Halfway There (Half VM RR: very long . . .)

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TriathRon Gilcreast

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Jul 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/10/00
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½ Ironman Distance; 1.2mi swim 56mi bike 13.1 mi run

This was the big race of my season; my ‘A’ goal this season is to
complete the ½IM distance, enroute to my big goal of completing the IM
distance next year.

Executive Summary;
- didn’t drown
- last one outta the water again (actually tied for last w/ a lady from
the 60+ age group)
- started the bike course dead last
- missed my target time of 7hrs by one hour exactly, finishing in
8:00:43 by my watch.

Super-duper-extra-long version;
As I said above, this race was my ‘A’ race this season; finishing the
half ironman distance was the goal that drove all the other secondary
goals. I had actually planned for this race to be my second 1/2IM, but
the fact that I bailed on Wildflower at the last minute in May meant
that this was my one and only shot at the distance this season; no
other 1/2IM races close enough to attempt until next year. Still,
approaching race day, I felt really confident. I was coming off of a
good performance at San Jose, and my last two workouts before the race
were ones where I felt incredibly strong and fit. I was anxious for
race day to come.

The day didn’t start well, however. Just getting to the race these days
seems to be the biggest hurdle. As the days ticked away, and my gig
schedule firmed up, I saw that we were playing in Carmel Valley the
night before. Grrr. That’s 4hrs south of my house, and the race is an
hour north. That meant that by the time we stopped playing at 11pm,
made the drive home (the first 10mi of which were through an animal
preserve w/ a strict 30mph speed limit; go 31mph and it’s a $1000
ticket. Frustrating when you’re in a hurry, obviously) it’d be 4am.
This would actually be a good thing, I thought; I’d just change
clothes, pack up my tri-gear, and go to the race. Reality, however, can
sometimes throw a wrench into one’s plans.

One of my bandmates carpooled w/ me, and let me sleep on the drive back
while he did the lion’s share of the driving. I really don’t sleep well
in cars, but dozed some on the ride home. He musta been flyin’ though;
I got home at 2:30am. This presented a problem; it was too early to
pack up and go to the race venue, but it was only 2hrs to sleep, which
experience has taught me I don’t handle well. I mean, I go to sleep
fine, but no way am I waking up in 2hrs unless somebody’s there to
physically drag me out of the bed. This is due to my snooze-button
addiction; I’ve actually gotten to where I can hit the thing in a dead
sleep and never come to conscious wakefulness. I decided to give it a
try, in spite of my better instincts.

Bad move; I woke up at 7:30am. My wave was scheduled for 7:10am. Damn!

This wouldn’t be the first time that I slept thru a race start; the
Santa Cruz sentinel last year was supposed to be the last race of my
tri season, but I had the same thing; late gig, then slept thru the
start. Unlike that race, however, this one had wave starts spread out
over 3hrs or so. After some lying in bed muttering
‘stupidstupidstupid’, I realized I had enough time to make it to
Guerneville before the last wave went off.

I got up and did a whirlwind job of throwing my stuff in the car, and I
was off. I got to Johnson’s Beach at about 8:45, and my late arrival
actually helped; spectators and family members had mostly left, leaving
ample pkg close to the transition area. I scampered down to the beach,
and some sharp-eyed volunteer caught me for body marking before I could
even collect my thoughts enough to realize what I was supposed to be
doing. I found an empty spot in the TA, racked my bike, and quickly
shed shoes and socks, and realized I had a problem. The bike is a point-
to-point, meaning I wouldn’t be coming back to this area after the
bike. That meant I needed to have my running shoes ready at the end of
the bike, which was currently 56mi away. My shoes, however, were much
closer; right there in my transition bag. I quickly improvised, mashing
the shoes together and strapping them to my camelbak using the webbing
provided. Maybe I could wangle a time bonus for carrying T2 w/ me . . .
.

At that point, with the minor crisis addressed, I donned wetsuit,
scrambled for safety pins to attach the various race numbers, and
trundled down to the river. There was a wave in the water, w/ blue
caps, waiting for the horn. I swam out to join them.

I seeded myself at the back of the pack of 20-30 women, and as we’re
waiting for the start horn, one of them spies me treading water at the
back. ‘Hey, there’s a male out here!’. 30 heads swivel and I feel for a
moment like I just stepped into the ladies’ room by mistake. ‘I’m
running really late this morning’, I explain. They try to get me to go
to the front of the pack, to which I respond ‘but they you ladies will
swim over me’. They laugh, thinking I’m joking. I know better and keep
my place at the back of the pack. Very shortly after that, the horn
goes and we’re off.

