Everyone has them from time to time. Even the all-time greats have a bad day when things just didn't come easily. Days when Tiger Woods plays like Nathalie Wood or Michael Jordan plays like Jordan "the wonder dog"...it happens to everyone.
Sunday was the Spirit of Racine 1/2 Ironman - 1.2 mile swim in Lake Michigan, 56 mile bike on chippy old cement roads and farmland, and a 13.1 mile run along the lake and Racine Zoo. The best part of the weekend was racing with so many friends and Team Polar teammates. To be completely honest, if you weren't there, I may have abandoned after the bike but I just couldn't with everyone out there. I had to press on.
Pre-race: I got a bike warm up a run and a swim. Unprecidented of completeness in my warm up. I was ready.
Swim: 66 F water temps and me cozy in my DeSoto T1 wetsuit; the world's greatest wetsuit without a peer. The first 1/2 Ironman sand/beach start where I didn't biff on my run into the water! I actually did everything right and was into an early lead for a short time before the sprinters got to me. I got the lead group and then seemed to swim thru some slower folks from the earlier waves quickly but after some minor contact with one larger gal I had lost the feet of the fast dudes and now was swimming solo. RATS! I got a bit of a cramp in my right calf so I suppose I was kicking harder than I normally do. The waves and current were sorta strong but not really out of the ordinary. Based on this swim, I am redesigning my swimming training for the remainder of this season and will significantly change my preparation for next season. I saw Mark Rouse from Runner's High in Arlington Heights and tried to smile and wave but I probably looked like a person reaching for help. 34:09 to the entrance of T1 (includes about a 2 min run) 170 avg HR 85% (about right) with a 183 max 91%
T1: I had my wetsuit top off quickly and got my arms out of the suit and started to remove it before I was even at my bike. The change went quickly and I was away. Good start. I waved to David Fix as I went up the hill. David probably thought I should have been more dialed into the race...I agree. 1:52 176 OR 88% AVG and 91% or 183 max
Bike: They changed the bike a bit and it felt slower than last year by the end of the course. I rode my Zipp disc wheel which was a mistake in the wind and new "slightly" hillier course. I saw a few guys changing wheels on Sunday morning to a Zipp 404 or 909. At times, I felt like I was dragging someone behind me. I went thru 25 miles in 1:10 which is around 2:38 pace based on how I get tired. 1:10 + 1:10 = 2:20 at mile 50 and 18 min for the last 6 miles at 3 min/mile. (I was hoping to go thru in 1:07 and from my training rides before this race I even had entertained the thoughts of 1:05.) I had increased my salt tablet intake for this race as I do not like the Infinite Sports Drink mix they use on this course. Last year I was cramping badly from not enough salt. I kept my upper body wet with water during this ride and really felt fine physically; I just wasn't putting out the wattage I normally see at those heart rates. Bummer. I just kept hammering away on the bike and said to myself, "Just get to the run. Maybe your going to have a strong swim and run today if the bike isn't happening." 2:42:10 (20.7 mph), HR 158 avg (79%) and 178 max (89%)
T2: Went fine 2:01. I had to stop and help the guy on the other side of me because he was struggling to hang his bike and was smashing it into my disc wheel. My choices were to help him or risk a smashed up disc. I helped. I saw Dean Hewson at the T2 exit and I smiled and motioned like, "Hey, this is hard but I'm still fighting" He kinda laughed and I think he knew I wasn't "on". Avg HR 140 (70%) max 150 (75%)
Run: My plan was to run this 1/2 M smartly. I looked like I was at a BYOB party with a bottle of Gatorade and my gels. In the future, I'll work a different system to carry my nutrition. I would park my heart rate at 79-80% for the first out section where they added another hill (thanks a bunch). I actually ran the first miles in 8/mile and felt decent and the first "out" trip was over quickly. On the way back, I just stayed in check and ran comfortably. Some guy running with Heather Haviland was a jerk and said, "Get out of our way Team Polar guy" (mind you...I was on the FAR RIGHT and they had 12 feet to pass me on the left and if you've seen Heather - she could pass me if she had 16 inches - that sorta rubbed me the wrong way but he said it and she didn't so no slam on Heather...and at 8:20/mile to their 6:20/mile - well, what can I say? It wasn't even worth a response.) Seeing all my friends on the run was like a "high five" every 400 meters. Arlene, Caryn, Big John, Big/Tall John, Jay, Don, Laura, Kimber, Tony, Tara, Kevin, Dr. D, Mark, Lisa, Patrick, Patti, Anne, Matt, Ken, Padra, Bret, and Dean. I apologize if I missed somebody but it was really fun. At the end of the run about mile 12 I caught Bret Lucas and we ran a bit together but I was winding it up for a strong finish. I waved to Dean as I ran into the finish area and high fived Matt Wade as I crested the last hill just before the finish. I was able to finish strong catching a few folks on the road to the line and finished with a buffer before and after me so I should have a decent finish photo; if not a great time. Run Time: 1:59:03, avg HR 163 (81%), max 185 (92%).
Not my best day racing but I didn't quit trying which is always a victory. Some days you just have to be thankful you can actually finish these races. Today was one of them.
Final Time: 5:19:16
Kcal burned: 4951
6th place in the Men Open Under 39 - 185 to 199 weight category
Lastly, I was able to help several racers on the day after the finish as a "guy with the band" drove his car on the finishing straight in order to drop of "stuff for the band". He blocked the turn around and finish and no other spectators would do anything but scream at him. So I walked up the hill and asked a police officer if he could help move the car. They did and finishers later on didn't have to deal with that.
I was also racing with Padra (Richter) Meyer and didn't realize it. I swam with Padra at Palatine Park District when our club team won the state swimming championship. She is still a great athlete as I caught her on the bike but she out ran me. It was good to see her after about 15 years! I'll see her again at Pleasant Prairie. Nice work P! I'll be trying to catch you at Pleasant Prairie!
Time to put in some serious training and perhaps train thru Pleasant Prairie...if I decide to race the USAT 1/2 IM Nationals...that is a nasty course but I wouldn't mind trying it again because the fast racers were so cool. I have no crafty ideas for that race other than to go and try and beat the time I did last year.