Haines City Ironman 70.3 Florida

June 7th, 2013


Going the distance and speed on my Serotta Legend TT bike

The last time I did a Half Ironman was at the 2009 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. At the time I was racing in the 20-24 age-group. Clearwater 70.3 was also my last race as an age-grouper because I earn my pro license at the Philly Tri later earlier that same year.  After 2009, I shifted my focus to ITU racing and set my eyes on Rio 2016.  Go figure that my next Ironman 70.3, almost four years later, would also be in Florida at Haines City.

This year I was shooting for a sub 4 hour performance, a little over 10 minutes faster than my personal record.  That may seem like a lot, but my fitness has steadily increased over the years.  As long as everything fell into place I knew I would hit my mark.  By the end of the bike I was close to my goal, but a few simple errors cost me and I paid for it on the run.

Heading into transition nice and relaxed

My swim was solid; I swam at a 1:20 pace.  I was with two other guys and we were the 3rd swim group, only about two minutes behind the leaders.  Since this was my first race of this distance in a long time, I was very conservative and didn’t go out too hard. I even tried a little backstroke to see if I could still draft behind the other two guys.  I probably could have if I could swim that stroke in a straight line but that is almost impossible for me in open water.  What ended up being a good swim almost started on a bad note, when I tried to put my goggles on and noticed an eye-cup piece was missing.  All I can say is that you should always bring an extra pair, just in case! It will prevent any unneeded stress before a race.  Luckily, Heather was with me and traced our footsteps back to where I had originally dropped them walking to the beach.  Problem adverted. Thanks bear!

About ten miles into my bike, I lost sight of the other two competitors whom I came out of the water with.  I tried to keep my rpms around 90, hoping to save some legs for the run.  I only saw a few other guys out on the bike course but even so, I averaged 24 mph for 56 miles.  I really enjoyed this course since half was winding, flat back roads and the other half rolling hills through the orchards. The only problem I encountered was a car who decided to pass me and then drive real slow. 

Heading out on the run...going to be a rough day

Although it was not hot yet, I was sweating a lot and burning through my energy stores.  My big mistake was that I had not put enough thought into my hydration and nutrition.  I only consumed about 80 fl oz of water and ate 430 calories on the bike and 100 calories on the run.  For the most part, I felt like I took in enough sodium, but I definitely know now that I should have almost doubled my water and food consumption.  I felt a little off toward the end of the bike, but it was not until halfway through my first lap of my run did I realize, the damage had been done.

It was a three loop run course totaling 13.1 miles.  My pace for the first lap was 6:13/mi which was way off my planned pace. I could tell too.  It was much more difficult to keep my turnover up.  My legs felt too heavy going up the simplest inclines and I just did not have the snap in my legs that I’m used to.  I come from a running back ground, and going into the second lap I was humbled for the first time in a long time.  My pace slowly rose to 7:18/mi and finally to 8:38/mi on the last lap–and those were averages!

Finishing the race - never give up!

 I was almost shocked that they were even that fast looking at the results, because they felt so much slower.  I felt so slow running that I even tried walking a few times, something I never do.  I was hoping that I would actually be faster.  Take it from me, just keep running, it feels much worse and it is so much slower.  If you don’t have the strength to run fast, you don’t have the strength to power walk.  I also even tried running backwards going up one of the hills because I thought it might feel better. That lasted less than a second.  I wonder what the guy behind me was thinking when he saw the guy in front of him do a 360 for no apparent reason.  My final pace for the full half marathon was 7:21- Slower than my race pace when I started running when I was 14.  Goes to show how something as simple as a few extra calories and water can have such a big impact.  A rookie mistake, I’m not afraid to admit.

Even through the mental and physical pain, and a few hopeful thoughts that my coach would tell me to just throw in the towel, I finished the race.  It would have been too easy to give up, but it would not be as easy to forgive myself for quitting. Plus I was representing the Army and Team RWB. No way would I give up then, unless it was unsound for my health and recovery. My next race is not until two more weeks, plenty of time to recover.   Total time: 4:25:32 – my slowest and most difficult half yet.  

My perfered race fuel - Amrita Energy Bars

Big hugs and kisses to Heather and handshakes to my coach Tim, I don’t think he would like the former, for cheering me on, even though they knew I was not having a good race. My Serotta road bike proved it could perform at that distance and Amrita energy bars were the perfect fuel source, easily to digest and a premium form of natural energy. I just should have eaten more of them!  I was honored to Wear the Eagle and see others doing the same. I’ll be dropping back down to the Olympic distance for my next race at Pt. Mugu, CA. There I will be competing with other Army triathletes in the Armed Forces National Championships.