Let me apologize in advance. This blog is longer than I wanted because of... Well, if you read it you'll see! lol
My season is officially over! I'm glad too because I'm tired! Training for these races is tough. I can now relax a bit, take a mental break, and get the batteries recharged for the next season. Yesterday I raced in The Florida Challenge Triathlon: a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. This was the first time I've ever done 2 half ironman races in the same season and I was a tad worried about being able to do it. But you only live once, so I figured I'd give it a shot!
The race started at 7:00am, so that means the wife & I were out there before the sun was up: I'm feeling pretty relaxed and cautiously optimistic at this point. I plan on racing my own race, at my own pace. The goal is to not only finish (of course) but to finish strong! After I set my bike & equipment up in the transition area I warm up a bit, then head over to the beach for the swim start. Soon enough, the sun's up, and my heat is about to start so I line up with the rest of the athletes:
I'm nervous at this point, but still pretty calm. I'm confident in my training, and whad no intention on wearing myself out on the swim! My heat starts and we're off! We swim straight out, then make a left, swim a couple hundred yards, then swim back to shore. You can see a couple of the yellow buoys in the distance:
By the time I get to that 1st buoy, all the nervousness is gone & I'm focused totally on the swim. People aren't swimming over each other (thankfully) and I have plenty room between me & the swimmers around me. 15 minutes into the swim I do a self check: I'm feeling good & my stroke feels fine, just like when I'm in the pool. I'm breathing primarily on my right to watch the other swimmers around me, but I breath on my left from time to time also. I'm about a mile into the swim before swimmers in the last heat catch me. I expected to be caught so it's no big deal. Some of those cats are FAST! But at the same time, I catch people who started in the heat before me. (The waves are 10 minutes apart. I prefer to complete the swim doing the forward crawl exclusively, but you see people doing everything: backstroke, side stroke & breast stroke! hey, whatever it takes! lol
I finish the 1.2 mile swim in about 50 minutes. I wanted to finish in about 45, but I'm cool with it. I get out of the water honestly feeling like I swam for maybe 20! That's EXACTLY what I wanted. That's GOOD! lol I did NOT want to be tired finishing the swim. Right before I finished the swim I started my mental checklist: Take an electrolyte pill before you start the bike ride, put on a little sunscreen, RELAX and ride at an easy tempo for the first couple minutes to let the blood flow to your legs! Here I am in the transition area after the swim, getting ready to start the bike:
So far so good! I was nervous starting the bike. Even though I've done this race mnay times before, I have some sort of mental block when it comes to riding hills. (Probably because they are HARD! lol) I need to work on that. I rode with a couple other athletes for a few miles just trying to get comfortable on the bike. 30 minutes into the bike I'm still feeling good. I have passed a couple people and have gotten passed. I'm not concerned about anyone else at this point. It's all about me MY race. I'm rolling over the hills pretty good. Fast forward 2 hours and I'm still on the bike. I'm a little tired, but I feel good & my confidence is growing! I have plenty water, Gu, Clif Bars, electrolytes cold water & Gatorade:
I didn't eat all this, but I wanted to make sure I had enough if I needed it. If you don't eat enough, you'll bonk and won't have any energy. Eat too much and you'll get sick. The key is to find that perfect balance. I'm hitting the hills and I'm getting over them no problem! I get to Sugarloaf and I calm myself down and start the long, slow ride up:
That's not a pic from race day, just a pic from the internet. This hill is VERY HARD for me, because I don't have any hills near me that are as steep as this. But I had been riding the bridges pretty hard this year so I was ready! I try hit the bottom of the hill at FULL SPEED so I can use my momentum to help me get to the top. It works for a little while, because I pass a couple people who are walking up the hill. After a couple minutes all my momentum is gone & I'm in the smallest gear I have, just trying to make it to the top. My legs are BURNING, but I keep pedaling. Part of me wants to get off & walk, but another part of me says "To hell with that! You can walk 13 miles later today! Keep riding!
So I'm still going, still chugging up this big a** hill. Instead of looking at the top, I just put my head down and imagine that someone is PUSHING me up the hill, and I'm back on the bridges near my house. Anything to help me get up this thing! After what seemed like forever I finally made it to the top! This is the hardest part of the ride and it comes around mile 40. At this point I'm home free! This is GOOD! lol At this point I'm simply riding tempo. There are still hills almost as big as the bridges, but mentally I'm fine, and physically I feel OK. It's sunny, hot, humid, and in the 90's, so I'm making sure i drink plenty liquids and take an electroltye pill every 40-45 minutes. I finish the ride in about 3.5 hours.
