Monday, August 21, 2006

70.3 Miles

This was my challenge…

This was my charge…

This was my race…

If you get in your car and drive that distance it might take you an hour or so. A combination of swimming, biking, and running the same distance and it will take you just a little bit longer. Ok quite a bit longer.

I can’t describe my anxiety levels other then huge the morning of the race. I thought at any moment I was going to loose my breakfast. I could see the concern from my friends and family who had graciously driving the 4+ hours to come watch my first ½ Ironman attempt. I’m sure I looked on the verge of death and felt similar. After a short warm-up in the water I started to settle down. The morning was shaping up very nicely and the weather was going to be great with temps around 80 and partly cloudy skies.

I tried to laugh and joke with everyone as I prepared for the start. Finally my wave was called and we gathered in our pink swimming caps near the waters edge. I was doing my best to calm my racing heart with slow breaths hoping not to crack at the last minute. Finally the racer director said GO and we were off. I was off. Off to an unknown destiny at the start of my first long distance triathlon.

To my surprise my swim went really well. I’m not a speed demon, but I was sticking with a few of guys from my group. It was hard to see at first with the sun coming up and it was hard to distinguish orange buoys from pink caps. Besides my somewhat not so straight swimming I felt good in the water. Gotta love wetsuits. About half way through I say a few people from the later waves making their way past me, but I just kept at my own pace trying to swim long and strong. I exited the water feeling good and hearing the familiar voices of friends and family was a godsend.

T1 went off with out much of a hitch, well that is until I actually exited T1. As I was mounting my bike I stepped on my right shoe (clipped onto my pedal) as I hopped on the saddle. As I went to place my left foot on my shoe I didn’t quite land it right as my shoe came off my pedal. Ok don’t panic! I get off my bike grab my shoe from the volunteer who handed it to me, put it on and get back on my bike. I don’t know how long the whole process took. The important thing was that I was back on my bike and riding. I was pissed the whole time, but tried to not let it bother me. I had more important things to consider with a 56 mile hilly course in my near future.

Note to everyone; make sure you know exactly what type of course you are in store for long before the race begins. Needless to say I wasn’t the smart when I missed the link to the image of the bike course on the website only to find out that it was hilly course instead of the flat Iowa that I had in my head. Luckily SafetyBob and I had driving the course the day before so we had a better idea of what it was like. We didn’t like what we say, but we at least had a frame of reference.

Overall the bike course was tough. The hills were mainly long slow grinders what basically chewed up your energy stores. There were a few nice down hills, but it wasn’t close to equally out. I remember saying to myself how much I loved hill, wind, and pain. The order would change depending on what I was feeling at the time. The wind would come and go so it wasn’t horrible, but it defiantly made itself known a couple of times. Like when you have a little bit of a downhill but you are working just has hard because the wind would pick up just enough. I pulled deep at times to make it through the challenging course, but eventually I made it though and waiting for me again were the familiar voices that would pick me up again as I started out on the last leg.

I was heading out of the park where the race was hosted when I say SafetyBob down in on the bike. I was pumped because there was a chance that he had passed me on the swim and I had no idea where he was. Not that we were racing, but it gave me a little boot. Per my usual stupid self I started the run a little faster then I wanted to. The run is usually my best part of the race and I can’t help myself from running at my normal pace vs. being smart and remembering that I had a ½ marathon to run. Miles 4-8 were my hardest. My feet were killing me from being on the hot blacktop and I knew I was slowing down. It didn’t help that there was yet another hill right before the turn around. I mean come on didn’t we get enough of that on the bike. I know that they were tired but it also didn’t help that on the way back the young boys running the water stops had basically stopped handing it out and we had to grab it off the table as we ran by. I was approaching mile 9 and I knew that I was going to meet the run time that I wanted, but I was still under my overall time. This is when I really just started to enough the race. I relaxed about finishing times and just took it all in. I went over all I had done in matter of hours that had taken months to train for. For once I was really smiling during a race. The race had a couple more hills for me before I finished including one that ended at mile 11. As I neared the finish my smile grew and somewhere I even managed a kick to the end. I didn’t think I would have one but somehow I managed a little sprint. Finally I crossed the finishing line and I had done it. 70.3 miles, I had gone the distance and finished the hardest race I have ever attempted.