The Swim
Or at least, they’re off; I’m doing my sidestroke/dogpaddle/anaerobic
crawl routine. The river is really shallow in the first 300yds or so,
and I can’t resist the temptation to keep my feet on the bottom
whenever possible. Nobody said I had to drown, after all. The lifeguard
paddles over in his kayak to check on me from time to time, and after
my first de rigeur ‘I’m alright; I’m just slow ™’ reply, he’s just got
encouragement for me.

Soon enough, the next (and last) wave churns by me and I’m a straggler.
As I approach the halfway point, I ask my friendly lifeguard ‘Am I now
officially The Last One In The Water?’. ‘Nope.’ He replies. ‘You’ve got
one behind you’. I look back and see there’s one other swimmer, also
being escorted by a kayak. I’ve got maybe 50yds on her, and decide to
try to eke out some more speed and stay ahead of her. The return leg
goes much faster than the outbound leg, and I’m in deeper water so I’m
actually swimming, and still I barely hold her off until the final
buoy, when she catches up to me. We come out of the water together.

As an exercise on the Tri-DRS list, I had predicted a finishing time of
7hrs, broken down thusly

Swim; 1:15
T1 0:03
Bike 3:30
T2 0:02
Run 2:10

As I exit the water, I hit my lap button and look at my split ; 1:13
and change. I’m on track – woo hoo!

T1, however, takes a lot longer than the anticipated 3min. Now as I
mentioned before, the bike is a point to point, which meant that all
the stuff I dragged down to the transition area in my pre-race frenzy
now had to be dragged back up to the car before I can head out on the
bike. Like I said, I was parked close (actually right at the first turn
onto the bike course after an oh-so-brief little hill up from the
beach) so it didn’t take too long. I had to got back for the idiot
factor a coupla times though; ‘Oops! Forgot my gloves. Oops! Forgot my
HRM’. Finally, I’m on the bike, headed away from Johnson’s Beach,
officially the Last Entrant On The Course. T1: ~6:45

The Bike
Now, if there is a cardinal rule of triathlon, it’s this; Nothing New
On Race Day. Since I’m a stubborn and foolish mortal, however, I
flouted this rule and had installed new aerobars and pedals during my
break at the previous nite’s gig. I admit this was stupid, but I’m also
glad to report that it didn’t come back to haunt me; the aerobars
stayed solid the whole way, and I just loooooove the speedplays; tons
of float w/ no entry or exit problems. Now I gotta get a set for the
MTB too . . .

So as I start off on the bike leg, it’s flat, and I’m down, I’m aero,
and I’m trying to avoid hammering. Still, my speedo is hovering right
around 20-21mph. The miles click by, and at the first turn, about 5mi
in, I catch up w/ the woman I finished the swim with, and one other
rider. I’m past them, and no longer Officially Last.

The bike winds thru the NorCal countryside, past vineyards and trees,
vineyards and creeks, vineyards and rustic cabins, and vineyards. At
about the halfway point, I’m coming up a slight rise and a woman is
stopped w/ a look of distress. I ask what’s wrong, and she says her
chain is stuck. I pull over to assist, and as I expected, the chain is
backed up between the chainring and chainstay. A quick tug on the
chain, combined w/ a few backward revolutions of the crank, and the
chain is free. I seat it back on the chainring, give the crank a
forward revolution, and voila! She’sa fixed! I hand the bike back and
jump on my own bike to continue, awarding myself 25 boy scout points as
I do so (it’s a little known fact that with enough boy scout points,
the pearly gates open automatically, so they’re good to accumulate
whenever you get a chance).

I’m staying pretty strong; projecting out my current speed over the
course yields me about a 3hr bike split, which would be 30min ahead of
schedule. I’m motivating myself by subvocalizing a mantra; ‘Lance and I
are riding today’. This helps, even if I do feel a little like a 13yr
old kid w/ his favorite baseball player’s glove, pounding his fist into
the mitt while sitting 30 rows up in the bleachers. What can I say?
Lance rocks, and he inspires me like nobody else. I’m keeping an eye
out for CLM – I know she started roughly the same time I did and while
I knew that she’d kick my @$$ on the swim, thought I’d be able to catch
her on the bike, or definitely on the run. But there’s no sign of her
thus far.

