July 7, 2012

Ironman 70.3/37.2 Race Report!

Due to an Excessive Heat Warning issued by The National Weather Service, IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie was shortened for safety reasons.

Yep!  That's what it says at the top of my results - but we'll get to that...

Pretty girl next to me got out of bed at 2:59 a.m. to prevent the alarm from going off at it's 3 a.m. set time, which means she was watching for several minutes already, and also means she got less than 5 hours of sleep!  She was out of the house by 3:30 and of course I'm wide awake at this point!  Good thing because she didn't reset the alarm!  So I reset it for 4:15 just to be safe, but simply lay there counting the minutes going by until 4:14 when I execute the same "save the alarm" strategy that she did!

Nothing unusual, trisuit on, socks and shoes, some light stretching, check facebook (addiction), only ate a granola bar and a large glass of Gatorade and I'm tip toeing out the door in time to meet the pros at Molly's mom's at 5!  They are running a little behind, and scurry to load everything and we're off by ten after.  No traffic at all until we are on the main drive in, which was nice because Armando and I rode together, and like any good coach, he is pumping me full of good mental health!  The sport psychology is the racer's edge that I need, and Armando is very good at this!  He's telling me to focus on myself in the moment that I am in during every minute of the race.  How is my breathing, heart rate, position, posture, line, etc.  and not to think too far down the road - No point in worrying about what's coming, only focus on what's happening NOW!  Replace every negative thought with a positive thought!  Instead of how hot it is, it's how quickly can I get to that shade up ahead!  You get the idea!  It helped A TON!  I'm already confident, now I'm ready to race!

We VIP our way to a close parking pass, by me yelling in a very authoritative way "I've got a pro and two more behind me" - Before the volunteer could think about protocol, I was already by him and headed to a closer spot!  We unloaded quickly and they rode their bikes into transition.  I got there soon enough, and the first order of business was to find a bike pump!  I didn't want to carry mine up so I'm asking around to borrow one!  No problem, and I'm aired up and set up by 6:10 - Head to the port a pot and take care of business #2 (if you know what I mean) - thankful to have that out of the way, I'm off to the beach to see the pros off - men go at 6:30 with women 4 minutes later, and I'm there in time to yell a final GOOD LUCK to Jo, and get a thumbs up.  Pros are off, and I take a dip in the 88 degree water!!!  I've taken colder baths than this!  Unreal!  Run into some friends, make a few new ones, and move over to watch the pros out - Men's leader is out in under 20 minutes and has almost a minute lead on the field - I linger long enough to see Jo come out as well - she looks strong and I'm inspired! 

Over in the staging area, they line us up in waves based on age, so Men 35-39 with last name A-L is a late wave, so I don't start until almost 7:30!  Find another port a pot and squeeze out some more business (TMI?) and head to my area - FINALLY Molly and company find me, and we get a Team Day photo at the start line!  I seriously can not explain how or why I am so confident, but I assume it's mostly because I have done a similar distance on this similar course before and I'm motivated by the what if's of the weekend!  Armando and I are in the same wave and as we enter the water, I see him already jockeying for position up front - He will be competitive today for sure, so I think why not me - I go right to the front of my wave and take a starting position like I'm going to win this wave!  The horn sounds and I'm off!

The swim start was unlike ANYTHING I have ever been a part of!  I've heard stories from the vets before about mass starts and the kicking and punching that goes on, but had never experienced it!  IT IS REAL!  It took me a good 100 yards or more to even get one REAL swim stroke in!  And it didn't end there - seems there was always someone clipping at my heals, are burying their fists into my sides!  Thankfully I never got kicked square in the face, but I know many did!  Made the turns in good time, and dealt with the sun in the eyes coming in.  I breathe on my left, so this was especially tough as the buoys are always on my right with the clockwise swim!  I have to spot more often, but that's not all bad.  My official swim split was 40:19 which is about what I expected given the first time without a wetsuit in the open water!

I promised myself I would jog to transition, and so I did passing several on the charge up the hill - it's nearly .2 of a mile from beach to bike, but the jog helped to wake the legs up for the bike.  Was pleased to see Molly waiting for me at the top of the hill, and barely time for a wink as I grabbed a cup of water offered to me, and am focused on finding my bike!  I went with the bright orange towel today which was smart for ease in finding the bike!  I chose to sit to the ground to put the socks and shoes on - fuelbelt full of gel, helmet, glasses and I'm off!  My T1 time was 3:29 which was great considering I spent nearly 2 minutes of that jogging to the bike!

Mounted the bike, and charged past a handful of folks struggling to get clipped in!  Flying down the first hill and really opening up I was excited to get to the Mile 1 marker where my YRC friends were stationed - not to be disappointed, I let out a big YYYYYRRRRRRCCCCCCCCCCC as I cranked past them and got a crescendo of yells in return (goosebumps) - The race course congestion is heavy as runners are on my left and bike traffic is all around me - Female leaders are just coming out on the run, and I even see Chuck escorting the lead female (what a job) - Once we clear run traffic, I reach for my first gel and really suck down quite a bit of Gatorade.  Better to slow the bike down a bit and get hydrated than blow up on the run again today!