The stats…
Swim: 40:52 (slow and steady is my moto, actually I was pretty pumped with that time)
Bike 2:53:17 average 19.4 mph
Run 2:07:04 9:42/mile (a bit slow, but I’d been through a lot. I was hoping to beat the 2 hour mark)
Total 5:44:32 Woohoo, I was hoping to break the 6 hour mark and I did. I was pretty thrilled about that!

214/439 Overall
24/38 Age Group

Overall it was a great race and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the outcome. I survived my biggest challenge to date and it felt great. I didn’t sure come to my own demons or break down mentally. In the end that’s what it truly all is, one big metal game. In part I have to thank SafetyBob for coming and racing with me. Bob did a great job and pushed his own limits to finish well. Plus many thanks to my family (mom & dad) and friends (Kim, Rachel, and Bridge) who made the trip down. The power of hearing a familiar voice is simply amazing. I know there were many others who were pulling for us on Sunday and somehow all those good vibes made it to the course. It was a great experience which leaves me wanting more. A want to push my limits to see where they my truly be. Until I find them I was continue to keep training and racing with a great song pumping through my veins when I need an extra surge or push. At Pigman and for most of the season it has been Foo Fighter’s “Best of You.” On Sunday I pretty much found my best which is all we can ever ask for. There are plenty of things that can bring us down, including ourselves, but only we can truly bring the best out in ourselves…


Blogger Sascha said...

Great job boy! You're a rockstar and don't let anyone tell you different. And you're not the first person in the world to discover the hard way that Iowa is most emphatically NOT flat.

3:41 AM  
Blogger SafetyBob007 said...

Mike, I am extreamly proud of your accomplishment. What a great swim and bike you had. I have to thank you for planting the seed. I am very glad that I could do my very first 1/2 Ironman with the team of people that were behind us. I am not sure if I would have ever tackled the 1/2 let alone the full. Thank you for all your encouragement.

5:47 AM  
Blogger The Spandex-King said...

Hills in Iowa? Are you sure you were in Iowa? Great job!!! It's always great when you complete your goal.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Dawn - Pink Chick said...

Awesome stuff. Congrats on a great race!

10:43 AM  
Blogger jessie_tri_mn said...

Woo Hoo! Congrats on a well run race! That bike course looks awful (maybe preparing you for a certain midwestern IM in coming years ???)

10:53 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Great job!! One of these days I will tackle a half-iron distance. takes courage and a lot of dedication.

12:49 PM  
Blogger TriSaraTops said...

AWESOME awesome job!!!! Way to smoke that course. Great report! Now go have a beer! :)

4:29 PM  
Blogger Habeela said...

5:44!! That's amazing! You must have been one giant blur going by.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Great job and congrats on your first 1/2 completed! That's a great time on a difficult course! I'm glad that you had a good time and that you finished strong.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

Hey Mike, GREAT job on the race. Sorry I've been SO out of it lately and I didn't get to wish you luck before the race actually went off! I'm sure you have tons of half and full Ironmans in your future. This one was just the beginning!

10:05 PM  
Blogger tri-mama said...

Cograts on a great race! I am so glad you said it was hilly and tough out there (I was wondering if I was being a wuss) I looked for you on the course, we should have set up a way to meet-dang it. I did see your friends at one point (at least there were people holding a sign with your name) I love the little chink my key chain makes everytime I start my car- 70.3 baby! Way to go!

7:12 AM  
Blogger a.maria said...

many many MANY congrats to you! my friend kim did that race as well.. she, lol, came in second to last!!!

i actually love that.

anyway.. sounds like you had a great race, i'm so glad your first half went so well! you worked hard for it, enjoy some time off! ;)

1:50 PM  

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