The course meanders over several rollers, around picturesque curves and
thru several, you guessed it, vineyards. It’s about 35-40mi into the
bike when I come to a realization.

Vineyards are !@#%^!^ boring.

By now, I’m about 3hrs into this whole endeavor, and the wind is
picking up, and now it’s important to be aero, except that my back and
neck are tired of holding this unnatural position, and it’s getting
slightly hilly, and I’m tired and sweaty and my crotch hurts and who
asked us to do one of these things anyway? ‘Uh, that would be me’, my
brain responds to my complaining body. The road gets pretty crappy,
which has its effect on my speed, and the sun is cooking me. Further, I
realize that my efforts to be aero are largely wasted; those running
shoes stick up from my back like a sail. Still, I’m trying to ‘think
aero’; ‘I am a grain of sand. I am a speck. I offer no resistance to
this #@@!%^ headwind!’

I grind it out as best I can, but my odometer seems to be stuck on mi
43 forever. I didn’t realize that this was the prelude to Chalk Hill,
not normally a very bad climb but I’m not as up for it today as I’d
like. I make it about 2/3 of the way up, past the rest of the pack
that’s stopped to walk, and then I dismount to walk up to the crest.
Once I get back on, though, I have a nice long downhill and I hit 43mph
plus. The course gets a little easier, the last 5mi are so are flat and
well-paved again, and I’m able to get down in the aerobars and hammer.
My avg speed has been dropping the past several miles, but I see that
if I crank it up I can still make my time goal. 20mph. 21mph. 22mph –
I’m flying! (note; this is entirely a definition of my own devising; I
realize that for many of you, 22mph is hardly ‘flying’, but for me,
anything over 20mph is known as Ripping It Up). I try to stay strong
thru the final miles as the signs indicate suburbia is fast
approaching. As I make the turn into the school, I downshift and start
spinning madly, trying to get the blood flowing in my tired legs. Just
before I get off the bike, I look down and check my split; 3:25 or so.
Right on target – woo hoo! . . . but still no CLM.

People are already finished and milling around the expo area as I
search for the rack w/ my race number on it and make T2. I don’t know
how long it took, ‘cuz I was too tired at that point to try to speed
thru it. It felt good to get off the bike, and I plop down on the
ground to wrestle my running shoes off of my camelbak and put them on.
I hafta stop and ask somebody ‘which way to the run out’, and get a
startled look before he directs me to the far left gate. I start
running.

The Run
I make it about a half mile before I just stop. It’s one of those
almost involuntary stops, where the decision seems to have been made by
your body and approved before the mind can veto it. One minute, I’m
running at close to my target (albeit turtle-slow) 10min/mi pace, and
the next I’ve broken stride and am walking. This is the only thing I
regret about my race. I decided I’d walk a coupla miles to conserve my
strength, and then pick it up again. A couple of miles became 3, and it
wasn’t until the aid station about mi 3.5 that I start running again. I
last maybe another mile or so before breaking stride again on an upward
roller that has a nasty headwind coming over the top. ‘Geez, uphill and
a headwind? Is this really necessary?’ I grouse to myself. I keep
walking.

And walking. And walking. The miles are passing in 15-16min each, and I
know my projected run split, based on 10min miles, is blown. Oh well.
I’m looking at all the people coming the other way, and when I’m about
the 4mi point, I see a familiar, tall blond figure. ‘Tricia?’ I ask.
She nods questioningly, as she only knows me thru the newsgroup. ‘It’s
Ron’, I say. ‘You’re looking good, take it home!’ ‘Oh, I’m hurting now’
she replies. I’ll be interested to hear the story of her race. I keep
looking for clm in the line of approaching runners, and eventually,
there she is. ‘Hi Cathy! It’s Ron . . ‘ she gives me a game ‘looking
good’ as she runs by.

I wind up striking up a conversation w/ a fellow walker about the 5mi
point, and we wind up walking the rest of the way together, chatting
about our occupations, triathlon (it was her first 1/2IM as well), the
meaning of life, etc. After we hit the turnaround, we agree to run
again, but my efforts come to naught; within 100yds I start getting
weird spasms right behind my knees and I slow to a walk again. I tell
Michelle (my co-walker) that she can go on ahead, but she decides to
keep me company.