As we get to the highway, I am fired up by the sheer number of people and the speed at which they are zipping by!  We turn North and merge with bike traffic that is working mile 18, while I'm barely at mile 2!  The congestion is maddening and yet, you feed off of the energy!  I am turning the crank like never before!  Garmin shows I ran 6 straight miles over 20 mph heading out.  I can hear some bells ringing near the Greenway, and as the trees clear, I can see Benji Koontz running with 5 support bikes around him.  Benji is running from Losantville to WesDel today as part of the Berry Long Run fundraiser to assist the family of Tony Rolli today!  Hot day to run a marathon!  Hope he's well!  At mile 5 I drink pretty heavy again and at once more at the turn around.  Now we're headed South and the traffic is still buzzing in both directions, but I don't seem to be going as fast - Garmin confirms it, but I'm still clicking off high 18s, low 19s on most miles!  At mile 10 I grab half of my payday and choke it down with drink, as we hit the bike aid station, I'm looking for Clay and when I find him he is assisting a down athlete, so I just grab a water keep my head down.  At mile 15, I take my second gel.  We hit the turnaround again near the merge zone, and are now headed back north.  Head down still working hard, but feel like I'm getting killed on the hills.  The traffic is thinning out primarily because very few are coming South - Being in one of the last waves means, not too many behind me, but we're all racing the clock today!  A familiar voice yells out behind me and Gary Thomas is drafting off me for 2 seconds before passing me!  I can't let him get away, so I'm working hard to keep him nearby, but at mile 20 I let him go as I eat the other half of my payday!  Grabbed another water from the bike aid and yell out CLAY ARNETT FOR PRESIDENT which gets more laughs than cheers!  Debating when to take the third gel, I decide to wait for mile 25, but never saw the marker, so once we're on the Northside of the lake, I take it and finish off my second bottle of Gatorade.   I stand to stretch the quads out a bit - I can feel them tightening up, but try to keep the cadence up.  Over the last hill and I can see transition - unclip and coast right to the dismount line and again I'm trying to jog in, but there's too much congestion to jog through with the bike in hand.  Good news - THERE'S MOLLY!  Loving her so much right now!  Bike split was a 1:28:53 which they break down as being 20.25 mph average!  YES!!!

Bike racked quickly and this time I don't sit - shoes slip off, shoes slip on, down on one knee to tie, helmet off, change knees, double knot, grab the visor and I'm gone in 2:09!

Coming out of T2 the legs feel good, but I'm notorious for coming out fast on the run and crashing so I've got to find a rhythm I can maintain!  Chuck was standing by and captured this great pic of me, and I was excited to get to those aid stations which were spaced roughly every half mile!   The first aid station at mile 0.5 was run by Rebecca Swander and I also recognized Jason Roberson there!  They were loud and yelling my name enthusiastically!  But they could not compare to the energy I felt when I got to the YRC station at mile marker 1 - I heard Pete first - "GET UP HERE", (there's a hill to climb to their station, figures) and then the whole crew just SCREAMED my name!  The cheers were incredible (goosebumps) and Garmin says my first mile was 9:39!  While I don't think I can maintain that, it's not as blazing fast as some I've opened up with!  I push on dumping ice in my shirt, shorts, and every crack I can get it to (and repeated this at every aid station) - and sipping the water so as not to chug it!  And continue running to the top of the hill (amen corner I call it because there is a church there), and decide I need to walk this aid station (again, repeated this at every aid station thereafter) - but the other great thing about the frequent stations is that after walking through each one, you could see the next and knew that you could run to it!  This really helped in my ability to run more than usual.  I was feeling good but grabbed another gel anyway.  It had been about 35 minutes, and I was hoping to get one more in me.  Mile 2 showed 10:31 and Mile 3 at 11:04.  Race timing captured my 3 mile split at 32:14 (10:44 pace) - I grabbed some cola for the first time ever at the turnaround (Armando said it would help) and felt strong running back - in fact I ran a 10:32 pace coming in!  Very pleased to be able to run that well.  Again, coming back was all about keeping the rhythm and walking the aid stations, but as I came into view of that YRC station, repeat previous goosebumps!  I was all smiles!  Grabbed 2 waters and a sponge, and unzipped my shirt to let Melanie shove two handfuls of ice in!  As I pushed through the last half mile stretch I heard Chuck's voice again!  He was relentless with his comments - YOU LOOK GREAT - CHARGE UP THAT HILL - YOU KNOW EVERY MINUTE MATTERS - YOU GOT THIS - I turned over the legs as hard as I could and really enjoyed the winding finish chute that dumped me out right into the waiting arms of my wife!  Pumping my fists!  Both hands in the air!  I felt like I was on top of the world!  High fives from every stranger I could reach, and Karen Siefert slowly poured an entire bottle of ice cold water on my head while I smiled ear to ear!

From R to L:  Top 4: Kelly Williamson, Jodie Swallow, Rinny and Jo
Molly walked with me to recover and got me some bananas and pretzels.  I rested for a few and then kept moving - found several friends to share stories with, and finally found Jo and Armando (TEAM YOMANDO) - Jo was pleased with her 4th place overall female pro finish at 2:18:33 - And Armando was only a minute slower than she grabbing him 4th place among men 35-39!  (I was 183rd in the same AG- no prize for that) It was fun to hang out at awards with them!  They all know each other so well and are very respectful and chatty with each other.  I find this to be one of the most common threads in this sport, and perhaps one of the things I love most about it!

This continued tonight as we gathered at Gary Thomas' home with many athletes from today's race.  We shared our war stories as well as our well wishes on future races!  Such great local support for such a great activity!

Here are my official stats!  If you would've made me guess coming into today, I would tell you to expect a 3:26 - so needless to say very happy!  Highlights are certainly the bike pace and the steady run in.  Not disappointed with the swim at all.  Pleased to see the consistency in placing within each discipline also!

Many more pics to come - especially when the professional ones are up - you know me - I had to pose for the finish photo!  Should be a good one!

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