for a quick dump of ice down my suit and off I went. Keeping my core cool was my top priority as I quickly fall apart if I feel like I'm overheating. As I approached my last lap I was amazed at how great I still felt. My leg had no pain and overall I was still in pretty high sprirts. I pushed it a little harded and pressed on towards the finish line. The run took me about 20 min longer than I had hoped but based on the struggles I had faced leading up to the race I couldn't ask for a better outcome. When I hit that red carpet, all the emotions and endorphines hit me. The support from the people through the chute was overwhelming and all the struggles aside, I couldn't be more happy and proud of my accomplishments that day.
The only problem I have to solve for now is...which location to chose for my first full Ironman!