The last miles passed by more easily than the first; I’ve got
companionship and every once in awhile I try to pick it up again, only
to have the same problem make me walk. About 2mi from the finish,
Michelle’s husband comes out to join us, and he lifts our spirits a
little more; just having someone nearby who isn’t nearly drained of all
energy is a boost.

Finally, the miles tick away and we’re at the 13mi marker; one-tenth of
a mile to go. We’re in a little wooded area of the park where the
finish is, and so we’re currently screened from the finish line.
Michelle and I start to run again, just because you can’t go all this
distance and then walk across the finish. Those weird spasms start
again about 20yds from the line, but I know it’ll be over soon enough
and then I’m across, slapping the ‘stop’ button on my watch as I do so.
I look down, and there’s the final time; 8:00:43

Conclusion
So, I’ve done it. I’ve completed the half IM distance. As I was
mentally composing this race report yesterday (while out on the bike –
doesn’t everybody do that?) I came up w/ the ‘Halfway There’ title, as
that’s what this race meant to me going in; halfway to my goal of
completing an Ironman. After the race, however, that same title has a
more cautionary tone for me – I’m only halfway there. This race was
roughly double any that I’ve attempted before, and when I contemplate
how I felt at the end of each leg, and contemplate having that be only
halfway, I’m not sure I want to try the IM – it scares me. I realize
that it’s like my more knowledgeable tri-friends have told me; long
course racing is a different ball of wax than the Oly distance or
shorter. Nutrition, pacing, etc all need to be managed better than I
did yesterday. I’m still gonna go for the IM, but the days of expecting
to show up at the race w/ some basic fitness and grunt it out are past,
at least on the long courses. I may be able to get away w/ that in the
Olys, but LC is gonna take a better training commitment on my part. I
also think that if I’d kept running from the start, my muscles woulda
stayed warm enough to avert the weird spasms/cramps that precluded my
running later on.

So I guess I’m happy w/ the race, yet I feel strangely down. Maybe it’s
the blowup on the run, maybe it's the sobering effect of a truer
appreciation of what I face in the IM, maybe it’s just that I don’t
have the energy to be excited about my achievement. In any case, I have
another notch to put on my virtual tri-gunbelt and am one step closer
to being an Ironman.

Next race; something shorter . . .<G>


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

gw

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Jul 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/10/00
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Hey Ron you did it. You can put that one in the bank and
learn to draw from it. Congratulations. Nice job with
helping out the biker who spun the chain.


* Sent from AltaVista http://www.altavista.com Where you can also find related Web Pages, Images, Audios, Videos, News, and Shopping. Smart is Beautiful

Tom Henderson

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Jul 10, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/10/00
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Ron, on the amount of sleep you had, I'd have blown up 10 miles into the
bike. Great job hanging in there! But if you do an IM, it might be worthwhie
to take a night off from any gigs!

Tom


Jsoul

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Jul 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/11/00
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Great job, Ron. I have been following your various race reports and have
enjoyed reading them. I did a half this weekend, too (in New York)...I have the
same goal as you...to do an IM next summer...we can do it!
Johanna "forever young" Young

FEY2K (aka David W)

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Jul 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/11/00
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TriathRon Gilcreast wrote:
> ˝ Ironman Distance; 1.2mi swim 56mi bike 13.1 mi run

>
> This was the big race of my season; my ‘A’ goal this season is to
> complete the ˝IM distance, enroute to my big goal of completing the IM
> distance next year.
>
> Executive Summary;
> - didn’t drown
> - last one outta the water again (actually tied for last w/ a lady from
> the 60+ age group)
> - started the bike course dead last
> - missed my target time of 7hrs by one hour exactly, finishing in
> 8:00:43 by my watch.
...

> Next race; something shorter . . .<G>

Great report, Ron! I really enjoyed reading it. :-)

I remember doing my first 1/2 IM last year, my last tri before IMCA. I
was really feeling down and unsure about doing a full IM. My 1/2 time
was 6:15 (or something... too slow to want to remember it). Having done
sprints and Oly's since 1987, I was not used to missing my projected
times by so much. My swim was slow, my bike was slow and my run was a
walk.

However, I learned a lot in that race. I learned to eat and drink better
on the bike, use my asthma medicine twice on the bike, and 2-3 times on
the run (and carry it with me), better eating/drinking during the run,
etc.

Enjoy the satisfaction of reaching the halfway point in your goal. Then,
sit back and think about what you learned and where you can improve.