I get off the bike and head to the transition area:
I get off the bike & my legs are STIFF! It'll take me a few minutes to get used to waking again! lol All in all, I had a good ride! Up to this point my race is going PERFECTLY: An "easy" swim, and I got over all the hills in 1 piece and no leg cramps on the bike. I'm starting the run pretty confidently and happy my day's almost done. For me, if i can finish the bike, I can finish a triathlon. I'LL WALK if I have to... I start the run walking to stretch my legs:
I start the run doing a home run trot. My legs feel ok, and i'm trying to get into a nice pace that I can maintain. The sun's out & it's getting VERY hot out. I don't like the heat, but I deal with it and run slower to compensate. They say good things must come to an end, and they did for me at about mile 3 of the run! At that point, my right foot starts to bother me. My arch. Feels like someone is sticking a needle into the bottom of my foot. WTF! I had this problem years ago and I knew what was up. I change my running style by running on the ball of my foot and start to run on the grass next to the concrete.
At mile 5 I hit an uneven patch & slight twist my ankle. Ok, this is getting BAD. I start walking now to try walk it out. It rains almost everyday here in Florida, and yesterday was no exception. It starts POURING, and here I am, walking with a pain in the bottom of my foot AND a slightly twisted ankle. How wonderful!
20 minutes later it stops raining and my shoes are drenched. I start jogging again with these heavy a** shoes, wet socks, and a hurt foot. I'm afraid to get on the grass because I don't want to re-twist my ankle, so I stay on the concrete. I "run" maybe 1/2 mile and that's it. I gotta shut it down. I figure I'll have to walk the rest of the race. I'm at mile 8 or 9 at this point. I lost count! So, I'm walking. A modified power walk, because at this point my LEFT foot starts to hurt now because my shoes are a tad uncomfortable. So now BOTH of my feet hurt... Yeah, this is BAD! So I just keep walking.
It was announced by the race organizers that will NOT have the finisher medals in time for the race, because they are TIED UP IN CUSTOMS?? I STILL don't understand how they managed to NOT have medals in time for a race they've had every year for 26 YEARS. But what do I know? Oh well, least we'll get an official finisher's shirt at the finish line. We'll get our medals shipped to us in 3 weeks...
At mile 10 I text my wife and tell her I'm almost done and to meet me at the finish line. (she's out shopping!!) I ask her to videotape me crossing the line, since I won't get a medal... Mile 13, and i have ONE BLACK to go. Guess what? it starts raining AGAIN. I finally get to the finish and cross the line! VICTORY! I made it!
Wait, what's that? You don't have any finisher shirts OR medals??? WTF!!!!! You mean I did all this and i get nothing to show for it but some sore feet????? Lord forgive me, but if i wasn't EXHAUSTED and in PAIN I woulda cussed his ass out! What kind of sh!t is this??? yeah, I was PISSED. Oh well, least my wife was there to videotape me crossing the line!
Well, not quite. She only got 4 seconds... yeah, it's getting downright UGLY now... So today, i sent the race organizer & his 2nd in command an email expressing my frustrations: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Subject: FW: Florida Challenge Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 12:31:40 -0700
Hello, I sent this email to Fred but haven't received a response. Im hoping someone will acknlowledge my concerns/frustrations below. Thank you, Jeff White --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: Florida Challenge Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 07:55:25 -0700
Hi Fred, I've done the Florida Challenge 8 times and I've always enjoyed the race. However, this year's event was quite disappointing. No medals at the finish line & no t-shirts! How is that possible?? This race has been around 26 years. It's not like no one knew when these items would be needed... I didn't see any race photographers on the course either. If my wife hadn't taken any pictures I would have NOTHING to show for my hard work yesterday. I may as well had my own triathlon by myself if that were the case...
I hope we do get our finisher items in THREE WEEKS like we were promised, but i'm not holding my breath, nor will they mean as much as receiving them on race day. I'm debating on if I do the race next year. I understand we're in difficult times, but when people pay their hard earned money to participate in these races we should get the the items that were listed as amenities the day OF the race, not weeks later. If there were first time competitiors out there I feel bad for them... It just hasn't been the same since it was seperated from the Great Floridian. Jeff White
I haven't heard anything yet, so we'll see what happens. Well, there you have it! It was good, bad, and ugly! I really did race yesterday, but I din't get the medal that was due the finishers. All I got was a greek bath & sore feet!
Today I was off work & relaxed. I also used my "rolling pin to get the kinks out of my body:
This thing is GREAT! lol Well, my season didn't end the way I wanted, but on the bright side, I did 2 half ironman races, and I was able to ride over the hilss no problem. Even though I had problems on the run, I gutted it out and finished. A quitter I'm not! Hopefully I'll get my medal, and if I do I'll post a pic of it. So now, I will rest up & relax this off season. I'll get back to lifting weights more & just enjoy the time I have off. I'll be better than ever for next year, no matter where I race! Thanks for reading, your encouragement, and support! Till next time, Peace!