Pacing is a key to finishing an IM. You will need to improve your swim
time, of course, but you sound strong on the bike and run (I usually
bike about the same speed as you). For my first IM, I set very
concervative goals, especially on the bike (15-16mph average). That way,
even when hurting so bad on the bike, I knew I still was on target to
finish in under 17 hours.

And plan your nutrition in detail. I used my watch timer on the bike to
remind me to eat. On the run, each aid station was the reminder. Also
plan your transitions in detail. I even included a "to do" list in each
transition bag -- what to eat, sunscreen, pray, etc. Over such long
distances, your mind wanders (at least mine does). Having a checklists
takes away the worry over forgetting something.

Well, enough advice. Again, Congratulations! I'm sure you'll reach your
goal of being an Ironman!

David / FEY2K
IMCA2000 16:53

p.s. if you would like some more detailed info on what worked for me, a
copy of my checklist, etc., feel free to email me at the address below.
In fact, I have a spreadsheet given to me by another first-time Ironman
-- what worked for him. I modified it to work for me. It's a secret
formula that is passed down from Ironmen to Ironvirgins upon joining the
"club".

--------------------------------
reply @ wuth - family - atlanta
(remove spaces)
at att dot net

TriathRon Gilcreast

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Jul 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/11/00
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In article <20000711065326...@ng-cs1.aol.com>,

Maybe I'll see you there - I still haven't decided where to lose my
IMVirginity; Lake Placid, Penticton, SoCal, or (*gasp*) Lanzarote.

TriathRon Gilcreast

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Jul 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/11/00
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In article <396B08FD...@addr.in.sig>,
"FEY2K (aka David W)" <re...@addr.in.sig> wrote:
<snippage of great tips>

> Well, enough advice. Again, Congratulations! I'm sure you'll reach
your
> goal of being an Ironman!
>
> David / FEY2K
> IMCA2000 16:53
>
> p.s. if you would like some more detailed info on what worked for me,
a
> copy of my checklist, etc., feel free to email me at the address
below.
> In fact, I have a spreadsheet given to me by another first-time
Ironman
> -- what worked for him. I modified it to work for me. It's a secret
> formula that is passed down from Ironmen to Ironvirgins upon joining
the
> "club".

Thx - I may take you up on that. Mostly, what I've learned is that I'm
gonna *have* to focus my training in order to do the IM. My schedule
has been such that my training since Apr or so has been sporadic at
best - I've basically just been planning to gut these races out on
whatever core fitness I have. Sunday's race showed me that I can't do
that in long course racing, so I'm gonna hafta break out the training
schedule again, start fitting the workouts in around my gigs, etc.

I also have a timer set on my watch to remind me to take my Gu every 35-
45 minutes; I tolerate the Gu quite well (the only thing I'll tolerate,
actually; can't stand Gatorade or any of those electrolyte drinks). I
think I'll pack a turkey sandwich in my special needs bag, though.

J.J. Waguespack

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Jul 11, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/11/00
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Some days you get the Bear, ---- Some days the Bear gets you.

J.J. (nursing his own bite marks)

Mike Tennent

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Jul 12, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/12/00
to

>TriathRon Gilcreast wrote:
>> ½ Ironman Distance; 1.2mi swim 56mi bike 13.1 mi run
>>
>> This was the big race of my season; my ‘A’ goal this season is to
>> complete the ½IM distance, enroute to my big goal of completing the IM
>> distance next year.
>>
>> Executive Summary;
>> - didn’t drown
>> - last one outta the water again (actually tied for last w/ a lady from
>> the 60+ age group)
>> - started the bike course dead last
>> - missed my target time of 7hrs by one hour exactly, finishing in
>> 8:00:43 by my watch.

>...

Hey, you're right on schedule. <g>

I did my first (and only) "official" half IM way back in 1987. I
finished in 7:57 or so.

That race convinced me then and there that I'd never be able to do a
full IM. It took me almost a decade to convince myself otherwise.

Don't make the same mistake I made. You've got it in you.

Mike Tennent
"IronPenguin"
Ironman Canada '98 16:17:03
Great Floridian '99, 17:13:38

TriathRon

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Jul 12, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/12/00
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TriathRon Gilcreast <tria...@my-deja.com> wrote in message
<awholebunchstuffthatshouldagoneemail . . . >

uh - oops . . .


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